Friday, March 29, 2019

Review: Wildheart: The Daring Adventures of John Muir by Julie Bertagna

The Daring Adventures of John Muir
by Julie Bertagna
Illustrated by William Goldsmith
Yosemite Conservancy
Graphic Novel / Historical Fiction
ages 8 to 12
128 pages

John Muir led an adventurous life, starting with his wild and playful boyhood in Scotland to his legendary exploits in America, where he became an inventor, a global explorer, and the first modern environmentalist—and even made friends with a president! His heart was always in the outdoors and he aimed to experience all he could. Most importantly, though, John Muir told the world about the wonders of nature. His words made a difference and inspired people in many countries to start protecting planet Earth— and they still do.

This book can be purchased directly from the Yosemite Conservancy

All proceeds go directly to supporting Yosemite National Park


"Feel the life around you and inside you." These are one of the many wise phrases from John Muir, and only one of the many treasures this fun story presents.

John Muir was a young boy, who grew up in Scotland. He tended to get distracted, especially by anything outdoors and wild. One day, his father makes an announcement—they're moving to America. As if the ship wasn't enough of an adventure, they also find themselves on an ox cart to Wisconsin. There, he discovers not only more about nature, but also about inventing. But then, this is only the beginning of his many adventures.

Written in graphic novel form, this is a book kids will easily pick up and flip through. The first chapter starts out with a young John Muir leading a very usual life in Scotland. Young readers will immediately sympathize with his days in school and be pulled in thanks to the precarious and funny predicaments he finds himself in. After these first scenes are set, the story grows richer and more entertaining as he continues to America, and the true adventure begins.

The tale surrounds a historical figure many readers haven't heard of before, and even though there are important historical moments and occurrences, none ever come across as boring or 'teachy'. The book makes sure that readers see the fun in life and living, along with the wisdom and knowledge that come with experience, by creating an exciting and enjoyable atmosphere on every page.

The illustrations add the right amount of fun, humor, and excitement. They flow very nicely with the text and are easy to follow. At the beginning of the book, the main figures are quickly introduced along with subtle but humorous quirks. At the end of the book, there's a concise chronology of the highlights from John Muir's life, a glossary for more difficult terms, and a short list of sources where the inspirations for this book came from.

This is a fun book which introduces readers to a very interesting, historical figure and is sure to drive boredom far away.

Julie Bertagna
The author and illustrator originally wrote this book for The Scottish Book Trush, which is a nonprofit in Scotland which supports literacy and literature.

If you'd like to know more about John Muir, here are two great links:
-John Muir National Historic Site (a national park site):
-Sierra Club John Muir exhibit, which includes the text of all his books, quotes, links, etc. I'm on this web site often!

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