In his expansive picture book tribute, You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks, Ezra Jack Keats Award-winning author-illustrator Evan Turk (The Storyteller) honors “the beauty, the monumental history, and the togetherness with loved ones and nature” that constitute visits to the national parks of the United States.
Via full-bleed spreads that include labels of each landscape depicted, spare free verse written in the second person and cinematic, richly colored pastel artwork, we traverse the country, visiting the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, the Great Smoky Mountains and more. Turk’s magnificent, lush illustrations, with deft use of light and shadow, depict not only grandiose mountains and vistas (Yosemite appears in a stunning double-gatefold spread) but also the creatures therein (a bobcat in Yosemite, fireflies in the Smokies) and the families who visit. The “you” of the title, a repeated refrain throughout the book, refers to park visitors but also to the herds of elk, wildflowers “painting the warming hillsides” and “every river, star, and stone.”
In a spread paying tribute to the indigenous peoples of North America, Turk acknowledges that their ancestors “lived on these lands before the stars and stripes took them as their own,” pointedly adding that these people are “still home.” Detailed backmatter, which includes a map of the parks and more information about them, delves further into the fact that many Native American nations were forcibly removed from their homelands in order to create the parks we visit today. It all adds up to an informative and breathtaking exploration of U.S. national parks.