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A Fable for Our Times: The Buried Giant

by Marcia Allen,  Collection Development

I just finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel, The Buried Giant, and I was stunned by the superb quality of the writing and the subtle levels of meaning within the story. I am sure that I will return to this book again and again, because I know I missed some of the nuances the author has so carefully woven throughout the story. This seemingly simple little tale has much that is hidden.

The story concerns Axl and Beatrice, an older Briton couple living in a rough village long after the fall of Rome, who have decided to attempt a walking journey to visit their son. The two are lovingly devoted to each other, and Axl always addresses his wife as “Princess.” But something is amiss: Despite their eagerness to visit their son, they have little memory of the boy and are not quite sure where he actually lives. Like everyone else in their village, their memories have been clouded by the presence of an obliterating mist.

Nevertheless, off they go on their quest during which they will have all kinds of adventures. Among other events, they will encounter ogres and mysterious boatmen. They will meet treacherous monks and hostile Saxons. They will encounter odd-behaving children and a slumbering dragon. As they travel, it becomes clear to the reader that the one constant in their lives is their love for each other.

Buried GiantLike the travelers of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, they are joined by others seeking their own quests. They meet Wistan, a well-trained Saxon knight, who seeks something that will change the course of British history. They meet Edwin, a young boy accompanying Wistan, who bears an unusual wound. And they meet Gawain, a knight once dedicated to the service of King Arthur, whose quest brings him into brutal conflict with that of Wistan.

So, what is this delightful book telling us about humanity? It says much about the nature of memory. While we readers are appalled that the main characters have forgotten their son and don’t recall much about their own lives, we soon realize that their failing is not their fault. As Axl grasps at shadowy recollections of his past experiences, we come to understand that there was a deliberate plan for mass forgetfulness, one that robs the soul of individual memory but also averts some of the evil in the world. If memory returns, so, too, will forgotten grudges and hurt feelings that have long been buried.

The book also has much to say about death and the way the dying are conveyed from life. Both Axl and Beatrice are frail older people, and this journey they have undertaken will bring terrible stress to them. Troubled by both rough terrain and terrifying creatures, they will struggle valiantly to complete their quest, discovering as they go that their beliefs about their lives are far from fact. The final passages of the book are a poignant reminder of the uncertainty of life and a testament to the ability of letting go.

To whom will this book appeal? To anyone who treasures tales of the distant past. To those who love a bit of fantasy in their stories. To folks who appreciate symbolic meaning in everyday events of ordinary people. To anyone who loves a story of exquisitely worded language. This book will appeal on many different levels, and readers lucky enough to sample it will surely feel that they have been enthralled by a master storyteller.

 

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Nonfiction for Young Readers

By Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

When you think about your reading life as a child, do you remember going through phases?  Maybe you couldn’t get enough of the Berenstain Bears as a preschooler?  Maybe there was a time when Nancy Drew was the only fiction you would read?  A lot of readers might remember devouring nonfiction in the early elementary years.  This trend is still true today, with boys and girls alike asking for nonfiction throughout their elementary years.  Publishing companies invested in children’s reference books have made great strides in producing quality material for all ages.  In the Children’s Room, we have nonfiction books for preschoolers, sixth graders, and every age in between.  Here are some great series of books to consider for your young nonfiction reader.

dk“DK Kids”:  Dorling Kindersley is the world’s leading illustrated reference publisher, and it is very apparent in their kids’ publications.  DK Eyewitness books are aimed at older elementary readers and teens, while DK Eyewonder books are intended for younger elementary readers.  Full of color pictures and information on subjects like animals and history, these books are perfect for children wanting to explore new topics.

“Let’s Read and Find Out Science”: Books in this series range from topics on weather and the earth, to how our bodies work.  Hand-drawn illustrations are used, helping children to transition from picture books to nonfiction.  These books are shorter, intended for preschoolers or younger elementary age students.

“National Geographic Kids”: The National Geographic Society has a wealth of information and photos about the world around us, so it should come as no surprise that their children’s publications are stellar.  The titles are a great stepping stone for early readers, as they each contain a picture glossary, captions, and large text.  This series comes in four reading levels, allowing students to “graduate” to the next level of reading but stay in the same format of book.  National Geographic Kids also has many titles for older readers, such as bird guides, almanacs, and atlases.

“You Wouldn’t Want To” series: Aimed at older readers starting to think critically about science and history, this series examines what it was like to live at a certain time period.  Titles include “You Wouldn’t Want To Sail with Christopher Columbus” or “You Wouldn’t Want To Work on the Great Wall of China.”  Told in second-person narrative, these books allow readers to truly enter into the lives of people in history.

amelia“Childhood of Famous Americans”: This series explores the early years of important American figures.  Though each book is a fictionalized account of one life, the stories are true to the values and experiences of Americans during that time.  Readers can find out what gave Thurgood Marshall a passion for justice, or what made Mark Twain such a gifted and honest writer.

