An adventuring mom blends fact with fiction in new travel series celebrating multiculturalism

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Colorado mom and author Patti Wheeler began traveling with her sons before they could walk, and what unfolded is a family tradition -- a legacy, really -- with far-reaching implications on the environment, and possibly even humanity.

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What kid doesn't daydream about climbing a pyramid, exploring a tomb, or dogsledding through the Arctic? Author Patti Wheeler's lucky sons, twins Gannon and Wyatt, all Aspen natives who still live in the ski town, actually got to live those dreams. And, now, they're passionate about educating and inspiring children to become champions of conservation while growing up with an understanding of other people and cultures.

Hence, from Africa to the South Pacific, mom and the boys chronicled, photographed, and videotaped their real-life expeditions in the tradition of the historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone, and Captain James Cook. From that, they bring young readers the fictional, action-packed middle-grade series Travels with Gannon & Wyatt.

With these tales, weaved through journal entries written from Gannon's and Wyatt's perspectives, Wheeler and writing partner Keith Hemstreet, also Colorado-based, truly found a fun, reader-friendly way to educate adolescents on two pressing and important topics: multiculturalism and the global environment. The book series currently includes, Botswana (June 2013), Great Bear Rainforest (October 2013) and Egypt (January 2014); the first in the series recently received an award from the National Outdoor Book Awards for its Best in Children's category. Future adventures in the series will take place in Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Tanzania, and the American West. With each expedition, Wheeler hopes young readers will discover new things about the world and their place in it.

Wheeler began traveling at a young age and has nurtured the spirit of adventure in her family ever since. "In addition to enjoying a fantastic adventure, my sons learned life-long lessons of compassion, ingenuity and conservation when we traveled," says Wheeler, who encourages all parents to travel with their kids when possible. "Keith, Gannon, Wyatt and I all hope to raise awareness around many important issues children will face as adults - from malnutrition to climate change to cultural tolerance," Wheeler adds.

The book-writing compadres practice what they preach. They founded Youth Exploration Society, a literacy nonprofit promoting a deeper understanding of world geography, cultures and the environment. When they aren't writing, Wheeler and Hemstreet are busy traveling around the nation, educating students and parents while making sizable book and financial donations and working to reinforce literacy, cultural proficiency, and environmentalism. They've even launched a one-for-one campaign: For every Gannon & Wyatt book sold, they will donate a book to a child. Their goal is to donate 10,000 books across the United States.

The stories, ideal for readers aged 9-12 and enjoyable for all the young-at-heart, are supported by broadcast quality videos, photos, and Educator's Resource Guides, all available on the Gannon & Wyatt website. They are available for purchase at Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, Barnes & Noble stores, and select independent booksellers.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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