Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

John Muir: America’s First Environmentalist

John Muir: America’s First Environmentalist

Kathryn Lasky
Illustrator:  Stan Fellows 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 11
Candlewick Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-0763619572

As a young boy John Muir used to love to explore the wild places that lay beyond the walls of his Scottish home. It was while he watched the wild animals going about their lives in these places that John came to appreciate how beautiful the wildlife was. It was an appreciation that would last for the rest of his life.

When John was eleven years old his father decided to move the whole family to America. He decided that he wanted to be a farmer and soon they were living in a land of “pure wilderness” in the state of Wisconsin. The entire family had to work very hard to clear the land to create their farm and there was no time for the children to go to school. Still, John learned a great deal about the wilderness around him by quietly observing his environment and later he educated himself at night and in the early hours of the morning using books that his father bought him.

John grew into a very competent inventor, making all kinds of useful gadgets, but most of all he liked to study the plants and creatures that lived in woods, streams, and lakes. Even after he had gone to university and was having to make a living, John loved to explore wild spaces in his free time and eventually he made studying and protecting these places his life’s work.

One of the founders of the early environmental movement in America, John Muir’s legacy has been a profound and lasting one which thousands of Americans can enjoy every year. Thanks to him the Sierra Club fights to ensure that we all will have wilderness areas to explore for generations to come. Beautiful paintings combine perfectly with a detailed, interesting, and often lyrical text to make this a winning picture book biography describing one of America’s great citizens.