If your children are interested in nonfiction reading, make it a priority to encourage them down this path.  There is so much to learn about history, nature, and how things work.  If you don’t know where to start, ask a librarian.  We will be your advocates in exploring this part of your child’s reading life.

 

 

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The History of Baseball

by Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

With spring just around the corner, that means it is once again time for baseball, the all American pastime. To get yourself ready, or just to impress your friends with your vast knowledge, why not read up on the history of the sport?

If you want to brush up on your knowledge of the Negro Leagues, we have several books on the subject. Here are just a few to get you started.

monarchs“The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball” by Janet Bruce:   This book traces the story of the Kansas City Monarchs from their beginning as a charter member of the Negro National League in 1920 until their demise in the mid 1950’s due largely to the integration of the sport. The Monarchs were a powerhouse in their league and employed some of the great stars of that era, such as Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson. Did you know that the Monarchs were the first team to regularly play night baseball? They brought a portable lighting system with them which they quickly assembled at each new location when they travelled on the road. Bruce fills the book with many other interesting anecdotes as well as over 90 photographs of various players or scenes.

“Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams” by Robert Peterson:   Originally published in 1970, this is a classic book that thoroughly covers Negro league baseball from start to finish. There is detailed history about the league and some of its greatest players. There are also biographical sketches of many great players who never had the chance to play in the major leagues. Peterson manages to capture the heart and soul of Negro league baseball, while underscoring the tragedy of the lost opportunities of Negro league players because of segregation.

jackie“Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy” by Jules Tygiel:   No baseball history would be complete without the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in the major leagues. Tygiel, through interviews with players, newspaper accounts, and personal papers, recounts how Jackie Robinson influenced not only baseball, but American society as well.

 

 

 

For a general look at baseball history, the library has many books to offer. Here are a few of my picks:

boys“The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn:   Many are of the opinion that this is the best baseball book ever written, or at least somewhere on the list.  Kahn describes his youth  growing up in the 30’s and 40’s near Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, as well as his time as a beat writer covering the Dodgers in the early 50’s. In a very poignant section, Kahn then recounts what happened to these great players long after their baseball days were over. Even non-baseball fans should appreciate this book.

“Mudville Madness: Fabulous Feats, Belligerent Behavior, and Erratic Episodes on the Diamond” by Jonathan Weeks:   For a lighthearted look at baseball, give this one a try. Weeks takes you chronologically from baseball’s earliest days up to the present day, recounting the strange, bizarre, and little-known events that happen on the field of play. For instance, in 1957, while a woman was being carted from the game on a stretcher after being hit in the face by Richie Ashburn’s foul ball, she was hit in the leg by another Ashburn foul ball during the same at bat.

baseballwomen“Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball” by Barbara Gregorich:   The story of women in baseball is a fascinating one. I had no idea that there were a number of barnstorming “bloomer teams” that travelled across the U.S. playing against men’s teams. Or, that during the 1930’s in an exhibition game, one woman, Jackie Mitchell, struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Gregorich’s book is an entertaining account of this little known piece of baseball history.

These are only a fraction of the baseball books that MPL has to offer, so be sure to stop in and see what we have. Also, don’t forget to come hear Phil Dixon speak at the library on March 29 at 2:00 p.m. Mr. Dixon is an African America sports historian, author of nine baseball books, and co-founder of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Mr. Dixon will be discussing the history of the Kansas City Monarchs, games the Monarchs played in Manhattan, and the history of African American baseball players from this community.

 

 

 

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March Events at the Library Include Baseball and Charles Dickens

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager 

What do Internet safety, the Kansas City Monarchs, Manhattan history, Charles Dickens, and great books for sale all have in common? They’re all at Manhattan Public Library in the month of March.

Last weekend, the Manhattan Library Association (the Friends of the Library) annual book sale was a huge success, in spite of the snow, and the effort raised thousands of dollars to support summer reading and other library programs for all ages. The tremendous generosity and support of our Friends and the tireless year-round efforts of book sale volunteers are truly appreciated. Thanks, also, to all those in the community who donate so many wonderful books each year for our library sale. It’s a gift that benefits us all.  If you didn’t get a chance to stop by and browse the thousands of books for sale, don’t worry! You can find great deals on gently used books all year long at Rosie’s Corner Book Store on the first floor of the library.

