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Jane Thomas
Silver River Shadow
Jane Thomas, author
An adventure reveals the all too real truth of the sustained and deliberate mercury poisoning in the Wabigoon River over fifty years ago that still affects the lives of thousands of Canada’s indigenous people. The story is an eye-opening call to arms and the first in a series where protagonists Bobby and Lizzie will scour the world to find little-known but significant and ongoing disasters.
Claire Lisa, BookSirens

As a mum of a ten year old and twelve year old and a primary school teacher, I always read children’s fiction from both viewpoints. This book was extremely well written and raised lots of questions throughout. For me this is so important to encourage children to make predictions and make links as they read. I enjoyed the different and sometimes unusual relationships between characters in the story. The flashback element of the story is something I will definitely use in my role as a teacher. The pictures throughout were at times out of keeping to the advanced nature of the writing, however, for some children being able to visualise can be a barrier so this would have supported them.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it highlighted some serious environmental issues too. I will definitely look to put a copy or two on the bookshelves at school. 

Erica Field

Silver River Shadow is a thing of beauty, living up to the promise of the gorgeous front cover.

Lizzie and Bobby, our intrepid duo, completely swept me up in their incredible journey. They come alive in the pages. Both children are relatable, both brave, both a little flawed, both real.

I loved that the book has a powerful message about truth and courage. It introduces some difficult concepts, but always in away that serves the story. I felt outrage with Lizzie, I stumbled over the cost of the deception with Bobby, I shared in the melancholy of the Ojibway elders and I never felt preached at.

I’m looking forward to exploring this with my 10 year old. It’s a truly lovely read and perfect for children slipping seamlessly into the long summer holidays. They can have their own summer adventures alongside Lizzie and Bobby.

For any teachers out there, it offers a wealth of opportunities for writing in different genres. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


Tween Lizzie better known to her father as busy Lizzie wasn’t so busy during her summer break. When her dad tells her about belongings that belong to her mom and grandmother that are in the attic she wanders how could she go 12 years without knowing about this? Knowing she has the whole summer to fill she decides to start the next day. These boxes will lead to call discoveries even cooler friends in the coolest story ever! I love this book. I love that Lizzie and Bobby became friends I love the way they became friends. I don’t know why but as an adult I still love reading the types of books I read when I was 12. Don’t get me wrong I love a good thriller True Crime non-fiction political books, but there’s something simple and enjoyable about a middle school romp. I hope there is a second book with busy Lizzie because I would read it definitely! I can’t wait to get this in paperback for my daughter. I received this book from Book siren and the publisher and I am leaving this review voluntarily please forget any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review but all opinions are definitely my own.

Joanne Lovell, BookSirens

It wasn't what I was expecting to read but it was brilliant. It was a thought-provoking book that made me aware of issues I had no idea about. It was well written, particularly the relationship between the characters. The relationships developed from being a person they knew into a person that they could rely on. Excellent historical references and links to the struggles of indigenous people.


Julie Walker, BookSirens

An important environmental issue highlighted thorough the adventures of Lizzie and Bobby. Likeable characters that should appeal to a wide age range. Read as an adult (school librarian) it’s a quick read and given it’s based on a true story it will appeal to adventure lovers, historical fiction lovers and those that say the only like facts, in equal measure. I would love to see this printed in a dyslexic friendly format.


L Rigby, BookSirens

This book left me feeling that I really had to know so much more about Barney and Marion Lamm’s life and legacy.

The more our children can be made aware of situations such as these, then hopefully their children, grandchildren and subsequent generations will grow up in a better world.

This is pitched perfectly to the audience it is aimed at, although the road trip seems slightly far fetched as a sensible adult, I can imagine I would have been enthralled by the journey had I read it as a child.

I can already think of children who will devour this in one sitting and then nag me for another.

I look forward to the next.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Priscilla Broussard, BookSirens

From the first paragraph, Lizzie’s relatable hopes of escaping having to give her class presentation draw the reader in. She soon befriends Bobby (once he’s adequately apologized for being a rock-throwing bully), and the two set off on an adventure like no other. Journeying hundreds of miles by bus, boat, and bicycle, the new friends travel from the United States to the place where Lizzie’s grandparents once lived, to meet the Ojibwe people of Ontario and learn more about the mercury poisoning that shattered their way of life.

Woven throughout the enthralling true story of the mercury poisoning of Ojibwe people are important themes of grief and loss, friendship and family, and the importance of protecting our planet.

I loved the author’s final section, “I guess you’d like to know which bits are true?” and had to resist the urge to start with that chapter.

