Levine pens first fiction

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MARLBORO -- Lynn Levine has published informational books in the past for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, but never had the opportunity to tell a story of her own.

But in her latest work titled "Snow Secrets," the Dummerston-based forester and environmental educator combines her love of the woodlands with her passion for teaching by chronicling the tale of two young girls.

Levine, anointed "the Scat Lady" by a group of fourth-graders for her previous work "Mammal Tracks and Scat: Life Size Tracking Guide," pairs the school-smart Sarah with Jasmine, who learns more about the world from nature, in an adventure in the forest.

Joining the girls is a Native American woman named Tess who teaches the sixth-graders about the art of tracking as the mysteries of the forest await them at every turn.

"It’s a really exciting book because there are two girls and an Abenaki woman, and they wind up connecting with each other," Levine said. "And then they come back and one of the girl’s cats is missing. And so the girls secretly go out and try to find the cat, and they have to use everything that they learned."

Sue Morse of the nonprofit wildlife monitoring group Keeping Track said the book is ideal for young adults yearning for a deeper relationship with the forest.

"Sarah, the protagonist, is drawn into the mystery and wonder of nature, and the tracks lead her to a new awareness, not only about the wild world around her, but about herself as well," Morse said.

Levine appeared Saturday at the first Southern Vermont Wildlife Festival on the top of Hogback Mountain to sign copies of her newest piece. The event was sponsored by the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum and the Hogback Mountain Conservation Association to bring a variety of wilderness demonstrations, guided hikes and live animal presentations to interested families.

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The idea to publish her first fiction piece came after taking thousands of people into the forest to learn about tracking wildlife and hearing their stories. She blended those stories with a little imagination to craft a book geared toward children between the ages of 8 and 12.

"That’s part of my mission. This is a factual book to get them out into the woods, but this is to hook them and for them to find inside their body what it’s like to be outside and be a detective and solve mysteries," she said. "I’m hoping that they get so involved in this story, that they try to solve the secrets. It’s not just something that they passively read, but there are clues along the way and if they’re involved, they will be solving the secrets right along with them."

Kim Royar, a wildlife biologist, praised Levine’s work for getting children, especially young girls, excited about spending time in the forest.

"Snow Secrets opens the door to the wonders of nature and the everyday secrets available to those willing to spend a little time in the woods. The growing capability and confidence shown by the girls in this book will inspire other young people to get outside," Royar said. "Lynn’s knowledge and love of wildlife, tracking and nature are evident throughout the book."

In addition to penning three books, Levine manages more than 15,000 acres in Windham and Bennington counties. She was the first female consulting forester in New England.

Levine will appear at The Book Cellar for a signing of "Snow Secrets" on Nov. 6 at 2 p.m., and another on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Putney Library. The book sells for $7.95 and is available at most local bookstores in the Brattleboro area.

On the Web: -- heartwoodpress.com

Chris Garofolo can be reached at cgarofolo@reformer.com or 802-254-2311 ext. 275.


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