PHILLIPS – Though Cornelia Thurza Crosby, better known by her nickname “Fly Rod,” was once one of the best known women in Maine, it’s remarkable how few people today know much about her. That’s especially true of youngsters, a fact Pam Matthews hopes to change with her newly published children’s book, Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby, Champion of Maine.
Richly illustrated by Portland artist Heidi Kendrick, the book explores the childhood of Cornelia Crosby in Phillips and her lifelong struggle to overcome serious illness to become, among other things, a widely published writer, one of Maine’s first conservationists, and a founder of the Maine Guide program – to name only a few of her accomplishments.
As Matthews writes of Crosby: “One of the most respected sports writers of her time and the first Maine Guide, Cornelia ‘Fly Rod’ Crosby used her abilities as an angler, hunter and writer to share, conserve, and promote the abundant beauty of the Maine woods for women as well as men. From her early days as a sickly yet feisty little girl, through her lifelong struggle with illness, [the book] explores and illuminates Cornelia’s persistence and strength.”
In this newly published, 40-page book (entirely produced in Maine), Matthews and Kendrick have created a classic children’s story, its narrative as close a rendering of history as careful research and fidelity to fact could make it. Yet it is an engaging tale as well, full of both fun and struggle, and of the beauty of Maine where the story unfolds. Matthews, a Phillips resident herself, feels this tribute to Crosby is much deserved: “At a time when women were not expected to take part in outdoor sports, Cornelia blazed a trail.” She also notes the timeliness of its publication, for Cornelia Crosby was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame in April of this year.
“It’s a children’s book, certainly,” Matthews says, “but I like to think of it as more than that, as a rendering of a remarkable woman whose life story will appeal to all ages.”
Matthews will be signing books at the Maine State Museum on Sept. 8, from 10 to 2, for the International Literacy Day celebration. On Sept. 22, “Fly Rod” will be at Oquossoc’s Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum signing books (with some help from Pam, who dresses up as Cornelia to further portray her character). And finally, “Fly Rod” will make an appearance in Phillips on Sept. 29 for the Model Train and Rail Fair at the Phillips Area Community Center from 9 to 3. For more information, call Pam at 639-2630 or email her email@example.com.