DICKINSON — A north country author has been awarded a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for his serial novels based on real-life experiences with wild animals.

Mark A. Manske is being lauded for his “Adventures with Stoney” series. It has four installments currently out. He’s penned a fifth that’s due to be published this fall, and is writing its sixth book.

Manske said he named his lead character Stoney as a reference to the Potsdam Sandstoners.

“Stoney is basically my alter ego, tall guy who lives in Dickinson Center and he lives with his dog Reggie and ... live hawks and owls,” said Mr. Manske, who also runs Adirondack Raptors where he exhibits birds of prey. He actually keeps six owls, two falcons and a hawk at his Dickinson Center home.

“I’ll see people stop because the building with the birds is right next to the road,” he said. “I get a lot of rubberneckers.”

His Moonbeam Award is a bronze medal in their category of best chapter books. He’s hoping he can use that as a stepping stone to getting his works, aimed at readers of middle school ages, out to a larger audience.

“The whole reason I entered the whole Moonbeam contest was I’m looking for a literary agent to get my books published so I can get into like Scholastic Books, so I can get into the schools. Unfortunately, Scholastic Publishing, they kind of have a monopoly on schools. They don’t look at unsolicited work. You have to have a literary agent,” Mr. Manske said. “I was told if you have an award winning series, you’re more likely to have someone interested in your work … I’m hoping, number one, this will generate interest where people will want to publish the book, or two, I’ll find a literary agent.”

Mr. Manske’s fifth “Adventures with Stoney” book, titled “Gabboons Aloft,” tells a story of the characters tracking hawk migrations in a hot air balloon.

“I call my apprentices ‘gabboons,’” he said, adding that all of his stories are based on things he’s experienced in real life.

In one part of the book, the characters end up rescuing a migrating loon that got confused and ends up on a parking lot. He said that can happen to them.

“They see the shimmer of a parking lot and they get confused and think it’s a body of water. Once a loon is on the ground, they can’t take off from the ground” because of where their feet are positioned on their bodies, Mr. Manske said. “Everything’s built to be on water.”

He said hawk migrations aren’t usually traced with hot air balloons, but it’s within the realm of possibility and also makes for a better story, he said.

“They do it with like hang gliders and parasailers. I thought about having them do a parasail or that type of thing,” he said.

Anyone who’s interested in Mr. Manske’s books can buy them online.

“My books at this point are not at Barnes and Noble. The best way to get them is to order right from my website,” he said, which is adventureswithstoney.com. The site also has a list of area bookshops that sell his novels.

The Moonbeam awards will be given out Veterans Day weekend at a ceremony in Traverse City, Michigan. Mr. Manske said he doesn’t plan to attend, but will be mailed a plaque and medal for his accomplishment.

“The Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and are dedicated to supporting childhood literacy and life-long reading,” according to its website. “The contest is open to authors, illustrators, and publishers worldwide of children’s books written in English or Spanish, that are published with a 2021 or 2022 copyright.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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