Writing Travels with Gannon & Wyatt

January 31st, 2017 by Keith Hemstreet

Writing Travels with Gannon & Wyatt is an adventure in itself, given all the work that goes into each book.

Wyatt with our knowledgable friends, Antonio and Bee, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Wyatt with our knowledgable friends, Antonio and Bee, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

The series is often described by educators as “realistic fiction.” That means the books are a mix of imagination and reality, or fictional adventures in realistic settings.

While the brave characters in Travels with Gannon & Wyatt novels often cross paths with sinister villains and tend to get themselves into some wildly dangerous situations, the descriptions of the landscape, wildlife and local culture are all very true to life.

At schools across the country, students ask how we come up with our stories. The imaginative process is just one part of it. A whole lot of travel and research are also involved. To explain how we go about it, and more importantly, the goal of the series, coauthor Patti Wheeler and I have written a short explanation below.


Part journal, part fictional adventure story, Travels with Gannon & Wyatt brings the magic of nature and faraway cultures to the imaginations of young people and their families. Each exciting installment is part of a global journey that subtly instills the importance of conservation, cultural understanding, and strong family values.

Prior to writing each book, we travel to the location where the story takes place. While there, we meet with cultural and environmental experts, socialize with locals, ask questions, and listen. We take lots of photographs and video, and write down everything we learn along the way. When we return home, we review our material and dream up a fun, high-stakes adventure story that we hope our readers will really love.

The fictional characters that guide Gannon and Wyatt on each journey are proud representatives of their cultural and embody skills important for today’s youth—critical thinking, clear communication, collaboration, and creativity. These characters are curious, smart, and compassionate.

Our hope is that this method of storytelling and research produces a uniquely entertaining novel, one that not only educates, but encourages readers to begin their own journey of global discovery—a journey that might one day inspire them to help make the world a better place.

We sincerely hope you enjoy Travels with Gannon & Wyatt, and as always we thank you for your support.

Happy Travels!

Nuuk, Greenland: One of the great pleasures of travel is meeting new people.

Nuuk, Greenland: One of the great pleasures of travel is meeting new people.

Happy Holidays from Travels with Gannon and Wyatt!

December 22nd, 2016 by Gannon & Wyatt

Happy Holidays from Travels with Gannon and Wyatt to you all the young explorers out there! As we wind down another wonderful year of adventure, we’re already looking ahead to an exciting 2017. The authors will be hard at work on upcoming books, including Australia, Cuba, Iceland and the American Southwest. They are also exploring a possible research trip to China for book #11 in the series!

Collect all six books in the series...and keep an eye out for Gannon and Wyatt's next adventure!

Collect all six books in the series…and keep an eye out for the next adventure!

Adventure Bus Tour & School Visits
Also keep an eye out for the Adventure Bus, which will be on the road this spring and summer. And don’t forget to contact us if you’re interested in a Skype classroom visit, or even an in person author visit at you school. This fall the authors made appearances at schools and festivals in Georgia, Wyoming, California, Oregon and Washington, and they don’t plan to slow down anytime soon.

A Note of Gratitude
As always, thank you to all our readers and their parents for embracing the magic of the natural world and faraway cultures. We are grateful for your support.

Never stop reading, writing, or exploring because, as Gannon & Wyatt like to say, “The World is Our Classroom!” Happy Travels to all!

Authors Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet love visiting with young readers

Authors Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet love visiting with young readers

Earth’s Wildlife Vanishing

October 27th, 2016 by Gannon & Wyatt

The earth’s wildlife is vanishing. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report, there has been a 58 percent decline in vertebrate populations between 1970 and 2012. At this rate, it could be 66 percent by 2020. Vertebrates include mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish.


So, what’s killing off the world’s animals at such an alarming rate? Sadly, humans are the greatest threat to wildlife. Colby Loucks, Senior Director of WWF’s Wildlife Conservation Program, links the problem to “habitat loss, overexploitation, pollution, invasive species and climate change.” Fact is, we are clear-cutting forests, over fishing, and poaching some of the world’s most magnificent species.

