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Martin Luther King, Jr. 2015 Art and Writing Contest

by Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

MLK

Manhattan Public Library (MPL) hosted and sponsored the 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. Art and Writing Contest, which has been an important part of MLK Day events for over 15 years. The theme for this year’s contest was “Only Love Can Drive Out Hate,” which was taken from one of Dr. King’s most famous quotes: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” This year’s entries acknowledged the importance that each individual can play, no matter how young or old he or she may be, in promoting Dr. King’s message of nonviolence. They also understand the importance of Dr. King’s place in the world that still resonates throughout our society today. There was participation from kids of all ages, as well as adults in this year’s contest. We had entries from almost all of the area elementary schools, Eisenhower and Anthony middle schools, Manhattan High School, Manhattan Catholic Schools, Flint Hills Christian School, Riley County schools, Kansas State University, and homeschool students.

Submissions for the contest were accepted beginning in December through January 11th, with the judging taking place on January 12th. All entries were judged based on five criteria: originality, creativity, artistic quality or writing style, content, and relevance to the theme. Winners were chosen by a panel of volunteer judges from the community. A thanks goes out to this year’s judges for volunteering their time and effort! Writing Judges included: Beth Bailey from the Union Program Council at Kansas State University; Carol Russell, English Professor at Kansas State University; and Deborah Murray, English professor at Kansas State University. Art judges included: Marrin Robinson, art instructor at Kansas State University; and Karen Schmidt, retired USD 383 middle school art teacher.

Besides Manhattan Public Library, this year’s sponsors included the Gallery for Peace and Justice, Manhattan Library Association, and Manhattan Town Center. Best of show winners received $50 gift certificates from Varney’s or Claflin Books and Copies and $20 gift cards from Manhattan Town Center. First place winners from each of the five age categories received a $25 gift certificate from Varney’s or Claflin Books and Copies. All winners received a certificate of recognition from the MLK Art & Writing Contest Committee.

Award winners were recognized at the annual awards ceremony which took place during the community MLK celebration at Manhattan Town Center on Monday, January 19. Manhattan Mayor Wynn Butler presented the winners with their awards at the recognition ceremony. Here are the 2015 contest winners:

ART

Best of Show: Usha Reddi’s first grade class from Ogden Elementary

 First Place

K-2nd Grade: Ritodeep Roy, Lee Elementary

3rd-5th Grade: Micah Craine, Bluemont Elementary

6th-8th Grade: Kaden Vandorn, Flint Hills Christian School

Adult:  Paulicia Williams

 Honorable Mention

K-2nd Grade: Justin Orvis, Manhattan Catholic Schools

3rd-5th Grade: Sahana Datta and Ananya Pagadala, Marlatt and Amanda Arnold Elementary Schools

6th-8th Grade: Ann Hess, Flint Hills Christian School

9th-12th Grade: Ames Burton, Riley County Schools

 WRITING

Best of Show: Chase Rauch, Manhattan Catholic Schools

First Place

3rd-5th Grade: Halle Gaul, Frank V. Bergman Elementary

6th-8th Grade: Blaise Hayden, Manhattan Catholic Schools

9th-12th Grade: Elijah Irving,  Flint Hills Christian School

Adult: Randy Jellison

 Honorable Mention

3rd-5th Grade: Hannah Loub, Frank V. Bergman Elementary

6th-8th Grade: Abby Cronander, Manhattan Catholic Schools

9th-12th Grade: Amanda Dillon, Flint Hills Christian School

9th-12th Grade: Caleb Linville, Flint Hills Christian School

 

Congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you to all of the individuals and groups who participated in the contest. The winning entries will be on display at MPL in the atrium through the end of February. Be sure to stop by and take a look!

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Winter Book Series Tackles British Classics

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

emmaWith the holiday season behind us and 2015 ahead, Manhattan Public Library is happy to resume monthly readers’ events for adults and will again host our annual winter series of TALK book discussion programs. The TALK series, “Talk About Literature in Kansas,” is a service of the Kansas Humanities Council and is sponsored at MPL again this year by the Manhattan Library Association. Avid readers will meet on the last Thursday of each month from January through April at 7:00 p.m. in the Library’s Groesbeck Room and will explore a different book each month, guided by knowledgeable and insightful discussion leaders from the KHC. Please join us for any one, all four, or as many of the discussions as your schedule will allow.

