News Column

Famous faces find each other

June 28, 2014

By Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic, Mitchell, S.D.

June 28--Jean Patrick loves a challenge.

Her newest book, "Four Famous Faces," was exactly that.

The Mitchell author worked with the Mount Rushmore Society and other associations to create the story for this children's picture book. She said the challenge was to make it fun, but not overloaded with information. The goal of the book is to provide information for those interested in the Black Hills and Devils Tower areas.

The story is about a young prairie dog who sets out on an adventure to find the Four Famous Faces of Mount Rushmore. Along the way he meets bison, elk, bats, prairie hawks and mountain goats.

Each animal is representative of a certain area in or around the Black Hills -- prairie dogs for Badlands National Park, bison for Custer State Park, elk for Wind Cave National Park, Townsend's Big-Eared Bat for Jewel Cave National Park, prairie falcon for Devils Tower National Monument in northeast Wyoming and the mountain goat for Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Along the way, each time the prairie dog meets a new set of animals, there are always four and he assumes he has found the Four Famous Faces. Instead, one from the group joins him in a search for the monument.

Patrick created a poem for each animal, which is meant to sound like how the animal may talk.

"I had to think carefully how those would sound by each animal. The bison one is a slower poem. The mountain goats' has the short, one-syllable actions. The prairie falcon poem is all about showing off," Patrick said with a laugh.

This hasn't been lost on her readers, she said. At a book signing at Mount Rushmore last week, Patrick said a woman complimented her on how each poem reflects how that animal may sound.

"It's rewarding to have a reader recognize what you're trying to do," Patrick said.

She added that she's particularly excited to use the book during her upcoming school visits. She often uses her books to teach children something about history. With this book, she can also teach children about native animals and ecology, but also about writing poetry.

"That's the icing on the cake," Patrick said. "One thing I can do with this book is to teach poetry writing. That's the spin-off with this book."

The 32-page book brings together hand-drawn images of each animal at their respective locations with the poems and story to give a brief history on the six locations and the animals. For more mature readers, the last six pages have more detailed information about each location and animal.

Patrick said the research behind the writing can be expensive, but rewarding. She took a couple research trips to each location to learn about the animals, the locations themselves and as much as she should about the geology, history and American Indian perspective, among other aspects.

"Learning in real life how these animals actually get along with each other was interesting," she said.

For example, the prairie dogs chew grass very low to the ground, allowing for shoots of grass to grow. These are nutritious and bison love to eat them, Patrick said.

Patrick added that she hopes she met the challenge of creating a book that reaches all age brackets and the goal to make it a fun, yet educational book, for all reading levels.

"Four Famous Faces" is available at each park named in the book, at the Mount Rushmore Memories store in Hill City or online at


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Source: Daily Republic (Mitchell, SD)

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