An outstanding book for young naturalists
Floy Hutchings, also known as Squirrel, is the daughter of the man who opened the first hotel in the Yosemite Valley in the 1860s. She has to fend for herself much of the time and is considered wild by her family and her father's guests. When the future naturalist John Muir is hired as a carpenter, Floy becomes his inquisitive shadow as he builds himself a cabin over a stream, talks to flowers, and listens to snow. Floy, determined never to grow up because she'd have to be a lady, and Muir, searching nature for a way to live free of society's expectations, are primed to find common ground.
In this story set against a backdrop of watercolor paintings that vividly capture the beauty of Yosemite, Floy learns to see the world through John Muir's eyes.
About the Author
Caldecott Medalist Emily Arnold McCully is the author and/or illustrator of numerous books for children. She lives in New York City.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When author/artist Emily Arnold McCully set her sights on famed naturalist John Muir and a little girl whom he met in Yosemite in 1868 the result was a splendid story which isn't totally true - but, it could have been. At that time Muir was 30-years-old. He'd been to college, worked at several jobs, and felt a strong call to commune with nature and discover its laws. When he arrived in Yosemite hoping to prove his theory of glacial formation, he was hired by James Hutchings, an English journalist bent on attracting tourism to the area. Hutchings was also bent on one other task - taming his spirited daughter, Floy. Here was a girl who never wanted to grow up because then she'd have to be a lady. A thought quite repellant to the rebellious young miss whose nickname was Squirrel. She happily spent hours 'talking to the family's pet parrot, balancing on a plank by the woodpile, making mud pies, and capturing frogs.' As the story develops Muir and Squirrel soon become the best of friends as he shows her how to see through his eyes the incredible surroundings in which she lives. It is not known whether or not Floy grew up to be a lady, but it is known that John Muir became famous and the world has benefitted by what he learned. - Gail Cooke