This year’s ambitious theme is British Literary Classics of the 19th Century, and our selections are “Emma” by Jane Austen, “Far from the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy, “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, and “The Mill on the Floss” by George Eliot. These authors represent the great age of British novelists and our four novels are among the best of the era. They were written as the Industrial Revolution began to transform England forever and usher in the upheaval, uncertainty, and excitement of the modern age. Copies of the featured books are available for checkout at the Library’s Information Desk and available in free down-loadable e-book format from Project Gutenberg. And for reluctant readers, or those of you in a time crunch, the good news is that all four of our selections are also available from the library in DVD format!

madding
First up, on Thursday, January 29, is “Emma,” Jane Austen’s beloved comedy of manners. Lovely, privileged, and headstrong Emma Woodhouse is the doyenne of her small county society. She takes a keen interest in the affairs of her neighbors and enlivens her quiet, uneventful life with efforts at match-making. The characters in Emma’s circle are drawn with good-natured humor, the plot entertains, and the dialogue sparkles. In the end, Emma finds out the hard way that people don’t fall in love according to plan, but the outcome is happier than even she could have planned.

In “Far from the Madding Crowd,” February’s book selection, beautiful, willful, and independent Bathsheba Everdene attracts the passionate attentions of three very different suitors in a 19th century English village. Like her biblical namesake, the choices she unwittingly makes cause catastrophe for the men who love her and particular heartbreak for Gabriel Oak, a man of stalwart courage and integrity.  Set against a backdrop of the lush English countryside and the rhythms of rural life, this is an absorbing, beautifully descriptive, character-driven masterpiece.

greatFor March 26th, we’ll read Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” the story of orphaned Pip, his desperate early years, his struggles to overcome his past, and his dreams of becoming a gentleman.  Drawing on Dickens’ frequent themes of Victorian wealth and poverty, love and rejection, weakness or strength of character, and the eventual triumph of good over evil, the novel weaves multiple storylines into a tight plot, imagines scenes rich in comedy and pathos, and introduces a succession of unforgettable characters.

We’ll finish up on Thursday, April 30, with “The Mill on the Floss” by George Eliot.  The most autobiographical of all Eliot’s novels, this is a tale of English rural life, rival families, and sibling relationships.  As a child, Maggie Tulliver is independent and intellectually curious, but her thirst for knowledge and desire for meaningful relationships is eclipsed by family financial calamity and thwarted by her conventional rural community.  As she grows to womanhood, tensions with her family and community increase, and the novel explores the conflicts of love and loyalty and between desire and responsibility.

millPlease join us to discuss the first book in this winter series, Jane Austen’s “Emma,” on Thursday, January 29th, at 7:00 p.m. in the library’s Groesbeck Room.

 

 

 

 

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Building Your Brain in 2015

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

road sign with learning in all directions

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Learning is Good for You

What’s the best way to improve your memory, make sure your mind stays sharp as you age, and keep your skills relevant at work? Learn something new!

“Learning a new skill can help ward off dementia by strengthening the connections between parts of your brain,” says cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman. Plus, it’s interesting and exciting to explore something you’ve never tried before.

Taking care of your brain by learning a new skill would be a great bullet point to add to your New Year’s Resolution for 2015–and the Manhattan Public Library is here to help.

Lynda.com

First, you should check out a new service called Lynda.com, which provides excellent video training courses in a wide variety of subject areas. Library card holders have access to the entire catalog of 4,500+ training videos on Lynda.com through the library’s website at www.MHKLibrary.org.

Each subject on Lynda.com is broken down into smaller video tutorials so you can stop and start, and learn at your own pace. There are videos for all learning levels–from beginner to professional. I just watched a course called Introduction to Graphic Design, and my brain is brimming with ideas!

Courses on Lynda.com focus mainly on computer and software skills, but include information on teaching, stress management, job interview skills, and more. Browse the library to get an overview of what’s offered, or if you have a specific interest, use the search bar to find courses. Watch the classes on your own computer, tablet, or smartphone, or use one of the library’s computers.

If you’re having trouble getting started, check out the nineteen-minute Overcoming Procrastination course!

Like all library resources, access to Lynda.com is completely free for cardholders. Residents of Chase, Clay, Dickinson, Geary, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Morris, Pottawatomie, Riley, Wabaunsee, and Washington counties can get a Manhattan Public Library card. Just stop by the library at 629 Poyntz Avenue–remember to bring proof of residence with you.

