You have 7 days to help Maine win 20,000 books

Posted Aug. 24, 2010, at 7:29 p.m.

Here’s an opportunity for computer-literate Mainers to win something valuable for youngsters in our state: 20,000 books.

However, you have only seven days — now through Aug. 31 — to visit www.firstbook.org, click on “Join the Cheerios 100,000 Book Giveaway,” and start answering the questions.

Here’s how Danette Ellis of Hodgdon, volunteer coordinator of Houlton-based Aid for Kids, explained the contest to me in an e-mail.

“First Book and the family of Cheerios cereals have teamed up with Jon Scieszka, author of ‘Junkyard Fort’ and the former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, to help distribute 100,000 books to children in need across the country.

“By answering the trivia questions featured in the challenge, you can help select the state that will receive new books for local kids.”

Visit www.firstbook.org and click on the Cheerios contest link. Once you have answered a question correctly, click on the state of Maine in order for our state to get the credit.

Each correct answer is one vote for Maine.

The five states with the highest number of votes will win 20,000 free books. Maine now is No. 7 and needs to reach No. 5 by Aug. 31.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Oklahoma was in first place, followed by Arizona, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New York and Hawaii.

Danette pointed out that the “more questions you answer correctly, the more votes you cast.”

She also encourages you to forward the link to anyone you think might be able to help with this challenge.

I visited the site and, although all my grandchildren live out of state and I don’t get to read to them as often as I would like, I did correctly answer seven of 20 questions on my first visit and five of eight questions on my second visit.

Danette and I also discovered that if you’re a good guesser, you can get the answers correct as well.

If you don’t happen to have the books handy, it would be a great help if you had a little reader beside you to answer the questions.

You can spend as little or as much time as you like at the site, and answer as few or as many questions as you wish.

But the more, the better.

Aid for Kids is part of the Degenhardt Foundation, and is an approved First Book organization.

In fact, First Book just donated 8,000 books to Aid for Kids that will be “distributed through schools and shelters” to youngsters in eastern Maine, Danette told me.

However, if Maine were to make it into the top five in the Cheerios contest, she said, those 20,000 books could be distributed anywhere in the state.

The distribution decision would be made by First Book, and that is just fine with the folks at Aid for Kids, Danette said.

Just getting books into the hands of little ones who don’t have access to them is the point.

Now, about the contest: Whether you know anything about the author or the books, just go ahead and give it a try.

It’s fun and, as you will learn, the correct answers are provided and the questions often repeated, so try to remember the answers, and you’ll get more votes for Maine.

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Other than being a columnist for the Bangor Daily News since 1979, my only full-time job before having children was working as a legal secretary for the Bangor firm then known as Eaton, Peabody, Bradford and Veague.

I started that job in 1962 when there were only seven lawyers in the firm, including Robert “Bob” Eaton, who was 81 when he died earlier this month.

Bob was a very nice man; one of the nicest I have known, in fact.

He was a kind, thoughtful, caring gentleman respected not only by those of us in the firm’s employ, but everyone who knew him.

A quiet man who loved to sing, he had a wonderfully shy grin that never failed to make you smile when you returned his greeting.

To his wife, Julie, their children, his brother Dwight, their families and friends, my sincerest condolences on his passing.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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