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MARCH 29, 2009
“One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.”...William Shakespeare

The April 3rd issue of Entertainment Weekly has Stephen King and 1000's of readers voting for their favorite all-time villains. EW looks at movies (Heroes and Villains) while King takes his fav's from literature (In Bad Company). Though it might be more interesting to turn to history to list the best and the worst, I'll work with what I've got. King's number one evildoer award goes to Count Dracula. Giving due credit to the screen adaptation of Stoker's novel, King names Christopher Lee as his favorite blood sucking vampire. For sheer scariness, however, he declares the book the scariest of all; villains lurking in the shadows delivering what no movie can.

Both polls mention some really wicked fiends but my favorite from books didn't make the cut. King knows he's going to hear from countless readers who will let him know just who he missed. Here's my choice...

Junior Cain, the second coming of the devil character in Dean Koontz's From the Corner of His Eye. This Cain guy very early on earns my vote for the best of the worst of earth's badmen. The scene stays with me to this day. and still gives me the shivers. There I am reading merrily along and wham I'm slammed, gasping in surprise, revulsion and awe; I've been caught believing the world is a nice place. For me, this book, brings home the tug between good and evil in our lives.

Read the articles, and feel free to let us know who wins your nomination to the villain hall of fame.

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MARCH 27, 2009
What a week!

There are weeks where Friday rolls around and I am frantically trying to come up with something interesting to blog about. Not this week. This week has been exciting, we got tickets to the school play ( Willy Wonka Jr. - get yours today), I went to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for the first time, and we had owls at the library last night!

First of all- I LOVED the Eric Carle museum, and I sat in on a talk about the art of Virginia Lee Burton (Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel), and heard some really interesting stories about her life and her work. I was sure I was going to blog about all that today.

That is until the owls came.

The program last night was called “Owl Prowl.” Kim Hargrave came to us from the Denison Pequotespos Nature Center in Mystic, and she did a fantastic job teaching us about the owls of Connecticut (there are 8 different kinds), and she brought three owls from the Center along with her. She played owl calls and told us all the different characteristics of owls, how and what they hunt, and why some are endangered in CT. The kids were mesmerized and many seemed to be mini owl experts to answer Kim's questions to the audience correctly!

She brought a screech owl who lived at the center because he had been hit by a car and was blind:

A saw-whet owl (my favorite), who also had been hit by a car and could not fly enough to hunt on its own:

And a big barred owl named Tommy, who only had one wing: 


Then all the kids got their own owl pellets to dissect.




I love owls! There are tons of owls featured in children's books. Here are some, new and old, that you can find in our collection: 








Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Megan Q.


MARCH 25, 2009
Be Prepared!

Today Library staff received training on fire extinguishers. We’d like to thank Bud Meyers, our excellent instructor, for this training.  I believe it is safe to say we all learned something and appreciated the opportunity. Likewise, we all hope that we never need to implement what we learned.

 It seems appropriate that today should have been our fire extinguisher training day, as today marks the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City.   Ninety-eight years ago today, on March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. burned down, killing 145 workers. This tragedy led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that better protected the safety of factory workers.
While this disaster could have been worse (there were over 600 workers in the factory when the fire broke out),  it is widely accepted that the accident could have been less tragic if factory owner Harris and Blanck had taken appropriate safety steps. Blanck and Harris were brought to trial on manslaughter charges but were never convicted.
Fire is a dangerous element.  Be it at home or at work, we remind everyone that it is always best to be prepared.  As we go into spring, remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarms, have an escape plan and consider a small home fire extinguisher
If you’d like more information on the Triangle Shirtwaist Co., come check these out:


Triangle: The fire that changed America by David Von Drehle

A non-fiction account of the event.


Triangle  by Katherine Weber

A fictionalized account of the event.


The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire by Jessica Gunderson

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Su


MARCH 22, 2009
Do You Know This Woman?

