Book Reviews

Baby Bear’s NOT Hibernating by Lynn Plourde

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 Well, you know children don’t always behave. And that includes baby bears.

Lynn Plourde’s new book, Baby Bear’s NOT Hibernating, is sure to become a classic. With wonderful illustrations by Teri Weidner, it’s no surprise that Lynn has given us another great book. After all, she’s written thirty children’s books including my favorite, A Moosey Christmas, in which the reindeer take the night off and moose pull Santa’s sleigh. I’ll be reading that one, as well as Baby Bear, to my 2 ½ year old granddaughter this Christmas.

In her new book, baby bear is having too much fun with his friends, a moose, owl, and hare, to hibernate with his parents for the winter. But oh, that cold and snow is something he did not anticipate! Nor did he realize there’s nothing for him to eat in the winter.

Well, it’s a great learning experience for him, for sure! If only it was this easy with our kids.

Maine breweries featured in great new book

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                 Linda and I honeymooned in Germany 38 years ago, and that’s where I discovered great beer. For years afterward, I drank only German beer. But then, finally, Mainers began to brew great beer.

                Kate Cone’s new book, What’s Brewing in New England, published by Down East Books, includes all of my favorite Maine brews and breweries. The book covers breweries in all the New England states, and I am sure to use it during my visits to our son and his family in Massachusetts.

Can a Wolf and a Pig Be Friends?

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Good question! And no, this is not about politics!

Kevin McShane’s new book, Can a Wolf and a Pig Be Friends?, is very entertaining for both kids and adults who will enjoy discovering the many ‘hidden’ references in the background of illustrator Kristina Z. Young’s wonderful artwork. I chuckled when I saw “Wolf Blitzer” and the CNN news truck.

A Fairy Godmother intervenes to try to save the pig but, realistically, she says “You can’t blame the wolf… He’s just doing what wolves do. Wolves chase pigs in stories.” Well, in real life too!

You’ll have to get the book to find out if the Godmother is successful. I will say the ending is probably very realistic.

Woman Who Speaks Tree by Linda Tatelbaum

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 Yes, Linda Tatelbaum loves trees. But the subtitle of her wonderful book, Woman Who Speaks Tree, “Confessions of a Tree Hugger,” tells you even more about her life.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Linda’s life could be described as a contradiction: she’s a college professor and a back-to-the-land hippie who, with her husband Kal, lives in midcoast Maine where they built their home in 1977 with solar heat and great gardens.

“I still answer to the name of hippie,” she writes in the preface, “though I’ve also spent a career in college teaching while living this hard-earned organic life on the homestead we built in Maine.”

The Besieged by Christopher W. Morin

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His dream of finding gold dashed, a huge winter blizzard threatening the collapse of his remote cabin in Alaska, his yard full of wolves which have attacked and wounded him severely, this unnamed man’s desperation to get out of the cabin for the long difficult hike to the nearest town where he hoped to find medical care is very real. Very real indeed.

Christopher Morin’s short story, The Beseiged, doesn’t take more than an evening to read, but it will stay with you for a long long time. In fact, I read it twice. It was that good.

I was particularly delighted to discover that Morin dedicated this book to his 7th grade teacher, Stephen Cowperthwaite, who he wrote: “inspired and fueled my passion for both reading and writing short stories.” Steve was indeed a fantastic teacher in our Maranacook school system, who also taught two of our kids.

My Brother’s Voice is profound and inspiring

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 Vicki Reynolds Schad has written a profound and inspiring story about her severely retarded and disabled brother. It’s a real tribute to both her brother Bobby and her entire family, encircled by friends, all of whom joined in the life-long effort to care for Bobby.

Bobby was hurt at birth, and his parents were told that he was unlikely to live more than a few months. Remarkably, he lived to be 68 years old. Bobby’s parents, Bryce and Rowena of Lubec were amazing people, focused on making Bobby’s life as good as possible.

Bobby often stood beside Ridge Road, where they lived, and watched and waved as people drove by, earning him the title, “Mayor of the Ridge.” Not everything in his life was good, including when Bryce and Rowena were convinced Bobby would be better off in a facility in southern Maine. Unfortunately, he was abused there, and they had to rescue him and return him to their loving home, where despite his disabilities he had a profound impact on his family, church, and community.

Your cuddly cat is a ferocious killer

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 Every cat lover should read Cat Wars by Peter Marra and Chris Santella. Turns out that cuddly cat of yours is a devastating killer of birds and other critters. OK, Linda and I have a cat too, so we’re with you on this.

One well-researched and professionally reviewed study reported that “cats killed between 1.3 and 4 billion birds per year, with unowned (feral) cats causing the majority of the mortality (69 percent).”

“Annual mortality for amphibians and reptiles was in the hundreds of millions,” according to that study.

Our cat seems to be killing less birds as he gets older. This summer he did quite a job on chipmunks, though. In the past he’s brought two birds into the house and released them alive. One morning Linda got up and noticed a chickadee sitting on her computer!

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