Yellowstone Moran

Yellowstone Moran: Painting the American West by Lita Judge

Thomas Moran was a painter who lived in the city.  When he met Dr. Hayden, a geologist, who was heading into Yellowstone, he didn’t want to admit that he had never been on a horse, never shot a gun, and never slept outside.  Moran joined the expedition in the summer of 1871 and learned on the trail to ride a horse.  Tom befriended the team photographer on the difficult journey.  After weeks of travel, they entered Yellowstone: a place of sulfur smells, white rock, gorges, waterfalls, and wonder.  Tom painted everything he saw, recording in small paintings and sketches with notes.  When he returned home after a harrowing exit from Yellowstone, he painted large canvases capturing the grandeur of this new landscape.

A delightful mixture of adventure and art, this book will intrigue children interested in both subjects.  Judge uses humor, drama and a great sense of pacing to tell a story that will keep young reader riveted.  Just the idea that the United States had not been fully explored in 1817 will astound some children.  Judge’s paintings that accompany the story offer a sense of the place itself, without attempting to mimic Moran’s style.  The illustrations help create the sense of journey, danger and amazement.

Recommended for art classes, but also as a fascinating biography in picture book form.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy provided by publisher.

You can check out Lita Judge’s blog to see some of her illustrations in sketch form.