“Supporting our community and its diversity is an important part of our culture at Camden National Bank, so it’s an honor to partner with the library to make this exhibit possible. We look forward to sharing this remarkable exhibit with the public, and to watch these beautiful illustrations connect families, neighbors, and visitors in the Portland region.” – Greg Dufour, president and chief executive officer, Camden National Bank.
Featured in this exhibit are illustrations from his books Blue: A History of the Color As Deep As the Sea and as Wide as the Sky, So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk to Freedom, Going Down Home with Daddy which won a 2020 Caldecott Honor, The Women Who Caught the Babies, Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World Kindness, Ellen’s Broom which won a Coretta Scott King Illustration Honor, Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story which won a Best Book Award from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio. Also included in the exhibit are the pieces he created for U.S. Postal Service Kwanzaa stamps in 2004 and 2011.
In Maine, Daniel Minter’s work moves beyond the canvas and the children’s book page. As founding director of Maine Freedom Trails, he has brought the history of the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement to the streets of Portland in a series of markers. For the past 15 years Minter has used his art and voice to raise awareness of the 1912 forced removal of an interracial community on Maine’s Malaga Island. In 2019, Minter co-founded Indigo Arts Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to cultivating the artistic development of people of African descent. Indigo Arts Alliance and Minter are founders of theBeautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival, an annual event celebrating children’s books and creators that tell the stories of the African Diaspora.
There is a bright addition to the Riverton Branch Library Community—in addition to our welcoming staff, visitors will also be greeted by a vibrant new mural created by Portland visual artist Rachel Gloria Adams! Spanning nearly the entire length of the Branch’s back wall, each floral design panel is bursting with color complimenting this warm and welcoming space.
Poignantly stated on Rachel’s website, “Adams has developed a vibrant, graphic pattern-based visual language filled with references to the natural world.”
PPL is thrilled to have commissioned this piece for our permanent collection for all to enjoy.
“We had a great quote from an artistic young patron, ‘Ooh, I love the mural! So simple yet so beautiful!’ We’re getting positive comments from practically everyone who walks in the door. It was a terrific choice to brighten up our space here at Riverton.” – Lisa Harrington | Senior Library Assistant, Riverton Branch Library
Special thanks to PPL’s maintenance team for their careful and thoughtful installation of this piece and to the generous support of our patrons and donors for making art accessible to all at Portland Public Library.
Rachel Gloria Adams is a visual artist living in Portland, ME. Inspired greatly by her surroundings including the beautiful chaos her two daughters bring, Adams has developed a vibrant, graphic pattern-based visual language filled with references to the natural world.
An ongoing project and business venture TACHEE utilizes this imagery she developed through painting as textile prints. Rachel is currently developing a body of work that depicts her experience as a mother through a series of paintings and quilts. Rachel and husband, Ryan Adams, have recently taken on a series of murals, Piece Together Project, throughout Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood celebrating locals that have shaped the community.
How haunted IS Maine? Our staff explores ghosts, witches, vampires, and much more (including titles that are decidedly not scary) in our October picks from throughout the library.
I am excited to tell you about three middle grade novels from the Children’s Room for October’s spooky season. I’ve already read the first one: Deadman’s Castle by Iain Lawrence. Igor has been afraid of a “foreboding figure” called the “Lizard Man” since he was five years old. His family has been on the run and in hiding from him for all these years. Now, they have been staying in a town and school that Igor really likes, and he isn’t willing to run anymore. Igor isn’t sure if the Lizard Man is even real. Find out what happens to him and his family in this exciting thriller!
The second book is Down to Earth by Betty Culley. Henry Bower is a rockhound who is thrilled when a giant meteorite falls near his house in Lowington, Maine! His family have been “water witches”, people who can use forked sticks to find water underground, for generations. But suddenly, the water in town begins to dry up, and people start to blame Henry’s space rock…
The third book is called The Devouring Wolfby Natalie C. Parker. On the eve of the first full moon of summer, twelve-year-old Riley Callahan is ready to turn into a wolf. But something unthinkable happens: Riley and four other kids don’t shift! Plus, something awoke in the woods the same night: The Devouring Wolf. Riley had thought it was only a tale told to scare “young pups”, but she discovers that it is more than real and it is after her and her friends! Will she and her fellow werewolves make it out alive? Read the book to find out!
