Author Archive

Unlikely Friendships

By Vivienne Uccello, Public Relations Coordinator

The SummerhouseI’ve often thought that Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens, would have made a great friend. He was always game for adventure, always the life of the party, always willing to tell it to you straight (or crooked, as the case may be). I don’t know if I would have had the courage to speak to him, given the sharpness of his wit, but reading his work makes me wish I had been given the chance.

This week, I’m going to use a few Mark Twain quotes to guide us through book recommendations about friendship. If you haven’t read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, Twain’s classic works featuring close friends, I suggest you start there. Otherwise, pull up a hammock and enjoy the following excellent titles.

The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux was actually recommended to me by a close friend. This book features the chance meeting of three young women on their birthdays in New York City. Their lives spiral off in different directions and they lose touch, but when they are inspired to reunite and rekindle the friendship, magic happens, literally.

The best part of The Summerhouse is the incredible satisfaction it will bring you. The three women get the chance to travel back in time to the point at which they feel their lives took a wrong turn. It’s a fantasy most people have entertained at least once in their lives. Getting the chance to explore it vicariously was incredibly rewarding for me. Thankfully, the story is fun but not frivolous. It has tragedy, loss, redemption, and power, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

The Twain quote, “The trouble is not in dying for a friend, but in finding a friend worth dying for,” made me think of Harry Potter. Harry’s friends rally around him, finding in his legend, his character, and his courage a reason to fight against evil. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy these books, and if you’ve only watched the movies you especially owe it to yourself to read them.

2017 actually marks the 20th anniversary of the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and that provides yet another great excuse to read it. If you’ve been waiting, thumbing your nose at the series, or just haven’t thought about it in a while, I encourage you to pick it up.

Next, Twain’s quote “Love is when two people know everything about each other and are still friends,” sums up the friendship of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Quixote is an elderly knight who had “read himself into madness” by studying too much about chivalry and the knights of old.  Sancho is his trusty squire who is chubby, vulgar, and provides the classic earthy balance to Quixote’s idealism. Quixote and Sancho set out together for misadventures and hilarity, but beware, the language of the text can be a bit daunting.

Miguel Cervantes’ classic tome is not for the faint of heart. You will need to devote some serious “hammock time” to reading Don Quixote, but you will be rewarded for your efforts. Many of our archetypes about friendship come from the pages of this classic novel and the vocabulary will positively affect the formality of your speech, ie. your Facebook posts will probably get a lot more impressive.

Finally, if you’re interested in non-fiction, An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff is an uplifting story about two unlikely friends who change each other’s lives. A powerful New York executive and a homeless child meet by chance and develop a kinship which has lasted more than thirty years. This book will restore your faith in simple kindness, teach you to look differently at the people you pass every day, and take you to some deeper places in your heart.

Mark Twain gave out a lot of advice during his lifetime, some of which might get a person arrested. However, his proclamation that “good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience” makes an ideal life seems like sound advice to follow. If you agree, stop by the library to check out a few books for the summer, or visit the library’s digital offerings on hoopla or Sunflower eLibrary at www.MHKLibrary.org.

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Tales of the American West

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager, and Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

The Story of the WestConsider the great American West: a place with a rugged backdrop and unbelievably colorful characters who experienced stunning hardships as well as unexpected good fortune.  Manhattan Public Library’s adult collections include many excellent books, both fiction and nonfiction, that explore those early days in the wilderness.  Let’s take a closer look at some appealing fictional titles.

In The Bones of Paradise, Jonis Agee takes us back to the Nebraska Sand Hills in the early 1900s. Rancher J.B. Bennett is estranged from his wife, Dulcinea, and on difficult terms with his two teenage sons when he is discovered in his pasture, shot in the chest and lying next to a young Sioux woman. His death forces Dulcinea to face her family’s problems, including the father-in-law who drove her and her husband apart. She is joined in her attempt to solve the mystery of her husband’s death by Rose, long-time friend to Dulcinea and sister to the Sioux murder victim. Rose’s persistent grief from the massacre at Wounded Knee, the Bennett’s rocky marriage, and the enigmatic circumstances of the deaths bring tension to the friendship between the two women. Agee’s novel evokes the rugged beauty of the landscape and the harsh life of those that settled there.

