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Children's LiteratureThe name John Muir usually brings to mind giant redwood trees and the Sierra Club. Did you know he also thrived on trekking across glaciers in Alaska? This story recounts one harrowing adventure when Muir and a small terrier named Stickeen were climbing over and around, up and down a glacier trying to get back to the safety of their camp before dark. You can feel the cold-"Mountain streams crash upon the boulders. Trees bend in the wind...John enjoys nature's fierce weather." And you can see the cold in the dramatically detailed illustrations, all in shades of gray and brown and steel-blue ice. It's as if you could touch the frost on each hair of Stickeen's chin or Muir's beard. Muir uses a pick ax to chop steps in a sheer cliff of ice: "He must not slip. He is only inches away from death." Near the end, dog and man must cross a narrow ice bridge. "Stickeen wails. But does not cross." Finally, there is the warm red glow of the campfire-a sharp contrast to the page after page of ice and frigid air. This is a tense and dramatic story with exquisite illustrations. It would be a perfect classroom read-aloud for many age groups as well as an exciting book for individual browsing. 2003, Millbrook, Ages 4 up.
— Karen Leggett