Bicentennial Book Club for Tweens

The Program:
Porter Memorial Library in Machias and Peabody Memorial Library in Jonesport are teaming up to offer a Bicentennial Book Club for local youths between the ages of eight and thirteen and their families. This virtual book club will run for six months and will feature seven middle-grade books all set in the state of Maine. Participating youths will read one book a month and will participate in a once-a-month Zoom book discussion online. Librarians Tessa Mellas (from Porter Memorial) and Heidi Hinkley (from Peabody Memorial) will lead the program and book club discussions. For one of the book club meetings, the Maine author of the book will join our discussion and participants can ask the author questions directly over Zoom. This program is made possible through a grant with the Maine Public Library Fund and a generous matching donation by Robert Parsloe and his company Wireless Partners LLC. Internet access will be available for any families who wish to participate thanks to the generosity of Wireless Partners LLC. This book club is an opportunity for tweens to celebrate Maine’s Bicentennial and to connect with fellow readers despite the pandemic’s effect on Bicentennial events.

How the Program Works:
Each youth participant will check out a set of seven age and skill-level appropriate books set in Maine. We will read one book per month for six months. There is one month where we will double up, reading two very short books together (the final two on the list below). Participants will pick up and check out their book set at the end of August and will return their books at the end of the program. Participants will be able to interact with other participating youths and with the librarians as regularly as they want through a private website during the program. The website will also provide extra reading resources, activities, and creative writing and art prompts that will be optional extras for participants. The goal is for this Book Club to be fun and not to feel like homework or school. Despite all of the fun, there will be educational benefits. We will learn a lot about Maine, its history, and its diverse people and places. The program is appropriate for both youths enrolled in school and for those who are home schooled. Parents should feel free to connect the program to their home-schooling lessons, and we hope that families that are new to home-schooling will enjoy taking part in the program. Having the book sets at home for the full program also allows the whole family to read and discuss these books. They are captivating for any age level.

The Books We Will Read:
Wildfire: A Novel by Rodman Philbrick is about a Maine boy and girl who are left behind in an evacuation of their summer camps and have to work together to try to escape a raging forest fire. The boy’s mother is recovering from drug addiction, and the girl’s family owns a Greek restaurant.

Wintering Well by Lea Wait is set in 1820, the year that Maine became a state, and is about a farm boy who loses his leg in an accident and his sister who helps him recover. In the process, they move from the country to a town, and they both change their life goals.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt is about the young son of a minister who moves to Phippsburg, Maine and befriends a smart and sassy girl from the nearby community of Malaga Island, which was founded by former slaves. This is based on the real history of Malaga Island and Phippsburg, Maine.

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk is set in the Great Depression and is about a girl whose family must leave their home in town because of the Depression and move to the untamed forests of nearby Echo Mountain. When her father is hurt in an accident, the girl befriends a healing woman and a boy who carves to try to heal her father.

Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord is about an island in Maine whose school is in jeopardy of closing, but the town decides to take in foster children, giving them loving homes and keeping their school open in the process. This story follows one girl and the talented trumpet-playing boy that comes to live with her family.

Remember Me: Tomah Joseph’s Gift to Franklin Roosevelt by Donald Soctomah and Jean Flahive is about 32nd U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s childhood summers on Campobello Island and his friendship with Passamaquoddy elder and former chief Tomah Joseph, who teaches young Franklin about birch bark canoes.

Puffin Project: How We Brought Puffins Back to Egg Rock by by Pete Salmansohn and Stephen W. Kress chronicles biologist Stephen Kress’s mission to repopulate a puffin colony that had collapsed on Egg Island in Maine by introducing puffin chicks from Newfoundland to the island.

How to Join:
The book club is free and open to any tweens in Washington County, Maine even if they haven’t been a member of either library in the past. We will be enrolling book club members and setting up participating families with internet connections during the month of August. Families can pick up their book sets at the end of August or beginning of September. We will hold our first online book club meeting at the end of September. Thereafter, we will hold one book club meeting a month on a regular date to be determined by the group. Please contact library director Lee Downing with any questions about the book club: 207-255-3933.

Please use this link to register your youth for the Book Club: This information and link are also available on Porter Memorial Library’s website.