America's Favorite Eagle
Challenger, an American bald eagle, is this country's most popular winged mascot. He was blown out of his nest as an eaglet and taken in by humans. After several failed attempts to release Challenger back into the wild, he was taken to the American Eagle Foundation. It was there that trainer Al Cecere recognized the rare opportunity to work with an uninjured eagle that had imprinted on humans. He knew Challenger, as a free flying bald eagle, a sight few Americans actually witness, could become an ambassador bringing attention to the plight of these beautiful birds. Readers will recognize Challenger from the appearances he has made -- ranging from such varied venues as the White House and the 100th Anniversary of National Wildlife Refuge System, the Pentagon and the Olympic Torch Ceremony. In addition Challenger has flown at the World Series and the 100th Anniversary of Flight at Kitty Hawk. Challenger has also appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, the Disney Channel, and Animal Planet. Margot Raven's first children's book, Angels in the Dust, won five national awards, including an IRATeacher's Choice Award. Her first book with Sleeping Bear Press, Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot, was the runner-up for the 2004 Texas Bluebonnet Award. Challenger is illustrator Gijsbert van Frankenhuzen's eighteenth children's book with Sleeping Bear Press. His most recent title The Legend of the Petoskey Stone was a number one Midwest bestselling children's picture book. Gijsbert and his family live in Bath, Michigan, outside of Lansing, on a 40-acre farm where they rehabilitate injured wildlife.
Author: Margot Theis Raven
A national award-winning author and speaker, Margot Theis Raven's long professional career includes writing in the fields of radio, television, magazines, newspapers and children's books. She has more than 1,000 published articles to her name and nine children's picture books. Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot, Margot's first book with Sleeping Bear Press, was a 2003 Children's Choice award winner from the International Reading Association. Margot's books bridge generations of readers through the belief that the worst of times can bring out the best in people and are often set against powerful backdrops such as World War II or America's Civil Rights period.
Illustrator: Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen was born in the Netherlands in 1951. With his seven brothers and sisters, he grew up exploring nature and his sketch pads were filled with observations from those family outings. Always drawing as a young boy, his father encouraged Gijsbert to make art his career. After high school, he attended and graduated from the Royal Academy of Arts in Arnhem, Holland. Gijsbert, or "Mr. Nick" as many children affectionately call him during his school visits, immigrated to the United States in 1976 and worked as Art Director for the Michigan Natural Resources Magazine for 17 years. In 1995, he illustrated his first children's book, The Legend of Sleeping Bear, finally fullfilling his dream of illustrating children's books.Residing in Bath, Michigan, Nick and his family share their 40-acre farm with sheep, horses, dogs, cats, turkeys, rabbits, chickens, pigeons and a revolving door of orphaned and injured wild life. The family's nature journals logged 20 years of wild life rehabilitation on the farm and it is through these journals that the popular Hazel Ridge series was created. The farm, the land and the animals make great subjects for the artist to paint. Mr. Nick travels to schools and conferences to share his passion for drawing—encouraging kids to make their hobby their career.