Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a Life in Nature
Notes in the end matter describe young Ansel Adams as “a nervous child…unable to sit still or pay attention.” Luckily for Ansel and admirers of his fine photography, his father eventually opted for a home-school environment that better suited his child’s curious, energetic disposition. Ansel’s antsy nature led him outdoors, where he was free to explore the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1900s. A camera and a book about and subsequent trip to Yosemite Valley grabbed hold of Ansel’s attention in a way no classroom ever could.
Jenson-Elliott’s writing transports readers to Ansel’s environment: “Gusting gales pushed and pulled; salt spray stung his cheeks; surf pounded the sand – BOOM!” With the “swoosh-flutter-flit-flee” of birds or the “snap,” “flash,” “click” of the camera, readers are treated to a sensory experience, and Hale’s earth-tone digital collage illustrations are a wonderful accompaniment. Two double-page spreads of the Sierra Nevada and Redwood National Parks are particularly noteworthy, displaying the enormity of these natural wonders. Reference notes provide a fuller biography of Adams, though much of what’s offered here is already conveyed in the story; additional photographs are much more preferred. This glimpse at Ansel Adams’ childhood may serve to highlight alternative ways to engage similarly antsy youth.
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Cindy Jenson-Elliott • Christy Hale, Illustrator