Most memorable banned book by Mariah

While it is not my favorite banned book, one of the top 100 banned books really jumped out at me as one of the most memorable: Bridge to Terabithia.  There are many reasons why Bridge to Terabithia is challenged, but one of them is that death is central to the plot.   I read Bridge to Terabithia when I was around 9 or 10 and I remember being horrified.  I remember liking it, liking it, and then – BAM! Death!  I was shocked – books were supposed to be happy!  But after I finished, I read it again.  Over the years, I read that book many more times, even though it always upset me.  Now that I’m older, I recognize the allure: kids need the option to read books that are scary, or sad.  Life can be scary.  Life can be sad.  But in a book, that scary or sad (or both) is contained.  It’s a safe space to explore those feelings, without actually having to experience a traumatic event.  And when a traumatic event does come along, that story is still there to provide comfort, to assure you that you are not alone.

Banned Books Week is here!

BBW13_160x200All this week we will be celebrating Banned Books week here at the library. There will be a special display at the library, a dedicated pinterest board (join us here) and TPL staff will share some of their favorite banned books here on the blog. Do you have a favorite banned or challenged book? Let us know here in the comments, or on facebook or twitter. Here’s some links with more information about Banned Book Week:


This past Saturday, Bernardo and I spent more time trying to distinguish between American and Oriental Bittersweet than actually ridding the garden of it.  Needless to say, we left most of it in place but pulled some down off of of a small tree to prevent any future harm, and to provide an up-close photo for you viewers to help us identify.
Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is an aggressive and invasive climbing deciduous woody vine.  The leaves are difficult to identify because they are extremely variable, so should not be relied upon for identification.  The leaves can be round to oblong in shape and appear as alternate, simple with bluntly toothed margins.  Oriental Bittersweet propagates by seed and produces greenish white flowers in the spring. In the autumn, red berries are enclosed in yellow capsules.  Oriental Bittersweet grows in thickets and can strangle trees and shrubs by entangling their stems.
American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens L.) is native to Maine.  It is also a climbing deciduous woody vine but is not nearly as aggressive as Oriental Bittersweet.  American Bittersweet produces red berries but they are enclosed in orange capsules and appear only at the terminal ends of the stems, whereas on Oriental Bittersweet, berries and flowers can be found all along the stem at leaf axils.



I spent a little over an hour on Saturday pulling just one type of weed from the birdsong garden.  The weather was beautiful and there was a pleasant wind which made weeding less a chore.  This is a common weed known as Horseweed and can grow in almost any area of your garden. The weed can grow as tall as 2 meters, well taller than myself, and reproduces by seed.  The seeds germinate in late summer or early spring.

The good thing about these weeds is that they have extremely shallow root systems 
and you can pull them out quite easily.  
Below, find additional photos of the Garden
The Birdsong Garden

The new Teepee
A view from the new Teepee

Ornamental Grasses flowing in the wind

Resources for Seniors

Are you a senior living in Topsham? Here are some online resources that could be helpful to you.

Aging in Place
Benefits Check Up
Eldercare Locator
Family Caregiver Alliance
Meals on Wheels
National Council on the Aging
Senior Living Map

Thanks to Charles Findlay for compiling this list.

Murder Mystery Dinner 2013

We had a great time this weekend at our annual Murder Mystery Dinner. A glamorous group from the 1920’s landed in a modern dayDSCN0625 London flat courtesy of H.G. Wells’ time machine! The only thing is, someone murdered Wells and the time machine was broken! Whodunnit? There were many suspects: Dame Agatha Christie, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Yeats, Mae West, T.S. Eliot, Isadora Duncan, Dorothy Parker, Ezra Pound, Sarah Bernhardt, W.C. Fields, Georgia O’Keefe, Rudolph Valentino, Amelia Earhart, Bessie Smith, Charlie Chaplin and Lily Pad, the hapless owner of the London flat.

DSCN0661In typical English style, we ate roast beef and drank tea, before voting for the best costume and unveiling the murderer. The award for best costume was awarded to Grace Anderson (for the second year running!) as Rudolph Valentino with the runner-up awarded to Beverly Fox Martin as W.C. Fields. So whodunnit? Mae West (as played by Marjorie Whipple) in the bathroom with the rubber duckie!

DSCN0677A great time was had by all, and we can’t wait to do it again next year. As with all programs at TPL, the dinner was free and open to the public. Many thanks to the Friends of the Topsham Public Library, who raise funds so that programs like this are possible. Sounds like your cup of tea? Be sure to sign up next year!

More photos can be seen on our Facebook: If you were a guest at the dinner and took some photos, please share them with us! Email


Patron Review: Exile (Garnethill Trilogy) by Denise Mina

Definitely NOT a Cozy!
By Beverly A. Martin

I am hooked on Denise Mina’s writing. This, the second novel in her Garnethill trilogy, is meant to drag you, shake you, expose you, cause you thrills and anguish. Along with her Scottish wit which pokes itself through the muck and mire to greatly relieve you. This is gritty lit and not for the weak spirited. If you want to keep your brain engaged, but not keep your hands too clean, then dive in!!!

