“Arches and Canyonlands National Parks: In the Land of Standing Rocks” is one of 12 books in author Mike Graf's award-winning series that follow the fictional Parker family on their journeys to national parks around the country. [Image by Falcon Guides / Courtesy of Canyonlands Natural History Association]

Growing up in California, Mike Graf often visited Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, becoming a huge fan of the places that many people have called “America’s best idea.”

In the years since then, the author and weather forecaster has written an award-winning series of books for kids about a dozen different national parks, and this week, he’ll be in the Moab area to promote them.

On Saturday, June 11, Graf will sign copies of his books at Canyonlands and Arches national parks’ visitor centers. He’ll be at Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky District from 10 a.m. to noon, and at Arches from 2 to 4 p.m. Graf will also sign copies of the books on Monday, June 13 at Arches, from 10 a.m. to noon. Copies of the books and others in the series will sell for $12.95 each.

Each book in the series takes the fictional Parker family to a different national park. The 12 he’s written about thus far include Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Great Smokey Mountains, Olympic, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, the Badlands, Wind Cave, Mount Rushmore, Arches, Canyonlands, Acadia and Grand Teton.

The stories about their explorations and adventures also include factual information regarding plants and animals, geology, park history, wilderness safety, and environmental and preservation issues affecting the parks. The books also include maps and color photographs.

“It’s realistic fiction about things that happen in the national parks,” Graf said.

Before writing about a particular national park, Graf visits the park for at least two weeks. During that time, he interviews people, attends ranger programs and hikes – while carrying a tape recorder with him.

A thirteenth book about Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park is coming out this summer. Graf said he’s considering writing about perhaps a half-dozen other parks – the Everglades, Mammoth Caves, Big Bend and Mt. Rainier.

Graf is a former fourth-grade teacher who wrote a teachers’ guide to national parks. While teaching, he organized a national parks fair at his school, where students would learn about particular parks, then set up a “ranger” station, and invite the public to come hear presentations. He has also authored more than 80 books, and often presents programs at schools and libraries nationwide.

Graf’s national parks adventure series for kids won Learning Magazine’s 2007 Teachers’ Choice Award; and was a 2006 finalist in USABooks.com’s Best Children’s Fiction category.

His book “My Yosemite” – a complete guide to Yosemite National Park for young adventurers and their families – won Second Best Book of the Year for Outdoor Books, from the Association of Partners for Public Lands. “My Yosemite” also won the Silver Medal from the California Reading Association’s Eureka! Award for excellence in nonfiction.

In “Arches and Canyonlands National Parks: In the Land of Standing Rocks,” the Parker family visit Canyonlands and Arches. Those parks’ visitor centers carry that title year-round.

The nonprofit Canyonlands Natural History Association (CNHA) runs the bookstores inside the parks – the proceeds of which go to support education and research on public lands in southeastern Utah.

“We try and keep an open communication with authors whose books we carry so if they’re coming through town, we can set up a book signing,” said Alishia Oliver, membership, events and marketing coordinator for Canyonlands Natural History Association.

Mike Graf plans book signings at Arches, Canyonlands

What: Book signing with Mike Graf, author of the “Adventures with the Parkers”

Where: Visitors centers at Canyonlands National Park’s Island in the Sky District and Arches National Park

When: Saturday, June 11, at Canyonlands, from 10 a.m. to noon, and at Arches from 2 to 4 p.m. Graf will also speak at Arches’ visitor center on Monday, June 13, from 10 a.m. to noon

Information: www.mikegrafauthor.com

For more information, go to www.mikegrafauthor.com/biography.htm.