The Dar­ing Ad­ven­tures of John Muir

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Graphic Novels -

Julie Bertagna, Wil­liam Goldsmith (Il­lus­tra­tor), Yosemite Con­ser­vancy (MARCH) Hard­cover $17.99 (128pp), 978-1-930238-94-7

Co-founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir is best known in en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist cir­cles. Julie Bertagna and Wil­liam Goldsmith de­light­fully il­lu­mi­nate his life in their graphic novel Wild­heart.

From his mod­est be­gin­nings in Scot­land, Muir lived his life fully in tune with his en­vi­ron­ment. His fam­ily moved to the United States when he was a boy, and his nat­u­ral cu­rios­ity and affin­ity for na­ture pro­vided the most valu­able lessons of his ed­u­ca­tion, as de­picted in the book.

In Wild­heart, Muir over­comes near-death ex­pe­ri­ences and dan­gers, as well as a tem­po­rary spell of blind­ness caused by a fac­tory ac­ci­dent, which in­spires him to spend the rest of his days “out in the wild beauty of the world.” Muir trav­els ex­ten­sively by foot in Amer­ica, go­ing so far as the Alaska ter­ri­tory. The lat­ter ad­ven­ture in­tro­duces Muir’s dog Stic­k­een, and the two trav­el­ers bond, prompt­ing the ob­ser­va­tion that “hu­mans and an­i­mals are true com­pan­ions on the Earth.”

Goldsmith’s il­lus­tra­tions are de­cep­tively sim­ple, cap­tur­ing the es­sen­tial el­e­ments of the story in a clean, ap­peal­ing, al­most child­like style, but they are no less in­spir­ing or beau­ti­ful for it. Muir’s won­der at the nat­u­ral world trans­lates per­fectly.

Round­ing out the book is a chronol­ogy of Muir’s life, along with a glos­sary and a list of sources for Muir’s words and in­spi­ra­tion. The glos­sary is in­dica­tive of the book’s ef­fort to ap­peal to young read­ers, with terms like “scurvy,” “per­ilous,” “kin,” and “con­ti­nent” de­fined, among oth­ers. The beauty of Wild­heart is that it de­liv­ers its mes­sage ef­fec­tively and en­joy­ably for both chil­dren and adults.

Art­work from Wild­heart: The Dar­ing Ad­ven­tures of JohnMuir, by Julie Bertagna, Wil­liam Goldsmith (Il­lus­tra­tor). Used with per­mis­sion from Yosemite Con­ser­vancy.

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