Tech Tuesdays

Next, the library’s 2015 season of Tech Tuesdays begins on January 13 with a class called “Basic iPad.” If you are the proud owner of a new iPad and would like to figure out how it works, sign up for this free, two-hour workshop at the library and exercise your brain with new technology skills.

The Tech Tuesday season continues with “How to Download eBooks” on January 20 & 27, then “Beginners Ancestry” on February 10. Stop by the library or visit our online events calendar to see the complete schedule.

Mango Languages

Learning a new language would be another excellent exercise for your brain–plus, it would give you the perfect excuse to start planning that trip to Italy this summer! Mango Languages is another learning program that is available through the library’s website. Find Mango on the Research page. With more than 40 languages to choose from, you can add as many countries to your travel list as you can handle.

Chess

Playing chess, “the game of kings,” might be one of the very best activities for your brain. It can help you improve concentration, gain problem-solving skills, increase creativity, and prevent Alzheimer’s.  The library has chess boards available for checkout and also hosts chess club meetings on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 3:30-6:00 p.m. The next meeting is January 13. Participants ages 9+ are invited to learn, practice, and play chess with members of the KSU Chess Club. Meet in the auditorium on the second floor. No registration is necessary.

Time to start!

With so many resources available to exercise your brain, you should have no trouble finding new ways to build your “mind muscles.” The benefits of keeping your brain healthy with new skills, fresh ideas, and unique perspectives will help you in every aspect of your life–from making you a delightful dinner companion to helping you get a promotion.

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to say “this wine is an excellent vintage” in French, how to crush a chess opponent in six moves, or how to expertly retouch photographs, what are you waiting for? 2015 is here, and it’s time to get moving. Step one: get a library card. Step two: start exploring!

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New Year, New Room!

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

It has been nearly a full year since Kelley Construction Company broke ground outside the library to begin the children’s room expansion. Now, on January 17, 2015, just 358 days after the ceremonial groundbreaking, we will have a grand opening celebration to showcase the new Children’s Room, including fantastic reading areas, imaginative play spaces, and a larger Storytime Room for programs.

Already, the room is drawing crowds of kids, from an excited after-school bunch needing a place to hang out before evening ball games, to little tots discovering the secret doors into the playhouse.

kidsWalking into the room, anyone familiar with the library will immediately notice changes. Colorful carpet tiles lighten up the room, and an innovative bookshelf in the entryway draws readers in to have a look at the newest books available.  Kids who find something they like can crawl right into the bookshelf and begin reading in a comfy built-in nook.

Picture books have grown in popularity, so that space is enlarged with more book displays to show off the fantastic illustrations that define this genre.  The area formerly used for storytime has been renovated to encompass both an early literacy space for preschoolers and toddlers, as well as a parent and teacher resource center with a collection of books for adults.  Parents can browse for the perfect “toddler years” guide while their little ones are entertained with puppets, puzzles and books.

The new Storytime Room is a fabulous space with media capabilities that will allow for innovative programs.  There will be plenty of room for all the kids an  caregivers and even the double strollers.  Our first storytime in the room will be January 19.  Until then, children are enjoying the large, open space, bean bag animals, and bright colored cubes for seating.  On nicer winter days, families can slip out the side doors and enjoy the fenced-in garden area, free to explore nature, read outdoors, draw with chalk or play with items on the outside table.  Our new storytime schedule includes a Nature Storytime twice a week that will take place outdoors as often as possible.

roomOn the other side of the room, a special feature kids of all ages seem to enjoy is the climbable “Mount Verde”, a large, lime green, multi-level structure where kids can sit, lounge, or pose as King of the Mountain.  The structure resides in the Reading Corner amidst giant pillows, puzzle shaped seats, and soft comfy chairs.  The oval sloped lounge chair and blue wavy couch are other fun pieces on which kids or adults can relax as they preview their library choices.  This is the scene passers-by see as they drive past the windows of the library on Poyntz, and it is often teeming with children and parents.

Nestled around the edges of the room next to the Reading Corner are “neighborhoods” of books: Arts & Crafts, Science & Nature, Graphic Novels, Transportation, Geography, History, Animals, and Fairy Tales & Folklore.  Excellent selections of books on these subjects are perfect for young browsers who want to find everything on their favorite topics.  Children are drawn in with interactive features such as a magnetic gear and propeller wall, an enormous globe to spin, crafts to make on the spot, rotating displays, objects to build with, and even some live fire-bellied toads.  The fairy tale dress up clothes have been very popular, too.

