Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His Dream (with audio recording)

Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His Dream (with audio recording)

by Robert Burleigh, Wendell Minor
     
 

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As a young man, John James Audubon, the renowned American woodsman and artist, had to make a choice between following his father's dreams for him and discovering his own special destiny.
In this beautifully conceived book, Robert Burleigh imagines a conversation in which Audubon tells his father why he has chosen to forgo the ordinary life of a shop-keeper and…  See more details below

Overview

As a young man, John James Audubon, the renowned American woodsman and artist, had to make a choice between following his father's dreams for him and discovering his own special destiny.
In this beautifully conceived book, Robert Burleigh imagines a conversation in which Audubon tells his father why he has chosen to forgo the ordinary life of a shop-keeper and instead live out in nature to develop his art and his relationship with the world. Illustrated not only with sumptuous images by Wendell Minor, but with actual drawings by Audubon himself, this book will appeal to his fans of all ages.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Having previously written about Thoreau, Lindbergh and Babe Ruth, Burleigh continues his series of biographies of famous men in this poetic picture book about John James Audubon (1785-1851), sumptuously illustrated by Minor. The volume begins with advice to Audubon from his father: " `Be a store owner,' his father said./ But John went to the woods instead." As an author's note explains, what follows is Burleigh's imagined response, penned by Audubon in a letter to his father, in an ornate 19th-century style with rhymed couplets: "O father, dear Father, to me it seems/ No one can fail who holds to his dreams." The flow of the narrative parallels quotations from the naturalist's journals, just as Audubon's own paintings sometimes appear as spot art to mirror Minor's illustrations. Author and artist present Audubon as both idealistic and gentle, and though he doesn't "save every cent" as his father wants him to, he ends up "saving" in his artwork the disappearing world he observes ("And I must paint it all because/ We need this memory of what was"). His philosophy wafts through the volume like a summer breeze. Minor breathtakingly captures a landscape with a blue heron in the marsh as easily as a close-up of a dying dove, alongside a poem deft and sure. Nature-lovers and budding artists will want to know about this one. Ages 6-up. (Feb.)
Children's Literature
Rather than writing a biography of Johan James Audubon, as one might initially have expected, the author has given us a reflection on Audubon's love of animals and his drive to observe and illustrate them in their natural habitat. The book is two stories in one, as each page contains an imagined conversation between Audubon and his father, as well as lines from Audubon's personal diaries. In the fabricated conversation, our woodsman/artist explains his motivations for pursuing his course. It is not until the final two pages of the book that we are given a two-paragraph summary of Audubon's life. In full-page depictions of Audubon in his field of study, the illustrator has brought his own love of nature to the pages of the book. As an added benefit, some of Audubon's own carefully rendered illustrations are portrayed throughout. This book will provide good supplementary material for the student who is researching either the life of Audubon or drawing from nature. 2003, Atheneum Books,
— Susan Schott Karr
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-This picture-book biography of one of America's best-known naturalists offers readers a real slice of Americana. It focuses on an imaginary letter that Audubon has written to his father in which he tries to explain why he has rejected urban life. The narrative clearly depicts the love and respect that he had for nature, and conveys the lure of the outdoors that Audubon found irresistible. The lyrical prose makes this volume a compelling read-aloud, and the excerpts from Audubon's journal lend authenticity to the text. Lush illustrations clearly depict the beauty of the landscape. Minor's paintings are complemented by several of Audubon's own drawings. This combination is visually effective, but it will be hard for children to determine the illustrator of each piece. Although Audubon's works are noted below the copyright information, the page numbers given don't seem to match up with the illustrations, making it difficult to identify his art in this unpaged book. Despite the problems, the pictures are lovely and the text is pleasant.-Robyn Walker, Elgin Court Public School, St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A tribute to the naturalist and artist John J. Audubon pairs verse by the author with quotations from Audubon's journals. On each page of text are several lines of a poem explaining Audubon's decision to abandon a life of commerce and take to the woods to pursue his passions: nature and drawing. Much of the poem is in Audubon's voice and addressed to his father, who had hoped for a different sort of life for his son. Audubon's intent went beyond his personal enjoyment of nature. He describes holding a beautiful dove in his hands as it died: "And as I watched it die I knew / The world I love is passing too." He had a mission, a fact he tries to convey to his father: "Fear not, Father, I'm true to you, / I have my whole life's work to do." Below the lines of the poem are Audubon's own words describing his wonder at the natural world: "Who can imagine my dear country's dark woods, its great forests, its vast Atlantic bays, its thousands of streams, lakes, and magnificent rivers? I wish that I could draw it all!" Both the verse and the quotes from Audubon's journals are lovely and poignant, although the quotes break the rhythm of the poem. The illustrations include both Minor's (Cliff Hanger, 2002, etc.) watercolor depictions of Audubon's wanderings amid nature, paired with some of Audubon's own drawings of birds. The two are quite compatible in this feast for bird lovers. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781481428392
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
09/02/2014
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
929,107
Lexile:
790L (what's this?)
File size:
23 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

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Read an Excerpt


As a young man, John James Audubon, the renowned American woodsman and artist, had to make a choice between following his father's dreams for him and discovering his own special destiny.

In this beautifully conceived book, Robert Burleigh imagines a conversation in which Audubon tells his father why he has chosen to forgo the ordinary life of a shop-keeper and instead live out in nature to develop his art and his relationship with the world. Illustrated not only with sumptuous images by Wendell Minor, but with actual drawings by Audubon himself, this book will appeal to his fans of all ages.

Meet the Author

Wendell Minor has illustrated dozens of picture books, and his work has won countless awards and is in permanent collections of such institutions as the Museum of American Illustration and the Library of Congress. His cover illustrations have graced some of the most significant novels of our time by authors such as Toni Morrison, David McCullough, and James Michener. He lives in Washington, Connecticut. Visit him online at MinorArt.com.
Robert Burleigh is the award-winning author of many books for children, including The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn, illustrated by Barry Blitt; Night Flight, illustrated by Wendell Minor; and Black Whiteness, illustrated by Walter Lyon Krudop. His many other books include Hoops; Stealing Home; and Clang! Clang! Beep! Beep! He lives in Michigan.

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