TEN DAYS IN THE NORTH WOODS:  A KIDS’ HIKING GUIDE TO THE KATAHDIN REGION by Hope Rowan; Islandport Press, 2019; 128 pages, $12.95.


OK, parents and kids, put down those cellphones and go outside. It’s spring now, and time to plan future outdoor family adventures to the Katahdin region of Maine. And “Ten Days in the North Woods” will be a wonderful resource for hiking and camping in Maine’s beautiful wilderness.

Author Hope Rowan lives on Mount Desert Island and has written a useful kids’ guide to Baxter State Park, the Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area and the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument. This guidebook is written for families and “young explorers” ages 8 and up, and is narrated by Hattie, a fictional 13-year-old girl. She may be fiction, but all the travel details — hiking trails, campsites, lakes, streams, mountains and wildlife — are very real.

Rowan lays out a 10-day trip to these three areas, offering one hike a day, describing what you would see on the trail, the scenery, landmarks, amenities (like outhouse availability) and activities like swimming, tubing and canoeing. Each hike is rated by length (from 2.4 to 5.8 miles) and degree of ease or difficulty (flat or steep).

She also provides lists of what to bring on the hike to ensure comfort and safety. For example, she recommends a map, compass, flashlight, bug repellant, proper footwear and clothing, water, snacks and a first aid kit. Other essential information includes fees, campsite locations and availability, roads, parking and warns that dogs are not allowed everywhere, and potable water is also not available (bring your own water).

Sidebars provide fascinating information about the birds, animals, fish and plants you may see. Learn which plant is carnivorous, which plant can be used to cover and heal wounds, which fish is called the slob and about the “Will-am-alone,” a mythical critter that pesters sleeping campers.



ALMOST MIDNIGHT by Paul Doiron; Minotaur Books, 2019; 288 pages, $27.99.


Prisons are bad places. There’s danger for everyone inside, both convicts and guards, and Maine Game Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch will discover just how dangerous prisons can be.

“Almost Midnight” is the 10th novel in best-selling, award-winning Maine author Paul Doiron’s mystery series featuring Mike Bowditch. Doiron’s mysteries have always been gritty and hard-hitting with plots that expose the grim reality of rural Maine. This time he tackles the thorny issue of crime inside the Maine State Prison.

Mike’s promotion to investigator has not mellowed his behavior. He’s still ornery, impulsive and an annoyance to the warden service brass. He’s also loyal, smart and a very good investigator. When Mike’s best friend Billy Cronk, in prison for manslaughter, asks him to investigate a respected prison guard, Mike suddenly finds himself unwillingly caught up in a case of multiple killings involving convicts and guards, and a far-reaching criminal conspiracy.

An attempted assassination in the prison sets off a string of violent acts, cover-ups and unanswered questions. With Billy suddenly pardoned, fearful for his life and on the run, Mike tries to figure out what’s going on without getting himself killed. A parallel story has Mike looking for whoever shot a gray wolf with a crossbow, meeting an oddball list of mean-spirited, unpredictable suspects.


Add a trigger-happy, crack-shot prison guard with a murky past, a sergeant with a hidden agenda, a couple of intense back-to-the-land hippies, a nasty moonshiner, a mercurial deputy prison warden, a cautious district game warden with a strange new outlook, several Amish families and an angry landowner who hates everybody, and Mike has his hands full protecting Billy, his family and himself.

And somebody is still out there with the crossbow, and they know how to use it.


Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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