cover image Wildheart: The Daring Adventures of John Muir

Wildheart: The Daring Adventures of John Muir

Julie Bertagna, illus. by William Goldsmith. Yosemite Conservancy, $17.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-930238-94-7

John Muir, a fascinating character in American environmental history, migrated to the U.S. from Scotland in the middle of the 19th century, where his fondness for nature sent him to explore and preserve some of America’s most majestic sites, including Yosemite National Park. Divided into episodic chapters, this graphic biography shares the broad strokes of Muir’s life in an accessible format. Bertagna (Exodus) recasts Muir as a mix of Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed, following him as he journeys across the Atlantic, settles into the frontier, and gradually begins life-changing trips that allow him “to drink in the grand show of nature.” The first-person voice adds a lively immediacy to the spare text, which is extended in Goldsmith’s panels, rendered in thick, uncluttered lines washed with watercolors that evoke the natural world that Muir loved so much. Unfortunately, the book’s omission of Native Americans perpetuates an image of a white explorer “discovering” long-inhabited lands. While the book introduces an important conservation figure and offers a moving ode to nature, it fails to present an inclusive, accurate view of U.S. history. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)