“MYSTERY OF THE EAGLE’S NEST,” written by Tamra Wight and illustrated by Carl DiRocco, August 2014, Islandport Press, 175 pages, hardcover, $16.95.
Young outdoor explorers Cooper and Packrat are back in Tamra Wight’s second novel for middle schoolers, “Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest,” scheduled to hit bookstores on Aug. 18.
Set in the not-entirely-fictional Wilder Family Campground in Maine, this action-packed tale is first and foremost a mystery, which begins when 13-year-olds Cooper and Packrat find their geocache box full of illegal eagle parts.
The story, enhanced by the illustrations of Carl DiRocco, causes a bit of a dilemma. On one hand, readers won’t want to set the book down. On the other hand, the story will have them itching to get outdoors to paddle across a lake or go wildlife watching.
“Cooper is just a fun kid that really loves nature,” said Wight in a recent interview. “I hope that I can help kids to learn a little bit more about the world around them. I didn’t set out to do that when I wrote the book, but I like that kids can pull that out of the story. Kids are pretty good at that.”
A book launch for “Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest” will be 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 17 at Poland Spring Campground in Poland, which Wight runs with her husband and two children. The event, which is free and open to the public, will include a book reading and a live raptor presentation by Wind Over Wings, a nonprofit wildlife education center in Dresden. A golden eagle, raven and two owls will be the stars of the presentation.
“The heck with me reading. I just want to see the golden eagle,” said Wight excitedly.
Wight has long enjoyed observing and monitoring resident wildlife at her family’s Poland Spring Campground. She plans for each book in the Cooper & Packrat series to center on a certain native Maine species.
The first book of the series, “Mystery on Pine Lake,” is about the boys trying to save a pair of threatened loons. “Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest” focuses on a family of eagles. And Wight is working on the third mystery, which will feature a red fox family.
Many of the events, characters and places in the book come directly from Wights experiences while running Poland Spring Campground.
“When I go out on a lake on a foggy morning, I write down what that’s like — little details,” she said.
The family of bald eagles in “Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest” were inspired by a pair of eagles living near Poland Spring Campground.
“I want to say it was back in 2003, the eagles moved to the lake and stole an osprey nest,” Wight said. “And ever since, I’ve been fascinated. In 2012, they had triplets, which was pretty rare. When you have something like that in your backyard, campers started asking questions, so I ended up doing research so I could talk about them.”
Each chapter in “Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest” starts with an interesting fact about bald eagles. She originally used this format in the first book of the series, and young readers told her they enjoyed the facts. Wight listens to her readers.
During the school year, Wight works as a teaching assistant at Whittier Middle School, where she often gets feedback and encouragement from her students. She also communicates with readers through her website, and every once in a while, she’ll receive snail mail from children after visiting a school to talk about her books.
When the author isn’t busy writing, teaching or running the family campground, she’s usually outdoors, geocaching, kayaking or hiking with family. This spring, she set up a trail camera to monitor a fox den she found near her campground — “for research,” she said.
At the upcoming book launch, she will be selling and signing “Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest,” hot off the press.