Illustrated by Patricia Kierstyn
Adams County Historical Society

The “K” in the title of this book of stories stands for Katherine. This particular Katherine was Katherine McGowan of Friendship, Wisconsin. The last section of the book is a sort of biography, mixing her professional and family lives with events that changed her village and the world during her 97 years. After graduating from high school, Miss McGowan taught in one room schools. Eventually, she became the Supervising Teacher of Adams County, a position which compares to being the Superintendent of Schools. The difference is that her job entailed visiting each of the 82 schools in the county. Driving her 1923 Model T Coupe she did just that, and in the process she got to know the teachers and the kids and they got to know her. Even before she retired, she was well-known in the area, and easily recognized, especially when out in her Model T, the only car she ever owned. She lived in her family home her entire life and when she died she left it to the Historical Society.

Along with the house, Miss McGowan left pictures, letters, and postcards. Using those resources and talking to several people who were close to her gave me a sense of who she was as a person and allowed me to imagine what she might have been like as a child. Her letter to Santa, written in 1905, was a deciding factor when selecting the story’s time line. The public library’s microfiche collection of newspapers from 1905-’06 provided tidbits about the village, the weather, and local events which became backgrounds and settings for the stories I imagined.

All in all, writing K was a very interesting project. The line drawings Pat provided are a lovely compliment to the text.

The Historical Society is selling the book at their Heritage House in Friendship, Wisconsin and on e-bay.


Illustrated by Wade Zahares
Houghton Mifflin Company

For some people everything always works out. Are they lucky, or do they know how to create luck?

Jake’s and his pa are panning for gold When Pa finds a nugget, he yells, “Yahoo!” and the duo head for town. Jake wants a dog, but all the storekeep has is a pig. Jake names the pig Dog and their adventures begin. With Dog’s help, Jake and his dad turn hard work into luck.

I don’t know what Wade Zahares thought when he read this tale of a boy who wants a dog and ends up with a pig. I do know he did his research. Using marvelous colors, interesting shapes, and unique perspectives, the illustrations are full of wonderful details that depict what life must have been like during California’s 1860s gold rush.

Kirkus ~ A starred review:
“A treasure.”
Horn Book ~ A starred review:
“A good discussion starter on the topic of luck.”
Booklist ~ A starred review:
“An intriguing mix of old-fashioned storytelling and cutting-edge art.”

Buy this book: Amazon


Illustrated by Brad Sneed
Houghton Mifflin Company

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if just wishing made things come true? Well, it might be wonderful, but might not.

Zeb lives in the Old West. He’s surrounded by horses, so it’s natural to wish for one when he has to tote a heavy sack of flour home to his ma. Fortunately, or unfortunately, a stranger a the white Stetson hears him say, “I wish I had a horse.” When the stranger tips his hat, Zeb and the town of Dusty Gulch are in for a wild time!

Brad Sneed grew up with horses. His illustrations prove he knows them backward and forward, peaceful and prancing. My editor told me she’d never had anyone agree to illustrate a book so quickly.

Kirkus Reviews: “Watercolor illustrations recall the early American west; exaggerated facial expressions and horses running amok perfectly convey the chaos. This cautionary tale, humorously told and illustrated, gets the message across gently.”

Buy this book:  Amazon


Illustrated by John Clapp
Houghton Miflfin Company

Archeologists tell us the earth has gone though drastic changes. People don’t live long enough to see the effects of the planet’s major earth movers, but we can see the evidence and imagine how things might have been.

The narrator of Right Here on This Spot tells the story of his grandpa’s farm from the Ice Age to the present. As the book ends, readers learn how the land’s story was discovered.

John Clapp took a long time doing the illustrations for Right Here. Along with double page spreads, shadow drawings provide background for the text with colored cameo pictures accenting them.

Publisher’s Weekly: “A lyrical homage to humankind’s relationship to the land. In Addy’s stately text, spare language evokes the changes of seasons and of centuries, and sets the stage for artifacts Grandpa uncovers.”

Buy the book:  Amazon


Illustrated by Tamlyn Akins
Trails Custom Publishing, Black Earth, WI
Available through Wisconsin Trees for Tomorrow

Wisconsin was once covered with forests. Heavy logging in the state’s early years stripped the land of trees. Eventually, people realize that the growing timber was the best way to use the land. In 2004 the Forestry Department of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources celebrated 100 years of Managed Forestry. As part of the celebration, three books were published: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF WISCONSIN FORESTRY, book of photos and information for adults; WISCONSIN FOREST TALES, a collection of stories spanning Wisconsin’s history; and IN GRANDPA’S WOODS, a picture book for young readers.

When Chad and Amy visit Grandpa and Grandma, they think climbing the trees in Grandpa’s woods is the best part of being in the woods.
But they discover the trees are just part of what makes the woods wonderful place to be.

Tamlyn grew up in northern Illinois and lives in Wisconsin now. She knows the woodlands and settings she portrayed in the book. Her work has been exhibited internationally.

Buy this book:


Illustrated by Lydia Halverson
Albert Whitman and Company

Cooking is fun. And, of course, cooking combines beautifully with conversation. But when the child and adult don’t speak the same language they need to find another way to communicate.

When Barbara goes to visit her great-grandma, they have a lovely time baking and looking at the things Great-Grandma brought with her from the Old Country.

Lydia Halverson visited a museum and did sketches there to make sure her illustration of blacksmith’s tools and Czechoslovakian dolls were accurate.

Buy this book:  Amazon


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