Kathryn Lasky and Stan Fellows‘ just-published account (Candlewick Press, 4/06) of the life of John Muir makes for a stirring addition to this month’s study of U.S. history from 1850 to 1900.

Currents of awakening and discovery run through Lasky’s episodic text, which follows Muir from his boyhood in Scotland, beyond the reach of a violent, overbearing father, and through the creation of Yosemite National Park and his founding of the Sierra Club. Along the way, you also get Muir’s invention of an early-rising machine, a bout with malaria, and a literal cliffhanger on a great big glacier with a little bitty dog.

The text, rich with quotes from Muir’s own writings and with Lasky’s vivid descriptions of his adventures, is well-paired with Fellows’ wide-open illustrations. The unfinished-sketch-like quality of the art evokes the mid-epiphany observations Muir put into his own notebook, a touch that should make his experiences — already relevant — all the more tangible to today’s young readers.