Book Reviews

Everything you want to know about vernal pools and estuaries – in wonderful childrens’ books

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 The Secret Pool and The Secret Bay by Kimberly Ridley are cleverly written and beautifully illustrated books, with poetic stories that appeal to younger kids, factual sidebars for older kids, and additional information that is both interesting and informative.

The Secret Pool, which won many awards, was published by Tilbury House in Thomaston in 2013. It’s all about vernal pools, those special habitats that are so important to so many critters, from spotted salamanders to wood frogs. I loved this description of wood frogs in the sidebar to the story: “Wood frogs survive the winter in an amazing way. They crawl under the leaves and freeze into frogsicles.” Yummy!

I enjoy hearing the wood frogs in the early spring. Follow their calls and you may find your own vernal pool. We have several vernal pools in my Mount Vernon neighborhood, including one big one in my woodlot, and I thought I knew a lot about them until I read this book. The book is actually an excellent guide for a walk around the forest in your neighborhood.

Flyfisher’s Guide to New England by Lou Zambello

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 Lou Zambello’s new fly fishing guide is astonishing, covering 650 rivers and streams and 500 lakes and ponds throughout New England. As Lou notes in the introduction: “What is included are the best and most popular (not always the same thing) fisheries… (and) lesser known waters that we have fished.”

The best part of the book, Flyfisher’s Guide to New England, for me is that it brought back many wonderful fishing memories. Yes, I have fished in quite a few of the Maine waters featured in this book. And while Lou gave away many of my favorite waters, I am grateful he didn’t include some of my very favorite places, all of which I would put in a category of “lesser known waters.”

Great review by Paul Reynolds of my Maine Sporting Camps book

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 Maine Sporting Camps


By V. Paul Reynolds



Widow-Maker will keep you up at night!

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 Paul Doiron is an awesome story teller, and no more so than in his new novel, Widow-Maker. And all of his novels have a bit more interest for those of us who love the outdoors, because his main character, Mike Bowditch, is a Maine game warden.

Somehow Paul, former editor of Down East magazine, has mastered the art of dialogue. And it is an art form. Great dialogue makes his stories race by, and his plots keep you up at night. Well, most of the time. I was nearing the end of Widow-Maker while Linda and I were at our camp in the north woods, when she said, “You know, it’s 10 pm.”

Yikes! I usually go to be at 8:30. But I only had 40 pages to go in the novel, and boy, it was a tough decision to set the book down and go to bed. But I did, and what a great way to finish the book, with my morning coffee, looking out the camp window at Sourdnahunk Lake and a beautiful sunny day.

Weathering Shame by Kevin Mannix and Linda Rota

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Kevin Mannix was a very popular, out-going and personable weather man for more than 25 years on Channel 6 in Portland. So it was a very big surprise when he stepped up to tell his story of shame and depression. He first told the story in a TV 6 series which won wide acclaim, along with much praise to Kevin for sharing his story.

Kevin and his wife Linda Rota, both of whom suffered from shame, tell their astonishing stories in a book, Weathering Shame. U.S. Senator Angus King expressed my view when he wrote, on the back cover, “I commend both Linda and Kevin for their willingness to share their very intimate stories. With their combined skills and experiences they make a powerful team in the effort to help others overcome the painful experiences that accompany mental illness and substance abuse within the family. I am grateful that they decided to strengthen the Maine Community by sharing their journey with us.”

Me too Angus. Me too.

Kittery Ghost by Barbara Winslow

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Barbara Winslow’s new book, Kittery Ghost, blends history with a fascinating tale involving a young boy, his blended family, the ghost of a Civil War officer, hidden treasures – well, you get the idea. This is a wonderful tale, and I particularly appreciated the way Barbara utilized the very real story of Brigadier General Mark Wentworth, a colonel of the 27th Maine and the 32nd Maine during the Civil War, to fashion this novel that will entertain your kids – and you too!

Barbara, who lives in Norridgewock, has written three children’s books after 36 years of teaching school in South Dakota, Alaska, and Maine. She reports that her three children listened patiently to her stories as they were growing up, and she wrote these books to pass on those stories to her grandchildren.

I can only thank her for sharing this story with me and my grandchildren. It’s a keeper!

The Adventures of Anna and Andy Hummingbird by Linda P. Young

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Yes, I love hummingbirds. Linda and I are now up to about a couple dozen species, most of them seen in Texas and Arizona. We have only a single species in Maine, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.

So it won’t be a surprise when I tell you I also loved Linda P. Young’s children’s book, The Adventures of Anna and Andy Hummingbird – Anna and Andy meet the grandchildren. This is actually the third book in a series, so now I’ve got to get the first two books.

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