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Monhegan Island-Maine with Children

Monhegan Island-Maine with Children

Trying to get away from it all? Visit Monhegan Island, Maine! A square mile in area, the island is only accessible by boat.  Commercial boats leave from Port Clyde, Boothbay or New Harbor and if you have access to your own boat, there are a few private mooring spots as well. Once your step off the boat, you quickly realize there are very few cars.  This makes for beautiful scenery to explore and undisturbed views, but also means that cell phone reception and places to stay are limited.  If you’re planning on staying overnight, make sure to make reservations in advance! There are seventeen miles of hiking trails that criss-cross the island.  The hike around the outside of the island can be a bit strenuous so make sure your children are wearing sturdy shoes and are up for a climb over the rocks.  You also need to keep an eye on the clock if you’re just making a day trip. The Monhegan associates rate them for difficulty and length of time to complete; we found their estimates to be pretty accurate.  You can plan your trip using their online map, but it’s worth buying a map from one of the island stores once you arrive. The Monhegan Museum of Art and History is housed in the former keeper’s house on the Lighthouse grounds, recently added to the Registry of American Historic Sites. The first floor is devoted to the Island’s long and colorful history. The second floor has bird and wildflower pictures to help you identify that specimen you just saw. You can also see the equipment that was used to harvest ice from the ice pond as recently as 1974.  The old equipment is displayed in a shed behind the Museum at the Lighthouse.  While ice is no longer harvested, there’s still good ice skating on the ice pond in the winter! Keeping an eye the ferry departure time, We decided to hike through Cathedral woods, home of the fairy houses. There were fairy houses everywhere! People had built them on fungi, out of sticks, leaves, skulls, and flowers, frequently leaving water and food for the fairies.  Everywhere we looked in the Cathedral woods we found them, in the trees, at the base of the trees, in branches,...

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Review: Fairy Houses-Maine with children

Review: Fairy Houses-Maine with children

A week on an Island sounds like a wonderful way to spend a vacation, and on top of that, Kristen’s parents promise her a surprise when they arrive.  As soon as the ferry lands, Kristen starts guessing what the surprise might be. Is it the lighthouse?  The sandpipers? The seals? As her family sets out for a walk, she stumbles across…. Fairy Houses!  Her parents give her permission to build one of her own, as long as she follows the rules of the forest.  Everyday she visits her Fairy house and thinks of more things to add that the fairies might like, only to discover other forest inhabitants enjoying her house, until the last day, as she dozes near her house…. Fairy Houses is a sweet book, and a great source of inspiration.  My children loved looking at all of the pictures of Fairy houses in the other books in the series and were full of ideas as to what they could build and what sorts of things a fairy might like to have in their house. Fairy houses can  be found throughout Maine, but the easiest place to find them is on Monhegan Island.  Monhegan has lots of hikes and breathtaking views and of course Fairy Houses.   The Fairy Houses are restricted to the Cathedral Woods, but there are tons to see.  If you’re captivated by the concept of creating your own Fairy House, have a look at these photobooks for inspiration:  If you’d like to add Fairy Houses to your child’s library, click here:  Fairy...

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Review: Miss Rumphius-Maine with children

Review: Miss Rumphius-Maine with children

 “In the evening, Alice sat on her grandfather’s knee, and listened to his stories of faraway places. When he had finished, Alice would say, “When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.” “That is all very well, little Alice,” said her grandfather, “but there is a third thing you must do…You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” “All right,” said Alice. But she did not know yet what that could be. When she grows up, Miss Rumphiustravels the world seeing sights in far off places.  Eventually she decides to stop traveling and she finds her house buy the sea, just like she said she would.  But she still doesn’t know what to do to make the world more beautiful, until one evening, lying in bed, she is struck by inspiration from her garden. Miss Rumphius is a combination of the author’s life and inspiration she found in her travels, the real lupine lady and the landscape around Damariscotta, Maine. The original illustrations for Miss Rumphius have a permanent home in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art . Lupines can be found all along the coast of Maine during the summer.  They are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, Hilda Hamlin, a retired professor of English who lived in a shingled cottage perched high above the sea and scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went.   Let’s hope we can all “do something to make the world more...

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Review: Nicholas:  A Maine Tale-Maine with children

Review: Nicholas: A Maine Tale-Maine with children

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...

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André The Famous Harbor Seal

André The Famous Harbor Seal

  Andre the Famous Harbor Seal, written by Fran Hodgkins and illustrated by Yetti Fenkel, tells the true story of the incredible bond between André the seal and Harry Goodridge, the harbormaster of Rockport, Maine and the twenty-five years they spent together. The story opens by explaining that today you aren’t allowed to catch wild seals, but that in 1961 there were no regulations prohibiting the keeping of seals.  In the beginning,  Harry kept André at his house with his family and a menagerie of other pets, with twice daily trips to Rockport Harbor for a swim  (my son wanted to know if we could get a permit to keep a seal in our bathtub too.) Once André learned to eat fish, he began spending entire days in the ocean, but he always came back for dinner.  Harry started teaching André tricks based on the seal’s natural behavior and he quickly became famous, giving shows when he returned to the harbor at dinnertime.  My 6 year old was really excited to find out that his dad had actually seen André when he was a child. In order to keep him safe, André spent winters at the New England Aquarium in Boston or the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.  In the spring, he would be released in either Marblehead Harbor, MA or Cape Cod, MA and would swim back home to Rockport.  Though he died in 1986, André is still remembered  in Rockport and there’s even a  statue of him in the Rockport Marine Park.  There are also lots of boat tours departing out of  Bar Harbor, Booth Bay, and Casco Bay, to see Harbor Seals in the...

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