Growing Up in Wild Horse Canyon
by Karen Autio, illustrated by Loraine Kemp

A unique approach to history that will delight readers of all ages.


ISBN: 978-1771533-190-2
Price: $25.95
Narrative nonfiction
Ages: 7-10

In a hidden canyon in British Columbia's southern interior, a pondorosa pine tree sprouts. Season pass as the tree grows, witness to generations of human history in the Okanagan Valley, from First Nations quests to fur brigades, horse wrangling, secret wartime commando training, to the firestorm of 2003. Richly illumniated by maps, illustration and historical images and informed by a timeline and historical notes, this fascinating book weaves First Nations history with European settlement and natural history. By following the thread of one tree growing one sheltered and seacred space, award-winning author Karen Autio gently explores patterns of colonization that will resonate with readers all over North America. 


Karen Autio
Karen Autio has long been intrigued by Wild Horse Canyon. The tales of syilx/Okanagan people trapping wild horses there piqued her interest. She started researching the history of the canyon and got hooked on exploring what had happened in the area over the past few centuries. When Karen imagined a ponderosa pine living in the canyon for more than two centuries, this book began to take shape. To learn more about Karen’s other books for young readers, visit

Loraine Kemp
Loraine Kemp has loved being an artist since she was barely old enough to hold a pencil. Living in the Okanagan Valley all her life and observing her equine friends have given Loraine an edge for creating realistic renderings of her beloved home environment and its inhabitants. To learn more about Loraine’s artwork and writing, visit

What Reviewers Say About Growing Up in Wild Horse Canyon

“This celebration of the cycle of life, as expressed in the slow growth and quick destruction of the ponderosa pine, and the ebb and flow of lives lived in its shade, is deeply satisfying. … The combination of narrative and historical fact renders Growing Up in Wild Horse Canyon not only fascinating for any young reader interested in our history, but even more appropriate as an addition to school and classroom libraries throughout BC and Canada.” —Karyn Huenemann, There Will Be Books (blog)
“a history book that young readers will welcome and enjoy for its realism and truthfulness.” —Canlit for Little Canadians (blog)

“A good non-fiction resource for cross-curriculum classroom use. The neutral observer viewpoint of the ponderosa pine tree would lend well to a discussion of bias, and the content of the book would fit many points about Canada’s history. Recommended for school and public library collections.” — Resource Links

“Centering Growing Up in Wild Horse Canyon around the image of the ponderosa pine speaks to what we often take for granted, our sense of place including the splendor of what has taken place before us as well as what will happen after. The stunning illustrations interwoven with the historical content breathe life into the people and place this book represents. The message of this story reminds us that the Okanagan is enriched with history, but it remains our responsibility to care for the land and each other to ensure the seeds of new generations are a reflection of the beauty that surrounds us all.” – Jordan Coble, Westbank First Nation member and Cultural and Operation Administrator, Sncəwips Heritage Museum