I recently attended the 2011 Greenville EarthFest. My wife Jewly organized the event for the city of Greenville,MI. The goal of the event was to promote local food, music, and art. One of the featured attractions was by Dan Wright, a local author. Wright was appearing to promote his book “The Wild Adventures of Eli Johnson and Curly Bill”, which he said was aimed for kids approximately 7 -12 years old .
Part of his appearance at EarthFest was to hold a discussion on his book. Set in the 1800’s, Wright explains that the audience that the book is the story of two trappers, Eli Johnson and Curly Bill, caught up in “a non-stop adventure from bears to bandits to indians”. As he talks about the life of the trappers of the 1800‘s, Wright demonstrates how to set a metal trap, and sets it off with a plastic ink pen that cracks under the intense force of the trap’s jaws. The noise makes several people in the room jump in their seats.
Wearing a real beaver skin hat, Wright explains a few details about beaver dams and lodges, and to what lengths the trappers had to resort to in order to successfully catch the beavers. The excitement in his voice and his pantomime of the motions of the trappers sneaking up onto a frozen beaver dam has the kids’ undivided attention.
Wright reads three short but intense chapters of the book, covering a scene where Eli Johnson is preparing to set a trap on top of the largest beaver dam he had ever seen in his life, but is interrupted by an enormous grizzly bear.
After the book discussion I introduced myself at the author’s exhibit table. Having an appreciation for the great outdoors and a love of wildlife from his time living in Alaska, Wright enthusiastically shares his extensive knowledge with the young kids gathered around his table. The kids asked all kinds of questions about the assortment of furs, a bear skull, and even a large (stuffed) beaver set up on display.
But the biggest attraction by far would be the twin sugar gliders nesting in a small cloth bag. They occasionally peek their little gray and black faces out to investigate the activity for a moment, then retreat to the safety of the warm cloth bag. Wright brings one out to show me, and she crawls all over his arm looking at all of the commotion in the room for a few minutes before wriggling back into the bag to reclaim her spot next to her sister.
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