“Growing Up with the River”: Reader Comments and Reviews

Written by Georganne Nixon, First Lady, State of Missouri:

The Burkhardts know that Jay and I love the Missouri River.  The Governor’s mansion overlooks the Big Muddy, we canoe and kayak on the river, and we explore all along the Katy Trail and the river valley.  We ride our bikes to visit the giant bur oak near the Katy Trail in McBaine, so Dan and Connie sent us a copy of Growing Up with the River.   It is a treasure!  The stories make the history so alive and accessible.  I know that the book will inspire the children of Missouri and their families to get outside and experience more of our beautiful state!


Written by Nick Reding, St. Louis, Conservationist and author of the 2009 New York Times best-seller “Methland”:

Each night for the last couple of weeks, my seven-year-old son and I have read a chapter of “Growing Up on the River.” What makes that half-hour before bed each night such a treat for both of us is not just that this is an uncommonly beautiful book, or that the message is urgently important. Or that my son and I love our farm near Augusta, and, moreover, that we love learning as much as we can about the history of the area. Or that “Growing Up” somehow manages to engage a 44-year-old man as much as a second-grader. What makes that half an hour a day special is also that “Growing Up” happens to be a really, really good book. It simply tells a great story, and tells it well, managing somehow to compress two-hundred-plus years of history and ten generations into 120 pages. The conceit—telling each generation’s story through the eyes of a child—is as wonderful as it is useful. Without the next generation’s care, there simply won’t be a Missouri River Valley as we know and love it.


Written by Jeff Barrow, Director of Missouri River Relief in Columbia, MO:

My jaw dropped when I opened “Growing Up with the River” and saw the fantastic collection of paintings, photographs, maps and illustrations. I’m a visual person who has spent many days and nights working and playing on the Missouri River so I have a particular perspective and the book’s lay-out just exploded with joy, color and excitement. I was overjoyed to see such a true reflection of the river’s treasures—natural, cultural, historical and experiential.

In particular, the paintings by Bryan Haynes are outstanding—first as individual works of art and second as a stream of images that connect all the places and time periods contained in the wonderful story line.

Let me point to just two painting that caught me. The first is printed at the start of Chapter 2 and shows a big flock of Carolina parakeets flying over three canoes laden with furs in the early 1800s. The colorful image reminds us of our loss of the natural richness of the Missouri River through the extinction of species. But, in contrast, the painting at the start of Chapter 9 shows the recent abundance of American white pelicans that demonstrates how improved conservation can boost the health and productivity of the natural world.

The book also becomes an invitation to explore with a list printed of plants and animals to find within its pages—this list is printed prior to Chapter 1. The book finishes with a map of 30 places in the lower Missouri River valley to visit, including brief narratives and a look westward toward a huge oak and a fabulous steamboat museum.


Written by Cynthia Browne from the Deutschheim State Historic Site:

“Growing Up with the River” is a delightful book that all parents or grandparents should read with the children in their life. The story of successive generations growing up along the Missouri River is a fascinating tale, with a skillfully woven storyline that relates the impact of Missouri’s growth and development on its rich natural resources from 1806 to present day. Beautiful illustrations by Bryan Haynes add to the enjoyment of reading, enriching the story with colorful detail. Historical photographs and interesting side bars complement the stories of each generation, while a “Scout for these Plants and Animals” section and a rich glossary make further discussion and research fun for all ages.

It has been a pleasure to work with Dan and Connie Burkhardt as they developed the story line and incorporated the story of German immigration to the state in the 19th century. A book for children, sharing this rich history along the Missouri River, has been long overdue. The combination of history with the study of natural resources impacted by that history adds a further dimension to the telling, filling that need and more. Reading “Growing Up with the River” is a pleasure!


Written by Jon Landau, Producer, Avatar and Titanic:

I like to make movies that both entertain and inspire, and that’s the feeling I get from this book. We should share these stories with our children and open their eyes to the natural wonders of the world. Maybe it will inspire some of them to be a part of protecting these resources for future generations.


Written by Philip Slein, Artist:

My introduction to the incredible beauty of the Missouri River valley was as a student at the University of Missouri where I met landscape painter Frank Stack. I bought one of his paintings of the river and that began my years painting in this majestic valley. I credit this introduction with my life-long appreciation of our namesake river.


Written by Mike “Big Muddy” Clark, Big Muddy Adventures:

I’ve paddled thousands of miles on the Missouri River from its Montana origins to St. Louis. The river towns in this book are more historic, the bluffs are highers, and the white pelicans and farm fields are bigger from a canoe on the Big Muddy than they sounds in these pages. Get out on the river with us and experience it for yourself.

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  • Read another rave review for growingupwiththeriverGrowing Up with the River by Missourian Feature Writer Karen Cernich HERE! And another by Jody Mitori for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch HERE!

  • Read about First Lady Georganne Nixon’s comment on “Growing Up with the River” HERE!

  • And don’t forget to buy your copy of “Growing Up with the River: Nine Generations on the Missouri” today!
    100% of the proceeds go to
    The Katy Land Trust.