Several years ago, my agent asked if I’d ever thought about doing a picture book on the Grand Canyon. She knew that I’d spent a lot of my free time hiking and camping, and when I told her I’d actually hiked and camped there, in the canyon, I think we both thought, Yes, what a perfect fit.
My second trip into the canyon was metaphoric, creative, in rhyme. I’d hiked to the river and back in my 20s — this time I worked from photos, memories, an old topo map, and extensive lists of all the birds, mammals, flora and fauna found in the park. I ended up with fewer blisters on this journey, but it took me a lot longer.
Then, off my words went to the amazing illustrator Ashley Wolff, who first took her own trip into the canyon and then began the beautiful but arduous process of a linoleum block printing process that resulted in our book.
In celebration of the book and of the National Park Service’s centennial, Ashley’s shared her process here.
And then, after all was said and done, we brought one more creative partner into the mix. Debbie Gonzales, a friend and writer and educator, developed a truly wonderful teachers’ guide just chock-full of activities and discussion prompts and other ways for kids to explore the book and the canyon from their own classrooms and libraries!