The library’s large collection of children’s fiction is also relocated to this part of the room, and it includes divisions for beginning readers and early chapter books to help younger children find titles at the right reading level.

The additional space has allowed room for the children’s media collections that had been housed next to the adult media.  Children’s movies are now next to the librarians’ service desk, along with the children’s music CDs and audiobooks.  Customers have commented that they didn’t know the library had books on CD or music CDs for children until now.

studySoon, the Technology Zone in the children’s room will be upgraded with twelve touchscreen computers just for kids, loaded with entertaining and educational games, and quick links to kid-friendly websites.

Check it all out first hand, and tell us what you think. We are interested in hearing feedback as we continue to organize all our new furnishings and materials to make it the best library possible for all the kids and families who come in.  Join us on January 17, between 1:00 and 4:00, as we celebrate this new space with donor recognition, fun activities around the room for children, a musical performance by Rockin’ Rob at 2:00, and costumed characters Olivia and Curious George roaming the library.

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The Day is Short; Read Fast

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Today is the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter, and the shortest day of the year. You have 9 hours, 33 minutes, and 11 seconds of daylight to work with today. What will you do with yours? If reading is on your to-do list, you might want to consider reading one of the many influential books that have the added advantage of being short.

animalA search of the Web results in several variations of lists of the best short books. Goodreads lists the most influential books under 100 pages .  Titles include “Animal Farm,” “The Little Prince,” “The Art of War,” “Common Sense,” “Hiroshima,” and “The Constitution of the United States.”

“War and Peace,” weighing in at over 1,400 pages, makes a big impression, but books don’t have to weigh a lot to be heavy hitters. The MentalFloss website lists seven slim books that pack a big punch.  Among the seven are “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine (52 Pages), “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss (72 pages), “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli (82 pages), “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau (26 pages), “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk and E.B. White (52 pages), “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu (68 pages), and “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (54 pages).

castleLooking for something a little lighter? Checkout Flavorwire and its list of incredible novels under 200 pages. Titles include “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” a macabre and hilarious book by Shirley Jackson (all in only 146 pages), “Dept. of Speculation,” a book exploring intimacy, trust, and faith by Jenny Offill (a good bet for 179 pages), and “The Buddha in the Attic,” a mesmerizing account of the Japanese “picture brides,” by Julie Otsuka (a breeze at 129 pages).

You can find a list of 55 great books under 200 pages at Reddit.com.  Consider Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” In this 181 page novel, a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home, drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, at age seven, he encountered a remarkable girl. Or try “Last Night at the Lobster,” by Stewart O’Nan, a 146 page tale of an under-performing Red Lobster Restaurant in a run-down New England mall. It’s four days until Christmas, and the manager has to convince a less than enthusiastic staff to serve their customers as if their jobs depended on it.

miceIf a literary classic is what you’re after, you can read one of several short novels by John Steinbeck including “Of Mice and Men” (107 pages), “The Pearl” (87 pages), or “Cannery Row” (196 pages). Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” will only cost you 93 pages, while “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a bargain at 180 pages. Finally, don’t forget one of my personal favorites, Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” At 96 pages, you can afford to read this Christmas classic every year.

The average adult reads between 250 and 300 words, or one page per minute.  At that rate, you can finish “War and Peace” in just under 24 hours, assuming you refrained from sleeping, and didn’t stumble too much on the Russian names. Or, you can enjoy a short book in two or three hours, with plenty of time for other pursuits. You do also have the option of switching on a lamp and reading after the sun goes down on this shortest day of the year. In any case, pick up a good book and enjoy.

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Icons in the World of Music: The Latest in Unforgettable Biographies

By Marcia Allen, Collection Development

Hard times were a daily reality for Elmo and Mamie Lewis in the state of Louisiana during the 1930s. Elmo made a living sharecropping and sometimes cooking whiskey, until he was caught and sentenced to five years in prison. Son Elmo, Jr., who often sang in church and who cared for his younger brother Jerry Lee, was killed at the age of nine when a drunken driver struck him. That left Mamie and little Jerry Lee to make the best of the situation.

jerryIn 1940, four-year-old Jerry Lee realized the path his life was to take. During a visit with his mother’s sister, he pressed down a single key on his aunt’s piano. He later described the experience as one similar to fire reaching through his head. With no previous experience, he immediately began the opening chords of “Silent Night.”

