Books, Nature, Outside, Reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Camping Trip That Changed America

I feel truly honored to review this delightful book. I had read so much early press about it on several nonfiction blogs. The story intrigued me, especially since we recently took the boys to Muir Woods, named for naturalist John Muir. I was lucky enough to win my a copy from one of my favorite blogs, Teaching Authors. And Barb wrote a beautiful inscription to Cooper and Finley so that they’ll always remember their trip to Muir Woods.
Author: Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator: Mordicai Gerstein
Publication Info: Dial Books for Young Readers – Penguin Young Readers Group, 2012
Intended audience: Ages 6 to 8
Genre: nonfiction, picture book
Themes/topics: U.S. history, nature
Opening and synopsis: “Teedie and Johnnie didn’t have much in common — but they shared a love of the outdoors. They both loved a good story, too. And that was enough to change America.”
Rosenstock focuses on a brief excursion in 1903 when famed naturalist John Muir and then-President Theodore Roosevelt camped amongst the giant sequoias in the Yosemite wilderness. The two grown men swapped tales and relived their boyhood during their three-night camp out. Though Johnnie and Teedie never saw each other again after the trip, they became lifelong friends, and that friendship influenced outdoorsman Roosevelt, spurring him to protect more of America’s wilderness. Roosevelt subsequently helped establish 18 national monuments and 55 bird sanctuaries and game preserves. He also added 148 million acres to the National Forest system and doubled the number of National Parks, according to Rosenstock’s notes in the back of the book.
Resources: Rosenstock’s site has a lesson plan for teachers and parents, which is written to Common Core Standards. The boys and I also enjoyed exploring the Yosemite Web site, taking in numerous photos and videos of the majestic park. There are separate sections for kids and teachers.
Why I like this book: As a writer, I am always interested in narrative frameworks. In this book, Rosenstock focuses in on a period of four days, yet these few days have far-reaching impact in America’s history. This approach stands in sharp contrast to books that attempt to cover whole lives of well-known figures or entire historical periods. By narrowing her focus, Rosenstock is able to explore the camping trip in great detail, drawing upon primary resources like newspaper articles and government reports.
Mordicai Gerstein won a Caldecott Medal in 2004 for The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. His illustrations capture the beauty and majesty of the ancient redwood forests.
This book would be a great read for Arbor Day or Earth Day. Or, if you have budding naturalists or history buffs, this book is a perfect everyday read.
Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.

36 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Camping Trip That Changed America”

  1. What a great book. I haven’t seen one in a while that combines history like that. So glad you won it!

  2. I love books like this. What a unique story about a special time in history. Didn’t Rosevelt also create both the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Youth Conservations Corps for the national and state forests — as a way to maintain them and put thousands of men to work. I remember writing about it 30 some years ago. I will have to get this book!

  3. Oh, I really want to read this! I have been to Muir Woods a couple times (when I was far too young to appreciate it, I’m afraid!) but I do remember the giant redwoods. I love stories like this that read like stories but are true. This is an interesting subject, and I’m so glad to be adding this book to our list. Thanks, Kirsten!

  4. Very cool. Some of our favorite camping places when we were traveling the country were in National Parks. Those parks really and truly are national treasures and I’m grateful for that camping trip!

  5. Wow, this book looks amazing. We live a little over an hour from Yosemite so I could see getting this book to read before the next time we go. Thanks, Kirsten!

  6. Oh wow. This book is so awesome! I have never read a picture book that had a camping trip in it. I will order this book, asap! Thanks for the great review and for putting me onto this wonderful book. 🙂

  7. This book sounds interesting and beautiful. I grew up in Western Colorado near the town of Redstone. It is beautiful there and we always heard tales of Roosevelt. There is a castle in the small, quaint town and Roosevelt spent time there. So, this book is of particular interest to me. Thanks for bringing it to my attention and adding it to the list.

    1. I love the library. I check out tons of books and then buy the one I fall in love with. This one would have been a “buy” for me had I not won it. Thanks for stopping by!

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