The Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, in the Pacific Northwest, home to Olympic National Park, was the last unexplored wilderness in the continental United States. A jagged complex of mountains, forests, rivers, glaciers, and snow fields, these mountains are the beginning of a great coastal rain forest that extends from the Olympic Peninsula north and west against the Gulf of Alaska all the way to the Bering Sea and the North Pacific.
Still wild, remote, and mysterious, this arc of forest, mountains and shore is the setting for a series of tales about an ornery young girl, her grandfather and his friends, a wilderness mine, strange animals, and a great adventure. Sarah Cooley, 13, fetches up on the doorstep of a grandfather she never knew she had, and then accompanies him and his friends on a camping trip to visit his grandfather’s grave deep in the wilderness. She hates it. They don’t think much of her, either. Then she sees and draws something, a great bear. They don’t believe her, and the adventure begins. Three books by Irontwine Press– Strong Heart (2017), Adrift (2018), and Totem (fall 2021) – follow Sarah and her companion as they face an evil corporation, great storms, fire, and an impossible series of visions, or dreams, or ancient memories. Author Charlie Sheldon’s Strong Heart Series - adventure, coming
of age, and magic realism -show how it is the telling of stories that made us human.
Sheldon, after training as a wildlife biologist, spent 15 years working in the commercial fishing industry as a deckhand, mate, captain and then consultant before working at seaports for nearly 30 years on both the east and west coasts as a planner, project and construction manger, and executive. When he came to the Pacific Northwest in 1990 he ended up working with Puget Sound tribes to coordinate fishing seasons with shipping activity, and there learned that all Native peoples in the Americas believe they have always been here, ie, they did not cross the Bering land bridge as dogma and current scientific evidence claims. The Strong Heart Series, among other things, explores this ancient legend - could it be true, and if so, how? After years of research, and going back to sea as a merchant sailor at 65 for 4 years, Sheldon came ashore for good in 2016 to write these books.
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