Tag Archives: Maine

The Reading Pros paint like elephants!

The Reading Pros met today (outside!) to discuss Jennifer Jacobson’s Small as an Elephant.  This book is a good choice for any kid, but especially kids from Maine because the main character, Jack, travels to many places along the coast in his journey, including Bar Harbor and Ellsworth.


We discussed the book and talked about what I think of as the “Jean Valjean question”:  is it ok to steal food if you’re starving?  Jack resorts to stealing a couple of times in the book, so this was an interesting question to debate.  Some of the kids were completely opposed to stealing, under any circumstances while others thought it was ok as long it was the only option.  Other kids had creative solutions to Jack’s hunger problem:  he could live off the land by eating blueberries, or he could have asked for the food instead of taking it.


Jack’s favorite animal in the book is the elephant and there’s a lot of interesting information about them.  Elephants and humans have quite a bit in common.  Elephants mourn the death of their loved ones, for example.  Some elephants can even paint, which is where the next part of our meeting came in.  The kids used paint brushes attached to sticks to replicate using a trunk and painted in an elephant outline.  I got the idea from this great blog: Adventures of an Art Teacher.  Thanks for the idea!



The finished elephant (drawn by Emma 🙂 ) turned out great.  I will get a picture and post it soon.  Happy Friday, everyone!



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Blog challenge!

I’ve been blogging for a little over a year, and I’ve found it to be very rewarding.  I use my blog to share about library life in Maine and post book reviews.  I have “documentation” (in the form of a write-up and pictures) of most of the programs I’ve coordinated at Ellsworth Public Library, so I also use my blog to search for information on past events.  For example, if I can remember doing a storytime about monsters, but can’t quite remember which crafts I used, a simple search on my blog will return the answer immediately.

That said, blogging can take a back seat for me when things get busy.  I am taking an online course this semester and this has taken a toll on blogging.  Fortunately, Nicole Ouellette from Breaking Even Communications is hosting a blogging challenge for the month of March.  Each day, I will (try to) complete one post based on her challenge.  I’m already a little behind, so I thought I would tackle a few of the challenges I missed in the same post!

Alright, so far, the challenges are as follows:

Day 1:  Introduction (Here’s my first post on the blog)

Day 2:  Photo Post

Day 3:  A “how-to” post

Day 4:  Food Post

Day 5:  Video Post

Ok, getting challenges 2-5 in the same post will certainly be a challenge, but here goes nothing.

How to eat well in Portland, Maine

(Disclaimer:  “eating well” is definitely a subjective thing, so let me clarify.  How to eat well (if you are vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free) in Portland, Maine).

If you are vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free, Portland has got your back.  There are a lot of options for alternative diets in this city.  Here are the strategies I used to find the best food to refuel while wandering the streets of Portland.

1.  Do your research ahead of time

I’ve been vegan/vegetarian for a couple of years now and I’ve learned that it’s a lot easier to do your food research before you go on a trip.  I love eating this way, but it can be a challenge to find foods that I can eat.  Shawn, my boyfriend, was coming along for the trip, and he sticks to a gluten-free diet.  Trying to find vegan food or gluten-free food can be tricky, but both?  I thought it was a long shot.   A few days before the trip, I started looking for restaurants in Portland, Maine that would meet both of our needs.  I did this mostly by Googling “vegan and/or gluten-free restaurants in Portland, Maine).  The search returned more hits than I had expected.

2.  Look for menus online

Thankfully, many of the prospective restaurants featured full menus online.  That was a big help in narrowing down the choices.  Sure, a restaurant may claim to be “gluten-free friendly”, but after a little investigation, it turns out they have a couple of appetizers or a salad that fits the bill, not an actual entree.

3.  Have a couple of back-up options

I knew that if all else failed, Whole Foods has a vegan salad bar and Hannaford always has options for alternative diets.  I actually ended up getting a spring roll for a snack at Hannaford…delicious as usual.

4.  Even if it seems unlikely, check for vegan/gluten-free options

We went to the Nickelodeon to see Silver Linings Playbook and I thought it would be the last place I’d find gluten-free snacks.  Wrong!  We spent so much time trying to decide which cookies we wanted, we missed the first part of the movie.  (The cookies were worth it, though!)

