Written specifically for kids to read and use, “Ten Days in the North Woods: A Kids’ Hiking Guide to the Katahdin Region” blends a fictional story with accurate descriptions of real trails. The book hit shelves earlier this year, and the author, Hope Rowan of Southwest Harbor, hopes it will inspire children to get outside and explore some of Maine’s most treasured natural areas.
“It’s an easy way to engage kids,” Rowan said. “It’s something to read and get excited about before they go on their vacation. Or even if it’s not a place they’re going to visit any time soon, it’s still fun for them to read and learn about the outdoors.”
Throughout the book, readers follow the adventures of a 13-year-old fictional character named Hattie as she and her family and camp in Baxter State Park and the neighboring Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
The story is further brought to life through color photos and detailed trail maps, both by Rowan, and delightful nature illustrations by Jada Fitch of Addison. And at the end of each section is a blank page for young hikers to write notes or create their own illustrations of flora and fauna they come across during their adventures.
This is Rowan’s second book. The first, “10 Days in Acadia: A Kids’ Hiking Guide to Mount Desert Island” was released in 2017, and has an identical format. Both books were published by Islandport Press, which is based in Yarmouth.
An outdoor enthusiast and professional map maker, Rowan came up with the idea to write guidebooks for children to read when she realized that all the guidebooks she’d seen were written for adults.
“It surprised me,” Rowan said. “I thought, it’s either a really good idea, or a really bad idea.”
So far, both books have received top reviews through major online booksellers, and Rowan has received enthusiastic feedback from readers.
“One thing that’s interesting that I’ve found with the Acadia guide is a lot of older folks are enjoying it because it has easier hikes in it,” Rowan said. “So not only is it suitable for kids, it’s suitable for people who might not want to do the more difficult trails.”
While the stories in both guides are fictional, Rowan often draws from her own personal experiences. For example, in the Katahdin region guide, the thunderstorm that occurs after Hattie and her family hike Barnard Mountain actually happened when Rowan was documenting the hike. And the raccoon that Rowan describes at South Branch Pond in Baxter State Park is based off of Rowan’s own wildlife sightings in the park.
Writing from a child’s perspective wasn’t too difficult, Rowan said.
“I was a 13-year-old girl once,” Rowan said. “And when I’m out hiking, I think I sort of see the world as a 13-year-old girl. I think it’s one of the reasons I enjoy hiking. When I’m out there, especially by myself, I’m sort of just taking in what’s there, and I do sort of feel like a kid. By just being out in nature, it helps me put all the adult thinking and worries aside.”
The 121-page book highlights 10 hikes and measures 5.5 inches by 7 inches, making it easy to fit into a backpack. It’s paperback — with a glossy cover — and is available at Maine bookstores and wherever books are sold.