Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story
This picture book biography tells the story behind Gwen Frostic’s famous work. A pioneering woman, she was a nature artist and early environmentalist from Michigan. Gwen sketched in nature, then created striking prints. Gwen’s beautiful greeting cards and books were known world-wide. After a debilitating illness as a child, Gwen learned to be persistent and independent—never taking no for an answer. She did not allow stereotypes around disability or age define her, and Gwen defied the low expectations assigned to women of her era.
After creating artwork for famous Detroiters and for display at the World’s Fair and helping to build WWII bombers, Gwen moved her highly successful printmaking business to the wilds of northern Michigan. For most of her 95 years Gwen dedicated her work and her life to opening people’s eyes to the wonder and beauty of our natural world.
(Ages 6-9. Sleeping Bear Press; July 2018)
Author: Lindsey McDivitt
Illustrator: Eileen Ryan Ewen
I’m thrilled to share that Nature’s Friend was selected as one of the CCBC Choices 2019 (best-of-the-year list of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center)
selected as a 2018 MICHIGAN NOTABLE BOOK.
And honored it was also recognized as a Sigurd F. Olsen Nature Writing award recommended title.
Plus it’s on A MIGHTY GIRL’S TOP 20 BOOKS for 2018.
Available to order:
***Please watch for my other picture book biographies out in 2020!! (From Sleeping Bear Press and Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)
Reviews of Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story:
Booklist — Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story
Reviewed on 14 June 2018
Although Gwen Frostic (1906–2001) grew up with physical disabilities, her mother encouraged the girl to become active, strong, and independent. Her artistic talent and her love of nature led her to a career creating decorative brass and copperware until her materials were needed for the war effort in the 1940s. Then she designed tools for the aircraft industry by day and made linoleum prints at night. Later she moved to “the top of Michigan’s mitten,” where she created, printed, and sold greeting cards celebrating nature.
Frostic’s journey wasn’t always easy; she grew up with physical disabilities, and during WWII, her dedication to designing military aircraft disrupted her art. The story is well told; throughout, McDivitt infuses the text with nature metaphors that would’ve pleased outdoors-loving Frostic. When Frostic signs up for mechanical drawing classes, for example, McDivitt writes: “the men squawked like angry blue jays” and ” . . . Gwen gathered up knowledge like a bird builds a nest.”
Lindsay McDivitt opens this biography with a quotation from Frostic that truly exemplifies her life and spirit: “I never knew I couldn’t do something.” Doing something—often while breaking new ground for women—is just how Frostic spent her life. I love how McDivitt captures this quality, recounting Frostic’s unusual achievements as a small business owner, a WWII-era airplane-factory tool designer, and a determined seeker of education and training . . . at a time when women were often forbidden from both.
Eileen Ryan Ewen’s charming watercolor illustrations extend the story, incorporating wonderful small details on each page.Most scenes reflect Frostic’s love of nature, from her early childhood to her later years in her western Michigan workshop. Each page turn reveals a new warm and intricate scene to linger over. This book is a joy to spend time with.
Excellent back matter includes photographs of Frostic and her workshop, additional information about her, and directions for creating your own nature print.