One Summer Up North

by John Owens (Author)

One Summer Up North
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

A wordless picture-book journey through the Boundary Waters, canoeing and camping with a family as they encounter the northwoods wilderness in all its spectacular beauty

It's a place of wordless wonder: the wilderness of the Boundary Waters on the Minnesota-Canada border. Travel its vast distances, canoe its streams and glacial lakes, take shelter from rain under a rocky outcropping (or in your tent), camp in its vaulting forests as stars embroider the darkening sky. Is this your first visit? Or is it already your favorite destination?

Come along--join a family of three as their journey unfolds, picture by picture, marking the changing light as the day passes, the stillness before the gathering storm, the shining waters everywhere, rushing here, quietly pooling there, beckoning us ever onward into nature's infinite wildness one summer up north.

Kirkus Reviews

The wordless text evokes the peaceful quiet of being outdoors, culminating in a particularly beautiful spread of a starry sky. The illustrations, rich with textured lines and a distinctive color palette, effectively capture the majestic scenery.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

A brown-skinned child initially seems dubious about a canoeing and backpacking trip to what an author's note from debut author Owens clarifies is Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. On the adventure's first leg, via a long canoe stacked with supplies, the figure sits a bit sullenly between two adults, one white and one brown-skinned. But nature is powerful magic, whether it takes the form of a curtain of gray rain, water dappled with reflections of fluffy clouds, or a belt of silvery stars stretching across a night sky. While too small to portage the canoe, the child begins to engage throughout the cozy spreads, taking up a paddle, delighting in the tent, picking wild blueberries, helping to fish for dinner, and waving at a moose who shares the water; the adults enjoy solitude and partnership, too. Debut author Owens uses no words in these pages, and readers won't miss them--digitally colored pencil illustrations, with their impressionistic touches of color, texture, and shape, exude a plainspoken eloquence. He adeptly portrays both big geographic expanses and wholly intimate moments of an affectionate family free from everyday distractions. Ages 3-up. (Sept.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

John Owens invites readers to accompany a family into a world of pine woods and clear water, hiking through misty mornings, camping beneath the bright blaze of the Milky Way. Evocative and memory-stirring, One Summer Up North is a journey well worth taking. — Eric Rohmann, Caldecott Medal-winning author of My Friend Rabbit

John Owens

John Owens is a freelance illustrator who teaches at the University of Minnesota. This book, his first, was inspired by his travels north to paddle, portage, and camp in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
University of Minnesota Press
Publication date
September 20, 2020
BISAC categories
JUV032170 - Juvenile Fiction | Sports & Recreation | Camping & Outdoor Activities
Library of Congress categories
Stories without words
Nature stories
Canoes and canoeing
Wordless picture books
Boundary Waters Canoe Area (Minn.)

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