DEAR SUN SPOTS: I moved to Tennessee from Maine many years ago and am coming back for a visit in mid-August. While I’m on vacation, I’d like to buy some books with a Maine setting or about Maine for my grandchildren and children, who range in age from toddlerhood into their 40’s. Don’t tell me to go on Amazon! I want to look at them before I buy them! What are your suggestions?

—Marion, no town

ANSWER: Thank you for such a fun question! I love to read! You don’t say what area of our state you’re visiting, Marion, but when you get here and are settled, I would highly recommend that you go into the local bookstore or library and ask the book seller or librarian for their advice. I know they won’t steer you wrong. I could use up the next one hundred Sun Spots columns listing ALL the books I love, but I will suggest just a few here.

A small fraction of my all-time favorites for children includes A Morning in Maine and Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey; Lost on a Mountain in Maine, by Don Fendler; Counting Our Way to Maine, by Maggie Smith; Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney; Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, by Gary D. Schmidt; The Door to January, by Gillian French; and Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie, by Peter Roop.

For adults, I recommend The Way Life Should Be and A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline; Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, by Elizabeth Strout; anything by Paul Doiron or Stephen King; A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich; A Year in the Maine Woods by Bernd Heinrich; Salt and Pines: Tales from Bygone Maine, edited by Jeanne Mason and D.L. Soucy; anything by Elizabeth Ogilvie; anything by John Gould; How to Cook a Moose, by Kate Christensen and This Time Will Be Different, by Elaine Ford.

I could go on and on! Readers, do you have any Maine books to recommend?

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I have a favorite cake recipe that calls for a can of Hershey’s chocolate syrup, but I can’t find this syrup in cans anywhere anymore. Can you help me find out what happened to it? I don’t think the syrup in the bottle is the same. It seems thinner to me.

—Tina, no town

ANSWER: Come to think of it, I haven’t seen the familiar cans in a while either, although a friend says Hershey’s syrup in the can is still on grocery shelves in Canada. Unless you want to take a drive across the border, however, you may be stuck using the syrup from the 24-ounce bottles that first came out in 1979 or you may want to buy the 16-ounce pouches that replaced those familiar cans as of the beginning of the year.

I use the bottled syrup all the time in recipes and have never noticed a difference. Use 1 ½ cups of syrup from the bottle when a recipe calls for a can of the syrup and if you want further assistance, call the experts … there’s a Hershey’s hotline! Call 1-800-468-1714 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Have fun chocolatizing all your recipes!

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