Let's start with a book for upper elementary students. It's called Haylee's Treasure, written by Mara MacKay. It recently won a State History Award from the Historical Society of Michigan for its informative and engaging story based on the history of the Upper Peninsula’s Munising area.
Michigan connections: Ms. MacKay lives in Michigan, as does illustrator Stephanie Bajema. Haylee's Treasure takes place mainly in Munising, Michigan.
|"A" points to Munising. Screenshot of Google Maps.|
Typical reader: Upper elementary students looking for a Michigan story
Source: The author!
Synopsis: Haylee and her dad take a summer trip north to visit his parents (her grandparents) in rural Upper Michigan. Despite her early trepidation, Haylee enjoys finding treasures of all kinds in the small town of Munising.
My Goodreads rating: 4 stars (5 when the second edition comes out!)
As you'll read more about in the upcoming interview with Ms. MacKay, there is a really great idea behind this book, and the sequels to come. Haylee's Treasure focuses on parts of the history, art, culture, scenery, and artifacts of Munising. Inspired by an heirloom Munising bowl from her grandmother, Ms. MacKay researched the bowl and found herself wanting to write about the bowl factory and the surrounding area. Creating the book was also a collaborative effort, with many people contributing to the art, knowledge, and much more.
This novel is a gentle read, very much a slice-of-life exploration of what a remote Michigan town offers. Haylee learns a lot, and readers of all ages can as well. It is written for about a 3rd or 4th grade reading level, but would appeal to a wide audience. The art is beautiful and realistic. There are even historical photos included.
Let me explain my rating, and why it will change when the second edition comes out (expected Spring 2013). When I read the first edition, I came across a bit of a stumbling block in trying to read it. The writing was a bit unpolished and needed proofreading. For example, verb tenses would change in the middle of a paragraph, or even in a sentence. But I knew this had a great story and idea at its base, and deserved to be improved. Having met Ms. MacKay this summer at a summer reading event, I dropped her a line, offering to help edit. I received a "Yes!" and then my boyfriend and I took on the task of proofreading and editing. He deserves the credit on editing the book for the second printing. :) I'm looking forward to seeing the revised edition in a few months, and sharing it with my students. See what a collaborative effort this is?
Haylee's Treasure is independently published. There are places all over Michigan where you can find this book for sale, as well as in a couple of Minnesotan stores. For a store carrying the book, click here. Otherwise, the book can be ordered directly from Old Wood Press at the web site.