By Loretta Sorensen
Amanda Radke, Mitchell, has found an interesting way to advocate for agriculture. She has published a children's book.
In "Levi's Lost Calf," Radke's tells the story of Little Red, a calf that gets separated from his mother. Determined to prove his independence and find his favorite heifer calf, young cowboy Levi heads out on Pepper, his horse. His trusty dog Gus tags along. In the search for the calf, Levi explores several different places and animals on the ranch.
"The book was a natural extension of what I was already doing (promoting agriculture)," Radke says. "I believe the cowboy spirit is still alive and well. Through this book, kids can experience that."
In addition to Levi's adventure, Radke included some beef information and recipes in the back of the book.
"Readers can learn about 29 different beef cuts and review a glossary of beef terms," Radke says. "The recipes are kid-friendly. My thought was that those educational elements of the book would be helpful to teachers who might use the book in a classroom."
In addition to Radke's creative writing skills, readers can enjoy the illustrative artwork Michelle Weber created for "Levi's Lost Calf." The partnership, Radke notes, was the natural outgrowth of the women's friendship.
"Michelle and her husband Jesse raise Red Angus at Lake Benton (Minn.)," Radke says. "I knew Michelle liked to paint, so I approached her about creating the illustrations. She and I have a lot in common, sharing our Christian values, farm backgrounds and being young producers in the cattle business. I believe Michelle will be the next big agricultural artist. She's making the move to ranching and painting full time and I couldn't be more thrilled for her."
Radke published her book through CreateSpace, a self-publishing service affiliated with Amazon. She's marketing the book online through her website at https://www.createspace.com/3612406, Amazon and some ag-related organizations.
"The South Dakota Farm Bureau selected 'Levi's Calf' as the book they'll promote throughout 2012," Radke says. "They'll purchase copies and donate them to schools, doctor's offices and libraries. It's something they do each year."
It hasn't taken Radke long to begin forming ideas for a second book. Readers who suggested a companion book that features Levi's sister have provided fodder for additional story ideas.
"I've had requests for children's books featuring pigs, sheep and other farm animals," Radke says. "A story about Levi growing up and taking Little Red to the fair is an idea I had, too. My biggest goal is to write romance novels set on cattle ranches. I hope to help today's women fall in love with ranch life as I have. Today's consumer is three generations removed from the farm, but these kinds of stories often remind people of their grandpa and the farm they visited as children. Writing books is a lot of hard work. I've enjoyed getting my feet wet in the publishing business. Seeing kids get excited about the story and learning about the beef industry is my biggest reward."
Sorensen is from Yankton, S.D.