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Casper author’s work selected for National Book Festival

"In a Land of Awe" by Chad Hanson, a faculty member in sociology and religion at Casper College, is this year’s selection for adult readers.


CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A book written by a Casper author has been selected by Wyoming Humanities for the 2023 National Book Festival.

The book selection was coordinated by Wyoming Center for the Book, now housed with Wyoming Humanities. A panel was selected to read and consider several Wyoming-related books for this year’s event, according to a news release from Wyoming Humanities.

“In a Land of Awe,” by Casper-based author Chad Hanson. (courtesy of Wyoming Humanities)

“In a Land of Awe” is this year’s selection for adult readers. Author Chad Hanson serves as faculty in sociology and religion at Casper College. He is co-founder of the Wyoming Mustang Institute, which works through research and advocacy to ensure healthy and stable wild horse populations on public land.


Per the release, in the book, Hanson uses the lens of the wild mustang to give readers new ways to see and meaningfully engage in our world as we enter new considerations about how we understand animals and our landscapes, our history and ourselves. With wisdom gathered from the histories of the American West, geography, philosophy, theology and sociology, readers meet awe anew. The book serves as a plea for what people stand to lose if they don’t find the courage to protect the planet’s most beautiful, and vulnerable, others.  

“Few animals capture the image of the West as well as horses. Wyoming is no exception,” said Lucas Fralick, who serves as the coordinator for the Wyoming Center for the Book. “As the general symbol of the Wyoming spirit, [Hanson] shows readers the more human side of horses and their environment.”

Also selected for the festiva, is “The Day the Earth Rose Up,” a children’s book written and illustrated by Alfreda Beartrack Algeo. Algeo is an enrolled citizen of the Oceti Sakowin, Kul Wicasa Oyate, Lower Brule, South Dakota, where she was born and raised. She utilizes her oral traditions and cultural wisdom to create art as well as children’s picture books and teen novels, according to the release.

“The Day the Earth Rose Up,” a children’s book written and illustrated by Alfreda Beartrack Algeo. (Photo courtesy of Wyoming Humanities)

Per the release, the book is a Lakota version of the story of the Pleiades star constellation, and ultimately the story of Devil’s Tower. When seven Lakota sisters venture deep into the forest to gather chokecherries, they are surprised and chased by a giant bear. As they huddle together on a rock ledge and pray for help, the earth rose up, taking them out of reach of the bear. A great eagle rescues the Seven Sisters by taking them to the Star Nation, where they become the Pleiades star formation people see in the night sky.

“There are few children’s books that capture the native story of the rise of Devils Tower so clearly,” Fralick said.

The books will be Wyoming’s “Great Reads from Great Places” selections at the annual festival, which highlights youth and adult books representing all 50 states. This literary event brings together best-selling authors and thousands of book fans for author talks, panel discussions, book signings and other activities. This year’s event takes place Aug. 12 in Washington, D.C.


“Wyoming has submitted books for this event since 2002, and each book gives us an opportunity to show off great writers and give readers a glimpse of what it is like to live here, to observe change and embrace our unique literary heritage,” Fralick said.

Later this summer, Wyoming Humanities will hold events honoring these authors and their selection.

For more information about Wyoming Humanities and its programs, visit thinkwy.org. Information about the center can be directed to Lucas Fralick at lucas@thinkwy.org or 307-660-0729.