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!

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]

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