I’m a grandmother who thoroughly enjoyed reading this book targeted for middle-school-aged children, and I can’t wait to read it with my grandchildren.

Rachel Jones

I was hooked straight away! Drawn in by little Lizzie and her life at the beginning of the book. I was rooting for her from the very start, hoping she’d find her way… and boy did she! A rip roaring adventure that sucks you in from start to finish, made even better by the authors note at the end! A fabulous read!


RoshReviews, BookSirens

Twelve year old Lizzie has been given a summer project – “Your Family Story”. With a dead mother and an absentee father, Lizzie resorts to searching through the attic to see if she can dig up some information about her ancestors. To her surprise, the attic contains a whole box of puzzling documents. As she researches further into these with her best friend Bobby, she uncovers a sad secret and a shocking cover-up, one that depresses her and also inspires her. What follows is a daring adventure with Bobby as she strives to find out the whole truth.

There were two things that drove me to pick this book up. One is that stunning title and cover! Neither revealed to me what the book would be about but both attracted my attention. The second was this line of the blurb:
“Based on a true story, Silver River Shadow reveals the stark truths of the mercury tragedy that still affects the Ojibway community in Canada's northeastern Ontario today.”
Mercury poisoning isn’t a topic I have seen in any fiction, especially not in children’s fiction. Plus, the story talks of an indigenous community in Canada. A further plus: it is based on a true story. How could I resist the book?

I loved the themes raised by the book. Environmental awareness, rights of indigenous communities, exploitation by the rich and the powerful, mercury poisoning – all are done justice to.

The writing is a bit complicated. No surprise here given the tough theme. But as it is aimed at middle graders, I guess the upper MG age group (10 years plus) should find the proceedings easier to comprehend.

There are some lovely colour illustrations before each chapter.

After the end of the story, there’s a section titled “I guess you’d like to know which bits are true?” (I loved this title BTW!) This special chapter reveals the authenticity of the content. Lizzie’s fictitious great-grandparents in the story were actual people named Barney and Marion Lamm, who lived in the Canadian wilderness and fought for the rights of the Ojibway community, especially when the local river was found contaminated with mercury. Their fight wasn’t easy, and their efforts weren’t rewarded. I am so glad the author chose to bring this couple’s story in the public eye. The creation of the book has been overseen by Rochelle Lamm, Barney and Marion's daughter, and reviewed by Ojibway readers living in and connected to Grassy Narrows. Thus the content isn’t just ad hoc but stamped with the approval of the key people related to the story. I heartily appreciate this tag of authenticity.

All in all, if you are looking for a middle grade novel that combines adventure and awareness, give this indie work a try.

4.5 stars from me. (I’ll be honest. The story/writing was a 4 star. The facts and the author’s note made me push up the rating. This book deserves a wider audience.)

Sarah Perry

This is a lovely, short story with a powerful message behind it!

Eager to learn more about her family history, Lizzie begins digging through some of her dad's old boxes and is confronted with some confusing, intriguing and shocking discoveries. A tale of adventure and the importance of family, Silver River Shadow would provide an excellent basis for discussion around the global issue of pollution as well as entertaining young readers. I haven't come across another book which discusses the impact of mercury poisoning which, in itself, means it deserves a read.

I really enjoyed the unexpected ties to modern life as well as how strong and independent the main character is. The illustrations at the start of each chapter are beautiful and would provide great stimulus for inference work.

My only criticism is I wish the book was longer! There is a wonderful opportunity here for description of a wonderful sea voyage and the development of an unlikely relationship which I think has been missed. I look forward to hearing more from Lizzie and Bobby in future books and seeing how their friendship grows.

Tina Coyne, BookSirens

This was a refreshing read, it depicted a youthful insight into an intriguing adventure, a mystery that keeps you hooked with somewhat devastating revelations for the young characters to digest. It reveals truthful devastation through the eyes of innocents and poses lots of questions about past events. I adored the idea of a hunt inspired by ancestry, investigating not only the main characters' sense of belonging but also the wonderful portrayal of long-standing friendship and community. Thomas has described settings and surroundings impeccably allowing the reader to really delve, imagine and experience the journey of Lizzie. I would love to read a sequel or even a prequel to learn about what Lizzie's ancestors experienced. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Vivienne Hibbs

A thoroughly enjoyable children’s story which builds steadily, allowing you to engage with the characters and feel like you are alongside them on their travels.

The pacey plot appeals to the adventurer in all of us; this coupled with the thought- provoking historical aspect, leaves the reader wanting more.