Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story
This picture book biography for ages 6-9 (Sleeping Bear Press; 2018) tells the story behind Gwen Frostic’s famous artwork. A pioneering woman, she was a nature artist and early environmentalist from Michigan. Gwen sketched in nature, then created striking linoleum block 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.
Gwen created artwork for famous Detroiters and for display at the World’s Fair and helped to build WWII bombers. Then 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.
Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story is a great choice for Earth Day reading with kids.
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.
Recognized as a Sigurd F. Olsen Nature Writing award recommended title.
Plus it’s on A MIGHTY GIRL’S TOP 20 BOOKS for 2018.
Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story is available for purchase wherever books are sold.
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Free NATURE’S FRIEND RESOURCES–for teachers, librarians and parents
Take a quick tour of Gwen Frostic’s entrancing home and shop via Destination Michigan on PBS
Find Gwen’s beautiful greeting cards still available at her shop
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.