A six-week series in the Cuba Free Press and Steelville Star newspapers will feature pages from local children’s book author Mary Young’s latest work, a coloring and activity book about the Osage Nation called “Dream BIG O' Little One.”
Young explained her latest project began when the Osage Trail Legacy monument was being constructed on the grounds of the visitor center in Cuba. The Cuba Development Group was looking for something to help kids connect with the sculpture, and the group asked Young to write a children’s book to go with the project. The only instructions she was given were to have the book include plenty of nature scenes and to create a story about the little Osage girl and her red wolf.
Young did some brief research online of Osage history. As she was pondering what to write, she stepped outside on a clear August night and lifted her hands to the heavens, praying, “Oh Great Spirit, please give me the story.” At that moment, not one but two shooting stars streamed across the moonless sky, and instantly, the idea came to her. “It felt like the story dropped from the sky onto my fingertips,” she said.
The next day, Young submitted a rough draft of the story for approval from the Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and Executive Advisor Johnny Williams in Oklahoma. A few weeks later she received an email message stating, “It’s a go,” and Young began her work writing and illustrating the book.
With further research, historical details were added to the story, as Young learned more about the people who once lived, farmed, and hunted on the land where she calls home. Sensing a kindred spirit of sharing this awe-inspiring countryside with the people who were here before her, Young said she’s discovered a deeper appreciation for the vast gifts in nature as she strives to remain eternally grateful to live in a place as beautiful as the rolling hills, plains, and rivers of Missouri.
Young enjoys country life in rural Missouri with her musician husband, Rusty Young of the country-rock band POCO, along with a hound dog named Zelda and their cat named Kit. Together, they live in a cozy log home above the clear waters of the Huzzah Creek in the Mark Twain National Forest. Young, a former teacher and mother of three grown children with two grandchildren, is realizing her lifelong ambition of writing children’s books. “Dream BIG O' Little One” is her eighth book.
As a former kindergarten teacher, Young has read many a story to curious little ears. When she realized that the more she enjoyed the stories herself, the more fun it was to read aloud to her students, she adopted the philosophy of entertaining the adult reader as well as the child. She believes no one should ever dread the three little words, “READ IT AGAIN!”
Young has written so many stories that she decided to create her own publishing company, and named it after the nickname of the little town where she lives – Davisville. The community is called “Pucky Huddle,” so she called her publishing company, “Pucky Huddle Books.”
Davisville is nestled deep in the Mark Twain National Forest along the bluffs of the Huzzah Creek, where Young finds much of the inspiration for her stories. Each story is uniquely illustrated by creative artists using a variety of techniques such as paintings, claymation, photographs, graphic designs, sketches and fabric melodies.
She shares her stories during visits to schools, libraries, Scout meetings and book signings. She plans to volunteer – reading and doing activities with children – at the Meramec Wilderness Camp in Steelville with foster kids and with children who have autism.
Mary Young’s books can be purchased locally in Davisville at the Pucky Huddle General Store and at Richardson’s Knives; in Steelville at Lange General Store, Art & Joe, Creekside Fudge & Gifts, Turtle Earth Healing and Arts; and in Cuba at the Cuba Visitors Center. She has also donated sets of her books to local public libraries, school libraries, the Community Childcare Center, Meramec Adventure Learning Ranch, Steelville Senior Living Center, and to Dragonfly Inn B&B in Ironton.
To find photos of the covers of Young’s books, and order online, visit the store at www.pocoband.com.