Call Me Floy

Yosemite Conservancy. May 2020. 192p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781930238992.
Gr 4-6–In 1864, Florence “Floy” Hutchings was the first European American child born in what would become Yosemite National Park. Daughter of publisher and Yosemite advocate James Hutchings, Floy’s real-life story is fictionalized in this appealing first-person narrative. Author Cooke (The Sequoia Lives On, 2018) introduces Floy just before her 12th birthday, as her family returns to the valley where she has spent unsupervised childhood summers blissfully exploring the wonders of nature. This summer, however, Floy finds much has changed for herself as well as local friends Johnny and Sally Ann. Floy is expected to forego her dream of climbing Half Dome in favor of more ladylike, adult pursuits. Johnny yearns to go to sea and Sally Ann worries that soon her Indigenous family will no longer be able to call Yosemite their home. Readers will be inspired by Floy’s determined spirit as she flouts convention to realize her dream, and in 1876, she becomes the youngest person to climb Half Dome. The novel is both a history of Yosemite and a travel guide. In Floy’s wanderings through the valley, Cooke describes the girl’s feelings of being in the presence of nature more than the specifics of local flora and fauna. Names of park trails and bodies of water, along with historical figures like John Muir, will encourage independent research. Back matter offers simple suggestions for outdoor adventuring.
VERDICT An ideal choice for summer reading lists and to support the “No Child Left Inside” initiative.

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