Posts Tagged Rosanne Parry

Happy Birthday to A Horse Named Sky!

We are delighted to wish Happy Birthday to A Horse Named Sky, which Greenwillow Books just released. It’s the third in Rosanne Parry’s acclaimed Voice of the Wilderness novels. This one features a wild colt captured and forced into service by the Pony Express. We’re talking with Rosanne about how she wrote this story.
MUF: Rosanne, congratulations on another marvelously crafted (and beautifully illustrated) novel that invites readers into the world of a wild animal. Like all your novels, A Horse Called Sky is based on curiosity and on extensive research.  Was some of that done on location, in the places where wild horses live or have lived? If so, what was that like?

ROSANNE: I did travel quite a bit to learn about the wild horses in my story. I visited the Virginia Range just east of Reno, Nevada where my story begins and  I camped and hiked in the Steens Mountain Wilderness in Oregon where my story ends. I hiked over the summit of the Sierra Nevada mountains on the Pony Express Trail and I talked to all kinds of people. Paiute historians, wild horse conservationists, ranchers, geologists and hydrologists, and a variety of people who own, train or ride horses much more often than me.

MUF: In researching wild horses, what were some of the discoveries about them and their society that most interested you?

On the lookout!

ROSANNE: I have been fascinated by how horses communicate with their whole bodies in some very big and obvious ways and in some very subtle ways. Once when we were looking at mustangs from 100 yards away or so (like you are supposed to) a yearling got curious about me and approached. She walked right up to me, and then turned her head and neck to the side which is how a horse invites you to come closer. It was so sweet! I wanted to hug that little horse so much! But about 20 yards behind her the mare was fixing me with a look! Lips pressed together. It was subtle but I could see in an instant how unhappy she was. I did not take one step closer to the yearling! And as soon as she saw her mother watching her, she sprinted away from me.

I also saw a large group of mares and their stallions together and a smaller group of bachelor stallions alongside them. The youngsters got a little boisterous with each other. They started with just snorting and kicking dirt at each other. But then they reared up and started throwing kicks. One of the older stallions lifted up his head and gave one snort in the direction of the younger males.  They stopped fighting instantly. A subtle gesture with a huge response. It really made me think about the structure of a band of wild horses. They are very deferential to each other. The males do fight, but for the most part they are very conflict avoidant. It’s pretty inspiring.

MUF: There is much information in the back of your book about the status of wild horses and their environment in the present. You could have written a contemporary story about wild horses.  What was your thought in setting your novel during the brief run of the Pony Express in the early 19thcentury?

ROSANNE: It was the dearest ambition of my 8 year old self to be a pony express rider. 1. Outdoors 2. Moving fast 3. Excellent pay 4. Very little supervision. Four of my favorite things to this day! When I learned that the pony express had in fact taken mustangs off the range to run the more difficult and dangerous sections in the mountains of the west, I knew I had a story kids could really root for. And then I dug into the history of the Piaute War and the Comstock silver mine in the Virginia Range and the enslavement of Indigenous Americans in California, & the surrounding territories, and the history of Black cowboys.  Well it was all very interesting and piece of American history not so commonly talked about.

MUF: You set a task for yourself by having an animal character be your narrator. He can only communicate and connect with readers using perceptions and responses a horse would have.  Readers then have to guess at the actual object, animals, or words for things (and they do). I love the way Sky classifies humans by the colors of their hides and “manes” and identifies the stallions, colts, and mares among them. What things did you have to think hardest about to get them across through Sky?

ROSANNE: I love to think about how an animal perceives the world. It was very different to write about a prey animal as the last two Voice of the Wilderness books were predators—a wolf and an orca. Horses, even well cared for domestic horses, are always on the alert for danger. They notice the smallest things and every change of mood in the members of their family band.

The hardest part to write was thinking through the human interactions, understanding how horses regard humans and try to communicate with them. When I chose the wrangler who teaches Sky to accept a saddle and bridle, I chose a former slave. A person who would have a natural compassion for a creature who has newly lost his freedom. I studied both historic and contemporary horse training methods. The more gentle training model the wrangler uses was fairly common in the 1800s. Writing the actual steps in the gentling process from the point of view of a horse who doesn’t know what’s going on took lots of drafts.

MUF: And now let’s hear from Sky’s illustrator, Kirbi Fagan. Kirbi  is recognized for her cover art in adult, YA, and Middle-grade fiction as well as comic books projects such as Black Panther/Shuyri and Firefly. She illustrated this book in pan pastels.

MUF: Brava, Kirbi! Aren’t horses one of the more difficult animals to draw?  Love helps, right?