 National Women's History Month is traditionally celebrated each March. Connecticut is fortunate to have their own organization to honor the accomplishments of our women. The Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame CWHF) was founded in 1993 and has since inducted 86 deserving women. The CWHF promotes the contributions of women, both well known, and less famous through oral histories, exhibits, programs, and through their website. Names you might recognize include Ella Tambussi Grasso, Susan Saint James, Helen Keller, Rosalind Russell, and Sophie Tucker. I went on to read about Hannah Bunce Watson, (1750-1807) Publisher of the Hartford Courant, one of the first women publishers in America and Mabel Osgood Wright 1859-1935) Founder, first president of Connecticut Audubon Society; names I did not recognize but that might be familiar to you. The 16th Annual Induction Ceremony will be held October 29, 2009 when three women, Carolyn M. Mazure, PhD, Dr. Helen L. Smits, and Martha Minerva Franklin will be honored.

The public is invited to nominate an inductee. See criteria for selection here

Oh, and by the way, the woman in the picture is

  Beatrice Fox Auerbach (1887-1968) President of G. Fox & Company, business leader and philanthropist who was inducted into the CWHF in 1994. You can read more about her on the CWHF website or in a new biography, A woman in business : the life of Beatrice Fox Auerbach / Virginia Hale available at our library.


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MARCH 20, 2009
What's on my shelf

Happy Spring everyone!

Every once in a while Carol posts about what she's been reading, and today I figure I'll do the same. I have been reading more than ever lately, filling up my weekends and after-work hours devouring one book after another. This is partly because I am on the 2011 Teen Nutmeg committee, and for that I have to read about 20 books between each meeting. We just had our first meeting a week ago, and now I have a new list of 20 something titles to work through before our May meeting. Being on the committee has already been a WONDERFUL thing, it has 'forced' me to read a ton of YA novels that I would not have otherwise picked up....and I'm finding that I really like many of them.

I am also reading to keep up with my Book Thieves Book Club. Last night we discussed Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett. Not a favorite of the group, but I thought it was interesting. It's an art mystery...sort of a Da Vinci Code for kids, but not as good as my fave, The Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwieler. Our next book is Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins so I'll be starting that one soon too.


Just before the aforementioned Nutmeg meeting I was able to squeeze in a pick of my own. I read In the Time of Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez, and loved it. It's a novel based on the true story of the Mirabal sisters who were murdered for their part in an underground plot to overthrow the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. Chapters alternate from the perspective of each sister; Patria, Minerva, Maria Theresa (Mate), and Dede - the one who lived. I was unable to put it down even though the whole time you know what the sisters final fate will be. The true stories of what happened under the Trujillo regime are bone-chilling, and the sisters stories are powerful and moving. In some ways it reminded me of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, different in style, but similar in that it also traces his family history back to days in the Dominican Republic under the Trujillo's dictatorship.


Last night I finished The Hunger Games, also by Suzanne Collins. I had read a ton of great reviews of this book and haven been told by a number of people how good it was, so needless to say I had some pretty high expectations. The book pretty much met them. Think of a futuristic Lord of the Flies meets reality TV, and that gives you an idea of what the Hunger Games are all about. The book kept me on the edge of my seat, and had some unexpected plot twists. Plus it has a believable, strong, female lead character. My only complaint is that the whole premise of why this future society holds the Hunger Games is a little weak. Oh, and its the first in a series, so now I have to wait and find out what happens!

So, what are you reading? Let us know, or better yet, post a review on Saxton Reads and Reviews!


Add a comment  (3 comments) posted by Megan Q.


MARCH 18, 2009
VHS is Dead, Long Live VHS

With St. Patrick’s day over, there is no reason to stop thinking green! I recently heard about an interesting recycling program for video cassettes and other electronic media.

The program, sponsored by Alternative Community Training, a non profit organization in Columbia, Missouri, employs persons with disabilities. Thus, providing jobs and recycling.   
This program accepts old donated VHS tapes, computer media and cd jewel cases, wipes them clean (or disassembles them) and resells them in usable form.  According to their website, they offer "Certified Destruction of Intellectual Property."
In libraryland we have seen many forms of media come and go. At this juncture, the vhs tape and audio cassettes are singing their swan songs and soon will be missing from library shelves nation wide.  On the bright side, new forms of media are taking its place. Out library now offers Playaways, audio books that include their own independent player, a listener needs only to check the battery and their favorite headset. Soon the Library will be offering audio book downloads (watch for more info coming soon!).
I personally have never worked with ACT either to donate or purchase media. But upon learning of them, I liked the idea. I also know the frustration of having old tapes that you ‘hate to throw out’ and the frustration of finding blank tapes for that beloved machine.
If you’d like more information about the program mentioned here, visit there web site at:
And come check out the new media at your library!

