Young readers can explore Acadia National Park through ‘DeeDee’s Year of Adventure’
What: Author Melissa Marsted reading “DeeDee’s Year of Adventure”
When: 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 29
Where: Summit Community Gardens, 4056 Shadow Mountain Drive
Children and families can explore Acadia National Park with Maine’s state bird without leaving their homes in Melissa Marsted’s “DeeDee’s Year of Adventure.”
The book, which is available at Amazon and Etsy, takes flight with DeeDee, a chickadee, who meets and interacts with an array of animals throughout the seasons at some of the park’s most famous locations. The book is the seventh installment of her “Wildlife Adventures for Young Readers” series, which Marsted, owner and founder of Lucky Penny Publications, started in 2016 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the nation’s national parks.
To help celebrate the new book’s release, Marsted will partner with Debbie Drain’s The Chicks Company and the Park City Moms Group for a free reading at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 29, at Summit Community Gardens.
“The Chicks Company has a garden plot, and every Wednesday Debbie goes there to pick some produce and lead yoga,” Marsted said. “She thought it would be a nice morning to collaborate, and offered to host me.”
“DeeDee’s Year of Adventure” has been brewing in Marsted’s mind for years.
“I grew up on the East Coast, and I always wanted to do something about Acadia, which is known as the ‘the crown jewel of the North Atlantic Coast,’” she said.
The 47,000-acre park, set at Mount Desert Island, is home to fowls such as snowy owls, loons and peregrine falcons, as well as mammals including beavers, river otters and seals, according to Marsted.
“In the book, DeeDee’s mom introduces her to many of these animals, including a great blue heron, baby peregrine falcons, a porcupine, shorebirds and Monarch butterflies,” she said. “DeeDee also meets a moose and avoids a bald eagle on her own.”
Marsted reacquainted herself with Acadia in August 2017 with her son Peter.
“We’re both long-distance runners, and since he was doing an internship at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, I was able to pick him up to go running through the park,” she said. “These runs help with my research.”
The first two-thirds of the book was taken directly from the run, according to Marsted.
“We ran nearly a marathon that day, between 25 and 30 miles,” she said.
The two parked at the visitor center and ran past Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond House restaurant, famous for its popover pastries, that are included in the book.
“We had reservations, and we were over an hour late,” Marsted said with a laugh. “But they were kind and honored the reservation.”
Other locations of note include Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.
“We didn’t make it to the lighthouse during that first trip, so Peter and I went back east a few months ago to help my parents who were having health issues,” Marsted said. “During that time, we went back to Acadia to finish the journey.”
The author’s research for the animals was fairly easy, she said.
“First off, the chickadee is Maine’s state bird,” Marsted said. “So I knew quite a bit about it. As for the others, I really chose the ones that called to me and made the most sense.”
Marsted selected peregrine falcons because the path they inhabit, Precipice Trail, closes down during nesting season.
She knew she had to include otters, because of a place called Otter Cliff.
“I also highlighted a lobster, because, how can you not put a lobster in a book that takes place in Maine?” she said with a laugh.
The book was illustrated by artist Cait Irwin, who worked with Marsted on last year’s “The Secret Life of Phil,” the fourth “Wildlife Adventures for Young Readers Series.”
“‘DeeDee’ gave us something to keep us busy during COVID-19,” Marsted said. “It was something positive we could focus on, and we finished it in March.”
Marsted is already working with Irwin on her ninth book.
“It’s going to be set in Yellowstone National Park, and I’ve already written 10 pages,” she said. “I’m just going to plug ahead.”
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In the closing scenes of the about-to-be released documentary “Public Trust,” environmental journalist Hal Herring says this of the battle over public lands: “You only have a right to what you are willing to fight for.”