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The Taller the Better: Bigger-than-life American Folk Heroes

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Is there anyone who doesn’t know the legend of Paul Bunyan? How it took five storks to deliver him, and how he formed the Grand Canyon by dragging his axe along behind him as he walked. The Paul Bunyan myth also explained the Great Lakes, formed as a watering hole for Paul’s Blue Ox, Babe.

Bunyan’s character originated in tales circulated among lumberjacks in the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada, possibly as early as the Papineau Rebellion of 1837. Michigan journalist, James MacGillivray, published the first Bunyan stories in 1906. William Laughead reworked the stories for a logging company’s advertising campaign in 1914. The 1922 edition of Laughead’s tales inspired a host of imitators and spread the Paul Bunyan legend far and wide.

Today young readers can learn about Paul Bunyan in several books including “Paul Bunyan: a Tall Tale,” by Steven Kellogg; and “The Tall Tale of Paul Bunyan,” by Martin Powell. In “The Story of Paul Bunyan,” Barbara Emberley tells the tall tale of the legendary woodsman, the biggest man who ever lived. His shirt buttons were wagon wheels, and his double-edged axe took an entire town a whole month to build.

Pecos Bill is another big man among American folk heroes. Pecos Bill was said to have fallen out of a covered wagon near the Pecos River in Texas. He was raised by coyotes, used a rattlesnake as a lasso, and his favorite food was dynamite. He rode a horse named Widow-maker, when he wasn’t riding a mountain lion, and he had a girlfriend by the name of Slue-foot Sue (who Pecos was smitten with when he saw her riding a giant catfish down the Rio Grande). Pecos Bill was actually the creation of Edward O’Reilly, who first published stories of the larger-than-life cowboy in 1917.

Young readers who want to know more about Pecos Bill should check out “Pecos Bill: a Tall Tale,” by Steven Kellogg, or “Pecos Bill, Colossal Cowboy,” by Sean Tulien.

John Henry was more powerful than a steam-powered hammer. This African-American steel-driver may have been based on a man who worked on and died at the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad’s Big Bend Tunnel around 1873. It could be that John Henry was based on a 20-year-old New Jersey-born African-American freeman, John William Henry. Henry drifted down to Virginia to work on the clean-up of the battlefields after the Civil War. Henry was arrested and tried for burglary, and released by the warden to work as leased labor on the railway. The story of John Henry is told in a classic folk song, which exists in many versions, and has been the subject of numerous stories, plays, books and novels. In “John Henry, Hammerin’ Hero,” by Stephanie True Peters, the bigger-than-life folk hero challenges a steam-powered steel driver to prove that he is the match for any machine.

Our own Johnny Kaw is younger than most other big men of American folklore. His legend was created in 1955 by George Filinger to celebrate Manhattan’s Centennial. He might be younger, but Johnny Kaw is no slouch. He dug the Kansas River Valley, planted wheat, invented sunflowers, and grew giant potatoes. Johnny Kaw chopped the tops off tornadoes and ended droughts by wringing out clouds. His pets were a wildcat and a Jayhawk (what else?), who caused the dust bowl with all their fighting. You can read more about this Kansas hero in several books including “Johnny Kaw: a Tall Tale,” by Devin Scillian, “Johnny Kaw: the Pioneer Spirit of Kansas,” by Jerri Garretson, and George Filinger’s own “The Story of Johnny Kaw: the Kansas Pioneer Wheat Farmer.”

Finally, editors David Leeming and Jake Page have gathered together the great myths and legends of America in “Myths, Legends, and Folktales of America: an Anthology.” Beginning with the creation stories of the first inhabitants, the editors reveal how waves of immigrants adapted their religion and folklore to help make sense of a new and strange land. This collection illuminates the myth making process, and sheds light on what it means to be American.

Today is Paul Bunyan Day, but the giant lumberjack and his big blue ox aren’t the only larger than life heroes in American folklore. “Every Hero Has a Story” is the theme of this year’s summer reading program. Visit Manhattan Public Library to read about your favorite hero.

 

 

 

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How to be a Great Storyteller

by Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

The act of storytelling is a big part of what makes us human. Nigerian writer Chris Abani told a TED audience “What we know about who we are comes from stories.” We share knowledge from generations past, explore meaning, delve into our own psyches, and generally figure out this thing called life by telling stories to each other. Stories are nothing less than essential.