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Su


MARCH 16, 2009
British Prime Crime

   If you've never watched Midsomer Murders, do yourself a favor and try this British series. Manyof your neighbors are alread hooked. Based on crime novels by Caroline Graham, the dvd's are about murders taking place in the county of Midsomer and feature Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby, played by actor John Nettles. Beginning with the series pilot Killing at Badger's Drift, there are now eleven seasons of Midsomer Murders. Our library is very fortunate to have all eleven seasons; most, a very generous gift of Norm and Sue Hyer. Another patron, Gary, loved the series so, that he purchased one season for us too.

You might be shaking your head and saying, “eleven seasons, who would possibly watch all those?” Well, quite frankly, there are legions of fans in Columbia and around the world. Midsomer  fans have created an excellent website with information about the series, the episodes, the characters, etc.,

I can't say that I've watched them but those that I have watch are appealing. I was drawn in right away. It was a bit of a guilty pleasure as there were lots of murders, but so beautifully filmed that the murders became secondary. The stories are old fashioned who-dunnits with a modern edginess. This and the scenic countryside seem to be their prime attraction.

The occupants of Midsomer are a wealthy bunch, quite snobbish really,  who meddle incessantly in each other's lives .Quoted from the website:
“Each story is built up carefully, with underpinning currents and unsolved mysteries adding to the bemusement of the detectives. There are usually a number of false leads, such as those who have committed petty crimes, or harbour some dark secret that they attempt to conceal from the world. Despite the sinister, atmospheric edge that runs through the show, it maintains a constant humour.”

I've watched them out of order but this might be a no-no for some. Seasons 12 will be available for purchase soon. According to the official site of Midsomer, the13th season will find John Nettles retiring.

   John says: "It’s the end of an era for me, and while I’m very sad to be handing in Barnaby’s police badge, he has solved nearly 200 murders, which I think meets the targets of modern policing! I wish my successor, whoever he or she is, the very best." And so do we!

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MARCH 13, 2009
Paraskavedekatriaphobic anyone?

I had no idea what to blog about today until I came into work and Su pointed out that today was Friday the 13th. Paraskavedekatriaphoibia is a fear of Friday the 13th (TODAY!). According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the US are affected by a fear of this day. “Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed.”

So are you reading this from bed? Did you call out of work?

In an ironic twist I also read that "fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur on Friday the 13th because people tend to be more careful or just stay at home.”

After some searching around on the Internet I found a lot of really interesting and funny facts about the day, so let me indulge you:

Many hospitals have no room 13, while some tall buildings skip the 13th floor and some airline terminals omit Gate 13.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal.

Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.

Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. "It was bad luck," Twain later told the friend. "They only had food for 12."

Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.


The origins of the superstition were so varied that I would have a hard time listing them here, but if you want more info, just google “Friday the 13th, and you'll be amazed at what you read.

Here are some books on luck (good and bad) available here at the Saxton B:

Beware! It's Friday the 13th / by Kate McMullan

Good Luck Bear/ Foley, Greg

The good luck cat / Joy Harjo

Lotto, how to wheel a fortune : easy to use, scientific balanced wheeling systems that dramatically improve your chances of winning at Lotto / by Gail Howard.

Any Friday the 13th or other superstition stories out there? Please share!


Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by Megan Q.


MARCH 11, 2009
An Irish Author in March

On blog days I often check the Today in Literature website and sometimes do a quick search for Today in History. Most times this doesn’t net anything I discuss, but it is the kind of trivia I like and affords me a good excuse to not feel guilty about two minutes of this indulgence.

