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DOWN THE COLORADO by Deborah Kogan Ray


John Wesley Powell, the One-Armed Explorer

by Deborah Kogan Ray & illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-374-31838-3
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Drawing on, and quoting short passages from, original sources, Ray retraces the early life of renowned naturalist John Wesley Powell—highlighting his 1869 venture through the Grand Canyon and the follow-up expedition of 1871. She only actually shows his disability (incurred early in a heroic Civil War career) in the final picture, but repeated mentions make it a recurring theme of the spare, well-organized narrative; being one-handed doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all, though once a rope-less colleague had to help him up a cliff by lowering a pair of trousers. With a palette of warm reds and browns, Ray creates slightly soft-focus illustrations that follow Powell from youth to maturity, and capture the scale and rugged beauty of the western landscape. Rounded off with a look at Powell’s distinguished later career, as well as a back matter that includes an author’s note, chronology and a substantial reading list, this follows Ray’s Flower Hunter: William Bartram, America’s First Naturalist (2004) in raising the profile of one of our country’s important but lesser-known explorers. (Picture book/biography. 8-10)