El Paso by Forrest Gump author Winston Groom is an epic tale of railroad and ranching tycoon, John Shaughnessy, also called the colonel. The colonel has been yachting while his adopted son Arthur manages his struggling business interests, but when Pancho Villa raids his ranch, stealing cattle and murdering the ranch manager, he rushes in to investigate. He arrives to chaos and the situation gets worse when Villa’s men return and kidnap his grandchildren. When President Wilson ignores Shaughnessy’s call for help, father and son head off into the desert and mountains of northern Mexico to retrieve the children and get revenge, joining forces with Johnny Ollas, a matador trying to rescue his wife who has also been kidnapped by Villa’s men. El Paso brings remarkable personalities to life and records a significant shift in the history of the West.

If you prefer your fiction in smaller bites, Dog Run Moon by Callan Wink is a collection of short stories set in Wyoming and Montana. In the title story, we jump right into the action with construction worker Sid, running naked through the woods to protect a dog that he’s stolen from a neglectful owner. Wink goes back and forth between Sid’s adventure of running through the night and the events that led him to this challenging and awkward moment. Obviously this tale has its share of humor, but there are also ponderings about life and what could bring someone to make such a choice. Exploring the beauty of the West and the human spirit, Dog Run Moon is a quick read with a lot of heart.

For those who prefer nonfiction tales of the great West, one need look no further than books written by Robert M. Utley.  Utley, the long-time chief historian of the National Park Service, wrote a number of critically acclaimed books about characters and events of the West.  The Story of the West, edited by Utley and published by the Smithsonian Institution, is a glorious compilation of history, photographs, and artwork concerning events such as the westward migration and the building of the railroad.  This is an exceptionally fine volume.

On more specific concerns, Utley penned an excellent biography of Sitting Bull entitled The Lance and the Shield.  Born of the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux tribe, Sitting Bull lived in tumultuous times when various tribes fought for control of the buffalo hunting grounds.  He was also a major figure at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, and he later toured the world with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show.  This carefully researched tribute, which won the Western History Association’s 1993 Caughey Prize, is well worth your reading time.

For those interested in the lives of trappers and traders who lived in the West during the 19th century, one can do no better than reading Utley’s A Life Wild and PerilousLarger-than-life stories of Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, and Kit Carson immerse the reader in exquisite natural beauty and unimaginable danger in an unexplored territory.  There are even a couple pages devoted to the deplorable misfortunes of Hugh Glass, the trapper who encountered a grizzly sow with cubs.

Other books by the renowned Utley include volumes about George Armstrong Custer, the American military in the West, forts, and villains of the West.  All have the writer’s meticulous research and lively writing style.

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The Splendor of Owls

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

Hoot, Owl!Owls have long fascinated me.  I often hear them, particularly in the early evening, as birds of a pair will call back and forth to each other.  In fact, one summer several years ago, I used to see the same pair fly overhead just as darkness approached each evening.  I learned later that these are barred owls, which can have a wingspan as long as 44 inches and a body length of up to 22 inches.  Since that time, I’ve heard those repeated calls in my neighborhood, especially during winter months.  And I’m occasionally lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them through the trees.

For those as interested as I am, the library has some impressive books about owls, and those books are not just for adults.  The Children’s Department, for example, has some fantastic selections, filled with photographs that will delight young people.  Birds of Prey by Claire Llewellyn, which is part of the excellent Kingfisher Readers series, offers exquisite in-flight photographs of hawks, eagles, and owls.  The simple text describes feeding habits and locales of the many birds of prey.  This is an excellent introduction to the many species.

Hoot, Owl! By Shelby Alinsky is a nicely done volume that is part of the National Geographic series for kids.  This book is a great little introduction to snowy owls that not only provides dramatic close-ups of the owls, but also lists the vocabulary words found inside the book.

Baby Owl by Aubrey Lang is about the hatching and growth of a great horned owlet.  Young readers follow the feeding of the owlet by parent birds, and learn how the owl learns to fly and to hunt for itself.  The text concludes with a list of little known facts about owls.  These books can all be found in Animals Neighborhood of the library’s children’s room.

