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Jo Bannatyne-Cugnet was born and raised in Estevan, Saskatchewan. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a nursing degree, she spent one year in Weyburn, Saskatchewan as a rural public health nurse before travelling to South America with plans to relocate and work there. While touring in Paraguay she accepted a marriage proposal via a midnight telephone call from a Weyburn farmer, Ken Cugnet. She came home to Canada and life on a farm. A self-described city slicker, Jo found her inspiration for writing as she raised her four sons. Seeing life on their wheat and cattle farm as her children did was both exciting and frustrating. Many times she could not answer questions her children asked her about farming. The result was two best-selling picture books on prairie life, A Prairie Alphabet and A Prairie Year.