New graphic novel set to tell John Muir’s story to Scottish pupils

'One day's exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books', said John Muir, who nevertheless understood the power of the pen and w

'One day's exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books', said John Muir, who nevertheless understood the power of the pen and wrote prolifically about wild places and the need to protect them. This month a cartload of books about Muir’s life will go out to every secondary school in Scotland with a view to telling the story of his life and legacy.

The new graphic novel John Muir, Earth - Planet, Universe – a story told in illustrated format with a combination of Muir’s words and a carefully crafted narrative – has been created by Scottish Book Trust, Creative Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage as part of Year of Natural Scotland and John Muir legacy celebrations. It aims to share the story of the conservation visionary with new audiences, and invites discussion, reflection and action.

“The book and its online resources really brings out the adventurous spirit of John Muir from his childhood in Dunbar to his wanderings around America, and shows the origins of his campaigning zeal and passion for wilderness,” said Rob Bushby of the John Muir Trust who sat on the steering group for the development of the novel.

“The Scottish Book Trust is to be congratulated for capturing this in a way that’s already inspiring and engaging pupils, teachers and adults alike. It has the potential to be a game changer in bringing this often-neglected champion of wild places to a whole new audience.”

Written by award-winning author Julie Bertagna and illustrated by Glasgow-based artist William Goldsmith, the novel is based on the key moments and life adventures of John Muir and is intended to help children develop a deeper understanding and awareness of the natural environment and the importance of protecting wild places.

With the assistance of Keep Scotland Beautiful and the Eco-Schools Scotland programme, a class set of 24 copies will be distributed to every secondary school in Scotland this month to coincide with the opening of the John Muir Way by the First Minister on the 21 April 2014.

The novel was developed in partnership with John Muir Trust, Creative Scotland, Education Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage and in consultation with teachers and school pupils. It combines environmental studies with literacy in an innovative way that hasn’t previously been implemented in Scotland, and is supported by accompanying online resources for teachers.

Commenting on the use of graphic novels as a way of engaging pupils in learning, Marc Lambert, Director of the Scottish Book Trust, said: “The importance of taking care of the planet for future generations is one of the most vital lessons our children can learn.

"Telling the story of John Muir’s life and thoughts through the highly accessible and entertaining form of a graphic novel allows us to reclaim a Scottish hero and helps children to develop a deeper understanding of the key environmental issues he campaigned for, in a creative and enjoyable way.”

Download the PDF version of John Muir, Earth - Planet, Universe from the Scottish Book Trust