George Smith's blog

Our grandsons will get these books for Christmas

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Please don’t tell my grandsons. We’re giving them these books for Christmas.

At the ages of 6 and 9, both Addison and Vishal are avid readers. Linda and I enjoy giving them books and both reading to them and having them read to us.

They’ve both been helping me review kids’ books too. For some of those reviews, just flip back through the book reviews posted here. There are some great choices for Christmas gifts there, in addition to the books reviewed in this column.

After plowing through a stack of kids’ books, here are the ones that Addi and V will find under their Christmas tree from Grampy and Nana Smith.

Mert the Anxious Evergreen

This is perfect for all Maine kids. The story and message hits very close to home.

Written and beautifully illustrated by Clair Bowman, the story features the young evergreen tree, Mert, and his desperate effort to save the farm he’s on and become a Christmas tree.

Nic and Nellie delight my grandson

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 My six year old grandson Vishal loved Nic and Nellie, Astrid Sheckel beautifully written and illustrated story about a girl’s summer adventure with her grandparents on a Maine island.

But Nic’s idyllic summer brings loneliness and tears, until she discovers some unfamiliar things that turn the summer into a joy-filled adventure. Vishal got the adventure part right off.

“If I was on the island, I would like catching fish,” he said. That’s my grandson!

He also reported, “I would do the eating ice cream and roasting marshmallows.” Of course he would. Boy, this kid is a chip of old Grampy’s block.

Islandport Press is also anchored in Maine and publishes many of my favorite books. Ten percent of the initial sales of Nic and Nellie went to the Island Institute, a nonprofit organization supporting our state’s 15 year-round island communities and working to conserve island and marine biodiversity. A good cause, for sure.

Harvest Festival Celebrates Maine's Best Producers

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Bangor
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 The Maine Harvest Festival in Bangor featured over 120 of Maine's top producers with cooking demonstrations, lots of tasty treats and many great stories. We were impressed!

Read more. 

Deer Dying in the Dakotas – Is Maine Next?

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During my annual pheasant hunt in North Dakota, I usually see lots of whitetail and mule deer. But two years ago, most of our whitetail deer sightings were of dead deer. On one farm, I saw eight freshly dead deer in four days, including the biggest whitetail I’ve ever seen in North Dakota.

I learned that the deer died of HD, hemorrhagic disease. Whitetails die within 96 hours of being bitten by a midge. The virus doesn’t impact mule deer.

Dr. Dan Grove of North Dakota’s Game and Fish Department told me the virus is present throughout the United States, is especially prevalent in southern states, and flares up in North Dakota every four to seven years. That year there were HD outbreaks in many states including South Dakota, Kansas, and Montana.

“The whole (whitetail) population is at risk,” Grove told me in a telephone interview. “There can be large-scale die-offs.”

Maine's moose are in trouble - what we don't know may be killing them

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“New Hampshire’s moose population has declined by 3,100, which is more than 40 percent, since 1997. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has reduced the number of moose hunting permits by 60 percent in the last five years.”

As New Hampshire goes, so goes Maine? That could be the sobering conclusion reached after reading the troubling new report, “Nowhere To Run – Big Game Wildlife in a Warming World,” published by the National Wildlife Federation. You can read the report online on the NWF website.

While Maine’s moose biologist Lee Kantar told the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee earlier this year that he doesn’t know nearly enough about the health of our state’s moose herd, we need only look to our neighbors in New Hampshire to see the future. Kantar has launched a significant study to improve his knowledge of moose health – particularly related to ticks – but there is much more trouble on the horizon. Literally.

Thanksgiving Bucks - Got one, Lost one

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 Thanksgiving Bucks – Got one, Lost one

I’ve had some memorable hunts on Thanksgiving mornings, before gathering with family for the annual feast. Here are two of my most memorable Thanksgiving encounters with big bucks.

An Icy Morning Heats Up

Crunch, crunch, crunch. I could hear him plodding along in the frozen ground through a stand of spruce out in front of me, coming from the stream and moving to my left. But I couldn’t see him. To make that much noise with each step, I thought he must be big.

Excited by a good covering of snow that Thanksgiving morning, I’d gotten out early, driven the short distance to the landing on my neighbor’s property, canoed downstream, and hustled the 250 yards to a ground blind I’d constructed on the top of a small ridge overlooking a well-worn deer trail.

Woodbury's The Mists of Adriana is a compelling read

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Maine inspires good writing. Some writers are natives, some adopted, some write sitting in a local bar, some in a remote cabin, some write just one novel or work on nonfiction, some crank them out year after year.

While I’m a lifelong reader of all things Maine, devoted to books I can hold in my hand and to local bookstores (for both new and used books), and a trustee of my local library for 34 years, I am discovering that the new world of self-publishing is populated by some good writers.

Roger Woodbury is one of those writers. Now a full-time author of short stories and novels, Roger has an interesting background. He taught socially and economically disadvantaged children in an inner city school, sold insurance, purchased and restored antique buildings, and even acted in theater productions. Great fodder for his novels!

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