Sunday, May 18, 2014

John Muir: America's First Environmentalist by Kathryn Lasky and illustrated by Stan Fellows (Review & Giveaway)

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7
Series: Candlewick Biographies
Hardcover: 56 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0763664701
About the book: Quoting from John Muir's diaries, Kathryn Lasky tells the inspiring tale of one of America's most dedicated environmentalists, aided by Stan Fellows's evocative, dramatic acrylic paintings.

From the meadows of Scotland to the farms of Wisconsin, from the swamps of Florida to the Alaskan tundra, John Muir loved the land. Born in 1838, he was a writer, a scholar, an inventor, a shepherd, a farmer, and an explorer, but above all, he was a naturalist. John Muir was particularly devoted to the high cliffs, waterfalls, and ancient giant sequoia trees that, through his careful influence, were set aside as one of the first national parks in America - Yosemite. Here is the life story of the man who, moved by a commitment to wilderness everywhere, founded the Sierra Club in 1892, a conservation group that carries on his crucial work to this day.

My thoughts:  This is a great biography for the target age group! They will thoroughly enjoy reading about John Muir. Biographies I read as a child were so boring and uninteresting, but Kathryn Lasky has presented John Muir’s life from his early years in Scotland to moving to America and then to his later years with such relaxed, almost lyrical prose that one can’t help but be interested.
John Muir’s early years found him interested in many things: Nature, science, math, inventions. His mind was intrigued by his surroundings, and he found many inventive and interesting ways to engage himself with his surroundings. I was surprised at how self-taught he was in math and the sciences and at his inventive streak. It is fascinating to see how his mind and spirit drove him to explore that to which he was exposed.

When he finally began his trek through America, he left Wisconsin and walked to the Gulf coast of Florida. From Florida he went by boat to California. In California his real life’s work began. He discovered the wilds of California and began to chart the very essence of that nature in his blue book. He was the instrument through which our National Parks were established and for that we should be forever grateful. 

In this biography, the end includes a biographical list of sources and further reading. As with all good biographies, there is an index at the back of the book to facilitate study and re-discovery of facts. I highly recommend this as a choice biography for young readers.
The illustrations by Stan Fellows are striking watercolors showing the colors and beauty of nature from the tiny flowers John Muir so loved to the vast mountains. Tiny details as well as majestic mountains fill the pages to render the book beautifully engaging for the young reader.

GIVEAWAY: The good folks at Candlewick Press have graciously provided a copy of John Muir America’s First Environmentalist for one of Chat With Vera’s readers to win. Just use the Rafflecopter entry form. Maybe you can win this for that special young reader in your life.  Begins May 19 & ENDS June 10 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to addresses in USA only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of John Muir America’s First Environmentalist from Candlewick Press in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review.


  1. I love the great variety, beauty, and grandeur of America's natural resources.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  2. I would love to share this book with my granddaughters to share with them the beauty of our country and areas that we may never see, but gives them some ideas what they would like to see or do.

  3. I love the deserts and the beautiful canyons, lakes, everything! My grandkids would love to see this!

  4. I love the natural beauty of the land in America, its diversity throughout each region. I have lived in many states across the USA and enjoy the diversity found in the people who live in each one. And the foods, oh my! Most of all, I love our waterways and am content to live within a block of the Gulf of Mexico on the Florida Panhandle.

  5. I love the Rocky Mountains and the Great Lakes!

  6. This looks like a fantastic resource as well as a wonderfully illustrated book. I am yet to read any biographies with little G as she is too young, but I will add this to the ever growing list. Thanks for joining us on the Kid Lit Blog Hop

  7. I like the many great national parks like Yosemite!

  8. I do love that North and South America have so much land to grow wonderful food on! That to me is a true blessing.

  9. Great giveaway Vera. Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Renee C. It is a pleasure to share books on Kit Lit

  10. I love that our country has so much variety from forests, plains, deserts, canyons, rock formations, rivers, mountains etc. Its beautiful and breath taking from coast to coast for sure!
    marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com

  11. We have so many natural resources here in the U.S. For example, we have an abundance of Spring Water, clean drinking water, coal, the list could go on and on. There is also the beauty that nature in itself provides. We are very lucky to have all of the environmental elements that we have.

  12. I love how different all of the people are. It's awesome to find so many different cultures in one place.

  13. I love everything about nature and how everything grows. I'm very blessed to live in Martinez, Ca. where John Muir lived. His house which is open for tours is 5 minutes from my house. I love Martinez b/c it has a lot of rural and city. It's a beautiful place to live. Thank you for the awesome giveaway :)


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