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  • Is Mason a real boy?
    Yes, Mason is the son of the author, Melany, and her husband, Bo. Melany has four children (two bio and two bonus) who all grew up learning to forage edible mushrooms. Mason has been foraging since he was 2 years old. Mason is now attending college in Colorado where he continues his love of mushrooming.
  • Why did Melany write the book?
    Melany has been leading mycology walks with mushroom clubs, nature center and school groups for over 20 years. The curriculum always includes culinary aspects of edible mushrooms through recipes, cooking demonstrations, and tastings. (Many a mushroom scoffer has become a convert!) . Children are naturally curious about gathering mushrooms, ask intriguing questions, and are fascinated by the forest. Melany wished to write a book to introduce more kids to the world of mushrooms and the excitement of the treasure hunt, especially since most mushroom books are geared towards adults. After seeing the film Fantastic Fungi by Louie Schwartzberg, she was delighted by how expansive the world of mushrooms has become. It affirmed that long-standing desire to write a children’s book. She discussed the idea with her good friend, children’s book illustrator Ellen Korbonski. Like Mason, Ellen’s first child Anna had also started college. What better time? The two of began writing and illustrating their first children’s book.
  • How did Melany learn how to hunt for wild mushrooms?
    Melany is a second generation forager who learned from her parents, the late abstract painter, Emily Mason and the late landscape painter, Wolf Kahn. They were enthusiastic amateur mycologists. As far back as the 1950’s, her parents hunted for mushrooms on Martha’s Vineyard with a local expert. They moved to Italy and learned from Italian hunters as well. They had a huge library collection of mushroom identification books (this was before the internet) and referred to the books frequently. They often walked with and learned from more experienced mycologists. During the summer, her parents showed Melany basic mushrooms that grew in VT like the ones in the book, as well as puffballs, field mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms. Her father was well-known for pulling the car over on the side of a dirt road if he saw a large patch of any mushrooms to harvest. This made for some dubious driving. The family often had mushrooms for dinner and her Dad was famous for his cream of mushroom soup.
  • What is the author doing now?
    Melany lives in New Hampshire and Vermont with her husband and children, 3 cats and 17 chickens. They co-own The Porch Cafe in Brattleboro and you can find her leading mushroom walks or foraging at every opportunity. Mason Goes Mushrooming is her first book.
  • Why is mushroom hunting considered dangerous?
    Mushroom hunting is like any pursuit that requires training and education, (hunting, fishing, foraging wild plants, berry picking etc). It is very important to learn how to identify mushrooms through books, websites, podcasts, videos, teachers and most especially outside in the woods with mushroom clubs and programs with nature centers. There are basic rules about eating foraged mushrooms, which are: 1) Confirm identification with experts, preferably in person. 2) When trying a variety for first time, its wise to make sure they agree with you by eating only a taste. 3) Learn the mushrooms that are not edible, and steer clear of them. Throw away any that are not 100% identified and confirmed.
  • Where do I find a mushroom club to forage with?
    There are mushroom clubs everywhere! We can not recommend joining a foray more, it is the single best way to learn to forage. Here is the list of local clubs in 50 states...
  • What about ticks? And bears!
    We'll start with the bears. The likelihood of seeing a bear in the woods is very low, and if you did see one it would likely be the back of one as it runs off. Most bears want to see a person if less than we want to see the bear. That said, the National Forest Service advice is "you should stay still and slowly wave your arms above your head. Remain calm and speak in low tones." And no, we have never seen a bear, but sometimes a deer has leapt on by. As for ticks. I am not a fan. Here in New England they carry Lyme disease and tick bites hurt and itch. We wear clothing that is light-colored, protective and treated with a repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin. We tuck pant legs into our socks. When we get home from the forest we check ourselves, the kids and pets for ticks. Often we shower immediately after a hike. If you find a tick biting, carefully remove it and save it in a bag in case it needs to be tested for Lyme. Like I said, NOT.A.FAN of ticks.
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