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MacKay releases book to benefit History Prize


Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe

MARA MACKAY'S latest book, "Hunter's Quest: Finding Heritage and Friendship in Southwest Michigan," features local history in Kalamazoo. Proceeds from the book benefit History Prize, a cultural tourism event in Ironwood, in 2016. Residents can learn more about the book and History Prize at a meeting at Theater North tonight at 7.

IRONWOOD - Local residents are invited to an informational meeting regarding the proposed cultural tourism event History Prize tonight at Theater North.

The meeting is from 7 to 8 p.m., featuring a discussion with History Prize founder Mara MacKay.

MacKay will update attendees on the 2016 event.

History Prize won the Jumpstart competition at the Pure Michigan Governor's Conference on Tourism in Traverse City in March.

History Prize will feature historic reenactments, collections and fixed exhibits, with competitors from all over the country and the world vying for $150,000 in prize money.

MacKay will discuss her latest book in the History Cultivate-Preserve-Read series, "Hunter's Quest: Finding Heritage and Friendship in Southwest Michigan."

Proceeds from the book benefit History Prize, featuring young children finding history close to home. The book takes place in Kalamazoo and the goal of the series is to get kids interested "writing and engage conversations about the arts, history and natural areas."

MacKay has received help from students throughout Michigan with the books in the History CPR series.

She often visits classrooms to discuss local history with students and sometimes hands out creative writing booklets, featuring bits of the storyline in books. Students are able to express new ideas for the book, write their own sections of the story and edit what has already been written.

"Every time in the classroom, History CPR is an evolutionary process," MacKay said. "I have stacks of letters and notes from students and teachers about what they thought about (the series) and the creative writing experiences we share. ... I find with students there is a willingness to help create the experience within the stories of the History CPR series.

"When students who normally struggle with writing begin to make critical decisions about the storyline, they seem to lighten up and have more fun with the writing process.

Mara MacKay

"Equally, when they know their opinions may have a bearing on the finished book, they are willing to engage in creative conversation. Somewhere in the experimental process, kids seem to be connecting with artists around Michigan history," McKay said.

Within the History CPR series, there is also a crowdsourcing component, where kids and readers can vote for illustrators and artists through a Facebook page called "Define Great Art."

Artists are selected by kids, teachers, families and History CPR readers from around the country.

The goal of History CPR and History Prize is to connect people to history whether locally, or on the pages of a book.

MacKay hopes people will attend the meeting to learn more about History Prize and possibly get involved with the planning process.

For more information, visit


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