The adult collection also offers a number of superb books about owls.  The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar by Martin Windrow is just such a book.  Windrow is a British writer who specialized in books about the military.  While recuperating from a skydiving accident some years ago, he told his falcon-expert brother he’d like a pet.  His brother gave him a little owl who turned out to be rather difficult.  Later, Windrow received a female owl, a bird he named Mumble, who became an amiable companion for several years.  So, Windrow’s book is a tale of the two companions who develop a closeness no one expected.  Mumble even offered to share her diet of young chicks with her buddy.

Yet another writer, Tony Angell, shared his tale of owls in a book entitled The House of Owls.   Angell’s book details a period of several years during which he and his family closely observed pairs of western screech owls who nested near his country home.  During that time, Angell became something of an expert on the lives and behavior of the owls, he and kept a journal of what he learned.  His book also contains remarkable pencil illustrations of the behaviors he observed.  This is a truly inspiring book.

While it does have some nice photographs of owls, R.D. Lawrence’s Owls: The Silent Fliers is devoted more to species found in North America.  Descriptive essays are devoted to each of 19 species, and each essay also has a table of measurements as well as a range map.  Want to know what a specific variety favors in a habitat or what is desired prey for feeding?  This book carefully describes each in detail, and also has an afterword that lists parasites that threaten owls.  There is even an anatomical chart which labels the parts of the owl’s body.

One of the more attractive of the owl books is a recent arrival to the adult collections.  The Enigma of the Owl by Mike Unwin and David Tipling is described as “an illustrated natural history.” This is truly a beautiful book, one to be treasure by all bird lovers.  It has over 200 unbelievable photographs that will dazzle any reader’s eye.  It also offers an amazing array of behaviors related to the particular geography in which each of the species lives.  This has everything you might want to learn and will make those evening owl calls or sightings even more mesmerizing.

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Exploring Kansas Outdoors

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

The Nature of Kansas LandsKansas isn’t really known for its outdoor splendor, but for those of us who have taken the time to slow down, go beyond the interstate, put on some bug spray, and explore, there are wonders to behold.

After hearing about a cave near his hometown that he never knew existed, George Frazier started a quest to find and share the few remaining bits of wilderness in our state, resulting in The Last Wild Places in Kansas. With one unexpected treasure after another, he draws us into the thrill of discovery, the history of the place, the characters in its past and present, and a bit of the science behind it. His engaging recounting takes us all over the state, sharing his adventures and misadventures along the way. I have loved Kansas for many years, but The Last Wild Places in Kansas exposed me to new wonders and allowed me to further explore my beloved state. The book would have benefited from more images and maps but had enough to keep me oriented. Whether you are new to the subtle marvels of the Kansas wild or a seasoned expert, Frazier’s book is sure to delight.

If you enjoy Kansas photography, you’ll want to pick up A Kansas Year by Kansas Wildlife and Parks photographer, Mike Blair. Blair uses photography and essays to share the wonder of the Kansas outdoors, season by season. His essays are more about reflecting on the natural world than on educating, but they are informative in a subtle way. His photography gave me a view into a Kansas that I have never been able to observe. With each month represented by ten short essays, A Kansas Year provided a peaceful pause in my days.

The Nature of Kansas Lands, edited by Beverley Worster, is also a collection of essays and photography, but is grouped by ecosystems. We explore waterways, woodlands, grasslands, farmlands, and high plains with expansive images, personal experience essays, and short, informative sidebars that tie it all together. This is an impressive book, but I have to say that my favorite aspect of it is the sidebars. It is rare to find such a concise summary of area natural history. This would be a great book for those who are new to Kansas or who are looking for an overview.

For those who want to do their own exploring, the best resource to get you started is Marci Penner’s The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.  Organized geographically, the guidebook has short descriptions for an impressive amount of attractions for everywhere in Kansas. The focus is on town-life, but there is still a good representation of the outdoors. Besides, it’s nice to have a recommendation for a good place to eat and a comfy bed & breakfast to aid in recovery from any strenuous outdoor adventures. A few years ago, this book led me to the International Forest of Friendship in Atchison, a great place for a peaceful walk among some beautiful trees. Since then, I don’t venture out in Kansas without it.

