A tribute to the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in one go.
Houts milks the tale for its inspirational value. The industrious mother of 11 and an inveterate walker, 67-year-old Emma Gatewood reads a magazine story about men who had taken the 2,000-mile hike and: “ ‘Hmmph,’ thought spunky old Emma. ‘If a man can do it, so can I!’ ” Her first try, starting from Maine’s Mount Katahdin, quickly ends in failure—her sturdy, no-nonsense white frame reduced, in Magnus’ painted scene, to a picture of misery, covered in scratches and black fly welts. She hits her stride on the second try, going south to north through verdant woods and living comfortably off the land for nearly five months in 1955. “I did it. I said I’d do it, and I’ve done it!” (Just for good measure, she went on to do it twice more.) Aside from a pair of farm children who greet her along the way and one face in a crowd scene, everyone in the illustrations is white. The author leaves out the not-always-pleasant details of Gatewood’s private life (covered, for older audiences, in Ben Montgomery’s Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, 2014) but adds more about her later treks, plus a photo, at the end, then closes by inviting readers to “think of Grandma Gatewood as you set your sights on your own goals. No matter what mountains might stand in your way.”
She didn’t like people passing her on the trail, the author notes, but readers could do worse than follow behind. (source note) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)