This Strange Wilderness


This Strange Wilderness

The Life and Art of John James Audubon

Nancy Plain

136 pages
For ages 9 and up; 38 color illustrations, 6 b&w illustrations, 1 glossary, 1 appendix


March 2015


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2015


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2015


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Birds were “the objects of my greatest delight,” wrote John James Audubon (1785–1851), founder of modern ornithology and one of the world’s greatest bird painters. His masterpiece, The Birds of America depicts almost five hundred North American bird species, each image—lifelike and life size—rendered in vibrant color. Audubon was also an explorer, a woodsman, a hunter, an entertaining and prolific writer, and an energetic self-promoter. Through talent and dogged determination, he rose from backwoods obscurity to international fame.

In This Strange Wilderness, award-winning author Nancy Plain brings together the amazing story of this American icon’s career and the beautiful images that are his legacy. Before Audubon, no one had seen, drawn, or written so much about the animals of this largely uncharted young country. Aware that the wilderness and its wildlife were changing even as he watched, Audubon remained committed almost to the end of his life “to search out the things which have been hidden since the creation of this wondrous world.” This Strange Wilderness details his art and writing, transporting the reader back to the frontiers of early nineteenth-century America.

Author Bio

Nancy Plain is the author of numerous children’s books, including Light on the Prairie: Solomon D. Butcher, Photographer of Nebraska’s Pioneer Days (available in a Bison Books edition), winner of the Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction, the Nebraska Book Award for Youth Nonfiction and the Will Rogers Medallion Award.


"Plain chronicles Audubon's adventurous life in a succinct, absorbing narrative that is well researched, meticulously documented, and beautifully written. . . . This biography offers a vivid introduction to Audubon's life and work."Carolyn Phelan, Booklist starred review

"Like Audubon's paintings, this volume 'glow[s] with life.' A superb introduction to the life and times of a great American artist and naturalist."—Kirkus starred review

"Nancy Plain provides readers of all ages a concise introduction to the naturalist's prophetic role in the establishment of the American conservation movement."True West

"Plain has chosen quirky and interesting snippets of Audubon’s life, nicely illustrated with 44 color plates, for this readable and fascinating little book."Star Tribune

"Definitely a book children and adults will enjoy."Roundup Magazine

This Strange Wilderness is like walking through a secret door into early nineteenth-century America. Nancy Plain’s stellar prose and meticulous research, combined with the glorious paintings of John James Audubon, will delight readers of all ages.”—Candace Simar, author of the Spur Award–winning Abercrombie Trail series 

Table of Contents

Introduction: Drawn from Nature
Chapter One: Beloved Boy
Chapter Two: America, My Country
Chapter Three: The American Woodsman
Chapter Four: Down the Mississippi
Chapter Five: On the Wing
Chapter Six: The Birds of America
Chapter Seven: Team Audubon
Chapter Eight: This Strange Wilderness
Chapter Nine: Audubon Then and Now
Appendix: Looking for Audubon and His World


2016 Young Adult Library Service’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist

2015 Moonbeam Spirit Award (Gold) in Environmental Issues

2015 National Outdoor Book Award in the Children’s Books category

2015 Editors’ Choice Book by Booklist

2015 USA Book Award in Young Adult: Nonfiction Finalist

2016 Nebraska Book Award 

2016 Spur Award winner for Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction from Western Writers of America

Also of Interest