In 1954, 71 years after this work was released, I was introduced to<br>this book at the ripe old age of 9. It was a paddlewheeler for sure -<br>taking me away on the river of dreams. I lived on the Mississippi in Quincy, Illinois, just a tad or two from where Mark Twain ruled in his<br>legendary home of Hannibal. <br>As a child and a river rat of the time, I survived the river of dreams.<br>By and by I discovered the truth that beauty is only skin deep.<br>I could not see the grim reaper submerged and reaching up for<br>me - escaping his cluthes many times while swimming and hand fishing.<br>Reflecting on the wonder of it all is the image of generations of those<br>who read and to some degree lived out the imagination of one single,<br>prolific writer, who is looking up or down at us now, with a twinkle or a tear in his eye..................