For those of you with particular outdoor interests, there are a few guides that must be mentioned. Kansas Trail Guide: The Best Hiking, Biking, and Riding in the Sunflower State by Jonathan Conrad is a thorough guide of the history, location, and wildlife of the many trails in Kansas. Paddling Kansas by Dave Murphy shares routes and guidance for taking on Kansas rivers. The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots by Bob Gress shares where to go and what to look for to find the wealth of birds that venture into our borders.

I also want to note that almost all of the books I’ve mentioned are Kansas Notable Books. The award website is a great place to start when you want to find the best sources for learning more about Kansas.

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Biographies “On Demand!”

By Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

Fighting BlindThomas Carlyle wrote, “The history of the world is but the biography of great men”  and women.  This year, MPL has added more than 90 new biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs to our already stuffed-to-bursting collection. These new books describe a wide range of people: sports stars and soldiers, people who suffered crime and abuse, authors and musicians, well- known public and historical figures, and even ordinary people with intriguing life experiences. Biographies offer us all a chance to be the proverbial “fly on the wall” during the most critical and interesting moments of others’ lives.

Running is popular in Manhattan. Our city hosts many footraces every year. The following three stories can offer inspiration to weekend warriors and hardened marathoners alike.

In 1975, Robert ‘Raven’ Kraft made a New Year’s resolution to run eight miles on Miami’s South Beach each evening. Over 125,000 miles later, he has not missed one sunset. Running with Raven: The Amazing Story of One Man, His Passion, and the Community He Inspired, by Laura Lee Huttenbach, describes how Raven has changed the lives of thousands who have run with him. His daily commitment demonstrates how a person can rebuild their life, simply by always taking the next step.

In Taking My Life Back, Rebekah Gregory, a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, takes us through her journey. Shielding her son from the explosion, she lost her left leg. She proceeds through pain and mistakes to find solace in faith, a feel-good tale of resilience in the face of utterly undeserved misfortune.

Fighting Blind: a Green Beret’s Story of Extraordinary Courage by Ivan Castro, is tale of redemption despite misfortune. Blinded during the Iraq War, Castro chose to fight loss and despair by resolving to run and complete a marathon. Since then, he has run over two dozen. Today, still blind, he has returned to active duty to help soldiers prepare for combat.

Marianne Monson uncovers miniature historical dramas capable of inspiring women today in Frontier Grit: The Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women. In overlooked tales of forgotten heroines of the American West, she details the lives of twelve women who pushed west in search of land, gold, and freedom, while experiencing extreme sexism, racism, and classism. A black woman, Clara, watched helplessly as slavers sold her husband and children. Six decades later, they successfully reunited as free people.  A young girl, Charlotte, hid her gender to become the greatest stagecoach driver that ever lived. A Native American, Gertrude, fought outright hostility to give her people and her culture a voice.

Innocent, a 10-year-old in Uganda, was enslaved into Joseph Kony’s avowedly-Christian child army, where unspeakable brutality and violence became his everyday reality. Innocent: a Spirit of Resilience, by Kevin McLaughlin, uses Innocent’s own words to describe his struggle to heal from the trauma he experienced. Innocent experiences a growing desire to help others realize meaningful, positive change.

Coretta Scott King relates her own determination in My Life, My Love, My Legacy.  King recalls her time picking cotton as a child during the Great Depression, her education at Antioch College and the New England Conservatory of Music, her marriage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and her efforts to create nonviolent social change.

Enlightenment and occasional amusement awaits in Clyde Bellecourt’s The Thunder Before the Storm. He organized the American Movement, AIM, at Stillwater State Prison in the 1960s. Among other events, he describes AIM’s occupation of Wounded Knee giving credit for the support many indigenous women.

Never Caught, by Erica Armstrong Dunbar, offers yet another perspective on George Washington. As his second term came to a close, one of his household slaves escaped to freedom. Oney “Ona” Judge (1773-1848) was born into slavery, working as a dressmaker and attendant for First Lady Martha Washington. Her story is remarkable for its daring, success, and its inside perspective regarding the personal lives of our nation’s “First Family.”

Brief mentions:  Several new biographies of musicians have arrived. Being Elvis, a Lonely Life, by Ray Connolly, thoughtfully considers the challenges of King’s unparalleled fame. The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince, by Mayte Garcia, portrays the whirlwind relationship between Garcia and Prince. Otis Redding, an Unfinished Life, by Jonathan Gould, explores the life of the King of Soul in unmatched depth

These are just a few of this year’s new biographies. The online library catalog contains many more, organized by name, occupation, subject, or historic event. Our Summer Reading program is also underway – join in for entertainment and prizes!

