Sometimes hope comes in unexpected places.
Eben goes out fishing one day, rowing six miles from his island home towards the harbor on the mainland, hauling in cod as he goes. But a porpoise tangles his lines, fog rolls in, and an accident leads to a broken oar. Lonely, tired, and adrift, Eben is almost ready to give in to the embrace of the sea, when rescue comes in an unexpected form. The Old Mainer and the Sea is an allegorical tale about the circular nature of hope and deliverance.
Billy Laird, from Berwick, mustered in the 17th Maine to serve with his friends in the Union Army. Mentally challenged, Billy is ill-prepared for the training and fighting that follows, but he gets by with the help of his friends. Soon, however, he is sent alone to a different unit. Frightened and unsure of what to do on his own, Billy runs off and meets up with a runaway slave, Elijah. Together they make their way north on a perilous journey from Virginia to Maine, aided by compassionate Quakers and the Underground Railroad. As Bill Bushnell writes in a Kennebec Journal review, “They make it to Maine, but it’s not the sanctuary they sought. Betrayal awaits one, a solemn promise awaits the other.” What ultimately happened to Billy is a matter of record.
Trapped between new found freedom and a promise, runaway slave Elijah is led by hands both seen and unseen to a destiny of which he could only dream. Elijah has been living with the Laird family on a small farm in Maine. The family continues to grieve their soldier son, Billy.
In their run north together, Billy had exacted a promise from Elijah, to take his place, to be a big brother to ten-year-old Jamie. Now, Jamie’s ability to heal hinges on his attachment to Elijah.
At the close of the Civil War, Elijah insists on going to his southern homeland to look for his father. Jamie is despondent, but Elijah pledges to return. His journey to the South is bittersweet. While committed to returning to Maine, Elijah is filled with conflicting desires. In a chance meeting, Elijah befriends Oren Cheney, founder of Bates College in Maine, who works tirelessly to solve his dilemma.
Weaving historical realities into a work of fiction, this is a tale of friendship, loyalty, and a solemn promise.
Read the book review written by Frank O Smith published in the Maine Sunday Telegram.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the man who would become the thirty-second president of the United States, joyfully spent his boyhood summers on Campobello Island. It was there that he met Tomah Joseph, a Passamaquoddy elder and former chief who made his living as a guide, birchbark canoe builder, and basketmaker. The story imagines the relationship that developed between these two as Tomah Joseph taught young Franklin how to canoe and shared some of the stories and culture of his people. A beautifully decorated birchbark canoe that he made for Franklin remains at Campobello Island, a tangible reminder of this special friendship.
Tilbury House Publishers has a wonderful Teachers Take Note page on their website outlining curriculum for grades 3-6, as well as list of related online resources.
"Remember Me is a wonderful story that describes not only the magic and mystery of our ancestral homeland but the giving nature of our elders."
-David Moses Bridges, Passamaquoddy master canoe builder
Remember Me was co-authored with Passamaquoddy Tribal historian Donald Soctomah and beautifully illustrated by Mary Beth Owens.
Remember Me won the Moonbeam Gold Award for “Best Multi-Cultural Picture Book in 2009.”
The Galloping Horses of Willowbrook, co-authored with Jean’s sister, Judith Thyng, is a children’s whimsical that tells the heartwarming and true story of young Ivory Fenderson, who never got to ride on his father’s 1894 Armitage Herschell carousel during the years it traveled from fair to fair throughout Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts because ‘his feet did not reach the stirrups.’
Ivory was ten when his father, after 26 summers, retired the traveling carousel and stored it in the family barn in Saco, Maine where it remained for the next 55 years.
In 1977, Ivory donated his father’s long-forgotten carousel to the Willowbrook Museum in Newfield, Maine with the promise of a full restoration, which took nearly 14 years.
In 1991, at the age of 79, Ivory at last had his very first ride. Beautifully illustrated by Kerry Moody LaPointe, the book will capture your heart and imagination.
The Galloping Horses of Willowbrook was a 2012 Maine Literary Awards Finalist!
Told in story form for children, this little book is the first product of the Iris Network's public education initiative to increase awareness on the importance of wearing sunglasses. The risk for retinal damage from the sun's rays is greatest in children less than 10 years old, although the consequences do not become apparent until well after they are adults.
Liam Learns About Sunglasses, published by The Iris Network.
Proceeds support the mission of The Iris Network of helping people who are visually impaired or blind attain independence.