Most ranchers stay plenty busy dealing with the ins and outs of ranch work, but Gus Brackett, who ranches with his family in southwest Idaho, also makes to time to write children’s books. His Badger Thurston series chronicles the adventures of a young cowboy in 1910, and has been very well received by his young readers. Brackett enjoys writing for children because they’re honest about what they like and don’t like. “If they think it stinks, they will let you know,” he says. “Adults will trudge through a book that doesn’t completely inspire them. Kids will drop a book the second that it fails to satisfy.”
Brackett was inspired to begin writing for children after seeing his sister struggle to find books for her young son. “My sister complained when my oldest nephew was learning how to read that there wasn’t anything that interested him,” he says. ”Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey were just a little bit out of reach for a beginner and he wasn’t into wizards and witches. So I took on the challenge of writing books for active boys who didn’t like to read.” Brackett met this challenge and the Badger Thurston series was born.
There are currently four books in the Badger Thurston series. Each story features fun and approachable characters and wild adventures. Some of the stories are inspired by actual historical events that occurred in the area. Themes running throughout the books include loyalty, work ethic, courage, and honesty. Brackett believes it’s important to be honest in his writing. “I want the stories to be real, and there are some complicated themes in real life,” he says. “Kids experience these realities and can recognize them even in a story from a century ago. If an author tries to pull back from challenging themes for kids’ books, then I think they give up the authenticity that you need for strong characters and driving plot lines. I believe that to write for kids requires the discipline to simplify the vocabulary and sentence structure, but I believe kids can handle the more complicated themes. If you patronize your audience, you risk them losing interest in your story.”
While Brackett plans more Badger Thurston books in the future, he’s got some other writing projects planned to complete first, including a promise he made to his daughters, a new series targeted to girls. Brackett explains, “One of the primary characters is based on Kitty Wilkins, horse queen of the west. She is a local figure that in the late 1800’s owned and operated the largest horse ranch west of the Mississippi.” The first book in this series in planned for release in time for Christmas 2018.♦