I Begin with Spring

The Life and Seasons of Henry David Thoreau

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Pub Date 01 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 10 May 2022

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I Begin with Spring weaves natural history around Thoreau's life and times in a richly illustrated field notebook format that can be opened anywhere and invites browsing on every page. Beginning each season with quotes from Thoreau's schoolboy essay about the changing seasons, I Begin with Spring follows him through the fields and woods of Concord, the joys and challenges of growing up, his experiment with simple living on Walden Pond, and his participation in the abolition movement, self-reliance, science, and literature.

The book's two organizing themes--the chronology of Thoreau's life and the seasonal cycle beginning with spring--interact seamlessly on every spread, suggesting the correspondence of human seasons with nature's. Thoreau's annual records of blooms, bird migrations, and other natural events scroll in a timeline across the page bottoms, and the backmatter includes a summary of how those dates have changed from his day to ours and what that tells us about the science of phenology and climate change.

Megan Baratta's watercolors are augmented with historical images and reproductions of Thoreau's own sketches to create a high-interest visual experience. The book includes a foreword from Thoreau scholar Jeffrey Cramer, Curator of Collections for the Walden Woods Project.

I Begin with Spring weaves natural history around Thoreau's life and times in a richly illustrated field notebook format that can be opened anywhere and invites browsing on every page. Beginning each...

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EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9780884489085
PRICE $18.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

I Begin With Spring by Julie Dunlap and illustrated by Megan Elizabeth Baratta was a great book. Kids need more books like this– it is so wonderful because it ties in a work of classic literature and makes it readable for kids of all ages. It is full of beautiful watercolor illustrations, and brings the work of HDT to life.

Henry David Thoreau is considered by many to be the environmental father of the green movement. As a teacher, scientist, historian, student, author, and naturalist, Thoreau has made a number of contributions to the ecological movement, his most significant including his own personal published reflections on conservation and his search for the meaning of life through the relationship he had with nature. His published works have “helped to launch the American environmental movement that continues to this day,” and understanding Thoreau is key to conservation efforts today. By studying Thoreau and putting his ideals into practice, we can overcome the challenges facing the modern environment.

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This carefully crafted gem recounts some of the highlights of Henry David Thoreau's life. It paints vivid scenes with few words and reads like a field guide of the artist's life with whimsical annotated illustrations of animals, plants, and sceneries from his life. This inspiring read reminds readers to live fully and appreciate the little things that nature gifts us while constantly thirsting for more knowledge. Ideas at the end of the book inspire young readers to make careful observations of their own like this naturalist and literary genius.

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I Begin with Spring is an illustrated book about Henry David Thoreau's life and the progression of the seasons of the year. The many beautiful watercolor illustrations of the nature he loved and of the things he used in daily life are both informative and charming. The detailed descriptions of the natural world will make this appeal to any child who is interested in nature and the changing of the seasons, as Thoreau was. This is a picture book, but the text is quite dense and some pages have no images at all so this would not be a good fit for most very young children. This would be a wonderful book for children interested in nature or Thoreau or any adult Thoreau fan.

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