KIRBI: Thank you. It does take a certain kind of artist to take on drawing over a hundred illustrations of horses! My agent asked if I was tired of horses after I turned in my last revisions. I’m not. In fact, I think my inner horse girl is living her best life. Horses have lived alongside people for so long, it’s one of the animals humans can recognize quickly. That’s why, even for a novice, it’s easy to spot a bad horse drawing. All of this to say, yes, drawing horses is tough. 

MUF: Are wild horses an extra challenge?

KIRBI: I visited as many different horses as I could, I did proper studies to refer to, and drew in the field. I felt prepared (and inspired!). Seeing the range of diversity from horse to horse is freeing and helped me loosen up. Mustangs are on the more petite side, and I was lucky to meet Maggie, who lives about an hour away from me, who fit the size of Sky’s band roughly. Thanks Maggie!

MUF: Does being free but also having to provide for themselves change wild horses’ appearance or stance or carriage, compared to domestic horses?

KIRBI: The truth is, a lot of wild horses are dehydrated and undernourished. Likely worse today than during the Pony Express times. Today, wild horses will show characteristics of draft horses and thoroughbred horses. When most people think of wild horses many think of the swath of colors and markings. This reputation is well deserved. Wild horses roam great distances and these rugged terrains are not kind. Manes are ragged and mangled, sometimes even with burrs. They bear all sorts of battle wounds. They aren’t groomed, so when their coats change with the seasons, it’s a string of bad hair days!

MUF: Thank you, Rosanne and Kirbi, for taking time to share some of what went into creating this book!  Readers, treat yourselves to Rosanne’s unique and moving way of writing an animal’s story in A Horse Named Sky.  Also in the other two books in the Voices of the Wilderness series: A Wolf called Wander, and A Whale of the Wild.   (And keep an eye out for Kirbi’s debut author/illustrated picture book appearing in 2025).

Celebrating International Wolf Day – A Book List

Today is International Wolf Day – a day set aside to celebrate the important role wolves play in a creating and maintaining a healthy ecosystem and to debunk the many fears and misconceptions people still hold about wolves.

To celebrate the day, From the Mixed-Up Files has put together an International Wolf Day book list, including a book by our own Rosanne Parry. From fantasy to fact-based fiction, there’s sure to be a book for every reader’s taste.


A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry

Swift, a young wolf cub, lives with his pack in the mountains learning to hunt, competing with his brothers and sisters for hierarchy, and watching over a new litter of cubs. Then a rival pack attacks, and Swift and his family scatter.

Alone and scared, Swift must flee and find a new home. His journey takes him a remarkable one thousand miles across the Pacific Northwest. The trip is full of peril, and Swift encounters forest fires, hunters, highways, and hunger before he finds his new home.

Inspired by the extraordinary true story of a wolf named OR-7 (or Journey), this irresistible tale of survival invites readers to experience and imagine what it would be like to be one of the most misunderstood animals on earth. This gripping and appealing novel about family, courage, loyalty, and the natural world is for fans of Fred Gipson’s Old Yeller and Katherine Applegate’s Endling.

Includes black-and-white illustrations throughout and a map as well as information about the real wolf who inspired the novel.


Fun Fact: A wolf can eat 20 lbs of meat in 5 minutes. That’s 100 hamburgers!



The Wolf’s Curse by Jessica Vitalis

Gauge’s life has been cursed since the day he cried Wolf. The superstitious villagers believe that the invisible Great White Wolf brings death; if Gauge can see it, then he must be in league with it. So instead of playing with friends in the streets or becoming his grandpapa’s partner in the carpentry shop, Gauge must go into hiding. Then the Wolf comes for the old man, and Gauge is left all alone with a bounty on his head and a Wolf on his heels. When a young feather collector named Roux offers Gauge assistance, the two embark on a quest to clear Gauge’s name. But soon, the two orphans are forced to question everything they have ever believed about their village, about the Wolf, and about death itself. Jessica Vitalis’s debut is a gorgeous, voice-driven literary fantasy about family, fate, and long-held traditions. The Wolf’s Curse will engross readers of The Girl Who Drank the Moon and A Wish in the Dark.





Fun Fact: Wolves can swim close to eight miles at a stretch!



The Wolf of Cape Fen by Juliana Brandt

First Frost has touched Cape Fen, and that means Baron Dire has returned. For as long as anyone can remember, Baron Dire has haunted the town come winter, striking magical bargains and demanding unjust payment in return. The Serling sisters know better than to bargain, lest they find themselves hunted by the Baron’s companion, the Wolf. Then the Wolf attacks Eliza’s sister Winnie. They manage to escape, but they know the Wolf will be back, because the Wolf only attacks those who owe the Baron Dire. Winnie would never bargain, so that must mean that someone has struck a deal with Winnie as the price.

Eliza embarks on a journey to save her sister, but as she untangles the links between Baron Dire, the Wolf, and her family, she discovers a complicated web of bargains that cross all of Cape Fen. If Eliza can learn the truth, she might be able to protect her sister, but the truth behind the bargain could put her own life in danger.



