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Squirrel and John Muir Hardcover – August 26, 2004

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 620L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (August 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374336970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374336974
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 8.7 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #909,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4–Floy, nicknamed Squirrel, lives in the Yosemite Valley with her parents who own and operate a hotel. Her father hires John Muir as a handyman, and his knowledge of the animals, plants, and geology of the region captivates the feisty girl. He spends hours outdoors with her, showing her how to examine insects under a magnifying glass and to recognize glacier trails. But his naive, good humor and rugged, good looks also capture the attention of visitors. A rift develops between John and his boss, so the naturalist decides to move on. Squirrel is devastated but somewhat mollified when he shows her his special mountainside perch, where he assures her she will have her "best thoughts." The afterword explains how this fictionalized retelling of an actual relationship reveals much about the compelling founder of the Sierra Club. Both his gentle personality and steely determination to see his beliefs recognized by his peers come through clearly. On the other hand, Squirrel seems persistently petulant and often downright rude; the abrupt conclusion leaves readers wondering about this rather unlikable heroine. McCully's sure watercolors capture the stunning natural beauty of the area and provide a majestic backdrop for the small figure of Squirrel. This offering is best used to introduce Muir to budding naturalists or to supplement geology and conservation units.–Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

K-Gr. 3. Once again, the creator of the Caldecott Medal winner Mirette on the High Wire (1992) makes a wild, small girl the center of stirring picture-book historical fiction. Floy "Squirrel" Hutchings, six, has always lived in the Yosemite Valley. In 1868, when John Muir finds a job in the hotel owned by Floy's father, the fierce, lonely kid defies the newcomer. But Muir's love for the natural world is contagious, and soon he's teaching Floy how to look closely at the rocks, trails, animals, birds, and plants around her. McCully's beautiful, double-page watercolor landscapes, many in strong shades of green and brown, show and tell how the great conservationist helps Squirrel discover the amazing world where she lives, from the tiniest ant to the towering mountains and valleys formed by glaciers. In an afterword, McCully talks about Muir's later work (he helped create Yosemite National Park and founded the Sierra Club) and about Floy's short life. The contrast between the child's "glowering loneliness" and the rich solitude she finds in nature will move young wilderness lovers profoundly. A bibliography is appended. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Emily Arnold McCully was born left-handed in Galesburg, Illinois. She was a dare-devil tree-climber and ball-player who loved to write stories and illustrate them. Her family moved to New York City and then to a suburb, where she attended school. After college at Brown University, she earned a Master's degree at Columbia University in art history. She worked as a freelance illustrator for magazines, advertisements and book publishers until a radio station commissioned a series of posters showing children playing. The first appeared in subway cars, where it was seen by a children's book editor. It launched a long career, first as an illustrator, then as author/illustrator of picture books. McCully won a Caldecott Medal in 1993. She has two grown sons, one grandson and lives in New York City and Columbia County, N.Y., where she grows flowers and vegetables.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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My kids enjoyed this book and the illustrations were nice.
A. Sellers
The author has provided the reader with a good afterward letting us know, briefly, what became of both Muir and Floy, which I found to be quite interesting.
D. Blankenship
McCully's artwork gives us a sense of moments of self-discovery in nature, frozen in time.
Science Teacher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on September 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
All of characters peopling this work actually existed as was and still are the geographical locations. The author has taken this information, the different personalities and traits of each individual character and blended them together into a story that might have been.

This tale is mainly about Floy Hutchings, whose nick name was Squirrel due to her Tom Boy ways, rebellious nature and general free spirit and her encounter with America's most famous Naturalist, John Muir. Around 1868 the Hutchings family owned a hotel and what we would now call a "dude ranch" in the Yosemite valley where Floy pretty well ran wild, causing trouble for not only her family, but also rather annoying the tourist who came to visit. "A very strange little girl," it was noted by more than one visitor! The Hutchings family needed help in constructing some buildings and when John Muir showed up at the front door seeking work he fit the bill, as he was rather skillful in constructing, inventing and handy with tools.

Muir had come to the area to observed, gather facts, write and publish his theories that the region was originally formed my glaciers; a fact which was not accepted in the scientific world at that time.

This entire book is the story of the possible relationship between this wild and rebellious young lady and John Muir who passed his love of nature, the land and his philosophy on to young Floy. Muir was about 30 years old at the time and had not come into his own and was not internationally known as he later become. This story is a sweet one, well told emphasizing the love, wonder, delight and tenderness Muir had toward nature and his ability to pass it on to the next generation.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When author/artist Emily Arnold McCully set her sights on famed naturalist John Muir and a little girl whom he met in Yosemite in 1868 the result was a splendid story which isn't totally true - but, it could have been.

At that time Muir was 30-years-old. He'd been to college, worked at several jobs, and felt a strong call to commune with nature and discover its laws. When he arrived in Yosemite hoping to prove his theory of glacial formation, he was hired by James Hutchings, an English journalist bent on attracting tourism to the area. Hutchings was also bent on one other task - taming his spirited daughter, Floy. Here was a girl who never wanted to grow up because then she'd have to be a lady. A thought quite repellant to the rebellious young miss whose nickname was Squirrel. She happily spent hours "talking to the family's pet parrot, balancing on a plank by the woodpile, making mud pies, and capturing frogs."

As the story develops Muir and Squirrel soon become the best of friends as he shows her how to see through his eyes the incredible surroundings in which she lives.

It is not known whether or not Floy grew up to be a lady, but it is known that John Muir became famous and the world has benefitted by what he learned.

- Gail Cooke
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While the story alone is enough to engage even the most rambunctious children aged 4-8 and lead them to study nature, author-illustrator Emily Arnold McCully's natural watercolor artwork makes the words on the page come alive and awakens a yearning to experience nature too. There is more of the main character, a girl nicknamed "Squirrel," in most of us than we would like to admit! The book's images show us a spritely dynamo of a girl who goes from 'rebellious' to 'inquisitive' as her mentor, John Muir, a gentle giant of a man, teaches her many object lessons and observational skills in the great outdoors. This book won the 2005 Giverny Award, given annually for the best children's science picture book. McCully's artwork gives us a sense of moments of self-discovery in nature, frozen in time. In the story, Muir honed her powers of observation by his own example. He had not lost his childlike sense of wonder, even though, when he arrived at her father's hotel, SHE almost had. The sheer joy of studying nature with Muir gradually replaced her delight in causing trouble. Near the end of the story, Floy (Squirrel) even became a nature guide for the tourists who visited the Yosemite Valley. The torch had been passed to another generation.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Joan E. Aitken on January 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is about John Muir--an early naturalist in Yosemite Valley who founded the Sierra Club--and his young daughter called "Squirrel" This beautiful picture book is designed for early elementary. I would put together information about Muir--e.g., [...] --along with photos of Yosemite Valley so the students could imagine what it would be like to want to protect the land. This book would make a good historical bridge to science and environmental studies.
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