May 1, 2022 issue of School Library Journal

THE NATIONAL PARKS: Preserving America's Wild Places
Author: Falynn Koch
Gr 5-7–Trotting in Bigfoot as tour guide and spokescryptid for all of our national parks, monuments, and historical sites, Koch offers both a general celebration of their wonders and value and a history of how they came to be. This begins with the forcible removal of the indigenous Miwoks from the Ahwahnee valley (later renamed “Yosemite”) in 1851 and continues on to the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone in the 1990s. Koch includes nuanced introductions to significant figures and visionaries of the past, from Presidents Grant and Roosevelts to John Muir (an overt racist, for all his good works) and Marjory ­Stoneman Douglas. Readers will come away ­understanding how the parks and other preserves as we know them today are the products of ­often violent struggles between competing interests: native populations and would-be settlers; commercial exploiters and preservers of wild places; strict conservationists and officials bent on improving access with new roads and facilities. Brightly colored cartoon art in sequential panels featuring animated people (notably an excitable Teddy Roosevelt, who positively bounds across some pages) and wild creatures livens up the substantial informational load, which is presented ­almost ­entirely as dialogue and capped by a time line to 2019 and a short list of print ­resources. VERDICT Middle grade readers visiting any of the hundreds of ­national park sites will find their enjoyment and appreciation of the experience much enhanced by this graphic overview.
–John ­Edward Peters

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