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Melany Kahn talks about different mushrooms that could be found locally in the woods. Kahn wrote a children’s book about forging for mushrooms call “Mason Goes Mushrooming.”

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Melany Kahn talks about different mushrooms that could be found locally in the woods. Kahn wrote a children’s book about forging for mushrooms call “Mason Goes Mushrooming.”

BRATTLEBORO — “Mason Goes Mushrooming,” a new children’s book showcasing mushrooms for beginner foragers, brings readers through four woodland adventures with the main character and his dog Buddy in Vermont.

Melany Kahn’s book is inspired by foraging with her family and Hilltop Montessori School workshops she has lead. The author described herself as “a second-generation forager,” as she learned from her late parents, well-revered painters Wolf Kahn, who died in March 2020, and Emily Mason, who died in 2019.

“When I was growing up, my parents took me on fantastic treasure hunts for delicious wild mushrooms,” she writes in a message to future foragers in the book. “They taught me which mushrooms we could safely eat, and which ones were inedible and could lead to a stomach ache, or might even be poisonous.”

Her mother would tell her, “When in doubt, throw it out,” and, “Always check with us.”

A pop-party for what would have been Wolf’s 95th birthday and Kahn’s book launch is happening 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.

Kahn said the book is about her son and being in the woods.

“My children also love to forage in the woods,” she writes. “Mushroom hunting is a wonderful way to connect to nature. You can pick mushrooms to examine, smell, touch, or make spore art.”

During an interview/foraging session on Hilltop Montessori's outdoor campus,  Kahn pointed out how mushrooms can be used for “amazing Thanksgiving decoration tables.”

“You can pick up a whole log of them and make your whole Thanksgiving arrangement around what you can find in the woods,” she said. “And children, of course, love that.”

Kahn said many mushrooms can be eaten but they’re not “choice,” or capable of giving one “a culinary moment.” On the walk, she picked up a type that taste like shrimp and put them in a bag to cook up later.

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“The first thing that you always want to do when you pick a mushroom is look underneath it,” she said, picking one up and showing a spongy texture in its pores. “I like to say that nothing on a mushroom is an accident. So everything that you see is a characteristic.”

Foragers develop what Kahn calls “mushroom eyes.” They start seeing mushrooms all over the woods, she said. Groups on Facebook and online can help with identification.

The book includes four recipes. Kahn recommends cooking every mushroom including those from the store.

“Mushrooms are filled with all sorts of microbes and things,” she said. “Just hit them with a little heat. Get rid of that stuff.”

Her book focuses on morel, chanterelle, black trumpets and lobster mushrooms. They have identifying characteristics that are very unique, she said.

“No other mushroom looks like the black trumpet,” she said.

Ellen Korbonski, who illustrated the book and lives in Harlem, attended New York University with Kahn. “Mason Goes Mushrooming” is each one’s first book.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Kahn invited Korbonski to Vermont for Christmas.

“I came in one morning and she was drawing a bird with a watercolor brush,” Kahn recounted. “And I was like, ‘Wow, you can just do that.’ It was beautiful.”

Kahn told Korbonski about her idea for a children’s book, and they began working on it together. Green Writers Press in Brattleboro is publishing the book and Springfield Printing Corp. in Vermont printed it.

More information can be found at masongoesmushrooming.com.