5.  Don’t be afraid to try new places

We settled on a restaurant called Silly’s for dinner and it exceeded our expectations.  They had a variety of vegan/gluten-free dishes that all sounded amazing (and the meals we settled on were great).  We also enjoyed the funky vibe of the restaurant.  It’s definitely a fun place to eat.  We (sort of) joked that if they served breakfast, we would have slept in the booth and eaten there the next day, too.  Here’s their site, if you want to see for yourself:  http://www.sillys.com/

The food on this trip was so good, I didn’t pause to take pictures before digging in.  Here’s a picture of Shawn and me at a wonderful tea place called Dobra Tea, suggested by our friend, Nissa.

Photo credit:  Nissa Marenius

Photo credit: Nissa Marenius

Do you have any favorite places to eat in Portland?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Maybe in the future I’ll post more about this trip (especially because I have pictures of Shawn next to Big Foot).  Now I just need a video.  Here’s one that has nothing to do with this post, libraries, or Maine, but is still awesome and something I think everyone should see (if you haven’t already).  If you need a pick-me-up, here’s the video for you!



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Skiing in a Winter Wonderland

The other benefit of living in Maine in the winter:  the day after snow days.





And now it’s time to make vegetable soup and read 🙂


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Snow Day Reads

Today, we Mainers are experiencing one of the only benefits of winter–the snow day.  Aside from shoveling, these days are perfect, unexpected days off.  I plan to spend most of mine picking up from Christmas, but as a reward in the afternoon, I plan to start reading a new book.  Here are my choices (with descriptions from Amazon):

Black Boy, White School

Image from dclibrary.org

Image from dclibrary.org

He couldn’t listen to music or talk on the phone without her jumping all over him about what they listened to up in Maine, or how they talked up in Maine, or how he better not go up to Maine and start acting ghetto.


Anthony’s mother didn’t even know where it was until he’d shown it to her on a map, but that still didn’t stop her from acting like she was born there.

Anthony “Ant” Jones has never been outside his rough East Cleveland neighborhood when he’s given a scholarship to Belton Academy, an elite prep school in Maine. But at Belton things are far from perfect. Everyone calls him “Tony,” assumes he’s from Brooklyn, expects him to play basketball, and yet acts shocked when he fights back.

As Anthony tries to adapt to a world that will never fully accept him, he’s in for a rude awakening: Home is becoming a place where he no longer belongs.

In debut author Brian F. Walker’s hard-hitting novel about staying true to yourself, Anthony might find a way to survive at Belton, but what will it cost him?

This YA book set in Maine sounds very promising!  I will definitely read it soon, but I’m not sure if today is the day to start it.


Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Image from:  goodreads.com

Image from: goodreads.com

In this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them.
1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.
At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.
An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.

I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but this one is awesome (I love the title, too).


Dark Places

Image from:  gillian-flynn.com

Image from: gillian-flynn.com

I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.

Not my usual read, but Gillian Flynn is now one of my favorite authors.  If I do start this one this afternoon, it will be a long night because her books are impossible to put down!


What’s your favorite snow day read?


Filed under have you heard about this great book?

Legos @ the Library: Back to School

Here in Maine, school has been back in session for about a week and a half.  It’s that magical time right after school starts where the weather still feels like summer and the kids don’t have homework yet.  Free time after school provides the perfect opportunity to hang out at the library and build with Legos!

There were some great creations today and here are a few of them:

This vehicle can travel on land, sea, or even fly into outer space!  The two guys in the front are driving the vehicle (and looking for bad guys) and the red one in the back is on his laptop playing  ninja computer games (the tall tower on the back is for the Internet).


This is a computer room with a green couch.  I like the color scheme!


This is a machine that can crush anything.  Look out, other Lego creations!


The vehicle is a plane/boat and the guy with the cape is riding a Segway.  He may look evil, but he’s a good guy who just needs to shave his mustache.


Have a great weekend, everyone!


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“One Morning in Maine” Day

Here are some pictures from our day in Brooksville, celebrating 60 years of One Morning in Maine as a fundraiser for the Brooksville Library.

Kids got a spark plug at Condon’s Garage and had the chance to look around inside.  Outside, there were plenty of old cars to examine:

Many of the illustrations from the book were displayed around town.  It was great to match up the picture with the locations–kind of like walking through the story!  Here’s one example:

The illustration from “One Morning in Maine”

Buck’s Harbor today.

Like Sal and Jane did in the story, we got an ice cream cone:

To top it all off, Jake had a loose tooth, just like Sal did in One Morning in Maine!

A good time was had by all!  Thanks to Jason, Cam, Cole and Jake for inviting and letting me tag along and congrats to the Brooksville Library on a successful event.


Filed under fun in maine, have you heard about this amazing author?, have you heard about this great book?

