When learning the building blocks of reading, we are first taught the ABCs and how those letters work with one another to create an entire world of words. Two local authors and photographers know this philosophy can also be successfully applied when learning about Montana’s national parks.
“We wanted short, concise, interesting facts about both parks that all ages can enjoy,” said Jeremie Hollman.
Hollman, along with his mother-in-law KC Glastetter, authored the children’s book, “Glacier National Park: An ABC Adventure,” in 2008 and have just released their second offering, “Yellowstone National Park: An ABC Adventure.”
The books, published through the Missoula-based Mountain Press Publishing Company, offer an alphabetical glance at the parks’ well-known features and creatures.
For example, the letter B in the Yellowstone book stands for “boiling river” and “bison,” each with a few pertinent sentences describing the look and function of both.
The pages also overflow with colorful designs that complement the authors’ original photos. Hollman noted that he was largely responsible for the wildlife photography, while Glastetter honed in on the landscape.
The photographs presented one of the biggest challenges during the creation of both books, Hollman said, because they were dependent on nature showing up and looking its best.
“The challenge is with finding what you don’t have and what you need is finding it in the right light,” Hollman said.
Glastetter, who teaches third grade at Hedges Elementary in Kalispell, said they had to be organized and flexible about what they wanted to shoot, especially when it came to the Yellowstone book. When writing about Glacier, they had more freedom to make multiple trips due to proximity; traveling to Yellowstone was more of a stretch.
This meant their wish list had to be flexible, she said.
“You can’t always say ‘Oh, well I’m going to get a grizzly bear and a wolverine today,’” Glastetter said.
The books cover some well-traveled spots in both parks on purpose, Hollman said. While volumes about hidden campsites or backcountry scenery definitely have their place among park literature, most people want to read about places where they have made memories, Hollman said.
The ABC books are aimed at children, but both Hollman and Glastetter said they were surprised at the range of uses people have found for them. One shop owner said she used them to teach her summer workers who come from abroad about English and the park, Hollman said.
Another popular use is “grandma propaganda,” he said. This consists of sending the book as a glorified postcard with a note that strongly encourages a visit to the area.
“It’s interesting to hear how it’s worked for all sorts of people,” Hollman said.
The idea for the books came during one of Glastetter’s hiking trips in Glacier Park. She and some of her friends, also teachers, discussed the need for a basic collection of facts that children could easily use.
Once they discovered this hole in the market, Glastetter and Hollman pursued the project thinking that they would self-publish their book. However, once the reality of doing so set in, Hollman said they sought a company to help.
“It’s a learning lesson when you publish your first book,” Hollman said.
But the second time around was much easier. Due to the success of the Glacier book, the publishing company needed little convincing, he said. The books do not have direct affiliation with either park.
Since the Yellowstone book is new, the publisher has had little time to get it into stores. Hollman said he was stocking Flathead bookstores with the second edition for the holiday season, and it can be found at The Bookshelf in Kalispell, the Imagination Station stores and at Borders. It can also be found online.
And now, even with a book fresh off the presses, both Glastetter and Hollman say they have plans to write more ABC books in the future.
“We will go ahead and do something else, what it’s going to be, I don’t know,” Glastetter said. “There are just so many places.”
Hollman agreed, saying his familial and professional obligations would play a role in determining the next target destination. One thing he has learned throughout the process, though, is just how many interesting places are out there.
“If we don’t do it it’s not for lack of desire,” Hollman said. “They’re there, and we are well aware of it.”
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