This strange wilderness The life and art of John James Audubon

Nancy Plain

Book - 2015

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Children's Room jBIOGRAPHY/Audubon, John James Checked In
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press 2015.
Physical Description
xviii, 112 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references (page 105) and index.
Main Author
Nancy Plain (-)
  • Drawn from nature
  • Beloved boy
  • America, my country
  • The American woodsman
  • Down the Mississippi
  • On the wing
  • The birds of America
  • Team Audubon
  • This strange wilderness
  • Audubon then and now
  • Looking for Audubon and his world.
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Raised in wealth and privilege in France, 18-year-old Jean-Jacques Audubon was sent by his father to America to avoid service in Napoleon's army. When he arrived in his adopted country, he already loved searching for birds and sketching them but was dissatisfied with his drawings. Over the next few years, he honed his skills as both naturalist and artist he also married, moved to the frontier, and lost his fortune. At 36, he began the ambitious project of creating The Birds of America, the monumental book that would establish his lasting reputation as an ornithologist and artist. Plain chronicles Audubon's adventurous life in a succinct, absorbing narrative that is well researched, meticulously documented, and beautifully written. The excellent color illustrations include photos and sketches as well as many paintings. Quotes from Audubon's writings add his lively voice to the narrative, and he emerges as a complex figure struggling, with little success, to balance his love of nature, adventure, and family. Plain also clearly explains why Audubon's bird illustrations were groundbreaking in their time and are still admired today. Insightful background reading for fans of Gary D. Schmidt's novel Okay for Now (2011), this biography offers a vivid introduction to Audubon's life and work.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-In this insightful biography, Plain demonstrates how naturalist and artist John James Audubon's groundbreaking The Birds of America, published in England in 1827, rocked the art and science worlds through its depictions of birds in naturalistic poses and in their own habitats. Born in Haiti and raised in France, Audubon (1785-1851) displayed a passion for drawing early on. As an adult, living and working in the United States, he struggled to portray birds realistically, eventually using wires to hold his specimens on boards in lifelike poses. Readers will get a strong sense of how devoted the man was to his cause, often leaving his family to roam the American wilderness hunting birds or to work on his book in England. Through beautifully crafted prose, Plain vividly describes the land Audubon loved, often in his own words, quoted from his letters. Audubon's stunning artwork is beautifully reproduced and paired with his thoughts on specific illustrations. Readers will also appreciate the inclusion of relevant paintings, photographs, and other images. This narrative of the life of a dedicated and hard-working figure is the story of an amazing individual and a glimpse into the natural history of the early United States. VERDICT An excellent addition to science and biography collections.-Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

John James Audubon's 1838 masterpiece, The Birds of America, "marked the beginning of modern ornithology," and this volume dramatizes the life and times of the man who devoted his life to creating it. Audubon's life was a high-risk adventure story set in the early days of the United States, when Lewis and Clark had completed their explorations, settlers were beginning to head west, and the Trail of Tearswitnessed by Audubonwas an American tragedy. Audubon suffered the deaths of two baby girls and business failures, and he put his marriage at risk to do what he loved more than anythingtramp across the country and paint birds. In an age before photography, he created detailed, lifelike paintings of 489 species of birds, each bird looking real enough "to hop off the page and fly away." The beautifully designed volume includes many reproductions of Audubon's paintings, from the owls on the cover to the many full-page, full-color interior illustrations. Though occasionally florid, Plain's writingdrawing largely on Audubon's ownis lively and colorful, perfect for describing the swamps, forest, rivers and prairies Audubon so loved. Like Audubon's paintings, this volume "glow[s] with life." A superb introduction to the life and times of a great American artist and naturalist. (appendix, glossary, source notes, bibliography, illustration credits, index) (Biography. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.