Lamprey River Adventure Book
Children’s Book Presents Story of the Lamprey River
By Penny Williams 1-24-17
“Chick and Dee-Dee's Lamprey River Adventure,” a children’s book written by Suzanne Petersen and illustrated by Denise F. Brown, was inspired by the Lamprey River itself, and Petersen has connected the story in several ways to local schools’ curriculum and activities.
Petersen’s children's book is designed not only to entertain but also to provide a message. She said she chose the Lamprey River for many reasons but primarily because she wanted to create a way to engage children on a personal level with the history and natural resources of the river, from its headwaters in Northwood to where it ends in Great Bay in Newmarket.
Petersen, who is education and outreach specialist for the Lamprey River Advisory Committee, She noted that the Lamprey River Advisory Committee has a video that covers this but it is too long and too passive to engage most children.
"In 2015, the National Park Service requested grant proposals to help celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016," Petersen said. "As a Wild and Scenic River, the Lamprey River in the lower four towns qualifies as a National Park Service area. We proposed and were granted funding to have a professional illustrate the text that I wrote, (which) follows the adventures of two chickadees as they fly up the river from Newmarket to Epping. The Lamprey extends far beyond Epping, but due to funding concerns and not wanting to make the book too long, we limited the book to the lower four towns."
The story is about Chick and Dee-Dee's exploration of the Lamprey River. The two birds wonder where all the water comes from and decide to go exploring and fly up the river. On their journey they make new friends and learn about places to visit along the river as it meanders through woods, farms, and towns.
Petersen said the main message in the book is that the Lamprey River is a place of history and natural wonders for everyone from youngsters to adults to explore.
"People have always used the river to meet their needs, from early native times to the present," she explained. "Signs of this use can be seen all along the river. If we are careful about how we use the river and the land around it, people and animals will be able to enjoy the river for a long time to come."
She said her main goal in writing the book was to engage kids to appreciate local history and wildlife along the river. “I have always loved nature and I love to share nature with others,” she said. “I have not always been a fan of ‘history,’ but history that I can see first hand or that has a personal connection can be interesting. I tried to present both topics in a friendly, close-to-home way that would encourage kids and their parents to explore the area and understand their connection to it.
“Nature and history are not ‘out there,’ separate from ourselves,” she said. “Nature isn't just the expansive rainforest or endless prairie, and history isn't just a list of dates. Nature and history are all around us and can enrich us if we are open to them."
Petersen has been following the development of Raymond's Lamprey River Elementary School Eco-Center, and while the book does not mention Raymond or the new Eco-Center and nature trail, much of the content applies to that area. “It is all about wetlands, wildlife, clean water, habitats, sustainable land use, and soil protection, all of which are important everywhere, but many people do not understand what these resources are or how each person can help to protect them,” Peterson said.
The book was published in the fall of 2016. Copies have been donated to the libraries and elementary schools in the towns connected to the Lamprey River, and Peterson hopes to set up readings in the area. She said several elementary schools have fourth grade units on the Lamprey River, and she hopes “Chick and Dee-Dee's Lamprey River Adventure” will be offered to students in earlier grades as a preview of the fourth grade curriculum.
"When I first had the idea of presenting the material of the history video as a book for children, I was unsure of the best approach," she said. "One day while I was walking my dog in the woods, I encountered a young boy standing on a bridge watching the stream flowing beneath. He looked all around for a pond or other identifiable source. Then, in a way that only a child can, he asked, ‘Where does all this water come from?’ From that point on, the book was easy to write.
“I've shared the book with a group of teenage special needs students and they were very engaged as they recognized familiar place names and illustrations,” she added. “After the reading, we took a short walk along the Lamprey and we had a great time exploring the sights together."
Petersen said she has plans for follow-up books. "Through my work with the Lamprey River, local history is becoming more intriguing," she said. "I'm also curious about how things work. The many mills around this area could provide the setting for an interesting story: the Newmarket Mills strike, the growth and decline of local brickyards, how mills were built without power equipment. While this first book is written for a limited audience in a limited geographic area, I can see others emerging.
“With most things, the more I learn, the more I want to learn,” she continued. “Before I started to work with the advisory committee, I knew nothing about the Lamprey River. I have learned much about the Lamprey at this point, but I still have a lot more to learn. Even though my work with the Lamprey is often specific to (that river), it also helps me to make connections to themes found throughout much of New England. Writing this book was an opportunity to share some of the interesting tidbits I have learned about this corner of New Hampshire."
The book is available for purchase at $10, cash or check payable to Lamprey River Advisory Committee, through Sharon Meeker at email@example.com or 659-5441.The mailing address is 203 Wadleigh Falls Road, Lee, NH 03861.
To bring the Chick and Dee Dee's Lamprey River Adventure presentation to your school, library or club meeting, contact Sharon Meeker at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 659-5441.
To learn more about the Lamprey River visit www.lampreyriver.org .