Bertagna, Julie. (Illus. William Goldsmith). Wildheart: The Daring Adventures of John Muir. Yosemite National Park, CA: Yosemite Conservancy, 2019.
Finding biographies that are accessible to younger or reluctant readers and still full of engaging and useful information about the subject can be trying. Enter this John Muir biography in graphic novel format. From early boyhood in Scotland (look up Scootchers!), to immigrating to Wisconsin with his family, and throughout the adventures of adulthood, John Muir always had a passion for the outdoors. While he is most closely associated with Yosemite in California, he traveled widely, became a successful inventor, author, farmer, and even hung out with President Theodore Roosevelt. Muir used his celebrity to become an early conservationist and was instrumental in establishing America’s National Parks.
Told in the first person, Wildheart does not get mired in detail nor address questions of inclusivity, rather it moves quickly providing readers with a broad idea of the origins of Muir’s philosophy and legacy in the form of a life-long adventure story. The artwork is skillfully done in color themes that change with the chapters and panels with lots of action. Like any quality nonfiction title, this one has sources in the back matter along with a chronology, glossary and a section titles “Parks are for You,” encouraging all to visit their local state and national parks. It’s a strong addition to the biography collections of elementary and middle schools, and a graphic novel title with lots of classroom uses.
Dewey: 333.72 Interest Level: Grades 3-6
Reviews and Awards: Booklist; Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books; Horn Book Magazine; Publishers Weekly Annex; School Library Connection; School Library Journal starred.
Younger readers might like: John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall by Julie Danneberg
Older readers might like: A Short Biography of John Muir by Richard Smith
Film for a YA audience: Mile, Mile and a Half: Hike, Laugh & Inspire on the John Muir Trail. (2013). Rated TV-14. Directors: Jason M. Fitzpatrick, Ric Serena. Documentary. Five friends hike and document the John Muir trail.
On the web: Lots more resources including recordings, film and video, and photos can be found at the Sierra Club vault at https://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/bibliographic_resources/john_muir_bibliography/film_and_video.aspx.