Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir may be its spiritual fathers, but Muir had already died and Roosevelt was long out of power before the National Park Service was created. There were many people–some of them famous and some of them not–who actually did the work to get the National Park Service created. My book, Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed his Plans, and Helped Cook up the National Park Service celebrates one of them.
Tie Sing was a Chinese American chef who specialized in cooking on the trail. He was hired in 1915 to cook for a two week glamour camping trip that was intended to convince congressmen, millionaires, writers, and moviemakers, to get behind the push for a National Park Service. The campers were stunned by the scenery, entranced by the air, and utterly bowled over by Tie Sing’s cooking. This book tells about what happened when his carefully-made plans were ruined by mishaps on the trail and about how he used his unique talents to do his own lobbying for the wilderness he loved.
I hope that kids who read about Tie Sing will think more broadly about the everyday people who help make big things happen!
I can’t say enough good things about Rich Lo’s beautiful art in this book. In fact, I have so much to say about it, that I’m going to write another post next week specifically about the process of creating art for a nonfiction picture book.
This past week I had the great pleasure to participate in a week-long event honoring Tie Sing at Yosemite. I spoke at the fourth Sing Peak Pilgrimage, sponsored by the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. I also got to give a Junior Rangers presentation about Tie Sing, sign some early-release books along with Ranger Yenyen Chan (who was the expert reviewer of my book), and take a three-day backpacking trip, along with my daughter and husband, to climb to the summit of Sing Peak, which is named for Tie Sing.
It was a great early birthday party for my book, and I’m looking forward to more events this fall!
If you’re interested, you can read the Kirkus review of the book.
Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook up the National Park Service, by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Rich Lo. Charlesbridge: 2016.