I’m not telling you this in order to add pressure to your evening storytime routine, but I do hope to add some weight to it. Becoming a good storyteller is worth the effort and can add meaning and understanding to your child’s life. By reading and telling stories to your kids, you’re not only helping them learn to read, but also helping them learn to solve problems and develop empathy. Reading and telling stories makes us better people.

So, what does it take to be a good storyteller? Here are a few tips from WikiHow, the 6 by 6 Ready to Read program developed by the State Library of Kansas, and the story-telling experts in the children’s department at the Manhattan Public Library.

First, choose a story that will interest your child. Does your daughter love trucks? She will probably enjoy a picture book with trucks in it and having fun is important. In fact, fun is a serious part of this process. Log your fun on a nightly fun meter and track the enjoyment quotient over time to determine the success of your storytelling skills. (Just kidding. See, fun can hide anywhere!) For older children, select a chapter book and read one chapter each evening. Librarians can help if you need ideas and recommendations. We love recommending books; it’s one of our favorite things to do. Please never hesitate to ask.

Next, remember to read the story to yourself before you read it aloud. Think of it like reading a script. An actor can’t build drama in a scene if he doesn’t know where the story is going, right? Building anticipation for the next page will help keep your child interested. Knowing the story also helps you relax, which helps your child relax. And what if you’ve accidentally picked up a scary story, or one that doesn’t fit your parenting style? Take a few minutes to read the book first, to make sure things go smoothly.

Asking questions is also a good way to hold your child’s interest during the story. During library storytime, the storyteller will ask questions, such as “What does a frog sound like?” “Have you ever been to a lake?” “Do any of you like carrots?” You can ask questions about the action in the story, or ask your child to count objects on the page or look for colors.

As you’re reading, use your finger to follow along so your child can start associating print with sound and meaning. Point out the first letter in a word, sound it out, spell it, or ask your child to tell you a word that rhymes. This has more to do with the mechanics of reading, and starting early is a good idea. It isn’t necessary for you to sound out every word, just sprinkle in the learning when it feels right.

The library can help you identify the six skills your child should have by age six, so he is ready to start school. Just ask us the next time you visit, or check out the 6 by 6 Ready to Read resources on the KS State Library’s website www.kslib.info. You will find tips, plus links to fun rhymes and songs. Don’t worry: fun is always going to be part of the process.

Last, but certainly not least, use inflection and play with the sounds of the words anytime you tell a story. In essence, “do the voices.” Come up with character voices whenever possible. It will make all the difference. What does the frog sound like when he speaks? Give it your best shot, without a trace of self-consciousness, and you will do just fine.

However, as you well know, stories aren’t always about reading. Children love to hear stories from your own childhood. Tell tales of your adventures, real or imagined. Talk about your parents, siblings, and friends. Tell your child the story of her birth (kids never got tired of that one), and how you felt the first time you held her in your arms. Form your story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Then ask your child to tell a story of her own. Help her along by asking questions when she struggles, and let the magic unfold.a librarian reading to a group of children

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Reading is Your Superpower!

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

This summer, reading is your superpower! We are highlighting literacy and encouraging reading for all ages with our superhero summer reading program at the library.

Popular shows like Teen Titans Go, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ninjago have comic book series in our graphic novels neighborhood, along with many titles for the popular DC and Marvel characters.  Here are some more fun superhero books for kids:

The Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka has silly plot lines with the school lunch ladies saving the day using tools such as the mustard grappling hook, fish stick nunchucks, the spork phone, whisk whackers and the spatula-copter.  Watch Krosoczka’s TED talk to find out why lunch ladies and men are true heroes in our midst!

Sidekicks by Dan Santat is a longer stand-alone graphic novel with fabulous illustrations and an enticing story.  Captain Amazing is growing older and needs a new sidekick.  Unbeknownst to him, his pets decide to take on superhero personae and help him out.  With help from a former feline sidekick, the pet dog, hamster and chameleon learn some crime fighting skills, but will they be able to defeat an evil villain and save Captain Amazing? Prepare to have this book passed around among all your kids and their friends.

Squish by Jennifer and Matthew Holm features Squish the Amoeba as its main character. He is an ordinary amoeba, but he is inspired by his favorite comic book hero, Super Amoeba. While he may not be a superhero himself, somehow Squish and his best friend Pod end up finding courage to do the right thing, including saving their friend Peggy the Paramecium from the very hungry new kid in class.

