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Stickeen: John Muir and the Brave little Dog

By John Muir, as retold by Donnell Rubay. Illustrated by Christopher Canyon.

( from the publisher's press release: 1998 )

Stickeen Picture Book Cover Stickeen: John Muir and the Brave little Dog
By John Muir, as retold by Donnell Rubay. Illustrated by Christopher Canyon.
for ages 4 to 12

Picture Book of John Muir's Classic Dog Story Traces Animal's Emotions

Stickeen: John Muir and the Brave Little Dog By John Muir as retold by Donnell Rubay

John Muir's true adventure on an Alaskan glacier with a dog, Stickeen, is now retold in modern language with stunning illustrations, for another generation of children to enjoy. Not only is this classic story great drama-"the most memorable of all my wild days," according to Muir-but it is compelling because it clearly shows the developing emotions of a dog.

Prize-winning illustrator Christopher Canyon's art enhances Donnell Rubay's retelling of this tale. The true story describes the developing relationship between Muir and the aloof, unfriendly little dog, Stickeen. After becoming stranded on the glacier, Muir and Stickeen reach safety with the help of a courageous trip over an ice bridge. Stickeen's aloofness is then replaced by rapturous emotion and his unfriendliness towards Muir turns to adoration.

After watching Stickeen express emotions, Muir said, "I have ever since been looking with deeper sympathy into all my fellow mortals."

During her research, Rubay discovered that Muir spent close to thirty years working on the story. One reason for this was because, though the tale is a simple one, Muir felt it was the hardest thing he ever tried to write. Muir saw Stickeen as "the herald of a new gospel" adding "in all my wild walks, seldom have I had a more definite or useful message to bring back." Muir wanted to present that message in the best way possible.

Muir published two versions of Stickeen: the first in Century magazine in 1897, and the second in book form in 1909. Yet after he had met Stickeen, the little dog was never long from Muir's thoughts. Over one hundred books from Muir's library-primarily works by Thomas Carlyle, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Sir Walter Scott-contain notes about Stickeen. In these notes, Muir continually returns to how Stickeen widened his view of the world-allowing him to see that emotions such as joy and fear do not fall upon man alone. In Muir's time, a popular topic of debate among scientists and philosophers was whether animals had souls or spirits-or acted only on instinct. Through the pup Stickeen, Muir "saw down into [a] common nature" shared by man and animal.

The wonderful, life-enriching story is retold using many of Muir's original words, thoughts and images, but in a manner that children can readily understand. The book includes a resource section on the extraordinary naturalist, John Muir.

Donnell Rubay lives in Benicia, California, and is a former high school English and Social Studies teacher, as well as a former lawyer. Illustrator Christopher Canyon of Columbus, Ohio, journeyed in the footsteps of Muir to the very glacier in Alaska where this adventure took place, as part of his preparation for this project.

Dawn Publications specializes in books on environmental subjects for children.

Dawn Publications
14618 Tyler Foote Road
Nevada City, CA 95959
Contact: Victoria Covell

The book dust jacket summary for this book is also available.

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