AUBURN — Benjamin Condit is the winner of the 2017 Auburn Book Award, a contest held annually since 2001.

The book project, open to Auburn’s grade six writers, is designed to promote young authors’ writing while simulating the world of book publishing. According to a written statement from Joan Simard, the gifted and talented consulting teacher for the Auburn School Department, students write and illustrate original books while following publishing guidelines and meeting deadlines, and then submit their books to the contest. The winning book is published and copies are presented to all Auburn elementary school libraries and the Auburn Public Library.

Condit’s book titled “The Maine Land” is described by Benjamin as a “small collection of poems about a big state.”

According to Simard, the idea for his book initially came from his interest in nature. As he contemplated a nature theme, he focused on animals and thought about animals in the sea and animals on the mainland, and instantly liked the play on words. The title took root.

He kept a writing notebook to jot down his ideas about things that represent Maine, and decided to write poems.

“Poetry is fun,” Condit said in the statement. “I think it is interesting because it can mean a lot of different things. It is not too bold, and I tried to make my accompanying illustrations not pop too much. I used a lot of colored pencils because they are more mellow, and I was looking for a mellow effect.”

His writing goal is received and reflected in a book review by Fairview School Assistant Principal Stephanie Marris. “The rich language of Condit’s poems calms the spirit and pulls readers in! Maine’s beauty is spectacularly highlighted in this delightful collection!”

The book is dedicated to Benjamin’s dad, who encourages him to go places, and hike or climb or jump into sand dunes to find beautiful spaces.

Exceptional book entries, which are not selected as finalists, are recognized with individual awards.

Abigail Faucher received recognition with an art award, and Walton’s Jaden Ouellette received recognition for writing as he accepted a writing award at the close of the school year in June.

Authors of the nine finalist books will share their books and receive awards at the Auburn Book Awards Celebration from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Auburn Public Library.

Those student authors are Gabrielle Brevosky for “I’m Alive,” Gabriel Despradel for “Natures Angle,” Hannah Johndro for “Luka’s Lesson,” Emily Quinnell for “Dreamcatcher,” Jayme Saulnier for “Trapped!,” Austin Sellinger for “The Untold Truth of Aaron Williams,” Leah Sterling for “Secrets of the Ocean,” and Condit for “The Maine Land.”

His name will be added to the plaque of student authors on view at Auburn Hall, and he will receive a special award sponsored by Maine Family Federal Credit Union and presented by James Moreau.

After the awards ceremony, copies of the “The Maine Land” will be available to purchase for $5 and Condit will be available to sign them. The public is invited to attend.

According to Simard, Condit hopes people will enjoy reading his book and recognize a place, or a feeling, and be motivated to visit special Maine places. “Well, you can’t really visit winter, but you can enjoy winter. Have fun and go into the woods!”

After the book signing, Condit’s future plans include, “Checking out more of Maine.” He would like to do the Allagash Waterway, hiking, biking and supporting efforts to conserve the “Maine Land.”

Cover of a book by Benjamin Condit titled “The Maine Land: A small collection of poems written about a big state.” The book won this year’s Auburn Book Award.

Ben Condit, winner of this year’s Auburn Book Award, was given a key to the city by Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte at a City Council meeting in early October. Condit will be at the Auburn Public Library on Saturday, Oct. 21, to sign copies of his book.


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