Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail

Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail

Jennifer Thermes
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Harry N. Abrams, 2018   ISBN: 978-1419728396

Emma Gatewood lived on a farm in Ohio with her husband and her eleven children. There was so much work to be done to take care of the farm and her family that Emma had very little time to herself. Every so often she would escape, and she would go off into the hills behind the farm where she would have a long walk.

When Emma was sixty-seven years old she left her home in Ohio to do something that no woman had done before; she was going to walk the Appalachian Trail, which stretched from the state of Georgia to Maine. The Trail is 2,190 miles long and follows the Appalachian Mountains through fourteen states.

Wearing canvas sneakers and carrying a homemade sack, Emma began to walk on May 3, 1955. She ate berries that she found in the woods and drank water from mountain springs. She encountered plenty of wildlife, including a bear. She also met some folks who called the mountains home and though some of them were a little surprised to see her, they all were hospitable and welcoming. Emma had to deal with difficult weather conditions and tough terrain. Sometimes the trail went right up to the top of steep mountains.

Soon word spread that “Grandma” Gatewood was walking north on the trail and reporters asked to interview her. By late summer Emma had gone more than half way, which was when a hurricane slammed into the East Coast and Emma had to face some new challenges.

In this wonderful book beautiful maps, engaging illustrations, and a thrilling narrative are brought together to tell the story of a remarkable woman who walked for five months on the Appalachian trail, going from Mt. Oglethorpe in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine, which isn’t that far from the Canadian border. As they story unfolds, readers will get a sense of the scale of the walk and they will appreciate what an extraordinary feat this was.

At the back of the book an author’s note provides readers with further information about Emma and the Appalachian Trail.