by Murphy, Jim
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), author of Walden, was one of the great American writers, philosophers, and naturalists of the 19th century. In this lovely gift book, Jim Murphy and illustrator Kate Kiesler create an enchanting tribute to a man who would have appreciated its simplicity. Thoreau made three trips into the wilderness of Maine, writing extensive journal entries and long articles about each trek. Most of the text of this book, only slightly revised by Murphy, stems from his third jaunt in 1857. The account begins as Thoreau and his two companions, Edward Hoar and their Native American guide Joe Polis, embark one misty September morning in a birch-bark canoe on Maine's Moosehead Lake. Escaping from Concord, Massachusetts, Thoreau welcomes the wilderness: "We live thick and are in each other's way, and I think that we thus lose some respect for one another.... [But then] I leave the towns behind, and life becomes gradually more tolerable, if not even glorious." Glorious, indeed. As the reader follows the travelers, they hear the call of the kingfisher, see the lake trout break the surface of the water, paddle into the Penobscot River, spy moose, and get lost in a swamp. It's an unsuspenseful journey, but a calming, evocative one. Kiesler's moody oil paintings beautifully capture the quiet wonders of nature, while her subtle pencil drawings of birds, plants, and explorer essentials decorate the right-hand pages. For those who aren't familiar with Thoreau, a brief biography begins this book--a fine, elegant addition to the collection of any Thoreau fan, young or old. --Karin Snelson
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