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Juneteenth, the Celebration of Freedom

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Lincoln's GambleOn June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the war was over. One of Granger’s first orders of business was to proclaim General Order Number 3, which began: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had become official on January 1, 1863. On that date, the Executive Order stated that “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” The news only reached Texas two and half years later.

Before their official emancipation, tens of thousands of slaves made their bids for freedom by travelling north on the Underground Railroad. From the late 1700s to 1850, an estimated 100,000 slaves escaped bondage. The height of activity on the railroad began in 1850 with the compromise of that year and the passing of more stringent fugitive slave laws.

In “Beyond the River: the Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad,” author Ann Hagedorn details the role Ripley, Ohio played in the Underground Railroad. At the center of her story is Protestant minister John Rankin. Rankin helped organize the town as a stop on the railroad. This historical narrative reads like an adventure story, recounting the tribulations of abolitionists and slaves running towards freedom.

Using both archival and contemporary sources, Fergus M. Bordewich reveals the complicated and remarkable story of the Underground Railroad in “Bound for Canaan: the Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America.” As a secret network, the railroad integrated people across races. While supported by political theories, it was carried out by people of fervent religious beliefs. Bordewich tells the stories of individuals like David Ruggles, inventor of the black underground in New York City, Quakers Isaac Hooper and Levi Coffin, and Harriet Tubman.

Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2016. In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor. This railroad is operated by conductors and engineers driving real trains on a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.

The six months between July 12, 1862, when he first spoke of his intention to free the slaves, and January 1, 1863, when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, were the most tumultuous six months of Lincoln’s presidency. “Lincoln’s Gamble,” by Todd Brewster portrays Abraham Lincoln’s unshakable determination to save the nation. Mindful of battlefield and political realities, Lincoln first read a draft of the proclamation to his cabinet. He then waited for the right moment, after the bloody battle of Antietam, to make it public.

Emancipating Lincoln: The Proclamation in Text, Context, and Memory,” by Harold Holzer outlines Lincoln’s approach to drafting the document and creating a climate for its acceptance. For Holzer, the 1700 words of the proclamation are Lincoln’s most important piece of writing. It was responsible both for his legacy as the Great Emancipator and for his being attacked by those who believe his efforts at emancipation didn’t go far enough.

In “Lincoln’s Hundred Days: the Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union,” Louis P. Masur examines the hundred days from Lincoln’s public issuing of the proclamation on September 22, 1862 to the signing of the final decree on January 1, 1863. Masur counters the critics asserting that the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t really free anyone because it only applied to rebel-controlled areas. Masur makes the case that, if the proclamation didn’t immediately free all slaves, it did ultimately guarantee the end of slavery.

The mission of The Manhattan Juneteenth Community Council is to unite the community to remember a moment in history. Juneteenth in Manhattan will be celebrated on Saturday, June 17. Events for all ages are on the schedule. For more information, visit http://www.manhattanjuneteenth.org.

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Dipping Your Toe into Sci-Fi/Fantasy

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreI have never thought that I would enjoy books from the science fiction or fantasy genre. I have always enjoyed the classics and romance and dabbled a bit in mystery. But then I watched Dr. Who and became addicted. When K-State chose Ready Player One by Ernest Cline as their common read, I read it unwillingly and ended up loving it. I probably won’t ever be a serious sci-fi/fantasy reader, but I have found that there are some amazing books that shouldn’t be missed.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is fantasy for bibliophiles. Clay Jannon has lost his job as a web designer and takes the only job he can find as a clerk in a 24-hour book store. Working the night shift, he quickly discovers that not many books are being sold, and the bulk of the business is the few customers who repeatedly come in to check out books from the mysterious stash that Clay isn’t supposed to touch. Along with his curious friends, Clay uses his programming skills (and long, boring, overnight hours with nothing to do) to do some investigating, leading them all into the world of a secret society and an ancient code.  Sloan’s first novel is an adventure through the evolution of technology from the 16th century to sometime in the near future, with the intrigue of the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and a passion for books that is impossible to resist.

In Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, teenager Wade Watts is fighting for survival in the grim devastation of our world in 2044. Nature is a thing of the past, and most people live in towers of trailers, stacked on top of each other. He mentally escapes by disappearing for hours at a time into OASIS, an immersive virtual reality created by a 1980’s-obsessed genius, James Halliday. When Halliday dies and leaves his fortune to whomever completes the quest within OASIS first, Wade dives in head-first, finding himself in conflict with the powerful corporation that wants to maintain the status quo. Ready Player One is an intrepidly great story, loaded with enough 80’s references to please any Gen Xer and a dry humor that caught me unaware. Library Journal summed it up with “an unapologetic romp with brains and style.”

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley begins with the mysterious line, “The body you are wearing used to be mine.” Myfanwy Thomas awakens in a London park with no idea who she is, surrounded by unconscious people wearing latex gloves. The letter in her pocket leads her to more clues and to a puzzling and dangerous adventure. As Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) researches the past of the body she inhabits and explores her newfound superhuman powers, she learns about secret government projects and conspiracies, trying to navigate alliances and divisions along the way. A paranormal thriller with a surprising sense of humor, The Rook is a great read-alike for fans of Dr. Who, Harry Potter, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

To Say Nothing of the Dog, or, How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis is the rollicking tale of time travelers who visit the past to assist in architectural restoration projects. It’s all rather tame and systematic until Verity Kindle accidentally carries something along with her when she returns to the future, possibly changing history. Her partner, Ned Henry, is forced to return to the Victorian Era to straighten it all out. Intrigue, mishaps, and hilarity ensue.

It’s good to step outside your reading comfort zone occasionally, or you might miss an amazing read. We’re always glad you help you explore new genres at Manhattan Public Library.

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The World in Translation

By Grace Benedick, Youth Services Library Assistant

RedJune 1st marks the beginning of the Summer Reading Program at Manhattan Public Library. Every year the program has a different theme, and this year the theme is “Build a Better World.” When it comes to making changes for a better world, it’s only reasonable to first be familiar with the world we live in today. Translated literature is a wonderful way to gain a more global perspective. It is estimated that only approximately 3% of books published in the English language are translations. Hopefully, that number will continue to rise, but in the meantime we can start by reading the translations that are available.

In our own children’s collection, the picture book section is home to the largest supply of translations. For toddler listeners, Satoshi Iriyama’s Happy Spring, Chirp! translated from Japanese, follows a baby chick on a quest to find a gift for its aunt and meets other animals, as the reader lifts flaps. Little ones will laugh at Andrée Poulin’s Going for a Sea Bath, originally written in French, as a father attempts to make bath time more appealing for his daughter by bringing creatures from the ocean for her to play with in the tub—eventually they just have to have bath time in the ocean. Also translated from French, Blanche Hates the Night by Sibylle Delacroix, is a silly story about not wanting to go to sleep, and Hannah’s Night by Komako Sakai is a translation from Japanese about those early morning play sessions, when the youngest wakes up before the rest of the family. Today and Today by Kobayashi Issa is a collection of classic Haiku poetry with lovely atmospheric illustrations by G. Brian Karas. A Little Bitty Man: and Other Poems for the Very Young by Halfdan Rasmussen is a translation of playful Danish poetry.

For listeners with longer attention spans, more delightful translated picture books include Beatrice Alemagna’s The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy, originally written in French, which is a silly romp that details a child’s search through all the neighborhood shops for the perfect birthday gift for her mom. On My Way to Buy Eggs by Chen Chih-yuan, first published in Mandarin Chinese, is about all the small adventures you can have between home and the local corner store. Red by Jan De Kinder was originally published in Dutch in Belgium. Red is a sensitive narrative about teasing that goes too far, and tells how to speak up and be kind. First written in Hebrew, Just Like I Wanted by Elinoar Keller illuminates the trial and error of making art, and the fun of adapting, as a girl’s drawing morphs into something new each time she thinks she’s made a mistake.

