Koch, Falynn. The National Parks: Preserving America’s Wild Places. First Second, 2022. 978-1-250-26587-6. 120 p. $19.99. Grades 7-10.
A friendly Sasquatch is our guide through The National Parks, a recent entry in First Second’s History Comics series of graphic nonfiction for middle grade and teen readers. Today, our parks and national monuments successfully blend tourism with conservation of unique ecosystems (as well as history), but getting here was a circuitous path. When Congress established the National Park Service in 1916, it was in charge of thirteen national parks. Today the National Park System encompasses over 60 national parks and hundreds of additional federal park sites. In this conversational history of “America’s best idea” to preserve our wild places, author and illustrator Falynn Koch colorfully portrays the visionaries, politicians, Native Americans, wildlife, and occasional scoundrels who contributed to the evolution of our park system. She also addresses the forced removal of indigenous people from land that would eventually be parks: “If we don’t reexamine the past and face these grim truths, we can’t learn from them and make a better future” (92).
THOUGHTS: Rich with historical anecdotes and images of our varied parks, this one will have readers thinking, “The mountains are calling & I must go” (~ John Muir).
333 National Parks Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD
Gutman, Dan. Wait! What? Teddy Roosevelt Was a Moose? Norton Young Readers. 978-1-324-01564-2. 106 p. $16.95. Gr 3-5.
Brother and sister duo Paige and Turner narrate this anything-but-ordinary biography of Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt was America’s 26th President, but he is also remembered for his love of animals, his interest in conservation, his hearty appetite, his love of fierce competition, and much, much more. This highly conversational biography includes spot illustrations on almost every page as well as headshots of Paige and Turner, so readers always can tell who is narrating. The siblings talk readers through each stage of Roosevelt’s life in different chapters, highlighting important events from his childhood, presidency, and post-presidency. In addition to traditional, expected facts, they also detail surprising tidbits, such as how he ran his own “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History” when he was a boy and how he enjoyed skinnydipping in the Potomac River. He also is credited for making football a safer sport, for reading a book a day, and for writing textbooks for the US Navy.
THOUGHTS: Hand this title, and others in the “Wait! What?” series, to fans of the “Who Was” biographies and to students who are interested in trivia and off-beat humor.
Biography Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD