Book Review & Author Interview: The Grand Adventure

Lillie Forteau's picture

One of our very favorite authors has a great new book out! And we're so excited to share it with you. We've shared the work of Mark Hicks before, and I have to say, we play on his websites often (try the Halloween one! Love the cyclops!).

So this new book, The Grand Adventure, (written by Mark and Donna Hicks) shares the story of a man and his trip down the river in the Grand Canyon. It's full of fascinating facts - want to know why one spot is called Disaster Falls? Did you know that he was interested in Geology and artifacts that he found?

It's a tale of a journey of hardship, of perseverance, of learning about yourself and others, and about the power of hope and discovery. I love this book - the illustrations are both beautiful and realistic. It made me want to go the Grand Canyon (although with easier transportation).

Let's talk with Mark about his new book...

The Grand Adventure, Mark Hicks

WE: Please tell us about your new book, the Grand Adventure...

MH: The Grand Adventure is the true story of John Wesley Powell's first expedition down the Green and Colorado Rivers and through the Grand Canyon in 1869. This daring 1,000-mile journey is one of the great exploration adventures of the American West.

Originally created and copyrighted in 2000, the journey to publish this book was a challenge. First there were numerous query submissions to publishers that were rejected because, believe this or not, they "only want to publish true stories about history." (I still have the rejection letters on file.) Many other publishers just weren't interested in picture books about historical events. Finally, out of frustration, I threw it back into the idea file and worked on other projects and ignored it for years.

A few months ago I decided to revive it and publish it through non-traditional avenues. When I first started shopping the idea around to publishers there were really no other John Wesley Powell children's books on the market, now, amazingly, there are several. So, I think it's only fair, that since I have been fascinated by John Wesley Powell's trips into the Canyon since I was quite young, and because I'm a native Arizonan and have actually experienced the mystique and grandeur of the Canyon, I should share my vision of Powell's story as well.

WE:  What inspired you to write this book?

MH: I wanted to try and share with kids what it was like to go into a wild, unexplored area and be unsure if you would even come out alive. No maps, no GPS, no cell phones to call for help! The Colorado was a mighty river back then and the boats they went down in were so small. Image the courage and determination it took to do this -- and John Wesley Powell only had one arm!


The Grand Adventure, Mark Hicks

WE: You wrote this book with your wife - what was it like to collaborate with someone on this book?

MH: Actually, I had worked with my wife on a couple other books so it was very easy collaborating with her on this one. On this book, I researched the facts, wrote the rough draft and, of course did the artwork. My wife cleaned up the writing and made sure it was appropriate for the main age group that I wanted to reach. She also helped me determine what illustrations worked best for the final edition. Being an educator, she was quite helpful in all aspects of the development of the book.

WE: What do you love most about the Grand Canyon - have you ridden in the river there?

MH: There's just so much to love about the Canyon. I could go on for hours about its beauty, but I'll keep it short. The North rim is my favorite side. A lot of the flora and fauna is unique to the area. It's just so beautiful -- especially at sunset and also during summer thunderstorms. And a thunderstorm at sunset on the North Rim of the Canyon, well, it's nothing less than absolutely glorious.

And, while I have rafted other rivers and explored tributaries of the Colorado, I have yet to raft down it. It's on my list to do, but unfortunately being a freelancer makes it difficult to schedule a Colorado River trip.

WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

MH: You can learn more about Arizona on my educational website,  

Also, I have many more stories, both fiction and nonfiction, about the Grand Canyon and other places, that I'd like to share. I just need to figure out how to find the time and resources to do them all.

WE: Thanks so much, Mark. We love this book and highly recommend it to our readers.

For more information on the Grand Adventure, please see:

Mark's main site, where you can see all of his work (and other great books!):

Mark's Educational clipart at Discovery Education (a fantastic resource for educators):



L Forteau is the Kids Editor for Wandering Educators.


Note: We received a copy of the Grand Adventure for review from Mark Hicks. Thanks, Mark! We LOVE THIS BOOK!