These funny, action-packed graphic novels are a great fit for kids who say they don’t like to read.  It’s like sneaking spinach into the lasagna – they will enjoy reading, learn vocabulary words, and sharpen their skills for following both text and illustrations without complaining.  In fact, you might catch them trying to sneak in more reading time because they can’t wait to see what will happen next.

In our early chapter books row, there are plenty of exciting superhero books for kids at a second or third grade reading level. These chapter books are shorter, have larger text and still include frequent illustrations.  Stone Arch is a book publisher that has many options for this age group, including a series of DC Super Heroes chapter books that are 50-80 pages long with full color illustrations of favorite characters in action: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern.

Another fun option from this section is Captain Awesome by Stan Kirby.  Second-grader Eugene McGullicudy turns into an awesome super hero to solve crimes, protect his town and win the spelling bee.  Kids who like Captain Awesome will probably also enjoy Zapato Power by Jacqueline Jules, The Adventures of Jo Schmo by Greg Trine, and Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot books by Dav Pilkey, who also writes the ever popular series Captain Underpants.

Shannon Hale’s The Princess in Black is another great read with colorful illustrations by LeUyen Pham.  Princess Magnolia is a very proper princess taking tea with the Duchess Wigtower when her monster alarm rings.  She quickly excuses herself and does what princesses do not do: “Princesses do not stuff frilly pink dresses into broom closets…Princesses do not slide down secret chutes and high-jump castle walls,” but this princess has a secret. She is the Princess in Black, with a mask, cape, tall black boots and her tiara, of course.  Her job? Stopping the monsters who sneak up from Monster Land.  She is pretty good at it, and luckily book two in the series comes out this fall.

Super readers can still sign up for the library’s free summer reading program to earn coupons for free stuff around town and choose up to two free prize books to keep.  It is a fun way to encourage more reading for the whole family. More than 2,000 children and teenagers have already signed up, along with about 400 adults, and have logged more than 300,000 minutes of reading time!

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Escape the Ordinary this Summer!

by Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

Escape the ordinary this summer! Entertain your brain with one of the more than 200 magazines available at the public library.  A wonderfully varied collection stands ready to expand your reading choices this summer.  Familiar favorites like Time, Good Housekeeping, and Sports Illustrated sit next to numerous specialty magazines that cover diverse topics: lifestyle magazines about hobbies, home decor, cooking, and gardening; up-to-date coverage of news, science, and politics; and wide-ranging material on history, art, and entertainment.  On the go?  Borrow back issues and read them when and where you choose.  Or, scan materials using our free scanner, then save them to a flash drive or e-mail them anywhere using a simple touch-screen panel.

Indulge your nesting instinct!  Our home collection boasts titles like Dwell, a unique magazine that stylishly explores both interior and exterior home design by showing modern ways to put identity, creativity, and harmony into living spaces.  Check out Elle Décor, which bridges high fashion and home design with decorating trends to create personality-packed interiors.  And, don’t miss other home-making titles such as This Old House, Victorian Homes, and Fine Homebuilding. 

Get some dirt under your fingernails!  The green-thumbed will surely enjoy many of our gardening titles, like Fine Gardening, Country Living, and Heirloom Gardening.  Don’t miss Taproot Magazine, an ad-free independent homesteading quarterly that also digs into food, farm, family, and craft.  These titles burst with ideas and inspiration to help you make your summer garden fresh.

Spice up your cuisine!  The library serves up a regular buffet of cooking magazines.  Some aspire to gourmet tastes, like Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Cook’s Illustrated.  Others have a down-home touch, like Cook’s Country, full of easy-to-follow recipes for putting together honest home-cooked meals.  Many more cater to specific tastes, including Eating Well, Vegetarian Times, and Mary Jane’s Farm, which also explores organic farming methods and handicrafts.

Stray away from the beaten path!  Explore our collection to find magazines on bicycling, flying, and running, like American Cowboy, Cycle World, and Runner’s World; catch up on well-seasoned favorites like Outdoor Life and Sports Afield.  Backpacker offers straightforward “you can do it–here’s how” advice for packing more into your wild excursions and charts the best locations, gear and techniques for camping and hiking, including fold-out maps and stunning photography.

Make something unique!  The library’s craft magazines offer information and projects that will let you hone your skills while making things you will treasure.  Sew things up with Interweave Crochet and Interweave Knits; build up some steam with Model Railroader; work the grain with Woodcarving, Fine Woodworking, and loads of other hands-on titles from skilled artisans of all stripes.