Nonfiction translations are less common than picture books in our collection, but we have a few: In the Forbidden City by Chiu Kwong-chiu is a translation from Mandarin Chinese. A thorough journey through the Forbidden City in Beijing, it has illustrations of the entire grounds, and it has a small magnifying glass to aid the reader’s inspection of the meticulous drawings. Originally published in German, Best Foot Forward: Exploring Feet, Flippers, and Claws by Ingo Arndt is a photographic exploration of the many types of feet that animals have. Traveling Butterflies by Susumu Shingu is a bright and simple chronicle of the life and migration of monarch butterflies which was first written in Japanese.

Some of the great children’s classics were translations. Starting with the Grimm’s Fairy Tales from German, Hans Christian Andersen from Danish and Charles Perrault from French. Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking was translated from Swedish, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince from French, and Carlo Collodi’s Adventures of Pinocchio was originally printed in Italian. Modern chapter book translations include the popular fantasy Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke, who wrote them in German, and many would be surprised to know that the Geronimo Stilton books, so voraciously consumed by elementary students, were written in Italian. Fans of the Warriors series will love The Cat Who Came in off the Roof written by Annie G. Schmidt in Dutch. It tells the story of a reporter, on the verge of being fired for writing too much about cats, who starts getting juicy news from the cats, themselves.

While you’re reading books from all over the world, come by the children’s room to sign up for summer reading. We will have a come-and-go kick-off party on June 3rd from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. with crafts, performances and lots of balloons. Then, our weekly summer clubs and storytimes will begin on June 5th.

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Summer Reading for Adults

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

The River of KingsLast week was the annual North Central Kansas Libraries System Book Fair.  Many librarians from around the region attended, and all had the opportunity to learn more about marketing, cost-cutting measures and recently released books.  The following are a few of the newer book titles we discussed.

  • The River of Kings is the latest from Taylor Brown, author of the historical romance, Fallen Land. Interwoven throughout this new fictional adventure are three distinct stories: the exploration of the Altamaha River in Georgia by the French in 1564, the misadventures of one Hiram Loggins in the latter part of the 20th century, and the efforts of Hiram’s sons, Hunter and Lawton, to take their now-deceased father’s ashes to the sea.  This is a violent tale, with all parties the victims of some treachery or other while traveling this rugged river.
  • A Single Spy by William Christie is all that a good spy novel should be. Sixteen-year-old Alexsi is captured while running guns in Azerbaijan in 1936.  Given the choice of death or spying on Nazis, he chooses to travel to Germany to spy in behalf of the Russians.  Soon, his skills are noticed by high-ranking Nazis, and he is recruited by them to spy on the Russians.  Alexsi, who speaks fluent Russian and German, also possesses other traits, like lock-picking and combat skills, so he finds himself in a precarious situation.  This one has lots of betrayals and violence.
  • Setting Free the Kites by Alex George is a nicely done coming-of-age novel. Middle school student Robert Carter is routinely bullied, until a new student, Nathan Till, assaults the tormenter.  Soon Robert and Nathan become fast friends, and as they grow older, they rely on each other when family tragedies strike.  Nathan is usually the daring leader of the exploits the two discover, and at some point old secrets will come into play.  This is a great story about maturity and about love.
  • The Great Outdoors by Brendan Leonard is a terrific selection for nature-lovers. This nonfiction book is full of excellent advice about trekking, camping, skiing and just about any outdoor adventure.  Selections like “In the Water” present loads of good sense tips, as well as warnings about dangerous behavior.  Outdoor expert Leonard has an excellent sense of humor, and his cautionary advice about bison behavior and selfies is outstanding.  Leonard’s book is clad in a nice hard plastic cover, so it’s meant to be well-used.
  • Himself by Jess Kidd is a novel/mystery heavily dependent on Irish folklore. Young Irishman Mahoney has just learned that he grew up in an orphanage, not because his single mother had abandoned him, but because something caused her to disappear.  To learn more about her, Mahoney travels to the little village of Mulderrig and meets some unusual local characters.  He also encounters deceased folks who died violently in the village, and they seem to be trying to tell him something.  It seems Mahoney possesses some of the same supernatural skills that may have led to his mother’s disappearance.
  • Will It Skillet? By Daniel Shumski is an astounding collection of no-hassle recipes that can easily be created in a cast iron skillet. Chocolate chip cookies turn out beautifully, and there’s a 30-minute recipe for macaroni and cheese that skips the boiling water completely.  This is the kind of book that could easily lead to all kinds of variations. Simple steps, appealing photographs and the promise of some delectable dishes.
  • Her Secret by noted inspirational author Shelley Shepard Gray gives us the story of Hannah Hilty who lives contentedly with her siblings and parents until a young man’s attentions turn into stalking. Hannah’s parents, who do not trust law enforcement, decide the only solution is to relocate the family far away.  And so they all move where Hannah and family have to make new friends.  The attentions of a young man named Isaac frighten Hannah at first, but she gradually learns to trust him.  And then the stalker from before comes back into her life.

