Columbia Falls author Ellen Horowitz is no stranger to natural history writing for kids.
She’s a freelance writer whose work appears in magazines like Ranger Rick. Her pieces have won national awards, including the National Wildlife Federation’s Trudy Farrand and John Strohm Magazine Writing Award, and she took first place in the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s Excellence in Craft contest.
Horowitz was asked to write “What I Saw in Glacier, A Kid’s Guide to the National Park” as a sequel to the popular “What I Saw in Yellowstone,” written by Durrae Johanek.
Hailing from Connecticut, she’s been in Montana for nearly 40 years, and natural history writing is her passion.
“It’s my background. It’s what I love. It grounds me,” she noted.
When she’s not writing, she’s teaching. She started at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s summer camp, and now works as an adjunct professor of field botany at Flathead Valley Community College. She also educates at Glacier Institute and for Road Scholar, which offers educational programs geared toward the aging.
Horowitz also worked for 13 years as a naturalist inside Glacier National Park and has done youth corps education and recreation as well.
Her favorite groups to work with are preschoolers and senior citizens.
“Those two groups are so unpretentious,” she explained, telling the story of a tot who bounced up and down with his arm raised during a presentation just to ask her, “Are you done yet?”
“The older folks would just nod off,” she laughed.
The new book, her first, was “40 years in the making,” she said. The animals and landscape features described in the book, which is replete with photos and fun facts, are all subjects she’s educated people about for decades.
Limited to 48 pages, she tried to choose subjects that would help kids “focus in on the Park,” and that they’d have a greater likelihood of seeing.
She consulted with friends in the Park and other experts to help her with fact-checking, but drew on a lot of her own knowledge.
The book is educational and aesthetically-pleasing, with Horowitz’s writing style accessible to kids of all ages as well as adults. It’s part treasure hunt, part field journal, and part souvenir.
“The fact that the book is designed to write and make notes in makes it a special memento,” she noted. “It’s very kid-friendly and user-friendly.”
She enjoys sharing her extensive knowledge and making the topics interesting for youngsters.
“Writing for kids is not taking subjects for adults and diluting them,” she noted, explaining that kids can receive the same information, but it just has to be communicated so they can understand it.
“What I Saw in Glacier” is available in bookstores throughout the Flathead Valley, including the Imagination Station toy store in Whitefish and many gift stores within and near the Park.