STANDISH – Standish author Mary Morton Cowan recently won a coveted children’s literature award for her 2010 work, “Captain Mac: The Life of Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer.”
Cowan, who grew up in Westbrook and has authored more than 70 children’s magazine articles and three books, was one of two winners in the children’s division of the 2010 National Outdoor Book Awards.
According to the organization’s website, the National Outdoor Book Awards is the outdoor world’s largest and most prestigious book award program. It is a nonprofit, educational program, sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and Idaho State University. Each November, the foundation announces the winners of the 10 categories making up the program, including history, literature, children, nature, natural history, instructional, adventure guidebook, nature guidebook, design and outdoor classic.
In its praise for “Captain Mac,” the awards announcement said Cowan’s book is “a good choice for budding explorers and is about Donald MacMillan, a geologist, who explored the Arctic for nearly 50 years.”
Cowan’s family owned the Paris Manufacturing Company in South Paris and made dog sledding equipment for MacMillan. As a result of that friendship, Cowan had the chance to meet the explorer when she was young each summer as MacMillan would launch his famed schooner “Bowdoin” from Boothbay Harbor headed toward the Arctic. In addition to being an explorer, MacMillan was also a scientist who would conduct research during his travels.
MacMillan had more local connections as well, serving as a teacher-principal at the former Levi Hall School in North Gorham, now the United Church of Christ at North Gorham on Standish Neck Road.
Cowan said of the book award, “I’m very pleased to have national recognition for the book. I’m excited the MacMillan story will be widely told.”
Cowan said she is currently working on several children’s books and enjoys writing about rugged outdoor themes. In her 2003 children’s book entitled “Timberrr,” she chronicled the history of New England logging. She wrote another MacMillan-focused book in 1995 entitled “Ice Country: One Boy’s Adventure in the Arctic with Commander Donald MacMillan.