Reshape yourself!  Grow healthier, exercise effectively, and build the right “you” with advice and encouragement from current exercise, wellness, and nutritional magazines. Women’s (and Men’s!) Health, Yoga Journal, Fitness, and Eating Well are only some of the titles on our shelves that can help you develop confidence and energy through better health.

Learn something truly new!  Titles like Air & Space, Astronomy, Discover,  and Scientific American Mind push the bounds of nature and technology.  Go beyond with Ad Astra, the award-winning magazine of the National Space Society, featuring the latest news in space exploration along with dazzling photography.

Beat the trends!  Titles like Brides, Elle, Vogue, Lucky, and Instyle will help you keep your closet current.  Marie Claire offers a classy perspective on fashion, beauty, celebrities, careers, and love.

Rediscover the Sunflower State!  Magazines such as KC Magazine, Kansas, and Kansas History explore the current and historical happenings that make Kansas a unique place to live­.  Also, free copies of Manhattan Magazine are available at the Information Desk.

Shine a new light on today’s news!  Utne Reader is a quarterly American news magazine that collects and reprints articles on politics, culture, and the environment, generally from alternative media sources including academic journals, regional weeklies, amateur zines, and music papers.  Many more perspectives on life and current events can be found in Week, Humanist, American Spectator, and many more magazines.

Keep your trade current!  Up-to-date business news and insightful financial commentary is yours to command in publications like Inc., Investor’s Business Daily, and Black Enterprise.  Don’t miss the Kiplinger Letters from our newsletters section, or the Wall Street Journal, just one of many newspapers available at the library.

Go beyond hard copies!  The library offers access to several research databases that provide full text articles from thousands [right??] of professional magazines and journals.  Ask for assistance at the Information and Reference desks, and find the right materials for your research needs.

*Summer Reading—The adult summer reading theme is “Escape the Ordinary!” To be eligible for prizes you are invited to sign up online at Manhattan Public Library’s main page (www.MHKlibrary.org)  or at the Information Desk on first floor.

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Summer Teen Reads

Keri Mills,  Young Adult Librarian

Parents, are you trying to get your teens reading over the summer? Sign them up for the Teen Summer Reading Program where they can earn incentives for reading this summer, including restaurant coupons and a free book. Teens also have the chance to win the grand prize which is a Kindle Fire HD tablet, or a number of other raffle prizes such as gift cards to area businesses. Teens can sign up for the program on the library’s website: www.mhklibrary.org or by coming into the library. Here are a few book suggestions to get them started reading:

I am Malala: How One Girl Stood up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition)” by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick

This is the inspiring memoir of Malala Yousafzai, who is the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Malala recounts what it was like living in Pakistan as the Taliban began to take hold. Despite the constant danger, Malala’s family still allowed and encouraged her to attend school and publicly speak out about education. Because of this, at age 14, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban on her way home from school. Miraculously, she survived and is now an international spokesperson for education.

The Shadow Hero” by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

In this graphic novel, Yang creates a backstory for the Green Turtle, a little known comic book character who was likely the first Asian superhero. Hank Chu is a Chinese American teen growing up in 1930s Chinatown. Hank’s aspirations include being a grocer like his father. His mother, however, has other ideas for him. When she is rescued by one of the local superheroes, she decides that Hank should also become a superhero. She sews Hank a costume and tries to help him get superpowers by exposing him to toxic chemicals and other tried and true methods. All her efforts fail, but when tragedy strikes, Hank receives assistance from an unlikely source, and becomes a real hero.

 

We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart

Cadence Sinclair is the oldest grandchild of a wealthy family headed by her grandfather who owns a private island off of Cape Cod. The extended family vacations there each summer. Cadence hangs out with her two older cousins and friend Gat, who have all been inseparable since they were young. During her 15th summer, however, Cadence is involved in a mysterious accident where she sustains a blow to the head, and now suffers debilitating migraines and amnesia. She is only able to make it through most days with the help of painkillers. Two years after her accident, Cadence returns once again to the island, where she tries to piece together exactly what happened two years ago.