Author Interview: Lynn Plourde

This spring I was lucky enough to hear Donn Fendler, Lynn Plourde, and Ben Bishop speak about their graphic novel, Lost Trail.  Most Mainers are familiar with Donn Fendler’s story as told in Lost on a Mountain in MaineLost Trail brings this amazing tale to a new generation of readers.

Three generations worked together on Lost Trail: Ben Bishop, Donn Fendler, and Lynn Plourde.

Here’s my interview with Lynn Plourde:


How is writing a graphic novel different from writing a picture book?

There are several differences.  One is length.  A typed picture book manuscript is usually 3-6 pages, but the Lost Trail manuscript was about 50 pages.  My picture books are fiction (other than a biography I did of Margaret Chase Smith) so I get to make up those stories.  Lost Trail is a true story and it’s Donn Fendler’s story—so that meant working closely with him to make sure the story was accurate as well as researching the rescue efforts to add that information to the book.  Finally, writing a graphic novel is more like writing a movie script.  Instead of paragraphs, there’s line after line of dialogue, thought bubble words, along with brief text in narration boxes.  The words have to add to but stay out of the way of all the illustrations in a graphic novel.  Also, when I write, I always read the words aloud over and over to hear if there are places where I need to make changes.  But reading just the words aloud for Lost Trail didn’t really work—graphic novels aren’t read-aloud stories.  They need the illustrations to complete the story.

What did you think when you first read Lost on a Mountain in Maine?

I read Lost on a Mountain in Maine as a grown-up, not a kid. But I remember thinking that was one lucky 12-year-old to survive all those days alone in the Maine wilderness.  Actually, I considered it a Maine miracle that Donn Fendler survived.  I still get goosebumps when I think about the moment he came out of the woods to see the McMoarn’s cabin—because I know that if one little thing had happened differently he wouldn’t have made it.  But he did!

In your opinion, why is Donn Fendler’s story perfect for the graphic novel format?

Donn Fendler’s story is perfect for the graphic novel format because it is so visual—a mighty mountain versus a small boy, a sleet storm in July, the Pamola creature, deer and bears.  With the illustrations in a graphic novel, readers can feel like they are looking over Donn’s shoulder as the story unfolds.  It’s like a movie on paper.  Also, Stephen King put it well when he said this is a graphic novel “about a real American superhero.”  Donn is the hero in his own story—you can’t help but root for him.

What was the most challenging part and most rewarding part of collaborating on this project with Donn Fendler and Ben Bishop?

The biggest challenge was trying to match Donn’s memory in the words and illustrations.  We did eight drafts of the story as we went back-and-forth working to get the story to say what Donn still remembers in his mind.  Then Donn and I didn’t meet the Illustrator Ben Bishop until the book was almost finished.  In hindsight, we wished we’d worked with him from the beginning. Ben had done graphic novels before and we had not so he was the expert on that format.  He could have told us to put in more illustration notes to make things clearer for him when he illustrated.  He could have pointed out places where less words were needed and the illustrations would move the story along without words.  Working with Ben from the beginning would have made the process easier.  I understand the process of creating a graphic novel much better AFTER finishing Lost Trail.

The most rewarding part of doing Lost Trail was becoming better friends with Donn Fendler and making friends with Ben Bishop.  It’s been fun to travel and do events with both of them.  Donn is a living legend, and it’s so much fun to see people swarm him and hear their stories of how their grandfather was one of the searchers or of the times Donn talked in their classroom.  Ben mesmerizes kids when he shows them how he creates a graphic novel and then draws an imaginary creature right before their eyes as they shout out the names of random animals.  It’s so much fun to be on the trail with these two men!

What is your favorite graphic novel? (besides Lost Trail, of course!)

Well, my favorite I-thought-it-was-a-graphic-novel-but-have-since-learned-it’s-a-variation-on-a-graphic-novel (shows how much more I still need to learn about graphic novels!) is Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck.  I loved how he wove together two stories seamlessly and that he celebrates deafness.  I was a speech-language therapist for many years and worked with many kids who were deaf.  Selznick visually paces the story perfectly with his illustrations.  I hope Wonderstruck will be made into a movie just as his book The Invention of Hugo Cabret was.

I agree.  Wonderstruck is one of my favorite books and it would be incredible on the big screen.  Thank you, Lynn!

If you would like to hear Donn Fendler and Lynn Plourde speak about the true story Lost Trail, come to the Ellsworth Public Library on Thursday, August 9th at 6:00 p.m. A book signing will take place after the presentation.  For more information, please call the Ellsworth Public Library (667-6363).  Hope to see you there!



Filed under author interview, maine author