Mark your calen20monarchsdar for Sunday, March 29, for a fun and informative program that’s sure to appeal to fans of baseball, local history, and African-American history. Author and historian Phil Dixon, a co-founder of the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City, will present “The Kansas City Monarchs and Our Home Town,” a program about the Monarchs’ unique history, with special emphasis on their connections to Manhattan and on the history of Negro Leagues Baseball. Mr. Dixon has authored nine books and will offer his books at the program for sale and signing. Join us at 2:00 p.m. in the Library Auditorium. This program is appropriate for all ages and is co-sponsored by the Riley County Historical Society.

Join us for tea, cookies, and Brit Lit on Thursday, March 26th, 7:00 p.m., when our monthly book series will continue with a discussion of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” We’ll meet in the Groesbeck Room and our discussion leader this month will be KSU Professor Michaeline Chance-Reay. “Great Expectations” is the story of orphaned Pip, his desperate early years, his struggles to overcome his past, and his dreams of becoming a gentleman. Drawing on the his frequent themes of Victorian wealth and poverty, love and rejection, weakness or strength of character, and the eventual triumph of good over evil, Dickens weaves multiple storylines into a tight plot, imagining scenes rich in comedy and pathos and introducing a succession of unforgettable characters. This TALK series of programs is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council and the Manhattan Library Association.

book discussionThe Tech Tuesday series at Manhattan Public Library continues in March with two different technology programs. On Tuesday, March 10th, at 2:00 p.m., members of the Riley County Genealogical Society will lead a workshop on “Intermediate Ancestry and Kansas Resources,” a look at more advanced techniques for using the online resource Ancestry.com and at unique genealogy resources for the state of Kansas.

Our second March workshop will discuss privacy and security in the digital world of the 21st century. On Tuesday, March 24, at 7:00 p.m.,  we will feature “Online Privacy and Security,” led by Lucas Loughmiller, Director of Library Services at USD 383, who will focus on ways in which adults can get the most out of the online world while maximizing the safety and security of their own personal information. Tech Tuesday programs are held in the library’s Groesbeck Room. You can register for Tech Tuesdays on the library’s website at www.mhklibrary.org or by calling us at 785-776-4741 Ext. 141.

Hope to see you in the library this month!

 

 

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Library Secrets

By Danielle Schapaugh

Psst…I have a secret to tell you. There are free services at the library that you don’t even suspect!

scannerFor starters, Manhattan Public Library has a high-quality digital flatbed scanner. Users can scan documents, photos, articles, or even maps in color at high resolution, and save the images to a flash drive or send them directly to an email account. All for free.

If you’re in need of a high speed Internet connection, the library’s got you covered. Cardholders can access free 30Mbps WiFi in the building and at three WiFi hotspots around town: the Douglass Community Center at 901 Yuma, City Park Playground, and the Wefald Pavilion in City Park. The library received a grant in 2013 to test TV Whitespace as a way to provide free Internet access and it has been very successful. Log in to using your library card number and password. If you forget your password, visit the library to have it reset.

For those of us who feel outpaced by new technology, the library offers technology classes twice a month. In addition, Wandean Rivers in the Assistive Technology Center is available for one-on-one technology tutoring by appointment. Call Wandean at 776-4741 ext. 202 to schedule a session. Desk staff can also help with basic questions and assist you in finding the resources to learn more. These services, like all the services at the library, are free to cardholders.

Lynda_homepage_icon2If you prefer to explore on your own, the library offers several options for self-education. The most exciting new service is called lynda.com. With topics ranging from Improving Your Memory to 3D Video Game Design, lynda.com provides training to interest any user at any level. I’ve used the service to improve my professional skills in office programs and graphic design. I can’t say enough about lynda.com; I want to shout about it from the rooftops! Try any of the thousands of video tutorials and you will be amazed. Lynda.com is available completely free for all library card holders through the library’s website.

Perhaps you are someone who is “all about the books.” If you just want something good to read, ask a librarian. We have resources to recommend books based on your tastes, authors you like, genres you enjoy, bestsellers, and more. If you want a complete and customized list of recommendations, take a minute to fill out a personalized reading list request.  A librarian will comb the collection and give you a long list of books you’re sure to love. Why waste time reading mediocre books when there are so many great books to enjoy?

There are resources galore for children and families, but you may not have noticed the storytime kits and discovery packs. Librarians package books, games, toys, and even costumes in a backpack for a complete learning and entertainment experience. Find topics like New Siblings, Fire and Rescue, Potty Training (complete with Potty Elmo doll), World Records, and Dinosaurs. Discovery packs are perfect for grandparents with visiting grandkids!