It’s always fun to talk about books with other readers, and this year’s Book Fair was no exception.  It was special day we all enjoyed.

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Graduating to the Next Level

By Vivienne Uccello, Public Relations Coordinator

Daring GreatlyThis spring, if you find yourself on the cusp of a new chapter in life – or yearning for one – you might also find yourself completely terrified! Not to worry, once again books are here to help. You can find a mountain of good advice in books, but sometimes that mountain of advice can be a little frustrating to climb. To save you some time, here are a few of my favorite authors. They give coaching that is based on both personal experience and academic research. Their advice is packaged in good humor and relatable experiences, which makes their books even more enjoyable.

Brené Brown, Ph.D., is an inspiring TED Talk speaker and a research professor at the University of Houston. Her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead debunks myths about perfection and vulnerability – which she believes often cause us to resist new challenges and opportunities. She suggests that being vulnerable is the most courageous thing a person can do. Her book walks us through ways to embrace vulnerability so we can open our lives to an entire world of possibilities.

Brown shares her academic research as well as personal experiences as a wife and mother. “For me, vulnerability led to anxiety, which led to shame, which led to disconnection, which led to Bud Light,” writes Brown. This book isn’t about becoming perfect; it’s about finding the courage to be yourself and allow others to do the same. I consider Daring Greatly a road map to the idea of authentic living and recommend Brown’s work very highly.

Starting a new chapter in life can also mean shouldering new financial responsibilities. Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover is a National Bestseller and is chock full of useful financial advice. He goes through practical steps to change your approach to wealth and break bad habits. “Winning at money is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge. What to do isn’t the problem, doing it is,” says Ramsey. His “Baby Step” plan is focused on getting you out of debt completely, which may sound like a fairy tale at the moment. After reading the book, you will have the tools to make debt-free living a reality.

Speaking of changing our habits, David Allen is a bestselling author and professional productivity consultant who can help you figure out how to establish new behaviors. His book Getting Things Done: the art of stress-free productivity also includes tactics for breaking larger tasks into smaller action steps, putting all notes and papers in one place, and focusing on one thing at a time. His advice can help take some of the “overwhelm” out of your life.

Many of Allen’s ideas sound like common sense but I was surprised how much I needed to read them. Simple solutions often escape us when we’re in the throes of a modern, scattered, and overbooked life. His advice is refreshing and original, and addresses the root of several universal problems such as clutter, multi-tasking, and planning ahead. Allen will calmly walk you through simple steps to begin gaining control of your time and space.

David Allen also has a lynda.com video course entitled “Getting Things Done” in which he talks you through the steps to change your patterns. The courses on lynda.com are accessible for free through the library’s website at www.MHKLibrary.org. A library card is required, so stop by the library if you don’t yet have one or if you would like advice about accessing the service online.

While exploring lynda.com, you will find other courses such as “Overcoming Procrastination,” and “Managing Stress” along with video tutorials for interview skills and computer programs. These expert-taught courses can help you take on new challenges with grace and forethought.

The final book on my list has been plastered all over social media lately. I Hope I Screw This Up by Kyle Cease sounded like a very exciting read. Cease describes himself by saying “If Eckhart Tolle and Jim Carey had a baby, that baby would be Kyle Cease.” His promotional videos on Facebook show a dynamic speaker who is able to change lives, but his best work might be saved for the stage. I’ve only just started, but so far, the book has mostly been about his anxiety over writing the book. I’m holding out hope for meaty content, but have found only mild entertainment value in the title so far.

We all need guidance from time to time, that’s no secret. The world’s experts are available to help you along your journey with tender advice, tough love, and age-old wisdom. All of these treasures are available to you for free at the local library. Good luck on your journey!

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News, Uncategorized, Young Adult Dept

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