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The National Parks: An Illustrated History by Kim Heacox (National Geographic, $50) is the latest tribute to the great American national park system. As a celebration of nearly 150 years of the national park concept, it succeeds handily, featuring page after page of the kind of fabulous photography that National Geographic is known for. Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service in 2016, this publication combines images from Acadia to Yellowstone with thoughtful and well-written histories of these places, telling the stories that make up the mosaic of their past. This is a classic, old-fashioned and appealing photo book, perfect for park buffs.

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“To learn to meet our needs without continuous violence against one another and our only world would require an immense intellectual and practical effort, requiring the help of every human being, perhaps to the end of human time. … This would be work worthy of the name ‘human.’ It would be fascinating and lovely.”

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In the series of poems Observing School Children readers witness many views,
and thoughts concerning the growth and experiences faced by both children and parents.
The poets who write about the school children use references to the bible and fears that
they describe to explain the emotions and effects that the poems have on readers. By
doing this the poets have conveyed the points of time, protection and the causes of the
environments that many children are faced with today.
In the poem Among Children, Levine explains a story of children as they grow
up. In the poem the author acts as almost a third person or narrator to the lives of the
children growing up. I walk among the rows of bowed heads the children sleeping
through fourth grade so as to be ready for what is ahead (Levine 685). By telling us
about their lives from the early age we get a reference of time in the poem. By using time
we are able to see the cause of events in their lives. Levine uses time almost in a way to
describe their fate. A fate of hard work and simplicity: nothing more really. Levine
describes the background of the environment to help in the reference of time. These are
the children of Flint, their fathers work in spark plug factories or truck bottled water
(Levine 685). By using detail to the environment we can see their fate as possible factory
workers and truck drivers for bottled water. It is as Levine knows their destiny, by telling
us this. The issue of time plays a big part in this poems meaning. With the factor of time
Levine can map out a picture in the readers mind to tell of what Levine feels is a much
too common fate in many children today. The issue that many dreams that children have
do not come true due to the knowledge of predestine lives. A fate Levine feels is not their
The poets use fear in many different ways suc

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In 2003, Annick Smith traveled from her rural Montana home to Chicago’s North Side on a journey to pick up her nearly 100-year-old mother for a trip to their family beach house on Lake Michigan. Accompanying Smith was a 95-pound chocolate lab, Bruno. More than a decade later, Smith has woven together a beautiful memoir about that trip, recalling the larger themes of family and love at the heart of her journey. Crossing the Plains with Bruno (Trinity University Press, $17.95) tells the story of two weeks driving across the American West and through its heartland, continuing the story of Smith’s fascinating family history and offering new insights on human nature and relationships.

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Through interweaving the two complementary yet competing biographies and recounting his own adventures, Gessner also asks his readers to reconsider the work of these visionaries, perhaps driving new interest in their historic work. It’s an entertaining and inspiring journey through the American West.

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An award-winning environmental essayist in his own right, Gessner travels the ground trod by the two authors. The result reinvigorates their work by putting it into the contemporary context of a region struggling with climate change, drought, massive wildfire, drilling, fracking and political polarization. As he follows their trails from Saskatchewan to Utah and beyond, he considers their distinct styles, juxtaposing Abbey’s call to guerrilla-style activism with Stegner’s more formal and disciplined approach. Gessner seems to be asking how his heroes would respond to today’s challenges, and how a new generation of activists might take up their mantles.