How It Went Down” by Kekla Magoon

In an inner city neighborhood, an African American teen rushes out of the local market wearing a hoodie and carrying something in his arms. The owner shouts for him to come back. A car pulls up in the middle of the street. Someone shouts, “He has a gun!” That quickly, Tariq Johnson, 16-years-old, is on the ground, dead from gunshot wounds. The shooter, a white man, goes free after claiming self-defense, but no weapon is found on Tariq. Everyone has an opinion about what really happened, but the only person who knows for certain is dead. Seventeen different narrators tell this story, which is ripped from the headlines. Read this with your teens for a great discussion

 

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

Sixteen year old Jacob is traumatized by his grandfather’s brutal murder. He decides to travel to Wales to find the orphanage where his grandfather was sent to live during World War II. When he arrives, he gets more than he bargained for. The children from his grandfather’s stories are still alive and living at the orphanage. What’s more, even though it is 70 years later, they are still kids. And now, the same monster that killed his grandfather is after these children. The story is enhanced by the inclusion of almost 50 vintage photographs appearing throughout the book. Read the book now before the movie comes out next year.

Find all these books and many more on display in the YA area throughout the summer. Also, be sure to check out the free teen events going on this summer at the library by visiting the library’s website: http://www.mhklibrary.org/

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A Summer of Salads or Burgers, You Decide

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

May is National Salad Month, so that’s good news for those of us who want to eat lean and green this summer. May is also National Hamburger Month. That’s also good news for those of us who love all things burgers and grilling. There’s no reason in the world that you can’t enjoy both.

For  salad lovers, Manhattan Public Library has a wide variety of books available. You don’t have to be a vegan to appreciate “Salad Samurai,” by Terry Hope Romero. This book includes 100 cutting-edge, ultra-healthy, and easy-to-make salads. Based on whole food ingredients and seasonal produce, these versatile recipes are organized by season. Selections for gluten-free and raw-ready options are also included.

If you’re looking for salads a little out of the ordinary, look no farther than “Salads Beyond the Bowl,” by Mindy Fox. This author pairs produce with grains, beans, legumes, cheeses, fish, and meat to create extraordinary salads as starters or main courses. One-hundred inspired recipes are included with flavors from a variety of cuisines, such as Cubanelle Peppers and Ricotta Salata, and Peanut Soba and Chicken Salad with Lime.

Salads are usually considered part of the sideshow to a meal, but often the salad can be the meal itself. In “Salad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season,” Patricia Wells gives readers hundreds of delectable ideas for main course salads. She also includes recipes for breads of all kinds, including Crispy Flatbread, Tortilla Chips, Ham and Cheese Bread, and Multigrain Sourdough Bread. “Salad Suppers,” by Andrea Chesman, is another source of fresh inspirations for satisfying one-dish meals. From Warm Asparagus and New Potato Salad with Pan-Seared Trout to Vietnamese Beef Salad, Chesman includes plenty of healthful possibilities.

You can find more information on the national celebration of salad at http://www.saladaday.org, or http://www.gone-ta-pott.com/national_salad_month.html.

So maybe the greens aren’t for you. If burgers are what you crave, checkout “The Book of Burger,” by Rachael Ray. This cookbook is packed with over 300 recipes for burgers, sliders, sides, sloppies, hot dogs, sandwiches, sauces, toppings and more. Burger recipes are as varied as Turkey Tikka Burgers with Indian Corn, to Mac ‘n’ Cheese-Burger Sliders, and Spicy Spanish Meatball Subs.

Or try “Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries, & Shakes” by Chef Bobby Flay. It doesn’t get much better than a burger, fries, and a shake, and Flay shows you how to do it right from the shape of the burger to what you put on top. Try the Santa Fe Burger, topped with a blistered poblano, queso sauce, and crumbled blue corn tortilla chips.

One hundred recipes for mouthwatering burgers every day every way is the claim of “The Great Big Burger Book,’ by Jane Murphy. These burgers aren’t limited to beef, but include burgers made with chicken, turkey, duck, fish and shellfish, and veggie burgers too. The average American consumes three hamburgers a week. So to avoid growing bored with the same old hamburger, Murphy offers recipes for Barbecue Cheese Burgers, Pecan Pesto Turkey Burgers with Caramelized Fennel, and Salmon Burgers in Grape Leaves.

There is a burger for every occasion and every taste, and “Burgers: From Barbecue Ranch Burger to Miso Salmon Burger” by Paul Gayler covers them all. The 100 innovative and fascinating recipes include almost every meat imaginable. The final chapter of the book is all about accompaniments with ideas for salsas, relishes, and dips as well as varieties of breads that can be used if you’re tired of the same old sesame seed bun.

Get all the beef on National Hamburger Month at http://www.gone-ta-pott.com/national_hamburger_month.html.

