[Today is the birthday of John Muir, so let’s celebrate. Who needs cake when one has books?!]
Deeply religious, Muir blended science and spirituality deftly. When he noted his discovery of two new species of ferns, he wrote, “Every tree, every flower, every ripple and eddy of this lovely stream seemed solemnly to feel the presence of the great Creator.”
[My friend is currently visiting Yosemite, so we’ll have to enjoy the park vicariously through her pictures while I dream about our next vacation destination.]
I was thrilled to find five beautiful picture books about John Muir at our library, so we are reading them today!
This picture book with vivid illustrations tells the short story of one of Muir’s close encounters with a waterfall in Yosemite Valley. I love that it has an action-packed engaging story on one page (“Quickly, John scoots behind the tumbling, rumbling, twisting, misting, foaming, thundering waterfall”) and more detailed biographical information in a separate paragraph. This book could easily be experienced by reading through twice (and by a wider range of children).
This is a peaceful, serious biography about John Muir with elegant oil-paintings. Each two-page spread features a quote by Muir, and more quotes are listed in the back of the book. The author concentrates on Muir’s love for Yosemite.
“One learns that the world, though made, is yet being made. That this is still the morning of creation.”
[Slightly off-topic, the illustrator, Tom Locker, has also illustrated another book I love, The Boy Who Held Back the Sea, with moody oil paintings reminiscent of Rembrandt. I’m interested in checking out some of this other books such as Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art.]
Kathryn Lasky covers Muir’s whole life, from Scotland to Wisconsin, Florida, the Alaskan tundra, and Yosemite, in this comprehensive picture book biography. The acrylic paintings by Stan Fellows are lovely.
This is a detailed and delightful account of Muir’s camping trip with President Theodore Roosevelt in Yosemite in 1903, which led to the creation of several national parks. The author includes more biographical notes in the back of the book.
This is a shorter picture book retelling of Muir’s and Roosevelt’s camping trip paired with delightful illustrations—perfect for younger children.
[I want to check out three more picture books that I was unable to find at the library: John Muir & Stickeen, John Muir: My Life With Nature, and Squirrel and John Muir. John Muir is also featured in Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #28: Heroes for All Times: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #51: High Time for Heroes, which I checked out for Leif, who still loves Magic Tree House books.]