Below are some of the most alarming statistics published in the report:

• The African Elephant population has declined 30 percent in just seven years
• Populations of freshwater species have declined 81 percent
• A massive section of the Great Barrier reef has died
• It requires 1.6 Earth’s to provide the goods and services we use each year


The situation is frightening, but there are still reasons to be optimistic. If humans are largely responsible for the decline, a collective effort to save the world’s wildlife could be very effective in reversing the situation. Knowledge is power. As more people come to understand that healthy ecosystems are critical to our own well-being and survival, more people will take action to protect the earth’s wildlife and environment. So, what can we do now? Learn more about the issues, then take action by spreading the word and supporting conservation. Together, we can preserve the wondrous diversity of our planet for generations to come.

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt Authors Visiting Schools Across America!

September 23rd, 2016 by Gannon & Wyatt
Wheeler and Hemstreet visiting students Oklahoma

Wheeler and Hemstreet visiting students in Moore, Oklahoma

Conducting research for Travels with Gannon and Wyatt, Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet have traveled to the far corners of the globe. Now, the authors are visiting schools across America. During school visits, the authors tell captivating stories, discuss the writing process, read an excerpt from one of the books, show photos and video from around the world, and explain to students the importance of reading and writing.

Interested in setting up a Skype visit for your class, or maybe even having Patti or Keith visit your school? Go to our homepage at gannonandwyatt.com and click “Contact Us”

Keith Hemstreet author Sacramento California

Keith Hemstreet speaking to students in Sacramento, California

Here’s What Teachers and Librarians are Saying:

A wonderful presentation! The kids have been checking out your books from the library and bringing them back in a day or two. They’re binge reading them and have nothing but wonderful things to say! Also, I’ve spoken to friends at some of the other schools you visited and they feedback from kids and teachers has been wonderful. You did a great job getting the kids excited about reading and world travel. We are all very appreciative!” —Catherine Rechs, Librarian, Sacramento, California School District, CA

It was the best presentation we’ve ever had at this school. —Mark Zeiler, Language Arts Teacher, Orlando, FL

Thank you so much for coming to our little school and visiting us. The kids loved everything! They are so excited to read their new books and I know I will not be able to keep the 9 that I have on the shelves. —Mandy Weythman, Taylor Elementary, Palisade, CO

Thank you so much for your presentation, Patti! I spent 3 years in Africa because my family and I were missionaries when I was younger. Africa is close to my heart and I’m thankful my students have a piece of it from Gannon and Wyatt. —Nikki McCurtain, Plaza Towers Elementary, Moore, OK

Your excellent presentation to our school district met with rave reviews from students, teachers and parents alike. I loved how you were able to capture a large audience and make the books and writings come alive. Your presentation was just the right mixture of slides, story telling, and interactions. Your love of reading, writing, traveling, and learning about new places and cultures was so positive and the books are the perfect fit for sharing non-fiction information with a mystery and adventure story line. The emphasis on appreciating and taking care of our world with it’s many diverse cultures and issues is priceless. The teachers in our district have loved the teacher’s guide available with the books and have incorporated them into their yearly teaching units. Thank you, Keith. You helped create memories that will last a lifetime! —Lynda Willings, Librarian, Eunice Smith Elementary School, Alton, IL

Our parents couldn’t say nicer things about you! Parents, Teachers and students loved you and your presentation! —Velva Behrman, Loma Elementary, Loma, CO

Thanks for a great presentation. The children really enjoyed it and are all excited to read more books! —Dana Pingatore, 4th Grade Teacher, Aspen Elementary School, Aspen, CO

We love you and your books! Keep writing and come back to visit us again! —Dottie Smay, Librarian, Shorecrest Preparatory School, St. Petersburg, FL

