Holling Clancy Holling
A Newbery Honor Book
Beautiful and detailed color and black & white illustrations
Another favorite book from my own childhood, Minn of the Mississippi is a great story, a wonderful natural history of the Mississippi River, and an outstanding geography/history lesson all rolled into one.
Minn is a snapping turtle who begins life as an egg laid at the source of the Mighty Mississippi. [I still remember my amazement when I learned while reading Minn at around age 9 that the Mississippi River also begins as something so small a child can stand astride it. The only part of the Mississippi I had ever seen was under the bridge we crossed every year to get to my grandmother’s house in southern Iowa — I had assumed the river was always about half a mile wide.]
One thing leads to another, and over the course of many, many years, Minn makes his way down the full length of the Mississippi, at last making his home among barnacle encrusted treasures left on the Gulf bottom by pirates and adventurers of long ago. Minn’s travels bring him into contact with most of the wildlife that makes its home in and near the river, many of the people, and evidence many peoples gone long before.
I just love Minn of the Mississippi and the story that is told here. One of the remarkable things that H. C. Hollings does here and elsewhere is to create a story where the animal at the center of the action remains an animal (i.e., no talking, thinking or anthropomorphic behavior), yet evokes in the reader a great sympathy and involvement. And he does this while teaching a huge amount about nature, geography and history! It doesn’t get better than this.