Mary Ann's Reviews > Yellowstone Moran: Painting the American West

Yellowstone Moran by Lita Judge
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Jan 31, 10

bookshelves: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, adventure, biography, environment, nonfiction, picture-books, history
Read in January, 2010

Yellowstone has always held a special place in my heart, with its beautiful meadows, soaring mountains and awe-inspiring geysers. Yellowstone Moran: Painting the American West shows what it was like for early explorers to venture into this wilderness in the 1800s, and how Thomas Moran's paintings helped capture its beauty and persuade Congress to protect it.

Thomas Moran "had never ridden a horse, never shot a gun, and never slept in the open air," but he was determined to join Dr. Hayden's expedition to explore the land called the Yellowstone. "Few men had explored this high wilderness. Those who had been there told strange tales of mud volcanoes and spouting geysers at a place called Firehole Basin." The expedition was hard work, climbing steep mountain passes on horseback, fording rushing rivers, sometimes only covering a few miles a day. Readers will be astounded, along with Moran, at the sight of steaming hot springs, massive waterfalls, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Moran's paintings helped to convince President Grant to designate Yellowstone as the first National Park in 1871. I particularly liked the author's note at the end which describes for young readers how she used the expedition members' journals to reconstruct the story. Judge has recreated Moran’s style in her dramatic watercolors, and her paintings (like Moran's) will make young readers want to venture to Yellowstone themselves. For another review of Yellowstone Moran, see The Miss Rumphius Effect.
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