PERSONAL: Married; children: one son.
CAREER: Writer. Maine Coast Book Shop, Damariscotta, ME, assistant manager, beginning 1991.
Cordelia Underwood, or: The Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League, Viking (New York, NY), 1998.
Mollie Peer, or: The Underground Adventure of the Moosepath League, Viking (New York, NY), 1999.
Daniel Plainway, or: The Holiday Haunting of the Moosepath League, Viking (New York, NY), 2000.
Peter Loon, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.
Mrs. Roberto, or: The Widowy Worries of the Moosepath League, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.
Fiddler's Green, or: A Wedding, a Ball, and the Singular Adventures of Sundry Moss, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Van Reid is a Maine-based bookseller and writer whose novels are usually set in his home state and concern the members of the Moosepath League.
His first novel, Cordelia Underwood, or: The Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League was published to glowing reviews. Cordelia Underwood spotlights the title character during a beautiful summer on the Maine coast in 1896. Cordelia is a pretty, twenty-three year-old, exuberant redhead. One day, Cordelia and her family receive a visitor in the form of a shadowy old sea dog. The seaman informs Cordelia that her late Uncle Basil, also a salty sea dog, left her some property in northern Maine and a strange note. It is possible that the land contains a buried treasure. When the Under-woods go to the wharf to collect the land deed and note from Uncle Tobias' sea chest, Cordelia saves Tobias Walton from drowning. Tobias, a middle-aged world traveler, is back in his home state, planning to sell his family's home. Shadowing Tobias are Sundry and Varius Moss and a trio of eccentrics, Ephram, Eagleton, and Thump, who want Tobias to run their new club, which they call the "Moosepath League." Tobias is installed as chair of the Moosepath League. It is a figurehead position, perhaps, but it is one that leads Tobias to a variety of adventures. For her part, Cordelia is coming across her own adventures on her new land. Joined by the greater Underwood clan, she tries to figure out Uncle Basil's strange note. Ultimately, according to Nancy Pearl of Booklist, "the good receive their rewards, and the evil are suitably punished." Kit Reed of the New York Times Book Review called Cordelia Underwood an "amiable, richly populated first novel." "It's refreshing to read a story with no sex," commented Dawn L. Anderson of the Library Journal, "hardly any violence, and absolutely no naughty words." According to a Publishers Weekly contributor, the book is "an entertaining romp," and Reid's "love of New England lore and his ability to incorporate historic sites and facts into an imaginative confection leave the reader eager for the next installments."
In Mollie Peer, or: The Underground Adventure of the Moosepath League, Walton and Moss save a society columnist, Mollie Peer, and a friend who are attacked on a Portland wharf. Peer was following a street urchin she called "Bird" in hopes of developing a story for her column when she was attacked by the boy's guardian. Peer later returns with another friend to rescue Bird and is ultimately aided by the Moosepath League. "The endearing Moosepath League members … acquire dimension in this venture and display more distinct character traits," noted Donna Scanlon in a review on the Rambles.net Web site. Writing in the Library Journal, Dawn L. Anderson called the novel "delightful!" Booklist contributor Nancy Pearl wrote that the author is "a born storyteller."
Bird returns in Daniel Plainway, or: The Holiday Haunting of the Moosepath League, this time comfortably ensconced in a new home. When a drawing of the boy's mother is placed in the paper to try to figure out who he is, country lawyer Daniel Plainway recognizes her as an old family friend and sets out to take care of the boy. Meanwhile, the Moosepath League members are off on several adventures, including the mystery surrounding the Broumnage Club and its connection to ancient ruins. Pam Johnson, writing in the School Library Journal, called the story "an exciting and fun adventure." A Publishers Weekly contributor found that "Reid captures the old-fashioned charm of turn-of-the-century New England."
Reid leaves behind the Moosepath League for his historical novel Peter Loon. Set in 1801, the novel revolves around the seventeen-year-old title character's travels to find a mysterious uncle following his father's death in the backwoods of Maine. Loon is sent on the quest by his mother, who gives him no further assistance than to point in a general direction. The book follows Loon's adventures as he sets out on his right of passage, meeting a wide assortment of characters who influence his life along the way. "All this has the makings of a fairy tale," wrote David Willis McCullough in the New York Times. McCullough went on to note: "Van Reid … successfully suggests a feeling for the early nineteenth century rather than engaging in laborious attempts to recreate it." Library Journal contributor A.J. Anderson wrote that Reid writes "with power, restraint, and a light comic touch."
Mrs. Roberto, or: The Widowy Worries of the Moosepath League marks a return to the interweaving tales that feature Tobias Walton, Sundry Moss, and the rest of the Moosepath characters. Walton and Moss go to Fern Farm to ponder a depressed pig named Hercules. Other colleagues get caught up in a play that points, they believe, to the need to protect the noted Mrs. Roberto. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author's "readership should grow with this sterling effort." GraceAnne A. DeCandido, writing in Booklist, called the book "deliciously amiable summer reading." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called it "the most imaginative and outrageous in the series thus far."
Fiddler's Green, or: A Wedding, a Ball, and the Singular Adventures of Sundry Moss finds Walton getting married and adopting a nephew, while Moss rescues a child from her drunken father. Meanwhile, a sailor named Robin Org searches for "Fiddler's Green," a mythical paradise. "Reid recaptures the optimistic, homey, quirky tone of his earlier books," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. Writing in Booklist, DeCandido called the novel "an absolutely guiltless pleasure."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 1998, Nancy Pearl, review of Cordelia Underwood, or: The Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League, p. 1727; June 1, 1999, Nancy Pearl, review of Mollie Peer, or: The Underground Adventure of the Moosepath League, p. 1794; June 1, 2002, Michelle Kaske, review of Peter Loon, p. 1687; June 1, 2003, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Mrs. Roberto, or: The Widowy Worries of the Moosepath League, p. 1746; July, 2004, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Fiddler's Green, or: A Wedding, a Ball, and the Singular Adventures of Sundry Moss, p. 1819.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2002, review of Peter Loon, p. 764; June 1, 2003, review of Mrs. Roberto, p. 777; May 15, 2004, review of Van Fiddler's Green, p. 467.
Library Journal, June 1, 1999, Dawn L. Anderson, review of Mollie Peer, p. 178; June 1, 2002, A.J. Anderson, review of Peter Loon, p. 197.
New York Times Book Review, July 26, 1998, Kit Reed, review of Cordelia Underwood, p. 15.
New York Times, September 12, 1999, Betsy Groban, review of Mollie Peer, p. 27; July 28, 2002, David Willis McCullough, review of Peter Loon, p. 18.
Publishers Weekly, May 15, 1998, review of Cordelia Underwood, p. 158; June 7, 1999, review of Mollie Peer, p. 71; June 5, 2000, review of Daniel Plain-way, or: The Holiday Haunting of the Moosepath League, p. 74; June 10, 2002, review of Peter Loon, p. 40; July 7, 2003, review of Mrs. Roberto, p. 54; June 28, 2004, review of Fiddler's Green, p. 32.
School Library Journal, June, 2000, Pamela B. Rearden, review of Mollie Peer, p. 174; March, 2001, Pam Johnson, review of Daniel Plainway, p. 282.
World and I, February, 2003, Bruce Allen, review of Peter Loon, p. 242.
Best Reviews, http://thebestreviews.com/ (February 11, 2006), Harriet Klausner, review of Peter Loon.
Rambles.net, http://www.rambles.net/ (February 6, 2006), Donna Scanlon, reviews of Mollie Peer and Daniel Plainway.
Van Reid Home Page, http://www.moosepath.com (February 8, 2006).