Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
McCully (Mirette on the High Wire) uses history and biography as a springboard to a story about how naturalist and writer John Muir befriended a child who shared his love of the outdoors. In 1868 (according to the author's note), James Hutchings and his family are making a go of a hotel business and of leading guided tours in the Yosemite Valley. The oldest Hutchings child, a spirited girl nicknamed Squirrel (so-called for her tendency to dart about), continually tries the patience of her parents and the hotel guests. But when Muir arrives one day, looking for work, Squirrel has more than met her match. In between his chores, he studies the landscape hoping to prove his theory of glacial formation. He also luxuriates in the area's natural wonders, encouraging Squirrel to do the same. McCully portrays Muir's breakthrough when he is able to prove his ideas to be scientifically sound as the natural progression of his daily observations. His forays into the wild, shown through Floy's perspective, seem like simple hikes but add up to a larger purpose. When Muir earns a following, an angry Hutchings asks the man to go, but not before he leaves Squirrel (and readers) with a parting gift. McCully again cultivates the seeds of fact into a vivid imagining of what might have been. She creates instantly memorable characters in the spunky tomboy Squirrel replete with petulant poses and facial expressions and young-at-heart Muir. And Yosemite, in its unspoiled glory, comes alive via McCully's sun-dappled watercolor scenes, lush with green trees and dusty rock faces alongside swift moving rivers and white splashes of waterfall. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Caldecott Medalist McCully again successfully creates a narrative that pairs a rambunctious girl character with a fascinating historical figure. This inventive tale brings the personage of naturalist John Muir to life. In 1868, James Hutchings began a tourist business in the beautiful Yosemite Valley in 1868, and his daughter Floy was the first white child born in the valley. At six, her wild behavior of tearing around the valley, balancing on the woodpile plank, and capturing frogs earned her the nickname Squirrel. When John Muir arrived at Hutchings's hotel seeking both work and knowledge about the natural world, Floy became his shadow, entranced by the wonders of nature that he showed her. The ending has Muir moving on but sharing his special place in the mountains, with her. McCully's familiar watercolors beautifully capture the scenery while the simple text conveys the bond between the unlikely pair. A two-page author's note provides historical background (Floy died tragically). A lovely tribute to the gentle genius of the Sierras that gives dimension to the man and respect to his name. (bibliography) (Picture book/historical fiction. 5-8) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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