Another resource you may not have noticed is simply space. The library has three meeting rooms and one computer classroom that are available to the public. Community and civic groups can reserve space to hold meetings, conduct classes, and even teleconference in the library’s meeting rooms for free. No groups can charge admission or conduct sales at the library, and some other restrictions may apply. For more information please call or visit the Manhattan Public Library.

I could go on and on, and then some. You can find language learning programs, resources to help teach your child to read, fun events, Consumer Reports, Ancestry.com, and more. If you would like a group tour of library services, please call us at (785) 776-4741 ext.120. We would love to show you all the wonderful resources available at your local library.

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Read a Tale, Tell a Tale

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

February 26 is National Tell a Fairy-Tale Day.  I know you already know them, but in case you need some inspiration for your Thursday bedtime story, come visit our Fairy Tale and Folklore Neighborhood in the Children’s room. Look for the banner with the impressive Neuschwanstein Castle pictured atop its woodsy Bavarian hillside. In this section, we have pulled together our fantastic collection of anthologies and picture books so you can find plenty of options, including classic tales, tall tales, new tales, whimsical or “fractured” fairy tales, and stories from around the world.

A few recent additions to this neighborhood include:

chickenBrave Chicken Little retold and illustrated by Robert Byrd. Chicken Little is sure the sky is falling, and he gathers an even larger than usual crowd of animals in his wake when he runs into that sly Foxy Loxy.  This time, Loxy has a wife and seven little kits “who frazzle my wits,” and they are all hungry. Down to the cellar the other animals go, waiting for the stew water to boil. Can little Chicken Little save the day?  Byrd turns the tables on this tale and gives kids an unlikely champion for problem-solving and resourcefulness.

My Grandfather’s Coat retold by Jim Aylesworth. Children love the old Yiddish tale “I Had a Little Overcoat,” with the continual surprises of what the old man will make out of his clothing next.  This retelling has just the right amount of repetition for young listeners to get into the rhythm and start chiming in: “He wore it, and he wore it. And little bit by little bit, he frayed it, and he tore it, until at last…he wore it out!”  Barbara McClintock’s illustrations of family life add a personable tone, showing how the overcoat lasts for generations until “there was nothing left at all. Nothing, that is, except for this story.”

Twelve Dancing Unicorns by Alissa Heyman. In this magical fantasy, a king has 12 unicorns chained to trees in a pen. Only a little girl with a special cloak can discover the mysterious secrets of the mythical creatures and try to save them. This story is sure to satisfy young unicorn lovers with beautiful illustrations by Justin Gerard.

blueThe longstanding favorite anthologies by Andrew Lang are being reissued with the original illustrations, and you can find The Blue Fairy Book, The Yellow Fairy Book and The Green Fairy Book in the library’s collection, each with dozens of tales from around the world including both well-known stories and rare little gems. Lang’s prefaces are worth reading aloud, during which he generally acknowledges the superiority of the child’s mind over the dull thinking of grown-ups.

Two Robert Sabuda pop-up books are also displayed in the Fairy Tales & Folklore Neighborhood: Dragons & Knights and Beauty & the Beast. They are not available for check-out due to their delicate inner workings, but kids and adults love to pore through them while sitting on the fanciful purple bench.  So come read some books, play dress-up with your child, gaze into the “magic” mirror and be inspired to tell a thrilling tale with your own new endings on Fairy-Tale Day.

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National Geographic Society Resources – Food for the Mind

by Mary Newkirk, Adult Services Librarian

natgeoOn January 27, 1888 a group of thirty-three geographers, explorers, cartographers, teachers, and other professionals met at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC, to discuss organizing “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”  We know that group now as the National Geographic Society, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world. What began as a club for an elite group of academics and wealthy patrons interested in travel, has developed into a wealth of resources that reach over 600 million people monthly.

Manhattan Public Library patrons will find quite a number of National Geographic resources available at the library, ranging from books, ebooks, and videos to the iconic magazines.  A computer card catalog search for books shows a return of over 670 titles.  These are  divided between children’s books and adult books. Look for age-appropriate labeled books for children such as Prereaders – enchanting books for little ones just beginning their journey with books.  A quick glimpse shows beautifully illustrated books on the “Titanic”, “Saving Animal Babies”, “Race Day”, and “Dinosaurs” to name a few.  Every grade level can find something fun.

medicinalAdult books are also hugely varied… “Expeditions Atlas”, “Gypsies”, “Encyclopedia of Space”, “Medicinal Herbs”, “Tales of the Weird”, “Travel Gems”.  The incredible photographs are the real draw for perusing these books. In 1897, Alexander Graham Bell was elected president of the Society. He insisted on “pictures, and plenty of them….Leave science to others and give us a detail of living interest beautifully illustrated by photographs.” This was the beginning of their use of photography to show the common man the wonders of the world.