Fun Fact: Wolves howl for many reasons, like to communicate affection to their own pack or to warn away other packs. A wolf’s howl can travel up to ten miles away!



The Boy, The Wolf, and the Stars by Shivaun Plozza

Some say that long ago in the land of Ulv the sky was filled with Stars. Twelve-year-old Bo knows the stories but, like most, thinks the Stars and the wolf who ate them are just myths, and that no bedtime story can stop the ravenous Shadow Creatures running rampant every night when it turns Dark. Until the day Bo’s guardian, Mads, is attacked by a giant wolf straight from the legends. With his dying breath, Mads tells Bo that a great evil has been awakened, giving the Shadow Creatures unprecedented power, and the only way to stop it from spreading is to return the Stars to the sky.

​And so Bo—accompanied by his best friend, a fox called Nix; a girl named Selene with surprising magical abilities; and Tam, a bird-woman who has vowed to protect Bo at all costs—sets off on a quest to find the three magic keys that will release the Stars. But they’re not the only ones after the Stars and the friends soon find themselves fleeing angry villagers, greedy merchants, and a vengeful wolf. And all the while, an evil witch lurks in the shadows.


Fun fact: Wolves have 42 teeth! That’s 10 more than an adult human.



A Wolf for a Spell by Karah Sutton

The Girl Who Drank the Moon meets Pax in this fantastical tale of a wolf who forms an unlikely alliance with Baba Yaga to save the forest from a wicked tsar.

Since she was a pup, Zima has been taught to fear humans—especially witches—but when her family is threatened, she has no choice but to seek help from the witch Baba Yaga.

Baba Yaga never does magic for free, but it just so happens that she needs a wolf’s keen nose for a secret plan she’s brewing… Before Zima knows what’s happening, the witch has cast a switching spell and run off into the woods, while Zima is left behind in Baba Yaga’s hut—and Baba Yaga’s body!

Meanwhile, a young village girl named Nadya is also seeking the witch’s help, and when she meets Zima (in Baba Yaga’s form), they discover that they face a common enemy. With danger closing in, Zima must unite the wolves, the witches and the villagers against an evil that threatens them all.



Fun fact: Wolf pups are born with blue eyes, which then shift to green as they age and finally become their adult color such as orange or yellow. Adult wolves do not have blue eyes.



Click on the link to learn more about International Wolf Day, the roles wolves play in a healthy ecosystem, and how you can help support their survival. And, let us know which of the books in our list strike your fancy.

Happy reading!

Our 2021 Reading and Writing Resolutions

The year 2020 has finally come to a close and, like everyone else, MUF Members are looking forward to a new year and new resolutions. After reading some of these, I’m thinking about revising my own list. Maybe you will, too. Feel free to leave us your reading/writing resolutions in the comments section. Happy Reading and Writing in 2021!



Click on the authors’ names to learn more about them and their work. Click on the titles to support independent bookstores by purchasing a book.


Andrea Pyros 
is the author of Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas and My Year of Epic Rock.

Writing Resolution: “A gentle reminder to myself and anyone else who needs to hear this: Don’t stress over the messiness of a first draft! They’re not supposed to be perfect, but a framework to build upon during multiple revises.”

Reading Resolution: “To leave reviews for books I’ve enjoyed reading. Authors really benefit from positive online reviews, so this is a simple way to boost other writers.”



Beth McMullen
 is the author of the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series and the Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter series–next up, Lola Benko and the Midnight Market, summer 2021.

Resolution: “2020 was the year of ‘no’ so I’m determined to make 2021 the year of ‘yes’! First up on the list, I’m giving myself permission to write what I want, not what I think I should be writing or what others would like for me to write. We will see how that goes!”




S.A. Larsen is the award-winning author of Motley Education and other middle grade and young adult books, who loves to chase her characters around a graveyard or antagonize them with the wonders of young love.

Resolution: “I intend to loosen the reins of my creativity by committing to two sessions of free-writing every month. Feel free to join me!”




Melissa Roske is the author of Kat Green Comes Clean and other contemporary middle-grade fiction.

Resolution: “Before the pandemic, I had a (relatively) consistent writing schedule. I’d write in the mornings, take a break for lunch, do more writing, and then head to the gym. Now that the world has changed, I lack the focus and discipline to stick to my previous schedule. Therefore, my resolution for 2021 is to create a new, less restrictive schedule that accommodates my ‘new normal.’ For instance, I can’t go to the gym anymore, but I can take an online fitness class before or after a writing session. And I can be kinder to myself when I have a less-than-productive day. Sometimes, getting out of bed in the morning is enough.”



Rosanne Parry, the author of A Whale of the Wild  and more, writes books in her treehouse, sells books at Annie Blooms Bookstore, and reads books everywhere.

