With the global pandemic initiating discussions about adult mental health, Percival draws attention to the growing need to focus on children’s mental health. Children feel a sea of emotion which can often go undetected. Rowan realises that the river was just like him; it could be light and playful, wild and angry, and even slow and sad.
The river becomes a symbol of life that flows through Rowan. During one cruel winter, as Rowan feels cold and lonely, the river begins to freeze. The warmth of summer does not thaw the river and similarly the warmest hugs and kindest words from his parents could not cheer up Rowan.
The picturebook highlights how children often need to be assisted and the importance of a community that looks out and cares for them. Rescuing an injured bird and nursing it back to health fills Rowan with a sense of purpose and joy; making him smile, instantly causing the river to display droplets of water. Watching the bird regain its strength and fly away, filled Rowan with happiness and with his laughter, the river thawed and began to flow again.
Rowan gave the bird a new lease of life, while finding one within himself. With beautiful illustrations and simple words, the book communicates the idea that it is okay to feel sad and angry, what matters is the ability to find moments of happiness around oneself and to know that we need to be rescued sometimes and be supported.