Friday, March 2, 2012

Two New Kids' Books Set In Michigan Entertain, Educate

Two recent children’s books set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula provide intriguing entertainment as well as interesting insights into our state’s history.

“Stolen Treasures at Pictured Rocks” by Lansing author Mary Morgan is the first in her National Park Mystery Series.  Published by Haslett’s Buttonwood Press at $7.95,
the slim oversized paperback features illustrations by Dawn McVay Baumer.

It focuses on the adventures of a pair of twins, Ben and Bekka Cooper and their parents. They are on vacation, sharing a camper at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park.

They meet Eli Hartley and his father, from  Diamondale, who are on a kayaking trip, tenting nearby. They get guidance from a park ranger, who answers questions about the area’s wildlife and offers tourist suggestions about the very scenic location.

Onboard a tour boat, the youngsters experience some unusual activities and encounter men who are planning to steal maritime artifacts.

Morgan deftly includes lots of historic information as she relates an exciting adventure that both children and adults will enjoy. Also provided are an area map, related poetry and photos of artifacts that have washed ashore from Lake Superior.

“Haylee’s Treasure” by Kalamazoo author Mara MacKay (Old Wood Press, $15.95) is also set in the Munising area, but showcases nine-year-old Haylee, who’s visiting her grandparents with her father.

She’s worried that she’ll have a boring summer, but instead learns a lot about the area’s rich heritage. She goes on a glass-bottomed boat tour of the area’s shipwrecks and has encounters with the area’s wildlife.

Her grandmother tells Haylee about her old job at the Munising Woodenware Factory, which was in existence from 1911- 1955. They made a variety of decorative wooden bowls in many sizes, which were hand-painted by the workers.

Haylee meets another former worker and finds out more about the craftsmanship involved. Family relationships are explored and Haylee ends up having considerably more fun than she expected.

Although not as exciting as Morgan’s book, MacKay’s novel offers black and white and color drawings by Stephanie Bajema. Photographs of the woodenware factory are also included.

This book is ideal for schools and libraries and is the first in a projected series by History CPR books. It provides bibliographies, internet sources and suggestions for discussions.

This review was originally published by the 
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, February 19, 2012.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987.

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