 According to the website, today in 1923 James Joyce wrote to his patron that he had just begun a ‘work in progress’.   The bleep caught my attention since earlier today I caught a snippet of a conversation between my colleagues. One, speaking about a collection of short stories, had mentioned James Joyce. I inwardly groaned. I’ve read a fair amount of Joyce as required reading over the years, some works multiple times. I can’t think Joyce without the little voice in my head asking, ‘Who is Parnell again?’ I have to admit, most of his work simply confuses me and I’ve never been brave enough to try Ulysses. 
The website went on to say that the book referenced would become Finnegan’s Wake sixteen years later. However, this is not what I found interesting. The bleep also went on to say  that when Joyce’s wife found on her husband had started “another book again,” she asked if, instead of “that chop suey you’re writing,” could he try “sensible books that people can understand.”
I have no idea if this is true, but I certainly appreciated the sentiment.
If you’d like to read some Joyce or a biography about Joyce’s life – come by the library and check something out! 


Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Su


MARCH 9, 2009
Coming to a Screen Near You!

Fans of Jodi Picoult are eagerly awaiting the release of her first novel to make it to the big screen. Scheduled for a June 26th, release, My Sister's Keeper stars Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin. If you haven't read the book, this story is pure Picoult. There is much to tug the heartstrings and lots of issues to discuss. Anna (Breslin), thirteen, is healthy but has had many surgeries, transfusions and hospitalizatons. She has been conceived as the donor for her older sister Kate, played by Sofia Vassilieva, who has leukemia. Anna begins to question if her role as her sister's keeper should continue and at what cost to herself. There are no easy answers to this dilemma and the book is very controversial making it a hot book club pick and a choice on many high school reading list.

The controversy continues with the film version as the producers have seen fit to change the ending and Jodi's legions of fans are not happy. Picoult has not seen the movie, but did read the script. "Having the ending changed would certainly not have been my choice. I wrote the ending very intentionally because I wanted to leave the reader with a certain message. And changing that ending changes that message. However, I am excited to see the movie and to judge it on its strengths."

Does it annoy you, as much as it does me, when Hollywood changes endings or messes around with other things when bringing a novel to the screen? I'm curious to hear your comments about My Sister's Keeper or other book to novel adaptations. Please try not to reveal the actual ending here so as not to ruin the reading or viewing experience for others

One adaptation that really upset me was the changed ending of Cujo by Stephen King. The producers saw fit to give it what I call the Hollywood happy ending. It completely ruined the movie for me. Read the book. It's far superior and has a more realistic ending!


Add a comment  (2 comments) posted by ckubala


MARCH 7, 2009
A Jar of Peach Jam

Note: The book I offered in this post, Chicken Soup for the Traveling Soul, has found a new home.

I usually read a story from Chicken Soup for the Soul each morning. I really enjoy the volumes that celebrate a specific subject and am coming to the end of Chicken Soup for the Traveler's Soul. This collection features inspirational stories about the spirit of adventure and wanderlust that travel brings and is a subject dear to my heart.

Peach Jam by Steve Zikman gave me pause for thought. While backpacking in Africa, Steve carried small supplies of food for the times he couldn't find anything to eat. Things like canned spaghetti, crackers, peanut butter and jam. In a small market he found a treasured jar of peach jam. You could almost always find strawberry jam, apricot jam, but this was the first time a prize like peach jam was found. Over the next few weeks, every time Steve needed a treat, out came the jar, in dipped the spoon and he was in heaven. On one particularly awful cold and dreary afternoon, he was waiting for a bus. He was miserabl and then it started to drizzle and soon the drizzle turned into a torrential downpour. Wet to the bone, he found shelter in a makeshift hut, which was also occupied by an old woman. Together they waited out the storm. Reaching into his pack for some dry clothes, he forgot his precious jar of jam; it smashed to the ground into pieces. Self pity descended. But then out of the corner of his eye he sees the old woman looking at him, looking at the jam, and finally without hesitation, she picked up the intact part of the jar. Dipping in two fingers, she scooped out a glob of jam and put it in her toothless mouth and grinned. Spitting out slivers of glass, she continued until every bit of jam was gone. The weather improved, she started to leave. Steve reached into his sack of goodies and offered her more of his bounty. She accepted. As Steve drove away, he could see the old woman sharing his gift with her grandson.