Yes, Jerry Lee went on to lead a scandalous personal life, shocking his followers with his many marriages and his exploits with drugs and alcohol, but he also produced a phenomenal library of songs that few have matched. Songs like “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” which were considered provocative when they were first released, are now deemed groundbreaking rock and roll with hillbilly overtones
What makes “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story” remarkable is author Rick Bragg’s flair for retelling the musician’s story. Bragg, author of award-winning tales like “All over but the Shoutin’” and “Ava’s Man,” brings to the story an incredible skill for southern storytelling and a genuine fondness for Jerry Lee. This story packs a wallop as a colorful character study. (more…)

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Holiday Baking

by Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

It’s already time to get started on your holiday baking if you haven’t already. Many of us have favorite, traditional family cookie recipes, but if you are looking to switch things up a little bit, the library has plenty of cookie cookbooks to help you out.

 

decoratingOne of my favorites is “Decorating Cookies: 60+ Designs for Holidays, Celebrations, & Everyday” by Bridget Edwards. This is the book for you if you have always wanted to get your sugar cookies to look like those beautiful bakery frosted sugar cookies. There are only a few basic recipes included for sugar cookies and for royal icing, but the specific step-by-step decorating instructions are easy to follow and perfect for beginners. Only a handful of the decorating ideas are specific to Christmas cookies, but they should be enough to spark your own creativity.

 

If you want to make some cookies for a Christmas party, but are short on time, try “Smart Cookie: Transform Store-Bought Cookies into Amazing Treats” by Christi Farr Johnstone. As the title indicates, learn how to spruce up store-bought cookies into something unique and beautiful. There are only a few cookie ideas that pertain directly to Christmas, but there are many other ideas that could be adapted for the holidays. My favorite part about this book is that you don’t have to be an expert decorator to create most of these cookies!

xmasFor more traditional Christmas cookies, start with “A Baker’s Field Guide to Christmas Cookies” by Dede Wilson. This cookbook has a wealth of information in a very easy-to-use format. Each cookie has its own page with a picture of the finished product. There is also information on its type (dropped, rolled, bar, etc.) country of origin, description of its flavors, traditions, tips, variations, and length of time the cookies will keep. Helpful symbols are included that tell you which cookies are good to make with kids, freeze well, are quick to make, and sturdy enough to send in the mail.

 

Can’t figure out what type of holiday cookies to make? There is always the good ole American chocolate chip cookie, which is featured in the book, “The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book” by Carolyn Wyman. There are over 75 recipes in this book for chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip dessert variations like truffles and brownies. One interesting page gives suggestions on simple additions/substitutions to the basic Toll house cookie recipe, such as bacon, cereal, donuts, ice cream cones, and Brussel sprouts. While your cookies are baking, read up on the fascinating history of the chocolate chip cookie in the United States which is included in this book.

 

Cookie swaps are particularly popular this time of year. If you don’t have time to bake 50 different kinds of cookies this holiday season, then, hold your own cookie swap. “Cookie Swap!” By Lauren Chattman tells you exactly how to organize one. There is a handy checklist for planning your party and an example invitation. And, of course, there are also a number of cookie recipes suggested for your swap.

veganIf you are vegan yourself or baking for vegan friends or family, try “Chloe’s Vegan Desserts” by Chloe Coscarelli. There is a whole chapter that focuses on cookies and bars. There are full color photos of most of the recipes. Bake homemade Oreos, ginger molasses cookies, snowballs, black and white cookies, or the many others included in the book.

If you really want to switch things up, make an ice cream cookie sandwich from “Cookies & Cream: Hundreds of Ways to Make the Perfect Ice Cream Sandwich” by Tessa Arias. The recipes in this book are as aesthetically pleasing as they are delicious. They are almost too pretty to eat (almost). Can’t decide what cookies to start with? Try a few from the “Holiday” chapter, such as Maple-Nut, Gingerbread, Hot Cocoa, Candy Cane, or Eggnog ice cream sandwiches.

The library has all of these cookbooks mentioned, and many more to satisfy all of your holiday baking needs, so get started today!

