The National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA), the outdoor world’s largest and most prestigious book award program, has tapped Wahb: The Biography of a Grizzly as its winner in the Classic Division of its 2015 awards. Originally penned by Ernest Thompson Seton in 1900, Buffalo Bill Center of the West Curators Jeremy M. Johnston and Charles R. Preston have reintroduced the book to a new generation of readers.
Seton’s story details the life of an imaginary grizzly bear named Wahb and his struggles to survive in the Yellowstone National Park region. Although classified as fiction, Seton based Wahb’s story on various bear stories, many from the area surrounding the park. Seton’s work was very popular at the time, but raised concerns among other naturalists—including President Theodore Roosevelt—about its accuracy in depicting grizzly bear behavior.
The curators’ new edition takes Seton’s classic tale and original illustrations, and combines it with Preston’s and Johnston’s insights into the historical and scientific context for Wahb’s story. The book is “fully annotated with impeccably researched notes describing what is accurate and what is not, based on what we now know of bear behavior,” writes the outdoor book award group. “The annotations, alone, are useful and instructive in understanding our changing attitudes toward this remarkable mammal.”
“My heartiest congratulations to Jeremy and Chuck on this distinguished honor,” says Bruce Eldredge, the Center’s executive director and CEO. “This is one of those projects that has it all: history, legend, natural science, story-telling, art, and more. Our curators’ work demonstrates that concerns for wildlife conservation are timeless.”
Sponsored by three groups—the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and Idaho State University—the non-profit, educational program’s annual awards “honor the best in outdoor writing and publishing.”
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page.