There is no need to feel conflicted this month. Salads for the green-eaters, and burgers for the carnivores, or, why not have your salad and eat your hamburger too. Discover the many possibilities at the library.

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Summer of Heroes

Jessica Long, Children’s Library Assistant

Summer reading begins May 30 for all ages!

Every hero has a story, and you can discover them all at the library this summer. Super heroes will take over the library during summer reading with books, prizes, and programs for everyone from babies to adults.

Everyone is invited to kick off the summer on May 30th from 10:00-12:00 with activities for all ages. Magician Ken Garwick will perform in the auditorium at 11:00. Kids can try out their super hero moves in an obstacle course in the storytime room and conceal their identity by making masks in the arts and crafts neighborhood. Teens and adults can play a variety of board and card games in the Groesbeck Room. Come dressed as your favorite superhero and join our selfie photo contest that morning!

While you’re here for the kick off, be sure to sign up the whole family for summer reading. Keep track of the time you spend reading and listening to audio books to earn prizes like gift certificates to local businesses, free books and more.

Weekly storytimes and clubs for children, birth through sixth grade, will begin on June 1 and run through July 18.

The Power of Cute book cover

Baby Rhyme Time is designed for infants and young toddlers who will learn about their very own super power – being cute. In The Power of Cute by Charise Harper, they will discover a young protagonist who conquers a monster by making it undeniably adorable.

Move and Groove Toddler Storytime is geared toward older toddlers who want to get up and go. They’ll let their imaginations run wild with He Saves the Day by Marsha Hayles. This little boy can tackle anything – from daring flights to jungle adventures to fighting dragons – with a little help from mom.

Preschoolers can come to Move and Groove Preschool Storytime to hear about the adventures of an action figure who finds villains in his very own home. In Traction Man by Mini Grey, Traction Man and his owner make quite the team as they tackle mysteries like the Lost Wreck of the Sieve and the Mysterious Toes that steal the scrubbing brush.

Today I Will Fly book cover

Kindergarteners and first graders can join the Agents of Adventure Club. They will read a story and a non-fiction book each week, and then follow up with a craft. For the first week, agents will be studying a favorite super hero power – flight. In Today I Will Fly by Mo Willem, Piggie is determined to fly, but his elephant friend, Gerald, is skeptical. Kids will also learn the story of a real life hero in I Am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer.

Second and third graders will become Guardians of the Library this summer. For their club, origin stories of super heroes will be paired with biographies related to that hero’s secret identity. After hearing the story of Ironman, kids will learn about Nikola Tesla in Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World by Elizabeth Rusch.

Boys of Steel book cover

Fourth to sixth graders can join the Bionic Bevy of Bibliophiles. They will explore the history of comics with Boys of Steel: the Creators of Superman by Marc Nobleman. They will also recycle old comics into new wallets to take home.

In addition to the weekly programs, we will host special events throughout the summer. Check our webpage at www.mhklibrary.org for dates and times.

 

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The Best New Books!

By Marcia Allen, Collection Development

There’s always a bounty of wonderful new adult books at the library in the spring.  With so many to choose from, it’s difficult to narrow your picks to just a special few.  Here’s a very limited sampling of what has recently arrived:

  • “Inside the O’Briens” by Lisa Genova. Genova, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard, became an instant celebrity when she released “Still Alice,” a heartbreaking novel aboutAlzheimer’s disease.  This time, she focuses on the effects of Huntington’s disease, often called  the “cruelest disease known to man.”  Joe O’Brien, a veteran Boston police officer, earns his family’s concern when he begins stumbling and when he exhibits wild mood swings.  Once diagnosed, he learns that there is a 50% chance that his four grown children may also develop symptoms.  This novel is a realistic look at a fatal disease with horrendous effects.

 

  • “Reykjavik Nights” by Arnaldur Indridason is the latest from one of Iceland’s most recognized mystery writers. A number of well-written mysteries about Inspector Erlendur have featured the patient detective unraveling tales of murder, but this book differs in time period.  This story, the puzzling account of two perhaps unrelated murders, features a much younger Erlendur when he was a police officer.  Already displaying the dogged curiosity and interest in missing persons that Indridason’s many readers enjoy, our determined officer wants to know why a misplaced earring, a missing woman, and the drowning of an old alcoholic are connected.
  • “The Siege Winter” by Ariana Franklin is a nice piece of historical fiction. Franklin, the author of the bestselling “Art of Death” mystery series, wrote this new tale to convey the horror and uncertainty of the year 1141, when King Stephen and Empress Matilda fought each other for the throne of England.  It is now the year 1180, and the dying Abbot of Perton has arranged for a scribe to record the events that took place some forty years earlier.  Important players in the story from the past include Gwil, an archer bent on revenge, and Penda, a brutalized child who becomes a very talented archer.

