FalconGuides will help young teens get the most from visits to national parks

Published: Friday, March 30, 2012, 6:00 AM     Updated: Friday, March 30, 2012, 7:39 AM

By Terry Richard, The Oregonian



Globe Pequot/FalconGuides

Marjorie Leggitt's illustration from "Olympic National Park: Touch of the Tide Pool, Crack of the Glacier."



The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew it's not, but author Mike Graf  hopes his new book series will get children and teens just as cranked up for national parks and those series' did for mysteries.

A former teacher from Chico, Calif., Graf has joined with one of the big national outdoor publishers (Globe Pequot’s FalconGuides)  to write a series of nine adventure novels about the mythical Parker family's visits to parks, including Olympic in Washington, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Glacier.

He describes park visits through the eyes of the family: mom, dad, twin brother and sister about to enter the fifth grade. He tells what they would see and experience during a summer vacation in the parks. For Olympic, that means visits to coastal tide pools, Hoh rain forest, Blue Glacier and more.

The 94-page books, which sell for $12.95, are lavishly illustrated with color photos and exceptional drawings by Marjorie Leggitt.  Short sidebars throughout go beyond the narrative to explain facts about the park and issues they face. For Olympic, that's the ongoing conundrum in how to deal with mountain goats.

The books also use excerpts from the twins' "diaries," which they keep during their visits. Each book closes with a top 10 list of park features, as seen through the eyes of the twins. In the Olympic book, James likes the Blue Glacier beneath Mount Olympus, while Morgan is partial to the Klahane Ridge Trail at Hurricane Ridge.

Each of the books are fact checked by park staff, so they never get schmaltzy. Graf says his books can help plan a park visit, can guide visitors in the park or serve as a take-home souvenir. The Falcon brand is widely available in bookstores, or look for them at mikegrafauthor.com. 

--Terry Richard