Just wanted to Thank You again and let you know that you were a big hit with the kids and the teachers. My students devoured the books they purchased from you and many are planning to order the whole set. —Joey Salyards, California Montessori, American River Campus, Sacramento CA

Thank you again, everyone LOVED your visit and we hope to have you visit next year! —Sarah Smith, Mesa View Elementary, Grand Junction, CO

Just wanted to touch base after your visit and tell you how much we are all enjoying your books. We have now read Botswana, Great Bear, Egypt, and are currently reading Ireland. The students are loving them! —Rachael Mullen, Chillicothe Elementary, Chillicothe, IL

THANK YOU, Keith! The teachers raved on and on about you for days. —Jennifer Douglass, Theodore Judah Elementary, Folsom, CA

Patti Wheeler visiting her alma mater, Pickettville Elementary School, Florida

Patti Wheeler visiting her alma mater, Pickettville Elementary School, Florida

Keith Hemstreet tells students about the time they were nearly stampeded by a rhino in Botswana

Keith Hemstreet tells students about the time they were nearly stampeded by a rhino in Botswana

Patti Wheeler interacts with excited elementary school students

Patti Wheeler interacts with excited elementary school students

The Spectacular State of Utah

September 12th, 2016 by Gannon & Wyatt
Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

We at Travels with Gannon & Wyatt are almost always working on multiple projects at the same time and this month has been about as busy as they come. Hawaii went on sale September 6, we’re wrapping up a third draft of Australia, beginning a first draft of Cuba, and recently hit the road to start gathering research and photography for our book that will be set in the American Southwest.

We began our exploration in the beautiful state of Utah, home to red rock canyons, winding green rivers, snow capped peaks, big horned sheep, bears, mountain lions, sidewinder snakes, and a host of other desert creatures. Utah is rich in Native American history and culture and claims five of America’s most iconic National Parks — Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion — also know as the “Mighty Five.” Those interested in the colorful characters of the “Wild West” will also appreciate the fact that Utah is the location of Robber’s Roost, the one-time hideout of the infamous bank robbers Buch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Just about everywhere you go in Utah the scenery is stunning, so we decided to share a few of our early photos with you. Happy Travels!

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

Another angle of Mesa Arch at sunrise

Another angle of Mesa Arch at sunrise

Mountain Biking Moab's "Mag 7"

Mountain Biking Moab’s “Mag 7”

Journal Entry: Mauna Kea Hawaii

July 21st, 2016 by Gannon & Wyatt

The following is a journal entry written by Keith Hemstreet during the team’s research trip to Hawaii.

March 11, 2014
Kona to Mauna Kea Hawaii

Day #1, woke at 3:30 AM because of 4 hour time change. Still dark. Lie in bed looking out the window. As the sun began to light the sky, I stepped out onto the lanai. A thousand birds sang. The air was warm but pleasant. Little yellow lights like stars still lit the slopes of the 8,275 ft volcano, Hualalai. Somewhere behind it, the largest volcanoes on earth, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

Town of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Town of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Smaller than Mauna Kea by 117 feet, Mauna Loa is the mythical home to Pele the Fire God.

Send my wife, Heidi, a picture of the view. She asks about the haze obscuring part of the mountain. It is volcanic smoke, also called “Vog.”

Walk along coast. Buy a coffee and yogurt. Sit at a small table outside and write in my notebook. A giant magnolia tree hangs over the road, its berries smashed into the asphalt. A Hawaiian Palace, built in 1800s, sits across the street. A bird lands on my table and hops around while I write. On the table next to me, a neon green lizard.