 

 

 

 

 

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Yummy Reads

The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber‘Tis the season for merry-making, generosity, sentimentality, and most importantly, gathering together to eat. The food we eat is an important part of our stories and our cultural identity. It is a vital way through which we build community, bond as families, and demonstrate love. The act of cooking can help us to feel a sense of accomplishment and the joy of sharing with others. It can even help us work through family conflicts and grief. I recently lost a beloved relative. In the midst of frantic planning and the rush of details and needing to provide food for gathering family, I found myself pulling down her cookbook. The final product wasn’t as good as hers, but it was such a comfort to me to go through the act of preparing a meal that she once prepared for us.

The richness that food brings to our lives is demonstrated in some of my favorite books. My love of food writing probably began with Diana Abu-Jaber. In her memoir, “The Language of Baklava” she shares the challenges of growing up straddling two cultures, which included her Jordanian father’s Middle Eastern cooking and her American grandmother’s roast beef. Her father tries to hold on to the culture and food of his home country, filling Diana’s childhood with the scents of Jordan and she learns from him and from her aunt how food forms us and draws us together.

Many already know this title, but it can’t help but be mentioned when talking about great food writing. Julie Powell was despondent about her dead-end career when she decided that she would cook every recipe in Julia Child’s classic cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Over the next year, she created a few disasters, expanded her horizons, and took charge of her life. Her memoir of the experience, “Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen” provides cooking commiseration, laughs, and hope for those of us who are still mastering the art of home cooking.

Speaking of mastering the art of cooking, another fascinating memoir about food is “Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking” by Anya von Bremzen. The author, who grew up in the Soviet Union but immigrated to the U.S. in her early childhood, is a food critic for the New York Times who is clearly fascinated by nostalgia and food. Sharing the history of Russia through its food, from the austere apple cake of Lenin’s era, through the food shortages of the 1940s, and the banning of American foods during the Cold War, this culinary memoir explores the links between food, culture, history, and family.

Not all great books about cooking are nonfiction, though. In Anthony Capella’s novel “The Wedding Officer,” British officer James Gould is sent to Naples during World War II to monitor the marriage requests between British soldiers and the local Italian women. His staid and regimented life runs up against the draw of passion when Livia Pertini comes to cook for him. Her amazing cooking disorders his outlook and opens his heart. A beautiful story of love blooming even in the midst of devastation that touches the heart and inspires in the kitchen.

Ruth Reichl has an established reputation as a food writer, but her debut novel “Delicious” is aptly described by the title. Billie struck out on her own, moving to New York to start her job as an assistant for a food magazine. She is revealed as a natural foodie early on, but assiduously avoids the kitchen. When the magazine abruptly folds and she is asked to stay on to respond to letters, she discovers a treasure-trove in the archives. Her exploration of letters about making the best of what food is available in the worst of circumstances helps her to gingerly pick her way through her own difficult associations with cooking and to open up to love. The descriptions of the food district in New York were so vivid I could almost taste it.

The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on food and traditions. Go forth to cook, eat, and read!

 

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Celebrate “Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week”

By Laura Ransom, Children’s Librarian

“Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week” is an annual event that promotes reading to all Kansas children from birth through age five. Parents, librarians, and caregivers are encouraged to read the chosen book during the week of November 16-22.

funI am especially excited about this year’s selection, Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas. Three happy cows and a frustrated chicken bounce through the pages of this light-hearted picture book. We love promoting this event at Manhattan Public Library, and each child who attends a storytime during the week will receive a free book! Funding for the free books is generously provided by the Manhattan Library Association.
My love for books began when I was very young. I have such fond memories of sitting in my mom’s lap while she read Don Wood’s The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear to me night after night. She later told me that she had the book memorized since I requested it so many times. What a patient parent! Another of my all-time favorites is The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. I remember chanting along with that brave engine, “I think I can, I think I can!” These engaging books stirred a desire in me to learn how to read the words on the pages.
readaloudAs a children’s librarian, I obviously endorse reading aloud to children, but research supports it, too. One example is a study by the U.S. Department of Education, which concluded with these words: “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” This quote is from The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, a wonderful book filled with read-aloud suggestions and helpful tips for parents. Books include a wider vocabulary than we often encounter in television shows or everyday conversations. Even though children are unfamiliar with these new words, exposure to them is a stepping stone to reading independently. If they have heard the word before, they will be better equipped to know how to read it on the printed page.
A love for reading is just as important as the actual reading process. The fancy name for the desire to read is called print motivation. This is one of six skills children need in order to read successfully. The other skills are: Notice Print All Around; Talk, Talk, Talk; Tell Stories About Everything; Look for Letters Everywhere; and Take Time to Rhyme, Sing, and Play Word Games. These skills were originally identified by the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read Program. Johnson County Public Library modified the information that program first developed, and they renamed it “6 by 6: Six Skills by Six Years.” Many of these skills are things parents already practice with their children without taking much time to consider the educational benefits. Things like pointing out the letters on a stop sign or words on a billboard can actually help children notice that words are all around them. Little habits like this can truly make a big difference in a child’s attitude toward reading.

