February 7, 2013

The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:27 am by suebe2

The Camping Trip that Changed America:
Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and our National Parks
by Barb Rosenstock
illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
Dial Books for Young Readers

Teedie Roosevelt was already president when he read John Muir’s adventures in California.  The President thought it was strange when Muir asked for help saving our wild forests.  He explained that they were vanishing and he called on the government to take the lead in saving them.

The experts that helped him make government decisions told a different tale.  The resources were vast.  There was no danger of using up all of our wilderness.

How could both Muir and the experts be right?  Roosevelt had heard directly from the experts, so he wrote Muir a letter.  The President was planning a trip out west and he invited Muir to take him camping.

Muir didn’t like crowds and listening to the President give speech after speech was tedious but he new this might be his best chance to get the help he needed.

Finally he and Roosevelt rode of cross country and entered the sequoia forest.  He explained to Roosevelt that these trees had been alive when the Egyptian pyramids were being built.  They were the largest living things on earth and would only quit growing if someone chopped them down.

At night, they told stories by the campfire.  They saw rocks smoothed by glaciers.  They saw vast open spaces but Muir explained to the President how ranchers and prospectors damaged the land.  He told about how companies planned to build hotels and shops throughout the valley.  All of this building would wipe out the wilderness Roosevelt had just explored.

Back in Washington, Roosevelt had to push Congress and then push some more.  In the end, he succeeded in establishing national parks, wilderness sanctuaries and forests.

He and Muir never saw each other again but they wrote to each other for the rest of their lives.

When we think of Roosevelt, we tend to think of a rough and tumble man of action.  Rosenstock’s Roosevelt loves a good adventure but he is also a thoughtful  man who can weigh what is popular against the latest information available.

Gerstein’s give life not only to the vast crowds of people gathered to hear from Roosevelt but the vast spaces stretching before him in Yosemite.  It is easy to see how people thought the wilderness would last and thus all that much more impressive that Roosevelt heard the truth in what Muir had to say and was able to show him.

This book is an excellent choice for young readers interested in Roosevelt as well as young environmentalists and nature lovers.

–SueBE

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