The Little Book That Just Wouldn't DiePika Country
by Dan Hartman
Aug. 23, 2020During 2012-2014, I photographed the pikas' story for a book project. It was contracted by Walker Books(a subsidiary of Bloomsbury Books) and would be designed for young adults. Much like our earlier book, "When The Wolves Returned".
It was a fun project for me, as pikas have always been one of my favorite critters. To be honest, that whole alpine scene has always appealed to me.
Mountain goats, golden eagles, mountain fox, weasels, not to mention the high elevation songbirds, wildflowers and insects.
And because it is was a Climate Change book, we also included the white barked pine story, which then included Clarks Nutcrackers, red squirrels and both black and grizzly bears.
Heck, we even added wolverine and polar bears, species also endangered by our planet warming up.
Well, all went well until we turned in our finished product, (photos and script). Bloomsbury had just hired a new manager and instantly our book was put on hold. A month later we got the word the book would not be published.
I was confused. Why would the publisher pay us to develop the book and then bury the project? After all they accepted our proposal and gave us a contract.
A couple years later I found the reason. Powers that be had decided they didn't want a climate change book slated to young adults.
Other publishers passed on the book.
I was loosing hope in it ever getting published which was so frustrating because the pikas' story really needed to be told.
Finally, last year, Web Of Life Childrens' Books showed some interest, then came on board with a few changes. We would strip down the book to include only pika.
At this point we would have agreed to almost anything!
So the wolverine and polar bears were removed. But when it came to the white bark pine story, I voiced a loud objection. The high elevation trees in many places overlapped the pikas territory.
Heck, in one area, (I was actually there today), I would be photographing pikas gathering grasses, turn my lens and snap shots of nutcrackers gathering nuts, then watch a squirrel cut cones and carry them to his midden. Then after dark, bears show up to dig up the squirrels cache.
Both stories collide.
In the end, the white barked pine story stayed, as did wildflowers and pollinators.
Also several graphs showing food webs and elevation changes were added, which was a good thing.
Then the pandemic hit and our book was once again in jeopardy.
But, interest was high and it did get published! Our local one room school is even going to include it in this falls curriculum.
I've added a 15 minuted film that mirrors the book and is added in a sleeve inside the back cover.
To check out a book trailer go to: Weboflifebooks.com
We are selling the book at our gallery for $25. (Book and video combo.) You can order by phone by calling 406-838-2296. $25 plus $3 shipping.