I have been looking forward to sharing some reads for Halloween — and now that the weather is chillier and the leaves are turning, these recommendations feel especially exciting.
Young readers looking for a scary (but not too scary) series to jump into will love the graphic novel Garlic and the Vampire, starring an anthropomorphized garlic bulb and her veggie friends as they help their witch out around the farm — and go exploring out into the world. The second book, Garlic and the Witch, reveals how their magical world works and gives readers a glimpse into their future. A fun and cozy read for fall!
Adults who are looking for an excellent witchy read for fall have many new and exciting books to choose from — Lana Harper’s Payback’s a Witch is a favorite of mine, with a witch coming back to her small magical town after escaping years ago, only to find herself dragged back into a spellcasting tournament and a fight for magical dominance in Thistle Grove. I loved digging into the story of this town and delighted in reading along as Emmy and the bewitching Talia Avramov fall for one another. I have the next in the series on hold!
And two books on my currently-reading list definitely fit the bill for October. I have only just started The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches and can confirm that it is just as delightful as the cover makes you think! Mika Moon has been living a solitary life as a witch, hiding out to keep attention away from herself, when she’s called upon to help teach magic to three young witches hidden away in a beautiful seaside home. She discovers friendship and love — and you may want to abscond off to Nowhere House right along with them.
Having just finished Harrow the Ninth, which definitely left me confused and also wanting to sit down and ask the author one million questions, I am excited to be jumping into Nona the Ninth to see if I can find any answers. Anyone reading these complex books knows that they seem to just get even more befuddling, but the delight of slowly piecing Tamsyn Muir’s clues together can’t be beat. I recommend listening to the audiobooks, as Moira Quirk’s talented narrations can help listeners keep track of the complicated plot lines—and her voices for all of the characters are so spot on.
Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey: After twelve years of estrangement, Vera Crowder’s dying mother calls her home. The story that Vera gracefully, almost gently, reveals is full of incredible menace. Yet Gailey knows exactly how far to press; they deftly balance both tenderness and terror. While Vera’s story is horrific, there is love that shows itself in childhood memories and in the embrace of home itself. Gailey’s storytelling has such a plush quality- from the very first sentence, I sunk right in. For a real spooky season delight, I highly recommend the audio version. Xe Sands’ narration crackles with terrible possibility.
In recognition of both Indigenous Peoples Day and Native American Heritage Month coming up in November, I recommend Borders by Thomas King and illustrated by Natasha Donovan. When agents at the U.S.-Canada border ask a traveling mother and son to name their citizenship, the mother answers, “Blackfoot.” When neither country allows them to pass—instead demanding an answer of “American” or “Canadian”—the mother remains defiant in her response. As a result, she and her son are stuck in limbo at the border. This small but mighty graphic novel tells an important story of a family taking a stand for their identity and history to be recognized.
I also recommend Redbone: The True Story of an American Rock Band, written by Christian Staebler and Sonia Paolini and illustrated by Thibault Balahy. It’s a great choice for music lovers. As an influential 1970s rock band, Redbone made music that was shaped by the Civil Rights movement and American Indian Movement, and the band contributed to these movements, too. (In fact, their song, “We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee”—a reference to the murder of the Lakota people by the U.S. Army in 1890—was banned by some American radio stations.)
Here are more picks from the Teen Library: The Weight of Blood—Tiffany D. Jackson’s remarkable retelling of Carrie—is a must-read social horror, exploring the traumas inflicted by white supremacy and internalized racism.
Lately I haven’t been particularly drawn to the contagion/post-apocalyptic genre given our real-life pandemic, but I’m glad I gave Erik J. Brown’s All That’s Left in the World a chance. Hair-raising suspense and slow-burn romance pair well.
Finally, The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor is one of my favorite graphic novels I’ve read this year. Through beautiful watercolors, readers follow the story of Mei, a girl who lives with her father in a late 19th-century logging camp after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. It makes you think about the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves…and who tells them.