Drive to Mauna Kea, “the white mountain” via Saddle Road. Spectacular views as I climb higher from Kona Coast. Dark lava flows run down the slopes to the sea. I pull over to photograph thinking this may be one of my favorite places on earth. Driving higher, the air cools. I see traces of snow atop Mauna Loa and pull over to take photos. Driving higher, I watch the temperature drop on the digital car thermometer. Rolling hills with yellow flowers on both sides of the road. Temp in the mid-60s. I’m at approximately 4,000-5,000 feet when I begin to feel a slight chill. I roll down the window further and John Lennon’s Imagine comes on the radio, making this one of life’s perfect moments.

Lava Flow outside the town of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Lava Flow outside the town of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Pass a Military Base. Two helicopters in flight. Drive over old, blackened lava flows. I see wildlife off the side of the road. A dozen animals amongst the lava rocks. Again I pull over and quietly approach to photograph. Some kind of big horned sheep that I will have to research. I take a few pictures, but they quickly notice me and run away.

Take a left on Mauna Kea Road and wind my way up to the Visitor Center, which sits at an elevation of 9,200 feet. Temp 54°F. Weather station inside center. Temp at summit is 32°F, 0°C. Wind speed 15 mph with gusts to 25 mph, making the wind chill somewhere between 15°F to 20°F. I dress in my pants, fleece, winter jacket and wool ski cap.

Can walk on trail and snow, but not on the cinder. They do not want footprints on cinder. This is part of an effort to keep the sacred mountain pristine. Sign reads, “Leave the landscape as you found it. Do not disturb the stones.”

At the station, I talk to the ranger. He tells me the animals I saw were Mouflon, which look just mountain rams. They are not native to Hawaii. Mouflon are from Corsica and were brought over by Captain Vancouver as a gift to King Kamehameha.

Telescopes atop Mauna Kea are some of the most powerful on earth. They study black holes, dark energy, planets, stars. World class location for astronomy. Because of tropical inversion, it is almost always out of the clouds (clouds sit below). This area has one of the highest percentages of clear nights in the world. Scientists atop Mauna Kea have discovered hundred of planets and mysterious galaxies at the end of the viewable universe.

There is stargazing at visitor’s center. Video starts at 6. Stargazing at 7. Free.

Reaching 13,000 Feet on Mauna Kea

Reaching 13,000 Feet on Mauna Kea

The drive to summit from visitor center is just over 8 miles, but takes 25 minutes. Steep roads. Partially paved. Mostly dirt. I can feel the high altitude. My heart seems to flutter and I wonder if I’m ascending too fast. Maybe I am. Just two hours ago, I was at sea level. This could be dangerous, I think, but I do not stop. I want to summit while my blood cells are still used to the high-altitude of Aspen, Colorado. When I see snow off the side of the road, I become as giddy as a child. I pull over immediately and touch it, stand in it, make a snow ball and toss it. Incredible to me to actually hold in my hand the Snows of Hawaii!

Finish the drive to the top. Park right next to one of the observatories. There is a snowman built atop the asphalt, at the edge of the parking lot, near an observatory. Begin taking pictures. Breathtaking views. Freezing. No gloves. My hands freeze instantly. Painful, but I am too happy to care. I descend onto a snowfield across the road, walk around on the snow, then take a short hike up the trail to the summit. There, I photograph the natural area, away from the telescopes. At the summit, elevation: 13,796 feet, I find a snowman with a palm frond scarf and photograph. Then I upload a photo of my shadow in the snow to Instagram with following caption: “You know that big volcano in Hawaii? This is me standing on top of it.”

Snowy slopes of Mauna Kea

Snowy slopes of Mauna Kea

Our latest book, Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Hawaii, is available September 6. Pre-order today by clicking HERE!

Preorder Travels with Gannon & Wyatt Hawaii

May 9th, 2016 by Keith Hemstreet

Travels with Gannon & Wyatt Hawaii Preorder

Great news! Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Hawaii is now available for preorder! To celebrate, we’ve set out on a quest to become an Amazon bestseller and want to send you a MAKANA (That’s present in Hawaiian!) for your help!

