Former reverend and now children’s book author Al Niese sits at his kitchen table where he wrote his book, among many sermons. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

Brunswick author Alfred Niese, a former minister and former chairperson of Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, has published a children’s book that takes on bullying by using pigeon parables. 

“Soren’s Story” is inspired by pigeons Niese housed at a church in Newark, New Jersey. The book aims to teach children about the pains of bullying and how to “find a better way to be.” 

“Soren’s Story” has illustrations from Benton artist Amy Gagnon. The story follows a group of pigeons who witness a group of young girls, and one of their own pigeons, get bullied by another group of kids. Through this interaction, Niese tells a story of self worth and working through differences. Contributed / Al Niese

“Pigeons are totally non-predatory and don’t live at the expense of anyone,” Niese said. “People look at them with disgust, but they do not carry diseases. It is a lot of misunderstanding, so it’s also about knowing who you are despite what others say.” 

While inspired by the Civil Rights movement and today’s protests of systemic racism and police brutality, the book is not specifically religious or political. 

Instead, it takes a simpler story of children bullying other children as well as pigeons, which the reader is left to find deeper meaning in. 

“Really, any ill in society, bullying is a part of it,” Niese said. “We have all done it, we have all been a victim of it. Whether that is in corporate life, the church, the school, politics. This is about reflecting on that and finding a better way to be.” 

Niese was a minister in New Jersey during the 60s, participating in Civil Rights events such as the March on Washington, before eventually moving to Maine where he served in churches from Portland to Wiscasset, before retiring in 1998. He also led the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program’s board for three years. 

Niese remains active on the board of United Nations Association of the United States of America Maine chapter. 

Now in his mid-80s, Niese has made foray into children’s literature with “Soren’s Story.”  

Using animals to convey life lessons isn’t entirely new for Niese, according to the Rev. Marsha Richardson of Wiscassett’s St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church. 

“I can remember he filled in for us one Christmas Eve and he brought in with him a moose antler, and that was the focus of his sermon,” Richardson said. “His love of nature and sense of humor to start off and be the focus of a sermon for Christmas Eve was great.” 

“He’s very personable, he’s very knowledgeable, and he’s a person that you feel comfortable with, and that you would trust,” Richardson added. 

Published by Maine Authors Publishing, the book features soft illustrations by Benton-based artist Amy Gagnon. 

To learn more or to buy the book, visit AlfredNiese.com.

Comments are not available on this story.