As an ex First Grade teacher I feel comfortable saying that I know a great children's book when I read one.

My kids and I have been a fan of the "Rusty the Ranch Horse" series for well over a year.

Courtesy of Mary Fichtner RustyTheRanchHorse.com

The author, Mary Fichtner lives right here in Casper, and her daughter Roz (who is currently attending the University of Wyoming) illustrates the books.

As a mother and daughter team, Mary and Rozlyn share positive messages about life experiences through the adventures of a special ranch horse named Rusty. The book series started out as a fun project, but has grown into a passion to share their love of the west and horses with readers all over the world. Each Rusty the Ranch Horse tale rhymes and tells a valuable life lesson. The books are illustrated in bold watercolors that keep the attention of youngsters everywhere. Their newest series is about Thunder the Smallest War Horse and how this miniature horse overcomes life’s battles.  Mary and Roz’s vision is to inspire kids to read, live each day with courage, and always ride for the brand.

As a mother of five children, I love these books for several reasons.

First, they rhyme. Every parent knows that rhyming books are a blast to read, and kids love to listen to them.

Second, the illustrations are bright, fun and captivating. Fichtner's daughter Roz did a wonderful job making sure the illustrations emphasized the movement and excitement of the stories.

Third, the stories help me to teach my children to value the Western way of life we are blessed to live in Wyoming. One of the books even includes the "Code of the West" in the back, which are rules we all try to live by in our family.

Courtesy of Mary Fichtner RustyTheRanchHorse.com

It looks like I'm not the only one singing praises for the "Rusty the Ranch Horse" series.

"Rusty and the River: A Rusty the Ranch Horse Tale"  has been selected for the Discover Great Places Through Reading list for the National Book Festival. The festival will be held on Saturday, August 31, in Washington, D.C.

Take a moment take a look at one of our favorites "Rusty Goes to Frontier Days" to get ready for the upcoming Daddy of them all!