Murder for Halloween: Tales of Suspense by Michele Slung (Editor) is a collection of scary short stories right out of the 90’s to put you in the Halloween mindset. This anthology has a lot of great twists for endings and none of them were too long that it seemed to drag on. I personally enjoyed “Pork Pie Hat” by Peter Straub, but there are 18 tales to pick from. If you’re into things like Tales from the Crypt or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, chances are you will probably enjoy this creepy collection.
I’ve been finding a nice home in the Venn diagram of spooky season and Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month.
The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas for an unsettling “the call is coming from inside the house” feel—it’s described by the publisher as “Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca.” I really enjoyed this one as a cloudLibrary audiobook.
I’m not really a horror reader—blame that on my encounter with ’Salem’s Lotas an unprepared 10-year-old—so I’m a little surprised to find myself offering up a couple of recommendations, both by Native authors, both available as audiobooks.
Canadian Métis writer Cherie Dimaline won the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature with her 2017 stunner, The Marrow Thieves (which is not, strictly speaking, horror but is nevertheless plenty horrifying), so when her Empire of Wild turned up as a cloudLibrary audio download, I decided to give it a try even though horror is not my genre of choice. Joan’s husband, Victor, disappeared a year ago, after their first argument, and she’s been frantic with grief ever since. Then she hears him speaking from a revival tent in the Wal-Mart parking lot—but the preacher with Victor’s face and voice swears he’s someone else. Convinced Victor’s been taken over by the werewolf-like rogarou of Métis lore, Joan enlists her family and community to rescue him. The Canadian Indigenous performer Michelle St. John narrates, easily navigating the book’s tonal range, from laugh-out-loud funny scenes with Joan and her brothers to Joan’s increasing terror as she realizes what she’s up against.
I liked Empire of Wild so much I moved on to another Indigenous horror novel. The action in Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians is precipitated by a crime that took place years before the story begins, when four young Blackfeet men went hunting in an area off limits to all but elders and compounded their misdeed by killing a pregnant cow elk. As the story begins, it becomes clear that something is bent on taking revenge on Ricky, Lewis, Cass, and Gabe—and that something isn’t going to spare their loved ones, either. Like his protagonists, Jones is Blackfeet, and like their nemesis, he doesn’t shy from spilling their blood. The audiobook is voiced by Shaun Taylor-Corbett, who is also Blackfeet, and his telling will have listeners rooting for both the hunters and the hunted even as their roles reverse.
Together, they make for about 17 hours of spine-chilling fun.
It’s that SPOOKY time of year again. PPL has four new books to get your spooky on.
Haunted Hotelstakes the reader on a journey to hotels, motels, inns, and more from all around the country and the world. If the journey is more your thing, Haunted Highwaysmight make you rethink any decisions about picking up hitchhikers. Did you know that the lighthouse in Presque Isle sometimes has a mind of its own? Haunted Lighthousestells the story of this and more. Or maybe, you’re interested in stories much closer to home. Haunted Mainehas an entire section dedicated to the Portland area. Happy Haunting…
“Your great-grandma made magic quilts, I said.” A chorus of voices narrates Oscar Hokeah’s debut novel Calling for a Blanket Dance, a lyrical, unputdownable multigenerational tale rooted in family and love.
Looking for less terror and more joy? Ross Gay is an all-time favorite poet and writer; his new collection of essays, Inciting Joy, is one I’m patiently waiting for. I also love this description of Animal Joy: A Book of Laughter and Resuscitation by Nuar Alsadir, and it’s why I put it on hold: “At the center of the book…is the author’s relationship with her daughters, who erupt into the text like sudden, unexpected laughter. These interventions—frank, tender, and always a challenge to the writer and her thinking—are like tiny revolutions.”
My computer is 10 years old now, and its ancient software and browsers finally (but abruptly) brought all streaming to a halt, so I’m excited to access the empathetic/comedic splendors of Abbott Elementary Season 1on DVD instead. DVDs forever!
If you’re looking for more reading ideas, that is our very favorite thing! Check out our Your Next Great Read service for readers of all ages, or simply reach out to our staff at firstname.lastname@example.org for your own personalized booklist of reading suggestions.