Exile by Denise Mina can be ordered through our inter-library loan system.

Would you like to write a patron review for the blog? Email with your review!

Secret Life of Insects

See what’s buzzing at the Topsham Public Library

Click the images to see closeups.
 Butterfly on purple liatris
 Bumblebee on white liatris
 Moth hiding in a yellow lily

Great Golden Digger Wasps and a Japanese Beetle share a Purple Globe Thistle 
 Japanese Beetle on purple coneflower (Echinacea)

The white dot that appears on the back of the beetle is where a Tachinid Fly glued its eggs to the beetle’s thorax.  Later the larva will hatch and bore into the beetle, which is a healthy and natural way to keep the beetle’s population at bay.

 Bumblebees on purple coneflowers (Echinacea)

Tandem Thread Waisted Wasps
These two were very camera shy!
Bumblebee and Great Golden Digger Wasp
 The black ant in the left photo is eating the sugary coating that surrounds the bud.  The bud will eventually bloom to the flower in the right photo.

The Twice Stabbed Stink Bug on lamb’s ear is about to make the leap!

What are you reading? What should I read next?

Not sure what to read next? Here’s what the TPL staff have been reading recently!

Darker Than Any Shadow by Tina Whittle: The dog days of summer have arrived, and Tai Randolph is feeling the heat. Running her uncle’s gun shop is more demanding than she ever imagined. Her best friend Rico is competing for a national slam poetry title. And Atlanta is overrun with hundreds of fame-hungry performance poets clogging all the good bars. She’s also got her brand-new relationship with corporate security agent Trey Seaver to deal with and while Tai finds him irresistibly fascinating, dating a human lie detector who can kill with his bare hands is a somewhat precarious endeavor. And then just when she thinks she might get a handle on things, one of Rico’s fellow poets is murdered . . . and Rico becomes the prime suspect.

Will Tai’s relationship with Trey survive another foray into amateur sleuthing? And even more importantly, will she?

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks: For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist. For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint. But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.

The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace: From the celebrated author of Big Fish, an imaginative, moving novel about two sisters and the dark legacy and magical town that entwine them. Helen and Rachel McCallister, who live in a town called Roam, are as different as sisters can be: Helen older, bitter, and conniving; Rachel beautiful, naïve – and blind. When their parents die an untimely death, Rachel has to rely on Helen for everything, but Helen embraces her role in all the wrong ways, convincing Rachel that the world is a dark and dangerous place she couldn’t possibly survive on her own … or so Helen believes, until Rachel makes a surprising choice that turns both their worlds upside down.

Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty: When rare-manuscript expert Joseph Barkeley is hired to authenticate and purchase the original draft and notes for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, little does he know that the reclusive buyer is a member of the oldest family in Transylvania. After delivering the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle in Romania, Barkeley—a Romanian orphan himself—realizes to his horror that he’s become a prisoner to the son of Vlad Dracul. To earn his freedom, Barkeley must decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of the original Dracula that reveal the burial sites of certain Dracul family members. Barkeley’s only hope is to ensure that he does not exhaust his usefulness to his captor until he’s able to escape. Soon he discovers secrets about his own lineage that suggest his selection for the task was more than coincidence. In this knowledge may lie Barkeley’s salvation—or his doom. For now he must choose between a coward’s flight and a mortal conflict against an ancient foe.

The Black Country (The Murder Squad #2)Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad returns, in the stunning new historical thriller from the author of the acclaimed national bestseller The Yard. The British Midlands. It’s called the “Black Country” for a reason. Bad things happen there. When members of a prominent family disappear from a coal-mining village—and a human eyeball is discovered in a bird’s nest—the local constable sends for help from Scotland Yard’s new Murder Squad. Fresh off the grisly 1889 murders of The Yard, Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith respond, but they have no idea what they’re about to get into. Not even the arrival of forensics pioneer Dr. Bernard Kingsley seems to help. In fact, the more the three of them investigate, the more they realize they may never be allowed to leave…

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what. A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

Weird Detective: Recent Investigations edited by Paula Guran: Paranormal investigators. Occult detectives. Ghost hunters. Monster fighters. Humans who unravel uncanny crimes and solve psychic puzzles; sleuths with supernatural powers of their own who provide services far beyond those normal gumshoes, shamuses, and Sherlocks can. When vampires, werewolves, and things that go “bump” in the night are part of your world, criminals can be as inhuman as the crimes they commit, and magic can seep into the mundane – those who solve the mysteries, bring justice, or even save the world itself, might utter spells, wield wands as well as firearms, or simply use their powers of deduction. Some of the best tales of the last decade from top authors of the 21st century’s most popular genres take you down mean streets and into strange crime scenes in this fantastic compilation.