Stories like these remind me of how much I have, and how little I have to complain about. When I shop this Sunday I'm going to purchase my own jar of peach jam to set on my shelf. I know I won't be perfect. I'll still complain and hold a pity party some days. But if I see the jam, perhaps I'll be reminded of my truly good life.

   I'd love to share this book with you. I'll give Chicken Soup for the Traveler's Soul to the first person who asks. Email me at  with Peach Jam in the subject.
If you live in Columbia, you can stop by the library to pick it up. If not, provide an address and I'll be happy to put it in the mail.
I'll post back a short note as soon as the book has a new home.

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MARCH 4, 2009
Mmm, Cookies...

It’s funny how things come together.  It started when I picked up a special box of gluten free cookies as a treat for us at work. (We’d like to plug Dee’s One Smart Cookie of Glastonbury for her baking skills on this front.) Since I wouldn’t allow these ‘special’ cookies to be sampled before work, this prompted an additional trip to the grocery store for some family favorites: The Oreo. But I resisted.

Next… came a snow day. I was curled up with blanket and cats, channel surfing and what should appear on the television? An old favorite: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.   Then I just had to eat the Oreos that I had been bravely ignoring.
But then… what should arrive? 
Girl Scout Cookies!!!
I fled to the shelves to avoid temptation and what should see?
Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Steet
By Michael Davis

Remember Cookie Monster? That lovable, big blue furry guy who would do anything for cookies? I think he might be haunting me this week.

Add a comment  (4 comments) posted by Su


MARCH 2, 2009
Frank(ly) Speaking ~ Literary Dogs

Megan's last post about her dog in-training, Frank, got me thinking about all the wonderful books featuring man's best friend. Just this past year alone we've added these best sellers to our collection:

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein   F STEIN
Together a story of a Shared Vision by Tom Sullivan F SULLIVAN
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski F WROBLEWSKI (audio also)
Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kinkaid LARGE PRINT F KINCAID


Art of Racing in the Rain is a delightful story. It's a hard story to describe without giving away the plot so here's what I said about it on our reader reviews...

This is one you need to read for yourself. The story is narrated by Enzo, a lab-terrier mix and is delightful. It's not all happy but the overall effect is a feel good, imaginative novel. Don't miss it!

Izzy & Lenore " Two dogs, an unexpected journey, and me
   by Jon Katz 636.7374 KATZ
Merle's door: Lessons from a freethinking dog by Ted Kerasote 636.7 KERASOTE
Walking Ollie or Winning the love of a difficult dog
   by Stephen Foster 636.7532 FOSTER PBK
Dog Man: An uncommon life on a faraway mountain
   by Martha Sherrill 636.76 SHERRILL (audio also)


Dog Man was cativating. During World War II when war breaks out in Japan, food becomes scarce and having a dog as a pet is not only forbidden but also a crime. The beautiful Akita is in danger of becoming extinct. Morie Sawataishi chooses to break the law by keeping an Akita dog hidden in a shed on his property. The survival of this breed becomes his life's passion and it changes his life and that of his family forever.

and of course everyone's waiting for the dvd version of John Grogan's 2005 runaway hit Marley & Me (expected the end of March).

The aforementioned titles don't even include all the new children's stories that bark!

So what is it with our fascination with dogs as literary subjects? This was just the question put to Dr. Bryan Cummins, an expert on dog books in the most recent Avid Reader Newsletter published by Abebooks.  Cummins is a professor at McMaster and Trent Universities in Ontario, an avid collector of dog books, an author, and has been selling on AbeBooks since 1999. Read this informative and fun interview The Dog and the Novel: Loyal Companions for a bit of insight.

In the meantime I'm curious to know...What's your favorite dog story?

Mine, hand's down is Old Yeller (the book)  by Fred Gipson! Read it many, many years ago (published in 1956). It's a Newbery Honor Book and was made into a classic Disney film. This heart warming s

Add a comment  (2 comments) posted by ckubala


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