Our librarians love to help children discover the joy of reading. Come visit us at the library for great book recommendations and resources for growing readers.

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Learn about Thanksgiving with these titles!

The holiday season is upon us and we’re counting down to Thanksgiving. I like Thanksgiving; for a major holiday, it remains relatively straightforward and uncomplicated. It’s comparatively free of the cumbersome traditions, frenetic activities, and crippling expenditures that come with some holidays (I’m looking at you, Christmas!), big stressors that can get in the way of fundamental enjoyment, not to mention spiritual gratification.

Granted, Thanksgiving does have its own daunting potential for stress – travel and logistical chaos, inter-personal and family drama, intensive food prep and consumption, hours of digestive recovery, and overwhelming kitchen clean-up! But the day can also be celebrated with a simple shared meal, quiet reflection and rest, even solitude or a private getaway, and when it all comes together well, Thanksgiving can be deeply meaningful and spiritually strengthening.

Our celebration of the Thanksgiving feast as a national historical event also has its baggage, a mythology of Pilgrims and Native Americans that is rooted in history but that has grown over time to barely resemble the actual event. As is nearly always the case with history, the truth turns out to be far more complicated and vastly more interesting than the myth. This year, pick up one of the following books to help you sort out the real story of the Mayflower Pilgrims and broaden your understanding of our country’s fascinating history.

philbrick   “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” by Nathaniel Philbrick details the history of the Pilgrims as religious Separatists in England and as political refugees in Holland, then follows them through their voyage on the Mayflower, the settlement and early years of the Plymouth colony, and the meeting of European settlers and Native Americans. Philbrick adds depth to what we know of familiar historical figures like William Bradford, Chief Massasoit, Squanto, Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullins, John Alden, Edward Winslow, and numerous secondary characters, revealing unexpected and surprising historical details.

In “Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World,” another richly detailed history, author and Englishman Nick Bunker writes about the Mayflower Pilgrims as Englishmen themselves, and places them in the context of the political world in which they lived. An exhaustively detailed recounting of the first years of settlement, this book tells a stirring tale of “indomitable courage, religious faith, commercial ambition, international rivalry, and domestic politics” (Publishers Weekly).

indexH4IDI2ML   If you only have time for a short read and want a more condensed recounting of the Mayflower Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, Glenn Alan Cheney has hit the high points and given a broad overview in his well-researched and -organized history of 1620-1621, “Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims’ First Year in America.” An easy-to-read and enjoyable page-turner, it is nevertheless written in evocative, descriptive prose. As one reviewer said, the book is “full of surprising information, and sympathetic to the humanity of all the participants.”

“The Mayflower Papers: Selected Writings of Colonial New England,” edited by Nathaniel and Thomas Philbrick, is a compilation of 17th century primary source material about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower voyage, and the founding of the Plymouth Colony. It contains “Of Plymouth Plantation” by Governor William Bradford, the seminal first-person account of the early days of the settlement. Written in the Elizabethan English of the times, it is not easy reading but it nonetheless is a detailed, emotional recounting of an enterprise that took immense courage, devotion, and fortitude. In addition, this anthology contains “Mourt’s Relation,” an account of the colony’s first year in New England and the original story of the first Thanksgiving celebrated in autumn 1621, and “Good News from New England,” a continuation of the history, both by Edward Winslow.

times     “The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony” by leading Plymouth archaeologist James Deetz is a social history that is especially strong in its descriptions of the daily lives and society of the colony. Drawing on the archaeological evidence, it touches on crime, food, sexual and social relationships, legalities, and material culture, and upends many of our misconceptions about Pilgrim society.

 

 

 

 

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column, News

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