Friday, February 24, 2006

Rockport Susan and the handmade boat

Express Staff Writer

Susan Springer

The Hailey Elementary School's annual book fair begins Monday, Feb. 27, and continues through the week at the school on East Elm Street in Hailey. Books of every variety will be available for purchase during school hours through Iconoclast Books in Hailey.

On Wednesday, children's book author and Hailey resident Susan Springer will be reading from and signing her series of books about the adventures of a boy in Alaska, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Also the St. Thomas Episcopal Church administrator, Springer lived in Alaska for 21 years.

The character of Seldovia Sam is partially based on her own childhood.

"When I was 12 in Rockport, Maine, I was given a beautiful handmade rowboat," she said. "I just lived in that boat and had adventures. My nickname was Sam and that was the name of my boat. The parallel between this Sam and me is that it's a little kid in a rural area who is given his first taste of independence. For me, it was like saying I trust you. It was huge. In Alaska, kids have a great deal of independence and interact with the natural world. But Sam is 8 and he doesn't always practice good judgement or listen very well, which is why he gets into trouble."

Seldovia Sam's series of misadventures start when Sam loses track of the tide while clamming in "Seldovia Sam and the Very Large Clam." He finds an abandoned sea otter in "Seldovia Sam and the Sea Otter Rescue." In "Seldovia Sam and the Wildfire Escape," he saves a cat and her kittens but loses his best friend's new bike. Published in 2005, "Seldovia Sam and the Blueberry Bear" has Sam dreading his first day of school where he fears his annual back-to-school essay about his summer's activities will be surpassed by those of know-it-all Melody Chambers.

"Seldovia Sam and the Very Large Clam" was selected by the Alaska School Library Association as one of its featured selections for the Battle of the Books that promotes reading among elementary school students.

"Seldovia Sam and the Sea Otter Rescue" was a winner of the 2003 ASPCA Henry Bergh Children's Book Award in the Fiction, Humane Heroes category for its outstanding ability to teach young readers a new way to care for animals and natural resources.

The books are published by Alaska Northwest Books, an imprint of Graphic Arts Center Publishing in Portland, Ore.

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