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My Mighty Journey

My Mighty Journey

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A Waterfall's Story

Author John Coy, Illustrator Gaylord Schanilec

Minnesota Historical Society Press (October 1, 2019)


The story of the past twelve thousand years of Minnesota told from the perspective of the only major waterfall on the Mississippi River, with stunning artwork by Gaylord Schanilec.


Watch: MNHS Storytime: "My Mighty Journey"

I am
a powerful
I listen.
I pay attention.
I have a long memory.
You might find it hard to believe,
but I have moved through time.

My Mighty Journey is the story of the only major waterfall on the Mississippi River—and the changes it has witnessed over twelve thousand years. Written from the perspective of the waterfall, the narrative considers the people who lived nearby, the ways they lived, and how the area around the waterfall changed drastically in the past two centuries.

Internationally acclaimed artist Gaylord Schanilec created stunning visual images featuring material collected along the riverbank to show the progression of the waterfall—eventually known as St. Anthony Falls—as it moved fifteen miles upriver from present-day St. Paul to its current location in downtown Minneapolis.

Many are surprised to learn that the falls has not always been locked in place. Perhaps more thought-provoking is that Europeans and their descendants have resided near the falls for less than three percent of the time people have lived here. My Mighty Journey helps readers realize that many of us are newcomers to this region and that there is so much to learn about the waterfall, this land, and our place in it.

Learn more about the production of My Mighty Journey here, and the fine prints available, here.

Author information

John Coy is the author of young adult novels, the 4 for 4 middle-grade series, and fiction and nonfiction picture books. He has received numerous awards for his work, including a Marion Vannett Ridgway Award for best debut picture book, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor, Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, Notable Book for a Global Society, the Burr/Worzalla Award for Distinguished Achievement in Children’s Literature, and the Kerlan Award in recognition of singular attainments in the creation of children’s literature.

Gaylord Schanilec is an artist, writer, letterpress printer, designer, and illustrator. His recent fine-press work includes Mayflies of the Driftless Region, Sylvae, and Lac Des Pleurs, a trilogy about the intersection of art and science. He has earned numerous awards, including the Gregynog Prize, the Carl Hertzog Award for excellence in book design, and a Jerome Foundation Book Arts Fellowship.

Gaylord's page on Lowertown Lofts Artist Cooperative site

Reviews and news

The 2019 American Indians in Children's Literature Best Book by a Non-Native author

2019 Science & Nature Books on School Library Journal's blog A Fuse8 Production

Winner of a 2020 Riverby Award

"The scope of time is apparent from the first words of this impressive book, which traces a waterfall on the Mississippi River from the robust days of the woolly mammoth to its more restrained incarnation today: 'For those who came before, those now, and those to come.'"
Star Tribune

"So beautiful in words and pictures it is a worthy candidate for an adult’s library."
Pioneer Press

American Indians in Children's Literature

Essay by John Coy in the Star Tribune


Pioneer Press Holiday Books

Minnesota Center for Book Arts Presents the Minnesota Book Artist Award for the Fine Press edition of My Mighty Journey

Star Tribune-Fine Press edition of My Mighty Journey is winner of the Minnesota Book Artist Award

Pioneer Press--Fine Press edition of My Mighty Journey is winner of Minnesota Book Artist Award



  • 40 pages
  • Fully illustrated in color
  • 9 x 13.5 inches
  • ISBN: 9781681340081

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