Time to start putting together your summer reading list, and NRCM members can help! Featured here are books published by our members covering a range of genres, from essay and memoir to poetry and fiction. There are also a few field guides to help you better understand—and find!—the nature of Maine. If you’re an author of a book about Maine or related to environmental issues, you are welcome to send them along for consideration for next year’s Explore Maine. —Allison Childs Wells, Editor
Wayfarer, a Memoir, by James S. Rockefeller, Jr. (Islandport Press, 2018)
James Rockefeller prefaces Wayfarer with these words: Memories are framed by time, place, and circumstance. They are like portholes on a ship, offering glimpses of the ocean of experiences as we rise on the crest, or sink into the valleys. A memoir is a collection of these portholes from which the view keeps changing with the rising and falling and the course of time. James, known by friends and family as Pebble to distinguish him from his father Rocky, has written a remembrance of his life, looking back on his 92 years. He opens various portholes on the journey through his life, from his privileged childhood, daring youth, journeying adulthood, and contented old age. We learn of his escapades in the service and at Yale, and his love for boats and adventure, as we travel with James through various states, to South America, to Tahiti, and to Scandinavia. He opens portholes not only to places he visited but to the people he meets and the cultures he experiences. We meet the women he loved and still loves, his family, and his friends. James Rockefeller has led a remarkable life and in this book, he shares it with his readers. His writing places you in familiar Maine locations and exotic far away islands, sharing his deepest thoughts and feelings throughout this look back at his life. It is an extraordinary story filled with history, adventure, and feeling. —Gail La Rosa Thompson, Associate Director of Philanthropy
Northland: A 4,000 Mile Journey Along America’s Forgotten Border, by Porter Fox (W.W. Norton, 2018)
I set out to read a story of America’s northern border. What I thought was going to be an epic paddle and backpacking trip with animal encounters and the occasional run-in with another woodsman turned out to be so much more. Porter Fox’s Northland is not just about a border crossing but a story of the remote, rugged, and sometimes completely untouched wilderness surrounding the border between the US and Canada. Fox’s personal trials and tribulations as he travels the border bring a lightness and laughter to an otherwise deeply emotional and sometimes truly difficult tale. The part that struck me most: Fox seems unable to keep to the border itself. The story starts as a trip down the border but as Fox quickly learns, the border isn’t clearly marked and it’s easy to accidentally drift onto the Canadian side. From there his interest in the entire “Northland” grows, and the book grows to become a story of an entire region—one filled with so much rich and often bloody history, a natural world so wild and full of potential it is immediately enthralling, with tribespeople, fishermen, and even bartenders who help Fox illustrate the past, present, and future of life in the Northland. Fox takes an account of travel over water and through the woods a step further when he details the varied histories of local indigenous communities, sometimes still living there, more often displaced many generations ago by colonization and development. He shares the early European explorers’ stories of discovery, tells of the pain of small town residents who are rapidly losing their livelihoods or whose communities were forced to disband and relocate because of climate change impacts. He does all this while acting as the reader’s personal guide on the physically and emotionally demanding 4,000-mile journey from Maine to Washington. Northland is beautifully written and sure to fill the reader with wanderlust. Every traveler, outdoorsperson, and history buff should add this to their must-read list.—Fiona Gordon, Associate Director of Philanthropy
Ten Days in the North Woods: A Kids’ Hiking Guide to the Katahdin Region, by Hope Rowan, illustrated by Jada Fitch (Islandport Press, 2019)
Rowan uses a clever and engaging device to lead readers through the book, describing hikes and special places in the Katahdin region from the perspective of a fictional 13-year-old-girl. She presents her information by location—Baxter State Park: Southern Section, and Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, for example—and within each, by hike (Sandy Stream Pond, BSP, and Barnard Mountain, KWW, for instance). She provides tips for preparing for your hike, maps, space for notes, and “Field Notes” featuring plants (bunchberries, pitcher plants) and critters (beavers, raccoons) you could see in the region, with delightful illustrations by Maine artist Jada Fitch. What I liked best about this perfectly pocket-sized book is that, although the title says it’s written for kids, it’s a great little guide for any age. —Allison Wells, Senior Director, Public Affairs & Communications
