Thursday, November 17, 2016

Minn of the Mississippi, by Holling Clancy Holling

Holling Clancy Holling continues his penchant for natural history epics for children.  In this volume, we learn about the landscape and history of the Mississippi River through the eyes of Minn, a three-legged snapping turtle.

We first observe her as the last hatchling to leave her nest, losing a leg to a stray bullet from a teenage hunter (later fined and relieved of his firearm for making use of it on Federal land).  Over time she not only travels downriver, but encounters other wildlife, hibernates on the river bottom over the winter, matures into a large adult, and lays eggs of her own.

The volume is the size of a large picture book (only thicker).  The story is punctuated by full-page color illustrations of Minn and the landscape, and the margins around the text are full of pencil drawings demonstrating cell growth and comparative biology, maps and diagrams, and specifics of other species and technology encountered in the story.

This book is an amazing work of art and knowledge.  That said, I had trouble summoning the patience to read it in its entirety.  I honestly wasn't that attached to Minn that much (the story is so matter-of-fact that it's difficult to summon up emotions for her experiences), and at 86 pages, the story feels very long.  I would have found it easier to cover the same material as a non-fiction work with more chapters.  I'm sure there are plenty of children who would appreciate this volume; I just wouldn't have been one.

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