cover image I Begin with Spring: The Life and Seasons of Henry David Thoreau

I Begin with Spring: The Life and Seasons of Henry David Thoreau

Julie Dunlap, illus. by Megan Elizabeth Barrata. Tilbury House, $18.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-88448-908-5

The seasons and their variations provide a framework for this absorbing biography of Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862). Starting with Thoreau’s springtime forest rambles in Concord, Mass., Dunlap chronicles the figure’s youthful forays into natural history, going on to note major milestones in the seasons of his life, including his famous move to Walden Pond (“the perfect spot to talk with friends about transcendentalism”) and his accomplishments as a writer, naturalist, and lecturer. Well-chosen quotes from the naturalist’s writing are woven throughout the narrative text, including excerpts from his childhood essay “The Seasons.” Scattered across each page, Barrata’s delicate sketches of flora and fauna are captioned with notes for a nature journal effect, and a timeline of monthly observations appears as a running footer. Dunlap provides useful scientific and historical context, touching on industrialization, politics, and slavery in this richly detailed field guide to Thoreau that offers older readers ample inspiration for outdoor exploration. Back matter includes further resources, notes on climate change, and instructions for creating a nature calendar. Ages 9–12. (Mar.)