Take It from ME, by George and Linda Smith, (Islandport Press, 2016)
In the introduction to their book, George and Linda Smith write, “When Mainers like us go on vacation, we often go to…Maine.” The question then is, where do you go? Because Maine is blessed with so many wonderful inns, hotels, and restaurants, it can be tough to choose. Take It from ME is a guide to George and Linda’s favorite places around the state. They thoughtfully organized the content by type: Getaways (“Twenty-Four Hour or Longer”), Special Places for Special Celebrations, and Don’t-Miss Restaurants. The couple complement the narrative nicely, with Linda (“a great cook”) sharing her perspective as food guru and George providing his take on, among other things, guide services, outfitters—and birds (“I didn’t think we’d get to breakfast because the ground in front of the lodge was covered with colorful White-winged Crossbills”). Locations around the state are well represented, from popular tourist towns along the coast to the West Forks inland and Jonesboro, down east. Get this book, and then start prioritizing your list!—AW
Wisheroos Swisheroos by Mrs. Pippycocky, by William Sivitz, illustrated by Evelyn Dunphy (Evelyn Dunphy, 2018)
As its title suggests, this children’s book is a joy to ear and to the eye. Rhymes like “Icicles bicycles flycycles Zoom, In a blink and a wink from my hat to your room” were written to be read aloud, even if you’re alone when you read them. And I could not take my eyes away from the illustrations—cheery and rich in color and shape, with enough detail to keep you scanning the pages for the next find (a tiny wand in a child’s hand, a cat in a boy’s arms). The swoop and swirl of the brush give the sense that Dunphy thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating each illustration, which, combined with the whimsical lines of poetry that is the story, helps make the point of the final page of the book: “For what we have learned in our dreamland so bold is that dreams are but stories waiting to be told.”—AW
Maybe Tomorrow? By Charlotte Agell, illustrated by Ana Ramirez González (Scholastic Press, 2019)
At the beginning of the story, Elba, the main character, has a big, heavy block that she takes with her everywhere. By the end of the book, the block is smaller and lighter. That’s because, in the pages in between, friendship develops and Elba finally shares her burden with Norris. As it turns out, Elba has lost someone special, Little Bird. “She taught me to sing. We were hardly ever apart,” she eventually tells Norris as he helps her carry her block for a visit to the ocean. The illustrations pop off the page with almost a three-dimensional effect. The busy butterflies, flowers, and other images contrast with Elba’s big block of sadness, and although it never goes away, Norris assures his grieving friend that he will always be there to help her carry it.—AW
Almost Midnight, by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books, 2019)
Maine Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch returns in Doiron’s latest in this page-turner series. In Almost Midnight, trouble starts for Bowditch while he’s on vacation. He receives a strange summons from an old friend, Billy Cronk, a man he had to reluctantly send to prison for murder. Mike feels obligated to help his friend when Billy asks him to investigate a new female prison guard with a mysterious past. When the guard is brutally attacked at the prison, Bowditch wonders if there is a darker cover-up at play—and is concerned that Billy and his family might be at risk. A second call for help follows, this time from a distant mountain valley where Shadow, a wolf-hybrid he once cared for, has been found shot by an arrow and clinging to life. His investigation into the identity of the bowman is blocked at every turn by the increasingly hostile community. When Billy’s wife and children are threatened, Mike wonders how he can possibly keep them safe when he has enemies of his own on his trail. His competing loyalties cause Bowditch to respond by bending every law and breaking every rule to keep his loved ones safe and the true predators at bay. Paul Doiron is an Edgar Award finalist, and when you read this latest of his Bowditch series, you’ll understand why.