 

  • “Bill O’Reilly’s Legends & Lies of the Old West” by David Fisher serves as a companion piece to the Fox News series for the Bill O’Reilly docudrama. This is a must-have for those readers who can’t get enough about the real West.  Colorful characters like David Crockett and Doc Holliday have dedicated chapters, while O’Reilly and Fisher expose the myths and answer mysterious questions about the now-famous westerners.  We learn, for example, more about Crockett’s self-promotion, as well as the probable cause of his unwitnessed death at the Alamo.

 

  • “Into the Nest” by Laura Erickson and Marie Read is absolutely outstanding. If you like birds, this book will entrance you for hours.  Subtitled “Intimate Views of the Courting, Parenting, and Family Lives of Familiar Birds,” this is an encyclopedia of photographs and descriptions of all our favorites.  The passages on the Ruby-throated hummingbird, for example, describe the dive displays the male uses to court the female.  It also displays a typical nest, often located 40 feet above the ground atop a branch.  And these swift little birds, we learn, migrate an amazing 500 miles when autumn nears.
  • “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough needs no introduction. This is the long-awaited next title from the author of such magnificent books as “Mornings on Horseback” (National Book Award title) and “John Adams” (Pulitzer Prize winner).  Lauded by “The New York Times Book Review,” “Publishers Weekly,” and “The Economist,” this book is destined, like so many other McCullough titles, to become an instant bestseller.

 

Still puzzled by what to read next?  Come browse the new book shelves in the adult collection to find your next winner.  You’re bound to find something that grabs your attention.

 

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It’s Gardening Time!

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

The tulips, redbuds, and forsythia of early spring have given way to lilacs, bridal wreath, and iris. It’s time to clean out the planting beds, wander home stores and nurseries, and browse catalogs in search of plants and design ideas to brighten your flowering garden spaces. Manhattan Public Library has a wealth of gardening books ready to inspire you with great ideas, from garden design and soil preparation to plant selections and garden structures.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Colorful, sturdy and easy-to-care-for, with long-lasting blooms perennials are the mainstays of the flower garden.  “Essential Perennials: The Complete Reference to 2700 Perennials for the Home Garden” by gardening experts Ruth Clausen and Thomas Christopher is a gorgeous book and a comprehensive A to Z guide for choosing, planting, tending, and enjoying perennials.

Other outstanding guides for perennials in your garden are: “Perennial Combinations: Stunning Combinations that Make Your Garden Look Fantastic Right from the Start” by C. Colston Burrell; “The Well-tended Perennial Garden” by Tracy DiSabato-Aust; and “The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden” by Roy Diblik.

Enthusiasts for the garden’s greatest perennial all-stars can find inspiration in books that focus on their favorite flowers, for example:  “Landscaping with Daylilies: A Comprehensive Guide for the Use of Daylilies in the Garden” by Oliver Billingslea; “Right Rose, Right Place: 359 Perfect Choices for Beds, Borders, Hedges and Screens, Containers, Fences, Trellises, and More” by Peter Schneider; and “A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts” by Kelly D. Norris.  (Note to iris lovers:  the annual Iris Day at the KSU Gardens, hosted by the Flint Hills Iris Society, will be next Sunday, Mother’s Day, May 10th.)      

For the ultimate in carefree gardening with a big payback, check out “Plantiful: Start Small, Grow Big with 150 Plants that Spread, Self-sow, and Overwinter” by Kristin Green.  Or create your own prairiescape with“Prairie-style Gardens: Capturing the Essence of the American Prairie Wherever You Live” by Lynn Steiner; “Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes” by Sally Wasowski; or “The American Meadow Garden” by John Greenlee.

Gardening space limited to your doorstep, balcony, windowsill, or hanging planter? “Small Space Garden Ideas” by Philippa Pearson is packed with creative, smart ideas to make even the tiniest garden space lush and full. Look for more ideas for tight garden spaces in “The Ultimate Book of Small Gardens” by Graham Rice, “Container Gardening” by Hank Jenkins, or “The Potted Garden” by Daria Price Bowman.

