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Minn of the Mississippi by Holling Clancy Holling

Minn of the Mississippi

post written by Emma Filbrun

Minn of the Mississippi by Holling Clancy HollingTitle: Minn of the Mississippi
Author: Holling Clancy Holling
Major Themes: Mississippi River, Turtles
Synopsis: A turtle with only three legs travels from the source to the mouth of the Mississippi River, and the history and geography of the river is told with story and beautiful illustrations.

I have always loved Holling Clancy Holling’s books. Each one takes an object and builds a story around it to teach a broad scope of history, geography, and/or nature through it. Minn of the Mississippi follows a turtle the length of the Mississippi River, relating the history, since the arrival of Europeans, a well as the geography, of the area—and describing some of the other inhabitants of the great river, as well.

Minn was hatched at the very start of the Mississippi’s headwaters in Minnesota. She lost a leg her very first day, on her way to the water. With only three legs, then, she was at the mercy of every flood that came her way. She lived very well, though, grew into a fine big snapping turtle, and even managed to dig a hole with her one hind leg each spring for her eggs!

As Minn traveled, she came across many reminders that humans had been using her river for many years. At various times, she lived in a canoe lost during the old fur trapping days, or a steamboat that exploded and sank. She grew to fear the waterfalls and locks through which she was tumbled helplessly as she descended the Mississippi. During one flood she was carried on the rampaging waters far inland—but she made her way back to her beloved river!

The author has made an interesting story out of Minn’s adventures, and done a masterful job of weaving the history of the region into her story. The best part of the book, though is the artwork. Each four-page chapter includes a full-page, full-color painting to illustrate that chapter’s story, as well as small line drawings in the margins of each of the other three pages. These drawings illustrate items mentioned in the text, such as tools used for preparing furs, or different types of turtles who live in the river, or boats used by various people who used the river. There are also maps throughout the book, showing Minn’s progress. This is a wonderful history, geography, and nature resource!

WARNING: Chapter 1 talks about millions of years.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12


Links to buy Minn of the Mississippi:

Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover

AbeBooks: View Choices on

Book Depository: Paperback


Mississippi River, Turtles, Geography, History, Science, Animal Stories, Picture Books, United States History, US History 1783-1860, US History 1865-1900, US History 1900-1950, North America

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