Ranch Kid Pens New Children’s Book
I can remember being in kindergarten when our veterinarian’s wife, Jean Patrick, came into our classroom to show us the newest children’s book she had written. I was in awe that a country girl, just like me, could go on to become a published author. The seed was planted at that moment, and one day, I dreamed that I could grow up to be just like Jean.
Fast forward 30 years later, and I’m just wrapping up my ninth children’s book, focused on promoting agricultural literacy and teaching kids about where their food comes from. It’s been so rewarding to travel the country, reading these books to kids in schools spanning from Los Angeles to New York City and everywhere in between.
What has become even more rewarding though, is bringing my four children along for the ride. Watching them answer the students’ questions and really take ownership in explaining farm and ranch life to kids who have never seen a cow or a tractor before has been very exciting to witness. I imagine it won’t be long before the Radke kids are on an agricultural advocacy tour, and their mom is just the driver cheering them on at each stop. I know I’m a biased mama, but I’m so proud of their efforts to dive right in and be a part of this shared mission we all have.
A few years ago, our oldest daughter, Scarlett, asked me if she could write children’s books like me. She was five at the time, barely reading and drawing stick figures for people. My advice to her was that she might need to experience a little more life to be inspired by a story worth telling.
So my little cowgirl did just that. And she landed on the perfect story to tell this year.
This past winter, we had a bull calf, born premature in the snow during a blizzard at just 30 lbs. It was fortunate my dad found him when he did, or I’m certain he would have been a popsicle in short order.
But that little baby calf ended up in the basement to warm up for a bit, and soon, he was at my house, where Grandpa Dave told Scarlett, “I need you to take care of this calf for me.”
So whether we wanted a bottle calf project or not, we got one. The kids named him, “Lucky,” and it was their job to mix the bottles and feed him twice a day. I started documenting the kids doing their bucket calf chores on social media, and soon, a star was born. Lucky drummed up millions of views with his videos, and that the as spark for Scarlett to get to work on her own children’s book.
I’m so proud to announce that after months of sketching, writing, coloring, throwing pictures in the trash, and starting over again, Scarlett finally has released her first book, aptly titled, “Scarlett and Lucky.”
It’s a story written and illustrated by a ranch kid and inspired by our real life on the ranch taking care of Lucky. The book details all of the shenanigans the kids got into with Lucky, like the time to boys tried to make him into a bucking bull. And it highlights some of our favorite memories, like taking Lucky to an ag in the classroom event at the school library.
I’ve come to realize that what’s even better than chasing your own dreams, is helping your kids achieve theirs. Scarlett has been busy doing radio and newspaper interviews, signing books, and shipping orders out. She’s calculated her breakeven price after we add up shipping, printing, and all of those bags of milk replacer that Lucky went through. I’m proud of her drive and hard work, and I would love if you would check out her new story at www.amandaradke.com. It’s the perfect stocking stuffer I think kids will love this Christmas!
As for Lucky, well, he may be a cull bottle calf, but he’s got a bright future ahead — going on a book tour with Lucky and getting lots of back scratches and hugs from the kids who love him. Stay tuned for a Scarlett and Lucky appearance coming soon to a town near you!