Miller, Bobbi. Big River’s Daughter. 2013. 200p. Holiday House, $16.95 9780823427529. Gr.5-9.
River Fillian has been raised on the Mississippi with her Pirate King father and a trusted band of watermen. She knows that the Queen River is their life, but must be treated with respect. When her father disappears after the massive 1811 earthquake, River bands with famous female adventurer Annie Christmas and tries to make her way in the world. But as Big Dan’s heir, River finds herself in danger and must use her wits and love of the water to save her own life.
Based on early American folktales, both River and Annie are female characters who chose to make their way in the world during an era when this was usually not acceptable. River is startled by the life of a placee, where a free black woman is essentially in a common law marriage but with little legal protection. While there were limited options open to women, some females did manage their own destinies, becoming some of the original American feminists. Big RIver’s Daughter honors those little known heroines.