June 20, 2018
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Relax with nine Maine-based summer reads

By Greg Westrich, Special to the BDN

On rainy summer days, nothing beats curling up on the couch with a good book. Here are several suggestions for this summer’s reading. All the titles are written by Maine authors and about local subjects.

Maine’s Favorite Birds by Jeffery V. Wells and Allison Childs Wells, Tilbury House, 72 pages, $15. Maine is one of the country’s birding hot spots, and the Wellses are among Maine’s better-known birders. They’ve created a complete, easy-to-use beginner’s guide to the common birds of Maine, beautifully illustrated by Evan Barbour. The guide is the result of the Wellses’ years of leading bird walks and teaching others about birds. They include the usual bird identification information as well as information about where to find each bird in Maine.

Maine: The Wilder Half of New England by David Barry, Tilbury House, 304 pages, $30. Portland Public Library historian and freelance writer, David Barry, has written a lushly illustrated history of Maine since Europeans first began attempting to settle our rocky coast. Maine is the least-populated, most-forested state in New England. It was also the first settled: before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, a settlement was founded near Popham Beach. Maine has always been the Wild West of the East, at times the poor stepchild of its southern neighbors, at others, the richest region of the country. Barry weaves all this and more together to explain how we became who we are.

City Fish, Country Fish by Mary Cerullo with photographs by Jeffery L. Rotman, Tilbury House, 32 pages, $16.95. Mary Cerullo, associate director of Friends of Casco Bay, has collaborated with Jeff Rotman on another fascinating children’s book. They explain how fish live in the ocean by comparing the lives of warm-water fish with those of cold-water fish. In their metaphor, warm-water fish are city dwellers and cold-water fish their country cousins, a dichotomy that children will understand. Cerullo uses this comparison to educate children about how fish survive and prosper in various ecosystems around the world, including the cold waters off Maine’s coast. Children will learn while being entertained.

Interventions by Richard Russo with original artwork by Kate Russo, Down East Books, $40. Pulitzer Prize winning Maine author Richard Russo has teamed up with his daughter, artist Kate Russo, to create a beautiful and engaging book. The slipcase includes a new novella and three stories. Each piece is illustrated with an original painting by Russo’s daughter Kate. The format of the book, that it is only available in printed form, and Russo’s decision to publish it locally with Downeast have gotten lots of media attention. What has gotten less notice is the four great stories in this volume.

Moxie: Maine in a Bottle by Jim Baumer, Down East Books, $14.95. Jim Baumer’s second book about Maine’s original soda is the definitive history of all things Moxie. Even if you haven’t acquired a taste for Maine’s official soda, you’ll enjoy Baumer’s book, and maybe you’ll get the urge to drink a Moxie or two as well.

Trespasser by Paul Doiron, Minotaur Books, 308 pages, $14.99. Paul Doiron, editor-in-chief of Down East magazine, has written a second mystery with protagonist Maine game warden Mike Bowditch. The plot revolves around an old murder that resembles the real-life murder of Sarah Cherry by Dennis Dechaine. The novel, like Doiron’s first, is populated with a cross-section of interesting and quirky Maine-types. Doiron has created a character to rival those of other great regional mystery writers like Joseph Heywood, Craig Johnson, and C J Box. The third novel, “Bad Little Falls,” will be out in August.

Suddenly, the Cider Didn’t Taste So Good by John Ford, Islandport Press, $16.95. John Ford became a Maine game warden in 1970; after retiring 20 years later, he was twice elected sheriff in Waldo County. His first book of tales from his days as a game warden is getting rave reviews for its stories of rescued animals, wily poachers, and run-ins with various lawbreakers.

Abbott’s Reach by Ardeana Hamlin, Islandport Press, $16.95. Ardeana Hamlin, author of the Bangor-set classic “Pink Chimneys,” has a new historical novel. Set in 19th-century Maine, it is the story of a young woman who sails around Cape Horn and on to Hawaii aboard her new husband’s ship. Hamlin says she wrote this sequel after 24 years because people kept asking her to. You’ll be glad she did.

Grandma Drove the Lobsterboat by Katie Clark with illustrations by Amy Huntington, Down East Books, $16.95. First Grandma drove the garbage truck, then the snowplow. In this third book in the series, Grandma takes Labor Day off and drives a lobsterboat. Can she navigate choppy waters and fog to deliver the lobsters in time for the town lobster bake? This children’s picture book is funny and very well-illustrated.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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