Ana and the Sea Star, by R. Lynne Roelfs, illustrated by Jamie Hogan (Tilbury House, 2017)
If you’ve ever seen a star fish in the wild, you know how tempting it can be to want to keep something so beautiful and fascinating. Alas, such creatures belong in their own world. Such is the lesson Ana comes to understand in this lovely book written by R. Lynne Roelfs with artwork by the extremely talented Jamie Hogan. As in her other books, Hogan doesn’t just illustrate, she creates a place you are pulled into. It’s a place filled with warmth, texture, life. No wonder the book was a contender for the Caldecott Medal. In the end, Ana both keeps the sea star yet leaves it to its home. How? The magic of a good children’s book is on display here.—AW
Extreme Survivors: Animals That Time Forgot, by Kimberly Ridley (Tilbury House, 2017)
Some creatures are so extreme, they might not seem believable even in a science fiction movie. Tardigrades, for example, which live in moss and lichen, keep from drying out by turning themselves into glass! A worm that captures prey by shooting slime from two nozzles on the head? Real. It’s called a velvet worm. How about an animal whose blue blood clots around bacteria to stop infection from spreading. That would be the horseshoe crab, found right here in Maine! Ridley is an award-winning author, and her latest book belongs in the hands of anyone, young, old, or in between, with a curiosity about the natural world in all its beauty and shock.—AW
Auroras Over Acadia: Poems, by Paul Liebow (Atmosphere Press, 2019)
As one might expect from someone who loves and lives in Maine, Liebow’s book of poems is sprinkled with imagery—tide pools, gulls, seals, rowing on a quiet bay—that makes our state special. Larger-than-life people, childhood memories, they’re here, along with well-known places and landmarks: “Now our new Bucksport Bridge smiles up again/at Mount Katahdin’s shimmering blue northers/and back down on the golden lily pad of Sun/we see cupping the islands of Blue Hill Bay.” To read Liebow’s poems is to stroll through Maine accompanied by the voice of a friend with observations to share and tales to tell.—AW
ABCs of Maine, by Harry W. Smith (Rowan & Littlefield, 1980)
Although this book has been around for quite some time, it has remained timeless. It’s a delightful take on the ABCs, featuring beloved attributes of Maine: basket of blueberries, cheerful chickadees, Mt. Katahdin, and so on. The artwork is colorfully inviting and nicely complements the alphabetical themes. As an extra touch, the back of the book includes information about the illustrated items. Perfect for kids and grownups who love Maine. Because it’s been around since 1980, it could be tough to get a copy. I hope you do.—AW
Through One Man’s Eyes, by William Emrich (Haley’s, 2019)
Emrich’s book is more than a treasure trove of his photographs, it is a collection of items that captured his imagination. A milkweed in snow. Foliage along a quiet Maine stream. An oddly shaped survey marker he came across somewhere in northern Maine. Moose. Buoys. And items from farther afield—Venezuela, for instance. The collection begins with a quote from poet Theodore Roethke’s “The Sententious Man”: “Each one’s himself, yet each one’s everyone.” That could well be the subtitle of this eclectic collection.—AW
2019 SunriseGuide This beautifully designed publication contains tips and local resources for living more lightly on the earth. It features hundreds of discount offers from local businesses. There is something for everyone: discounts for dining out, groceries, yoga, massage, garden centers, home improvements, and pets. Mobile available. See the full list of coupons in the 2019 edition at www.thesunriseguide.com/save.
Good Reads Online!
George’s Outdoor News
Book author and former executive director of the Sportman’s Alliance of Maine George Smith writes for the Bangor Daily News, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel, and for The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs, and special columns for many publications and newsletters. georgesoutdoornews.bangordailynews.com
First Light Wildlife Habitats
Wildlife ecologist Deb Perkins provides ways you can manage your land to conserve nature and help wildlife. Find her blog at www.firstlighthabitats.com/blog. She is also a frequent contributor to NRCM’s blog.
Maine Birds Facebook Page
Created by 2018 NRCM Conservation Leadership Award/People’s Choice Award winner Robin Robinson, the page provides a place for sharing bird photos, ID tips, and more. Join more than 25,000 people who enjoy Maine’s birds!
Notes from the Hinterland
From her home in Winthrop, Laurie Graves writes about nature, community, books, the environment, food, and
rural life. hinterlands.me
Birding with Jeff and Allison
NRCM’s Allison Wells and husband Jeff, authors of Maine’s Favorite Birds, share their birding adventures and insights in a monthly column on the NRCM website www.nrcm.org/blog/birding-jeff-allison. Check out their weekly Boothbay Register column, “A Bird’s Tale,” at www.boothbayregister.com/tags/bird-column.
John Neal of Greene describes trips taken by motorbikes to explore Maine, New England, and the maritime provinces of
Book of Days
Poet and naturalist Kristen Lindquist shares her views of nature in a daily haiku. Klindquist.blogspot.com
9 Apps to Help You Explore Maine
NRCM Social Media & Creative Services Manager Levi Hahn shares nine great apps for your to download to help you explore Maine!