Embellishing your outdoor space can add dramatically to the beauty and impact of your gardening efforts.  For creative and inspired ideas, take a look at: “Handmade for the Garden : 75 Ingenious Ways to Enhance your Outdoor Space with DIY Tools, Pots, Supports, Embellishments, and More” by Susan Guagliumi; “Salvage Style for the Garden: Simple Outdoor Projects Using Reclaimed Treasures” by Marcianne Miller;  “The Well-decorated Garden: Making Outdoor Ornaments and Accents” by Laura Dover Doran; or “Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting and More” by Lorene Forkner.

Perhaps you’re more of a philosophical or armchair gardener?  One who applauds the effort and appreciates the outcomes, but, say, at a distance?  As an intellectual rather than a physical exercise?  Not a problem; the Library has you covered.

Onward and Upward in the Garden” by Katharine White is a collection of her classic essays originally written for the gardening column of The New Yorker magazine and now newly reissued, a book the publisher called a “sharp-eyed appreciation of the green world of growing things…and of the dreams that gardens inspire.”

Or check out “Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverley Nichols,” about which one reviewer wrote, “Be prepared for delight…you won’t want to put it down…and you may never look at gardens in the same way again.”

 

 

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News

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Scared of technology?

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

There’s a secret group of people out there (code name EVERYONE) who can sometimes feel intimidated by technology. It almost seems as if technology has constructed a new culture with a set of encrypted rules and customs that are frightening to outsiders. If you didn’t learn the language of the tech-y as a child, never fear! There are plenty of ways to catch up, and the library is here to help.

Here are a few best practices that will serve you well. If you’re a pro, it’s still a good idea to brush up on the basics now and again, so keep reading.

First, you need a system for keeping your information safe online. This is the most important step. Once you’re safe, you can explore and try new things without fear.

Which brings us to PASSWORDS. *Cue scary music.* You need strong passwords for every account, and it isn’t safe to re-use them. Think of the Titanic: if there’s a breach, you want all the security measures and safety locks in place to keep the ship from going down. But how do you manage to remember it all? You don’t. You get to write it down in a password book.

A password book is like an address book for all your accounts. “But how is that safe?” you ask. It’s safe because it’s kept in a physically secure location, and you can write hints rather than passwords if you want to be extra sure the information won’t leak out. Step 1) Find a password book, address book, or even a notebook to use. Step 2) Write down your information whenever you add an account, and keep it up-to-date. Step 3) Stash the book in a safe place that you can still access when needed. Don’t keep the password book on top of your desk or in your purse. Create a physical barrier of some sort so the information isn’t easy for someone else to find.

Next, develop a code for creating and remembering your passwords so you don’t always need to check the book. For example, if I am interested in astrology, I might use the signs of the zodiac as my code. I could start with the sentence “Aquarius likes water,” and replace a few of the letters with symbols such as @ for lowercase “a” and $ for “s.” The result is Aqu@riu$like$w@ter. That’s good, but not great. It needs a little more code, so I will use H20 instead of “water,” and add 3 instead of “e”. The result is a rock-solid password like Aqu@riu$lik3$H20 that’s difficult to hack, but relatively easy to remember because it has meaning for me. If you use the same substitutions for all your passwords, you’ve got yourself a secret code. (Which kind of makes you a superspy!)

Once you have solid passwords in place, you can explore the internet without fear. “But what about all the devices, social media, apps, and everything else? What the heck is a hashtag? This is only the tip of the iceberg!” you plead.

It’s difficult for print materials to keep up with the trends, thus it’s almost impossible to recommend a good book for reference. Instead, try learning online so you can practice as you explore. Start with sites like Microsoft.com tutorials, Learning Express training through the library’s website www.MHKLibrary.org, or www.visualsteps.com, which offer the basics.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You will be surprised at how many other people are looking for the answers, too. If you ask, you will either find an ally in your search or a sage who can answer your question. There’s no shame in the search for knowledge!

Just make sure you’re asking for advice from people you trust. Visit the library, talk to a librarian, and use one of our computers if you want to explore risk-free. Type in your questions online and look at sites with names you recognize like Apple and Microsoft, read instruction booklets that come with devices, ask your friends, or enroll in a class.

UFM offers computer training classes, the library has Tech Tuesday courses, and you can make appointments at the library for one-on-one training, too. Call the Manhattan Public Library at 776-4741 ext. 141 to schedule a session.

Most importantly, don’t give up! It’s better to try and fail than to do nothing and succeed. The world of technology is all around us, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.

 

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column, News

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