Writing Resolution: “I have a year of intensive research coming up. I hope to read another 50 books, websites, archive materials and maps, view documentaries and meet with at least a dozen experts in the field. ”

Reading Resolution: “I hope to take greater advantage of audio books this year. I also want to find and nominate at least 2 new titles for the Indie Next list. ”



Jennifer Swanson is an award-winning author of Beastly Bionics, Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions Inspired by Nature as well as 40+ STEM books for kids. Science ROCKS!

Resolution: “Be Healthy. Be Happy. Stay Curious.”





Donna Galanti writes middle grade where heart and hope meet adventure! She is the author of the Joshua and The Lightning Road series and the upcoming Unicorn Island, which begins a new series.

Resolution: “I had 2 new books to write on deadline this year, but that meant I neglected my numerous own projects! In 2021, I intend to finish drafting and revising 3 books in various stages and outline a new idea. My day will continue to include mediation, walks in the woods, and working on one project at a time each day—but also adding yoga to get flexible! Until recently, my critique partner and I met each month for a writing day but have changed that up this month to Zoom “accountable” days. I aim to do a few of these each month with her if I can in 2021. We set goals, a day, and a time, like between 9am and 5pm, and then Zoom every 2 hours to check in and hold each other accountable. It’s a great way to boost productivity when you have to check in with someone!


Natalie Rompella is the author of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners as well as more than sixty materials for kids, including books on topics such as insects and sled dog racing.

Resolution: “To write something that requires little or no research.”




Aixa Perez-Prado is a writer and illustrator of quirky, own voices stories with heart and humor.

Resolution: “I will approach my writing and drawing with the same confidence and spirit as I did as a child, full of joy, wonder and hope.”





Sean McCollum, the author of 1 For All, is a nomad from the Midwest who’s been fortunate enough to build a career writing nonfiction books, stories, and articles for kids, tweens, and teens.

Resolution: “Read more, write more, and give more young people more reasons to read.” 🙂





Meira Drazin, who loves to read widely, voraciously and across genres, is the author of the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award-winning middle grade novel Honey and Me, forthcoming from Scholastic.

Resolution: “I’m always so jealous when I see people post on social media roundups of what they’ve read in the last calendar year. This year I resolve to be one of those people! I’ll admit that this isn’t the first time I’ve had this resolution: in the past I have tried jotting down in the back of my journal each book as I finish it, only to get as far as January. Or to decide to do it in April and unsuccessfully try to backtrack by scanning the pile of books next to my bed, bath, couch, office, etc. I think this year the key will be to do it in Notes on my phone so that it’s in a central location and generally something I have at hand. How wonderful to be able to see the breadth of what you’ve read over twelve months, and remember what moved you, what irritated you, what made you laugh or cry, what was interesting or even what was boring, what did not deserve the hype and what deserved all its hype and then some.”


Samantha M Clark
 is the award-winning author of The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast.

Resolution: “I’m really excited to have two new books coming out: Arrow  published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster on June 22 and American Horse Tales: Hollywood, coming from Penguin Workshop/Penguin Random House on June 29. While I’ll be busy with those as well as other upcoming projects, my 2021 resolution is to find peace wherever I can and make lots of time to read all the wonderful middle-grade books that have come out since COVID-19 started.”



Heather Murphy Capps is an #ownvoices middle grade author who writes contemporary, science, and magical themes.

Resolution: “To tackle two projects: 1) draft a new book I’m noodling on but haven’t yet outlined; 2) revise a book I trunked a while ago but have a real itch to resurrect. Peace out, 2020, bring it on, 2021!”


Michelle Houts
, the author of Winterfrost, writes fiction and nonfiction for readers of all ages from a restored one-room schoolhouse.
Resolution: “This year, I want to write for practice: morning pages, a poem a day, free-writing … anything that exercises my writer’s brain.”





Jonathan Rosen
is the beloved and highly controversial author of Spooky MG books such as Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies and From Sunset to Sunrise.

Resolution: “Total Global Conquest and also to write more.”





Mimi Powell is a writer, librarian, and avid video-gamer.

Resolution: “From Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, where she talks about writing as a meditative practice: write for twenty minutes a day, doesn’t matter if it is good or not. Just write.”


Greg R. Fishbone is the founding member of the Mythoversal Project and the author of speculative fiction and mythology in verse.

Resolution: “To release at least one installment of mythology stories per week through 2021.”





Dorian Cirrone is the author of the middle-grade novel, The First Last Day, and other books for kids and teens.

Writing resolution: “To write with abandon, using the Pomodoro Technique of setting a timer for twenty-five minutes at a time and knocking that inner editor off my shoulder while I write. Also, to finish the novel I started a couple of years ago that I’ve been thinking about for more years than I can count.”

Reading resolution: “To read widely and to try new genres.”