Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Join the One Book Wyoming Discussion

by Susan

One Book Wyoming kicks off this month with three books by Pinedale author Cat Urbigkit. For adults, there's the memoir Shepherds of Coyote Rocks. Children have two picture books to enjoy: Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs (bilingual edition) and The Guardian Team.
What is a One Book program? An entire city or even a state pick a book to read and share. Libraries and schools across the state host book discussions, author appearances and other programs.

Last year, Wyoming held its first One Book program with Craig Johnson's Spirit of Steamboat. Because this year's author Cat Urbigkit writes for both children and adults, the 2015 program was able to span a wider age range.

Cat is a photographer, author and sheep rancher in Sublette County, who uses guardian dogs to maintain her operations while living with large predators on the landscape. Her beautiful photos illustrate her books. Her love of the land and passion for her livelihood shine through in her work. She has written seven nonfiction picture books for children and three nonfiction books for adults. (She's also been a guest blogger for Writing Wyoming.) Her children's books have won multiple awards from agricultural organizations for their portrayal of ranching.

Shepherds of Coyote Rocks follows Cat and the flock as they move throughout the season, reflecting on the work and the landscape. Even if you're an adult and past the picture book stage, you're allowed to peek at the other two. In fact, I highly recommend it. Find a child to read them to. Borrow someone else's kids if you have to. I fell in love with the animals in Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs, and The Guardian Team is a true to life ugly duckling story.

Events kick off April 21 with an appearance by Cat at the Albany County Cattlewomen Ag Expo Family Night, 5:30-7 p.m. at the Hansen Arena, Hwy 230, Laramie. On April 30 (and two dates in May) she will be at the Sublette County Library in Pinedale, and on May 20, at the Big Piney Branch. She'll also be stopping in at numerous schools around the state. You can check with your local library to find out what events might be happening in your corner of the world.

You can learn more at onebook.wyo.gov, or follow the happenings on Facebook. Or, take a gander at Cat's webpage to learn more about her. One Book Wyoming is sponsored by the Wyoming State Library.

And with that, here are the books to enjoy:

Shepherds of Coyote Rocks: Public Lands, Private Herds and the Natural World
Woodstock, Vt. : Countryman Press ; New York : distributed by W.W. Norton & Co., c2012.

Cat Urbigkit journeys alone to spend a season on Wyoming’s open range, tending to a flock of domestic sheep as they give birth amid the challenges of nature—from severe weather to a wealth of predators. Her only companions are the guardian animals (big dogs and a pair of burros) that repeatedly prove their worth in their devotion to protecting the flock.

Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs: How They Guard Sheep
English and Spanish edition, 32-page picture book, Boyds Mills Press, 2009

This engaging photo-essay shows how guardian dogs form a bond with the sheep that lasts throughout the dogs' life.

The Guardian Team: On the Job with Rena and Roo
32-page picture book, Boyds Mills Press, 2011

A companion book to Urbigkit's award-winning Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs, this is the true story of a scraggly wild burro, the runt of the guardian dog litter, and six orphan lambs as they grow together and become a team on a Wyoming ranch.


  1. That is so cool that Wyoming has chosen three books on basically the same topic so that adults and children can be involved in the stat's One Book discussions. And a wonderful way to get kids away from their electronic toys and back into reading and discussing their reading.

    1. I've talked with Cat and she is really excited about going to schools, particularly small, rural schools, and working with the kids. Her presentation doesn't just touch on the agricultural topics, but also talks about the process of writing. Perhaps she'll encourage a few future writers along the way!

  2. I'm in! These look like really enjoyable books. Might have to read all three...

  3. That's what I'm planning on doing, Chere! I've read both the kids' books. Now, onto the grownup stuff. :)


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