Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Writer and Teacher
Meet Dorothy
Publications & Reviews
Talks & Worshops

Welcome to my website, where you can learn about my books and my life as a writer.

My latests book, "Camas and Sage: A Story of Bison Life on the Prairie," came out this fall and is getting 5-star reviews on The format for the book is a fun hybrid between fiction and nonfiction. The main text is a simple picture book story for young readers about a bison calf born on the American Prairie Reserve in Montana. The story is augmented by sidebars for older readers, including adults, amplifying the imformation about the prairie and about bison themselves. It's really a book for the whole family, showing what a beautiful and amazing habitat the prairie can be.

My recent book "The Call of the Osprey," a Scientists in the Field book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, has been chosen as a Best Science Trade Book for Students by the National Science Teachers Association. I’m especially proud of it because it covers research being done here in Western Montana by scientists a the University of Montana. I enjoyed tagging along as they traveled from one osprey nest to another, gently removing chicks from their nest to take blood samples in order to measure their heavy metal content. Starting in the late 1800s, Butte, MT, at the headwaters of the Clark Fork River, was the largest copper mine in the U.S. The major result of the mining was two-fold—the electrification of America and the largest Superfund cleanup site in the U.S. I love being part of the Scientists in the Field series, as its books are wholistic. “Call of the Osprey” deals not only with current research but also with the history of Butte and the lives of the scientists involved in the research.

My recent book "Decorated Horses" from Charlesbridge, came out in January. This book is very dear to a grownup horse loving girl, and I'm delighted by Jeannie Brett's beautiful and lively illustrations.

I'm especially attached to the story about the Chinese Emperor's Dancing Horses after spending quite a bit of time in China and admiring the silver cup that carries an image of one of these horses in a museum in Beijing.

I've also admired and been fascinated by the Sythian people--especially proud and independent residents of the Steppes who bred some of the fastest and most hardy horses ever and who decorated their own bodies with complex and beautiful tattoos. Unfortunately, since they had no alphabet, we know very little about their horse and deer oriented culture.


I'm delighted that my book, "Super Sniffers: Dog Detectives on the Job" is now available. "Dogs on Duty" was so popular I knew young readers would love to learn more about how dogs use their noses to help people, in so many ways--protecting allergic children, nosing out clues to environmental problems, detecting hidden drugs, and so much more!

Here is some information about my most recent wolf book for folks who have read my story "What It's Like Being a Wolf" at . Much of the information in that story comes from my books about wolves such as this one and also "Gray Wolf, Red Wolf" as well as my own personal experiences watching wolves both in the wild in Yellowstone National Park and in captivity here in Montana.

When the Wolves Returned My recent book, When the Wolves Returned: Restoring Nature's Balance in Yellowstoneamazon link, is an IRA/CBC Teachers' Choices book, an ALA Notable Children's Book, A Book Sense Pick, and an Outstanding Science Trade Book for CHildren, as well as receiving the Orbis Pictus Honor Book Award. Booklist calls is "A great choice for elementary units about science and environmental protection," and Kirkus gave it a starred review. Click here to read the reviews.

I loved writing this book, which describes the positive changes in the ecology of the park that are happening since the wolves came back--healthier willows, more beavers and small predators, more song birds, and more. Wolves have also returned to several western states around Yellowstone, including Montana, and their presence there is also helping restore the natural environment.

My Other Latest Books

"Dogs on Duty: Soldiers' Best Friends on the Battlefield and Beyond," has been very well received. Kirkus says, "The story of Military Working Dogs and Specialized Search Dogs is presented in a fascinating, full-color volume...this lively bursting-with-life volume covers the life of the canine forces from puppy to MWD to retirement...a sure hit with dog lovers everywhere."

It has also been chosen for several lists, including ALA Notable Children's Books, CBC Best Children's Books of the Year, and the IRA Teachers' Choices Reading List. It has won the Mitten Award from the Michigan Library Association, the Flicker Tale Award (Children's Choice) for nonfiction from the North Dakota Library Association, and the middle grade Charlotte Award from the New York State Reading Association. I'm thrilled by this recognition for a book I'm very proud of!

While it was a difficult book to write in some ways, I focused my energy and attention on the fact that the most important job of these dogs is to save lives, not only the lives of their handlers and other members of the patrol but also of innocent civilians who share the roads and pathways of countries like Afghanistan with the military.

The dogs do more that carry out their duties--they also provide the fighting forces with a special presence of love, loyalty, and playfulness that helps relieve the stress of war and reminds the soldiers that there's more to life than fighting, dust, and danger.

To learn more about this book and my work, see this entry in the Time Magazine Battleland blog.

Homesteading cover

My book "Homesteading: Settling America's Heartland," has been expanded and published by Mountain Press. The book is a perfect fit for studies of the westward expansion movement. The homesteading era is of special interest to me as my father, H. Corwin Hinshaw, grew up on an Idaho homestead that became a thriving apple orchard. As a child growing up in California, I visited the orchard several times during the summer, and my family always received baskets of amazing apples from the farm every fall.

