Isle of Books presents Last Best Books: "Yellowstone For Kids" and "Brave Hearted Women of the West"

Brave Hearted


Brave Hearted: The Women of the American West

by Katie Hickman

In Brave Hearted: The Women of the American West, author Katie Hickman writes that the story of how the West was settled is "not so much a story about gunslingers and cowboys, although they play their part, but a story about one of the largest and most tumultuous mass migrations in history." 

Driven by restlessness, a belief in "manifest destiny," or even sometimes  compelled to go west against their wishes, the women whose diaries and letters are quoted in Hickman's book emerge from its pages as a chorus of 19th-century humanity. Some were hardly able to write at all while others were penned by well-heeled literary ladies. Their tales are heartbreaking, strangely humorous, terrifying, and full of hardships and loss amid glints of sharp-edged beauty. 

While not exclusively about Montana, the book features some discussion of the Bozeman Trail, as well as of female settlers driven west by the Montana gold rush into Virginia City. In every case, Brave Hearted: The Women of the American West demonstrates that we are only here because these pioneering women did it first.

"For better and for worse," Hickman writes in this fascinating and important work of history, "women were at the beating heart of everything that happened."

Yellowstone For Kids

Yellowstone For Kids: The Story of Our First National Park

Written and Illustrated by Allen Morris Jones

Montana author Allen Morris Jones, is the author of poetry collection and 2023 Montana Book Award honoree Mumblecusser, novels like Sweeney on the Rocks, and the non-fiction classic A Quiet Place of Violence: Hunting and Ethics in the Missouri River Breaks. But in our household, he's probably best known as the writer of one of our favorites, Montana For Kids.

In Montana For Kids: The Story of Our State, Allen Morris Jones both wrote and provided striking illustrations for a brief but surprisingly complete history of our beloved state that will capture the imaginations of children. The stories of Lewis and Clark, mountain men, copper kings, and ranchers are told in prose which, while conveying a lot of information, is effortless to read. 

We're excited, then, for Yellowstone for Kids: The Story of Our First National Park, which does for the iconic Park what the earlier book did for the state. Inside, young readers will read about the ecology of Yellowstone, the expeditions that introduced it to the world, the founders' intention that it be set aside for the "benefit and enjoyment of the people," and some of the ways that your family can interact with the Park safely. Also inside are bison, wolves, grizzlies, artists, mountain men, geysers, canyons, and waterfalls. 

Now Yellowstone for Kids is another bedtime favorite in our household, and we couldn't be happier. As Jones observes of Yellowstone, "There's nowhere else like it in the world," and now, even though there are plenty of books - even kid's books - on the subject, there are no other books quite like this one. Our kids love it, and yours will too!

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