Able, when he grows up, he wants to be a river. But since unrealistic dreams are not allowed, his friends try to discourage him. And eventually, they do. Of course, then Able is no longer their smiling, happy friend; but a sad, unsmiling one, and they are aware of the thing that they did. The themes of I Want to Be a River are to help others embrace their dreams no matter how ridiculous they are, and when things are quiet and you are alone with your own thoughts, you too might dream big, unrealistic dreams. There is also an eco-friendly message as the reason you could not be a river is that people would dump their trash in you is what convinces Able not to dream.
Cecile Elma Roger and Eve Gentilhomme put together a book that is both modern and classical feeling. Before I knew the author and illustrator due were from France, I felt a non-Western/non-American feeling to the atmosphere. The art is colorful and lacking in serious detail, but what you need is there. The illustrators are almost surreal and yet you can tell what a fish is, or land, a house, etc.
Overall, this is a decent book, but I was not the audience for it. In many ways, this feels like it would work better for an adult reader than a child. The abstract concept of “no dream is to big or ridiculous” might be a hit or miss, but most modern parents/adults will be drawn to it.