Scenes from the life of the famous 19th-century naturalist John James Audubon, presented in graphic-novel format, demonstrate his passion.
Grolleau and Royer introduce the ornithologist in a dramatic prequel in which Audubon, enraptured by a skein of Canada geese, ignores a coming thunderstorm—behavior that will recur throughout his life as he ignores his family, his physical well-being, and the opinions of others to follow his dream of painting all the birds in America, a new and relatively unexplored world for white settlers in the early 19th century. The narrative is organized into 5 sections, roughly identified by the location of his travels: to Kentucky, down the Mississippi, New Orleans, Great Britain, and west on the Missouri. Flashbacks provide background: meeting his faithful wife, feuding with scientists, and competing with ornithologist Alexander Wilson. He bands birds, kills a bear, experiences a three-day flight of passenger pigeons, and laments the disappearance of wildlife with the coming of Europeans. In embellished or imagined episodes he is guided by a Native American, helps a runaway slave, and meets and encourages Darwin. First published in French, this has been smoothly translated by Gilfillan, but it is the picture story that will most engage American readers. The inclusion of four reproductions of Audubon’s birds as well as a portrait of Audubon adds a lovely grace note.
A luscious, reimagined biography that will attach a personality to a famous name for 21st-century readers. (biography, notes, selective bibliography) (Graphic novel. 10-15)