If you’re exploring the state of Maine, this is a great book to start things off. Nicholas is a small brown mouse from Massachusetts who is trying to find his cousin Francis. All he knows is that his cousin lives somewhere in Maine and as with many young mice who have not done much traveling, Nicholas has no idea how big Maine really is. There are just enough pictures to keep young children’s interest in a chapter book, and while Nicholas has adventures, they aren’t the spine-tingling, fear gripping adventures that will keep them up at night. Through a series of mishaps and new found friendships, Nicholas manages to criss-cross the state of Maine learning about the wildlife and history of the state as he goes.
The first step in Nicholas’ journey is to hitch a ride on a schooner from Martha’s Vineyard to Maine, but when he gets to the waterfront he discovers the boat has already left. Fortunately, a wharf rat takes pity on him (though not before offering to help him ship out to the Far East) and ferries him out to the boat by grabbing on a trailing line from a passing motorboat. The pets on the schooner help him hide from the cook until they land at Vinalhaven. Scupper, the puppy from the schooner, invites Nicholas to stretch his legs on land before they continue on their journey, and once again Nicholas manages to miss the boat. Stuck on Vinalhaven, he watches the lobstermen haul their traps, travels through the forests, and listens to the boats wondering how he is going to get off the island. One day, a family comes ashore in a small sailboat. Nicholas makes friends with the little boy who hides him in his parka pocket when the family continues their journey up the Maine coast. At every stop, Nicholas asks about his cousin Francis. On Eastern Egg Rock, he manages to convince a Puffin to carry him to the mainland where he makes friends with a bear. Nicholas continues on his journey hitching rides or relying on bigger animals to transport him over most of the State of Maine through Bangor, Moosehead Lake, Baxter State Park, Dover-Foxroft, Bath, Portland, and Fryeburg before learning that his cousin may now be in New Hampshire.
There is so much to see and do in Maine, it’s hard to know where to start. You can take boat tours to Eastern Egg Rock where Nicholas convinced a Puffin to fly him back to the mainland. Cap’n Fish’s Puffin tour is accompanied by an Audubon naturalist who describes the different birds you’ll see on Eastern Egg Rock and the ongoing conservation efforts that began in the 1970s to reintroduce the puffins to Maine. Puffin tours leave from many places up and down the coast including Cutler Harbor, Booth Bay Harbor, New Harbor, Port Clyde, Stonington, Bar Harbor, Milbridge and South Addison. If you are going to be in Maine for a few days, try to take boat trips on very still days if you can get them. You can usually book them the day you want to go. There are also various sailboat tours (perfect for pretending you’re like the little boy and his family) up and down the coast including from Buck’s Harbor. Machias hosts an annual blueberry festival in August using blueberries from bushes just like the ones the Puffin dropped Nicholas into. Bangor Baby has a great list of things to do in Bangor, though the waterworks where Nicholas stayed in the book have now been turned into apartments. There are also boat tours of Moosehead Lake and Baxter State Park has some phenomenal hiking, allowing you to follow as much of Nicholas’ journey as you desire.