I have written a children’s novel titled In the Wake of the Willows.  It is a Wind in the Willows pastiche complete at 64,000 words.

Summary: When a spooky nocturnal creature starts terrorizing the riverfront, Mr. Rat’s clever daughter sets to work solving the mystery and unmasking the culprit, but that is only the beginning of the intrigue and adventure one summer on a New England coastal estuary in the 1920’s.

Synopsis: My book revolves around the children of the original characters, especially Mr. Rat’s daughter and Mr. Toad’s son.  Mr. Rat’s daughter is a studious, junior detective obsessed with bird watching and natural history but has to deal with Mr. Toad’s son who is a Tom Sawyer-like boy who is forever getting into trouble. Highlights of this story include an ominous Native American prophesy, a suspected sea monster, a scavenger hunt with rhyming clues, a ruthless croquet tournament, sailing to a secret island, some historical fiction, an unusual square dance under the stars, persnickety weasels, a campfire on the beach at night watching shooting stars, a devious fox, the extinction of a bird species, the most boastful & conceited song ever written by a toad, a mysterious clue etched on a scrap of birch bark, a devastating hurricane, a heroic rescue, and lots of mischievous humor.

All of the bird behavior and natural history in the book is accurate and should inspire young readers to learn more.   All of the locations in the book, such as Martha’s Vineyard, the Hen & Chickens, and Cuttyhunk, are real places, although some go under pseudonyms.  The River in the story could represent any of a hundred of tidal estuaries that punctuation the coast from New York to New Brunswick.  Each chapter starts with an epigraph or two from a 19th century American naturalist or poet such as Emily Dickinson, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Muir, John Burroughs, Stanton Kirkham Davis, Peattie, etc..  I included a single Old World poet, Robert Burns, because his Red Rose song with the seas “gang dry” was so perfect for my story and because Mr. Badger was also a Scottsman.

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For about 20 years I wrote a nature / science column in various newspapers in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including The Providence Journal.  Recently I recorded an audio version of one of my nature essays (about fireflies) for the Rhode Island National Public Radio station (http://ripr.org/post/i-believe-rhode-island-hayfields-and-fireflies).

I have also written some science articles on birding and fisheres. I have been published in a technical birding (ornithological) journal (The Wilson Bulletin).  In addition I write an occasional wine blog for the Standard Times of New Bedford, MA.  I graduated from Brown University in 1983 and am related to James Thurber, but distantly.

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