Just place your preorder on Amazon, forward the receipt to marketing@greenleafbookgroup.com, and we’ll send you some fun Gannon & Wyatt treats to enjoy until Hawaii arrives in September!

Be sure to share the news with all your friends. We want to send everyone a makana!

PREORDER AT: http://amzn.to/1rNfryc

Shopping in Egypt

January 27th, 2016 by Gannon & Wyatt

One of our favorite things to do in Egypt was to wander the local markets, or souks. The markets are set up like large mazes, with new and fascinating things around every corner.

Shopping in Egypt

  • Bargaining is part of the shopping experience in Egypt. It is customary to haggle back and forth over the price until you reach one that seems fair to both the seller and the buyer.
  • Visitors like to stock up on exotic spices and colorful textiles. There are many, many stands in the markets that offer these items.
  • Sometimes the merchants will offer coffee or tea so the customers will feel at home while shopping.

Egyptian Market

  • Since chess and backgammon are very popular games in Egypt, the markets sell lots of different styles. They are good gifts to bring back as souvenirs that friends and family can treasure and play with forever.
  • Egyptian cotton is famous worldwide. In the markets you can find all kinds of cotton clothing in made in Egyptian or American fashions, and also sheets, blankets, and towels. Anything you could possibly want made out of cotton can be found at the markets.


What kind of souvenirs do you like to buy when you travel? Share in the comments!

Going on Safari in Botswana

January 13th, 2016 by Gannon & Wyatt

Gannon and Wyatt in Botswana

Botswana has some of the most diverse wildlife in Africa. Almost 40% of the country is preserved just for the animals. They roam free on the uninhabited land and visitors come to experience them in their natural habitat without disturbing them while on safari in Botswana.

Elephants in Botswana

Hyenas in Botswana

  • There are about 200,000 elephants in Botswana, more than anywhere else in Africa.
  • Hyenas are known to be scavengers, but they are actually very good hunters, too.

African Lion

Botswana Buffalo

  • Lions prey on big animals like zebras, warthogs, and antelope. The larger males weigh over 500 pounds!
  • African buffalos travel in herds and prefer wet, grassy areas. Like their cow cousins, they eat lots and lots of greenery.

African Rhino

  • Rhinos have poor eyesight, but very good senses of smell and hearing. They are solitary, meaning they don’t travel in a group like other animals.
  • Zebras are social animals and don’t hide from predators, but will bark and snort to warn the rest of the group.

Africa Hippos


  • Hippos are semi-aquatic. They stay in bodies of water during the day to keep cool and come out onto the land at dusk to graze on grass.
  • African leopards have beautiful spotted coats that can vary in color. They are stealthy and fast, sneaking up on prey.

Sunset Safari

Have you seen any of these animals on a safari or at a zoo? Tell us about your favorite in the comments!

The Egyptian Pyramids

January 6th, 2016 by Gannon & Wyatt

The pyramids in Egypt are the most famous in the world, although they exist in other places, too. People travel from all over to learn about the history of the pyramids and see them up close and in person. We learned all kinds of cool facts about the pyramids on our trip!

Did you know…

Wyatt in Egypt

  • More than 130 pyramids have been discovered in Egypt so far.
  • The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest Ancient Wonder of the World. It is also the largest pyramid and is 455 feet tall. (That’s 150 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty!)
  • The pyramids are giant tombs. Bodies buried there were mummified to preserve them. Valuable jewels and other items were also buried in the tombs.

Wyatt on Camel

Gannon in Egypt

  • All the pyramids were built on the west bank of the River Nile.

Egypt Sphinx

  • The pyramids of Giza are guarded by the Great Sphinx. It is the largest monolith statue in the world. “Monolith” means it was carved out of one huge rock.
  • On average, each pyramid took about 200 years to build, though historians have noted that the Great Pyramid of Giza was built over a span of 20-30 years.

ATVing in Egypt

Did you study the pyramids in school? Leave a comment and tell us some of your favorite facts about Egypt.