The Camping Trip That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks

by Barb Rosenstock (Author) Mordecai Gerstein (Illustrator)

The Camping Trip That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Caldecott medalist Mordicai Gerstein captures the majestic redwoods of Yosemite in this little-known but important story from our nation's history. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt joined naturalist John Muir on a trip to Yosemite. Camping by themselves in the uncharted woods, the two men saw sights and held discussions that would ultimately lead to the establishment of our National Parks.

Kirkus Reviews

Wonderfully simple, sweet and engaging

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 1-4--Theodore Roosevelt (Teedie) and John Muir (Johnnie) both held important positions--Roosevelt was the youngest President of the United States, and Muir was a world-famous naturalist. In 1903, Roosevelt read of Muir's Sierra Mountain adventures and heard his plea for the government to save the mountain forests. Muir's response resulted in a meeting between Teedie and Johnnie, an adventure of only four days that traversed the wonders of the Yosemite Valley and established an understanding and respect between the two. Based on an actual event in which Roosevelt "dropped politics" and persuaded a reluctant Muir to camp with him, the book presents a fictionalized account of the shared experiences of these two strong-willed personalities that resulted in the addition of 18 national monuments and double the number of national parks. Gerstein's richly colored paint and detailed pen drawings heighten readers' vision of an expanded horizon on the full spreads. Turn the book lengthwise to accommodate the sequoia giants' full height, and back again as tiny vignettes fill the night sky in tales above lingering campfire shadows. Impressions of the wilderness emphasize the grand impact of the event, detailed by an author's note (bibliography and references to the Yosemite Research Library, John Muir National Site, and University of the Pacific Library are included). In interpreting and recording both personal relationships and the historical impact of the meeting, this offering makes a little-known bit of history accessible for younger readers, and encourages further research.--Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX

Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Barb Rosenstock
BARB ROSENSTOCK is the author of the Caldecott Honor Book The Noisy Paint Box; Vincent Can't Sleep; Through the Window; and Mornings with Monet, all also illustrated by Mary GrandPré, as well as many other books. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband, sons, and two big poodles. Visit her at

ERIKA MEZA is the illustrator of Salsa Lullaby by Jen Arena. She was born in Morelia, in the Mexican state where monarch butterflies go for the winter. She grew up in awe of the phenomenon, and carried the image of the butterfly as a piece of home when she moved to Paris to follow her dream of becoming an author and illustrator. Her themes are born out of the exploration of her migrant essence, her bittersweet relationship with change, and her attachment to innocence and curiosity. She now lives in London. Learn more about Erika at or on Twitter at @ErikaDraws.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Dial Books
Publication date
January 20, 2012
Parents Choice Awards (Spring) (2008-Up)
Silver Medal Winner 2012 - 2012
Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens
Recommended 2013 - 2013
South Carolina Childrens, Junior and Young Adult Book Award
Nominee 2013 - 2014
Buckaroo Book Award
Nominee 2013 - 2014
Monarch Award
Nominee 2014 - 2014
Land of Enchantment Book Award
Nominee 2013 - 2014
Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award
Nominee 2015 - 2015
Black-Eyed Susan Award
Nominee 2013 - 2014
Beehive Awards
Nominee 2015 - 2015
California Young Reader Medal
Nominee 2015 - 2015
Georgia Children's Book Award
Nominee 2015 - 2015

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