Subscribe to The Horn Book

Review of Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a Life in Nature

jenson-elliott_antsy-anselAntsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a Life in Nature
by Cindy Jenson-Elliott; illus. by Christy Hale
Primary    Ottaviano/Holt    32 pp.
9/16    978-1-62779-082-6    $17.99

This peppy picture book biography of nature photographer Ansel Adams describes an “antsy” young boy whose propensity to get into trouble was allayed only by being in the great outdoors. Sonorous language, including alliteration, brings readers close to Ansel’s experiences in nature, such as on the Golden Gate beach near his San Francisco home, where “gusting gales pushed and pulled; salt spray strung his cheeks; surf pounded the sand — BOOM!”; or at quiet Lobos Creek, which “whispered and winked, flickered and flew, shimmered and shone.” As Ansel struggled in early-twentieth-century traditional school, his father thought that Ansel needed not “discipline” but “open air”; he was right. Homeschooling allowed Ansel more time outdoors, and his education came as much from exploring the outside world as from books. A trip to Yosemite Valley and the gift of a camera at age fourteen set the boy toward becoming the “photographic visionary” who documented America’s beauty and gave the U.S. government and people everywhere a front-row seat to remarkable landscapes in Yosemite and beyond. Hale’s collages, a mix of traditional and digital techniques in an earthy palette, make excellent use of textures in depicting the natural world. Orientation and design elements, too, are thoughtfully employed; a vertical spread of Adams hiking the High Sierra, for example, captures its “icy white” and “breathless height” marvelously. An author’s note, with appended resources, further discusses the man’s life and legacy as well as showing two photographs that exemplify Adams’s artistic range (Clearing Winter Storm and Leaves, Mills College).

From the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Katrina Hedeen About Katrina Hedeen

Katrina Hedeen is managing editor of The Horn Book Guide.



  1. So lovely to see this reviewed! Thank you!

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind