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INTO THE WOODS by Robert Burleigh


John James Audubon Lives His Dream

by Robert Burleigh & illustrated by Wendell Minor

Age Range: 6 - 12

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-689-83040-8
Publisher: Atheneum

A tribute to the naturalist and artist John J. Audubon pairs verse by the author with quotations from Audubon’s journals. On each page of text are several lines of a poem explaining Audubon’s decision to abandon a life of commerce and take to the woods to pursue his passions: nature and drawing. Much of the poem is in Audubon’s voice and addressed to his father, who had hoped for a different sort of life for his son. Audubon’s intent went beyond his personal enjoyment of nature. He describes holding a beautiful dove in his hands as it died: “And as I watched it die I knew / The world I love is passing too.” He had a mission, a fact he tries to convey to his father: “Fear not, Father, I’m true to you, / I have my whole life’s work to do.” Below the lines of the poem are Audubon’s own words describing his wonder at the natural world: “Who can imagine my dear country’s dark woods, its great forests, its vast Atlantic bays, its thousands of streams, lakes, and magnificent rivers? I wish that I could draw it all!” Both the verse and the quotes from Audubon’s journals are lovely and poignant, although the quotes break the rhythm of the poem. The illustrations include both Minor’s (Cliff Hanger, 2002, etc.) watercolor depictions of Audubon’s wanderings amid nature, paired with some of Audubon’s own drawings of birds. The two are quite compatible in this feast for bird lovers. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-12)