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Maine author pens Christmas-themed book 'The Twelve Days of Christmas in New England'

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Toni Buzzeo of Buxton isn't slowing down for the holidays. The children's book author has released her 24th book just in time for Christmas called 'The Twelve Days of Christmas in New England.' The book follows two cousins as they spend their Christmas vacation exploring New England. Buzzeo admits she learned a number of new things about New England while penning the story and hopes readers enjoy the adventure through New England as much as her characters do.

Maine Edge: 'The Twelve Days of Christmas in New England' is your latest children's book read to the classic Christmas carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." It also includes several historical facts about the New England states. Did you intend on it being a historical and geographic lesson for readers?

Buzzeo: I didn't grow up in a warm climate (I was born and raised in Michigan), but as a young adult, once I fell in love with Maine, I spent every Christmas vacation here, exploring the winter wonders. After 36 years as a Mainer, it was fun to imagine someone coming to the state for the very first time as I did so long ago. So even though you can't help but learn historical and geographic facts when reading my book, I honestly didn't intend for the book to be a lesson. Instead, I aimed to create real, breathing characters living an adventure.

TME:The main characters Camden and Grace are cousins. Were they named after your grandchildren or other family members?

Buzzeo: If you peek at the dedication to the book, you'll see that I DO have a grandson named Camden. It's a funny story, actually. My daughter-in-law Caitlin (Aunt Caitlin in the story) and my son Topher (Uncle Christopher in the story) were expecting their first baby when I was writing this book. I asked their permission to use their names for my adult characters, which they granted. Because they were keeping their baby's name a secret, I said I'd just make up a name as a place holder and we'd swap out their actual baby's name when he was bornplenty of time before the book went to print. They told me that they gulped and tried hard to keep straight, impassive faces when I named the boy Camdenthe very name they'd chosen for their baby boy, who is named after one of Maine's loveliest cities! As for Grace, it is just a sweet name plucked out of my imagination.TME: Your book includes letters Grace writes to her family to tell about her adventures in each of the six New England states. How did you narrow down what places she and Camden would visit within those states?

Buzzeo: What a task that was! Because the family only has two days to enjoy each state, I had to think carefully about all of the possible adventures and then choose those I thought were most likely to please a family trying to share the best of their region with a cousin 'from away' (as we say here in Maine). I also wanted to balance quintessential New England winter outdoor activitiesskiing! skating! snowmobiling! mushing!--with meaningful indoor activities like visits to the Newport, Rhode Island Mansions and the Bread and Puppet Museum in Glover, Vermont. In choosing cultural locations, I aimed for a mix of history, literature, natural history and sports destinations. And I felt it was important to represent the cultural diversity of our region too.

TME: Did you learn anything new about New England while putting this book together?

Buzzeo: Oh goodness, I learned so much! Did you know that six of our 43 presidents were born in New England? And that the state motto of Rhode Island is 'Hope?' But I was especially excited to learn more about some of the great attractions I have never visited and now can't wait to take Camden to when he is a little older, like the Butterfly Conservatory in South Deerfield, Massachusetts and the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in nearby Springfield. If he loves dinosaurs like his daddy did, we'll head to Rocky Hill, Connecticut to visit Dinosaur State Park. Imagine, dinosaurs practically in our backyard!For more information, log on to www.tonibuzzeo.com.

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