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THE CAMPING TRIP THAT CHANGED AMERICA by Barb Rosenstock

THE CAMPING TRIP THAT CHANGED AMERICA

Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and our National Parks

By Barb Rosenstock (Author) , Mordicai Gerstein (Illustrator)

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3710-5
Publisher: Dial

Theodore Roosevelt’s 1903 trip to the western parks included a backcountry camping trip—complete with snowstorm—with John Muir in the Yosemite Wilderness and informed the president’s subsequent advocacy for national parks and monuments.

In a boyish three-day adventure, Teedie (Roosevelt) and Johnnie (Muir) dodge, if temporarily, the confines of more formal surroundings to experience firsthand the glories of the mountains and ancient forests. (You can't ever quite take the boy out of the man, and Rosenstock's use of her subjects’ childhood names evokes a sense of Neverland ebullience, even as the grownup men decided the fate of the wilderness.) The narrative is intimate and yet conveys the importance of the encounter both as a magnificent getaway for the lively president and a chance for the brilliant environmentalist to tell the trees’ side of the story. Gerstein’s depiction of the exuberant president riding off with Muir is enchantingly comical and liberating. A lovely two-page spread turns the opening to a long vertical to show the two men in the Mariposa Grove, relatively small even on horseback, surrounded by the hush and grandeur of the giant sequoias, while in another double-page scene, after a photo of the two at Glacier Point, Muir lies on his back at the edge of the canyon, demonstrating to an attentive Roosevelt how the glacier carved the deep valley below. An author’s note explains that the dialogue is imagined and reconstructed from Muir’s writing as well as from other accounts of the meeting.

Wonderfully simple, sweet and engaging. (author’s note, source notes) (Picture book. 7-10)