"The Horse and the Plains Indians," has a star from School Library Journal! Here's a sample from their review:

"This certain to draw readers who are interested in Native American history or horses."

Kirkus Reviews calls it "Very well done; an important resource." If you read the reviews on, please know that all the photos except old ones are in color. A couple of the folks who wrote reviews here must have only seen review copies, which were in black and white.

This book was truly a labor of love and respect. Within a few years of acquiring horses after the Spanish brought them to America, Indians became among the greatest horsmen in the world and created vibrant new horse-related aspects to their cultures. I wanted to communicate these achievements to young people and to show them that despite all they have suffered at the hands of European American culture, the Indians heart and soul attachment to horses endures.


I'm also delighted with the reception for "Saving Audie: A Pit Bull Puppy Gets a Second Chance,". School Library Journal gave it a star, and Publishers' Weekly wrote:

"This polished photo-essay by frequent collaborators Patent and Muñoz will tug at the heartstrings of readers--especially those sympathetic to the plight of the often-maligned pit bull. In cogent, conversational prose, the author chronicles the rehabilitation journey of one of the dogs rescued in 2007 from NFL quarterback Michael Vick's illegal dogfighting operation."

Bill Muñoz and I had a great time visiting Audie and his family, Linda, Bill, and his canine brother, Aldo, in the San Francisco Bay Area. We also got to meet many wonderful people and dogs associated with BAD RAP (Bay Area Dogowners Responsible About Pitbulls). This organization played key roles in giving the vicitims of Vick's operation a chance to become members of loving, caring families. And with the precedent set by that case, vicitims of other dog fighting rings now have the same hope.

Audie has his own Facebook page where you can see more photos and find links to more information about pit bulls. Bill and I hope that Audie's story will help the public realize that pit bulls are no different from other dogs--the most important thing in determining a pet's behavior is how it is raised and trained, not any special inborn traits.

I'm proud of being a vice president of the new company, iNK Think Tank, with the goal of inspiring children to love reading and learning through nonfiction trade books like the ones I write. On our website, 30 award-winning nonfiction writers have keyed their titles into a database of curriculum standards so teachers and home-schooling parents can find the books they need to help children learn through reading engrossing books.

Our latest project is the Nonfiction Minute, an online site that, starting on Sept. 8, will display an original short piece (no more than 400 words) of intriguing nonfiction writing every day to inspire young people to want to learn more, along with an audio file of the author reading the selection. The Nonfiction Minute will be a perfect way to start the school day by displaying it on the white board for reading and discussion. On August 4, we'll be launching a crowd sourcing campaign through Indigogo to raise money--the Nonfiction Minutes are free to viewers, but we need to be able to compensate the authors and the editor as well as pay for the website itself. Here's a preview of our campaign--I will put up the actual site at launch time

My Career

I've been enjoying my writing career for more than 35 years. While I've focused mostly on writing nonfiction books for children, I've also written in many other genres including travel articles and gardening books for adults.

In addition to being an author, I love to share what I’ve learned about writing with children, fellow writers, and the public. I’ve been a featured speaker at many conferences and schools, and I’ve taught nuts and bolts workshops on writing for children, as well as sessions on freeing the creative spirit from the restraints of the internal critic. I also work as a consultant with less experienced writers, helping them hone their work to make it more publishable. Learn more about my talks, workshops, & consulting. With the internet, it's now much easier to interact with students through Skype sessions or other means of long-distance visual sharing.

My Life

My home in Missoula, Montana, sits on a half acre of land on a plateau next to Blue Mountain, with the Missoula Valley and the mountains beyond visible from our windows. Sometimes the mountains are obscured by beautiful clouds. ViewIt's a perfect place for a person who loves nature to live. Across the street is a beautiful meadow where we used to walk our dogs, Elsa and Ninja, almost every day for years. We now love to take care of neighbor dogs when their people are away. Learn more about my professional & personal life




The natural world is my favorite place, but human cultures come in a close second. My recent book, The Buffalo and the Indians: A Shared Destiny combines these two loves as I recount the history of the relationship between Plains Indian tribes and the American bison over the thousands of years they have shared our planet, with help from photographer William Muñoz and historical artwork. School Library Journal says in its starred review, “Patent’s narrative is clear and her writing is almost lyrical,” while Booklist’s starred review points out, “The lucid narrative and spacious book design....will draw readers into the history and the science and prompt discussion of human and animal rights and the connections between them.” The book was chosen to represent Montana in the National Book Festival in Washington,D.C. for 2006 and has been chosen by the Mountain and Plains Independent Booksellers as a winner in the children’s catagory for 2007. The book was a work from the heart, both for me and for photographer Bill Muñoz, so we feel especially honored to receive this recognition.

To learn more about my books, visit Publications & Awards, where you can also learn about the food articles, some with great recipes by my husband, cookbook author Greg Patent. Greg's blog, The Baking Wizard , will inspire you to create great treats for yourself and your family from scratch.

For useful links and educational resources I've created, click here.

You can contact me by email here.

View websites for my publishers, some of my colleagues, & tips for writers >>


© 2007 Dorothy Hinshaw Patent. Site by Small Dog Solutions