Cover image for The flower hunter : William Bartram, America's first naturalist
The flower hunter : William Bartram, America's first naturalist
Ray, Deborah Kogan, 1940-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [2004]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
Young Billy Bartram keeps a journal of his experiences learning about the plants of the colonial United States from his father, John Bartram, as they travel together gathering specimens and planting seeds.
General Note:
"First edition, 2003".

"Frances Foster Books."
Reading Level:
AD 960 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 5.5 0.5 77564.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.2 3 Quiz: 36271 Guided reading level: S.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QK26 .R38 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
QK26 .R38 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
QK26 .R38 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Little botanist / first naturalist Of John Bartram's nine children, it is William who best loves nature and wants to follow in his father's footsteps. William dreams of accompanying his father as he explores the wilderness of colonial America as botanist to the King of England in search of plant specimens. Using journals, maps, and her own vibrant paintings, Deborah Kogan Ray tells the captivating story of Billy's first trip to the Catskill Mountains and his further adventures as an adult, including a long, perilous journey into the remote wilderness. A bibliography, biographical notes, and list of plant discoveries complete this remarkable book about America's first naturalist. A Junior Library Guild Selection

Author Notes

Born in 1940 in Philadelphia, PA, author and illustrator Deborah Kogan Ray studied painting and printmaking at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

She is the author of eight books and the illustrator of more than 60 books for children.

Among her many awards are the Drexel Citation for Career Distinction in the Field of Books for Children and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant Award for Painting.

Her paintings and prints of landscape and nature subjects have been shown in 42 one-person and hundreds of group exhibitions in museums and galleries. They are in private and public collections throughout the world.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3-5. Graced with appealing illustrations, this handsome book introduces naturalist William Bartram. The story begins with eight-year-old William helping his father, botanist John Bartram, find, cultivate, and study native American plants. As William grows up, he accompanies his father on expeditions to gather new plants and develops his skills in drawing plants and animals. Beginning in 1747 and ending in 1777, the story is based on fact but written as a series of fictional journal entries. The subjects are not all botanical. William also brings in political events, the family's friendship with Benjamin Franklin, religious beliefs, and sometimes-dangerous expeditions in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The last pages include a hand-colored engraving by William Bartram, biographical notes on William and his father, a list of some of the plants they first identified, an author's note, and a source bibliography. Large watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil illustrations interpret the story with great warmth and beauty. This unique book offers students a different perspective on life in eighteenth-century America. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Rooted in history, The Flower Hunter: William Bartram, America's First Naturalist by Deborah Kogan Ray offers a diary-style account of young William Bartram's (1739-1823) studies of nature, including his travels with his botanist father, John (1699-1777). The author highlights certain episodes during a nearly 30-year period as the pair traversed the Southeast, discovering and identifying numerous botanical species along the way. Maps, paintings that depict the father-son adventures, and a reproduction of one of William Bartram's illustrations (plus additional plants identified by the pair, depicted at book's end) round out this compelling account. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-Ray traces the development of Bartram's passion for learning about nature, first as an assistant to his father, botanist John Bartram, and then as a partner with unique interests of his own. Told through first-person journal entries, the story begins on William's eighth birthday in 1747 and follows his developing observational and drawing skills, his friendship with Benjamin Franklin, and the various expeditions he took with his father through the northeast colonies. An adult William accompanied the elder Bartram to Florida, then stayed there for 10 years to explore the flora and fauna of this wild land and became friends with various Native peoples, including the Seminole, who christened him "Puc Puggy" (flower hunter). An afterword fills in some of the gaps left by the narrative and offers a detailed listing of the many specimens identified by the Bartrams. The delicate watercolor-and-gouache illustrations capture the quiet joy that William found in nature, and the accompanying text is printed against a parchment background that simulates his diary, complete with labeled pencil sketches of plants and animals. The journal format means skipping great portions of Bartram's life, which is a bit jarring; major events, such as the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War, are briefly mentioned. Overall, however, this quiet book is a fitting tribute to a dedicated and talented naturalist.-Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Maryland School for the Deaf, Columbia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.