 

 

dawnAs I researched the books that our library offers to our patrons, I was surprised to find that a local Kansan is a prominent freelance photographer for National Geographic.  I was flipping through one of our newer books, “Dawn to Dark Photographs: The Magic of Light” and came upon a beautiful photo of fireflies taken in the Flint Hills by Jim Richardson. If you have ever dreamed of seeing your photos published, check out the FAQ’s on his website, www.jimrichardsonphotography.com.  He is very forthcoming about how to pursue your dream.

Most of us love to be entertained by great videos. Our library has 35 dvds that are fascinating looks at a myriad of subjects.  Try the set of programs called, “Thirty Years of National Geographic Specials for a great introduction to many of the topics the Society has covered. Climb Everest with the first Americans to conquer it, plunge into the incredible underwater world of explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and see animals of every kind in their natural habitats.  This is nature footage without editing, so your children may find it a bit raw as animals display their violence by fighting for their spot in the food chain.

 

warI have a profound appreciation for those who served in the Vietnam War after participating in this past Veteran’s Day Forum with the Flint Hills Veteran’s Coalition members. The National Geographic Society has produced “Brothers In War,” a video released last May about Charlie Company.  Reviewers on Amazon.com have praised this as the most authentic depiction of the hardships faced by young draftees in the Mekong Delta.  It is based on the book “The Boys of ‘67” by Andrew Wiest, which examines the experiences of a company from the only division in the Vietnam era to train and deploy together in similar fashion to WWII’s famous 101st Airborne Division. Of the 160 men, only 30 were not killed or injured by the time they came home in December 1967.  Wiest interviewed more than 50 officers and enlisted men of Charlie Company and had access to personal papers, collections of letters, a diary, an abundance of newspaper clippings, training notebooks, field manuals, condolence letters, and photographs from before, during, and after the conflict.

Additional titles of popular videos are: “In the Womb”, “Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West”, “Alien Deep”, “Titanic Revealed”, “Life in a Day”, and “Fundamentals of Photography.”

We subscribe to four different magazines published by the Society:  National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Little Kids, National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler.  I especially enjoy the latter for its peek into the best travel destinations, both domestic and international. These are available to be checked out for a week and enjoyed at home.

The library will be closed Monday, February 16, President’s Day, for an all-employee staff training.

 

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Happy Birthday, Charlie D.

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Charles Dickens, English authorYesterday marked the 203rd birthday of Charles Dickens. Born in Portsmouth, England on February 7, 1812, Dickens is considered by many to be one of the greatest authors in the English language. In addition to writing some of the most popular novels of the nineteenth century, Dickens also penned countless short stories, nonfiction pieces, and plays. Dickens also attracted large crowds to his public readings of memorable scenes from his works.

During his life, Dickens enjoyed unprecedented popularity. His novels were published first in monthly or weekly installments, and later printed in volumes. Some of his novels sold several hundred thousand copies in book form during his lifetime (Dickens died in 1870).  His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular today. “A Tale of Two Cities,” for example, has sold over 200 million copies to date.

Dickens’ father, John Dickens, was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office. He was constantly in debt and ultimately landed himself in debtor’s prison. To help support his family, by supporting himself, Dickens was put to work in a boot blacking factory at age 12. Though he only experienced the evils of child labor for a few months, the experience colored Dickens’ attitudes for the rest of his life. This led him to champion children and the poor, and to castigate the injustices of the education and justice systems, and the wealthy.

The library owns copies of many of Dickens’ works. Some may be familiar to you, such as “Oliver Twist,” the story of a workhouse orphan and his adventures with a gang of juvenile pickpockets. “A Tale of Two Cities,” is another familtaleiar title, set against the French Revolution and the cities of London and Paris. The novel boasts one of the most famous opening lines in literature with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” “David Copperfield,” is one of Dickens’ most well-known novels. This thinly veiled autobiographical novel follows the fortunes of its hero as he grapples with a hateful stepfather and an unscrupulous clerk (the infamous and unforgettable Uriah Heep) as he tries to make his way in the world.

Dickens wrote a total of 15 novels. His last, the unfinished “Mystery of Edwin Drood,” is the story of title’s namesake, his fiancée Rosa Bud, and the hot-tempered Neville Landless. Landless, also in love with Rosa Budd, is no friend of Edwin Drood who disappears under mysterious circumstances. Since Dickens had written and published only six of the twelve installments of the novel at the time of his death, the world will never know what happened to Edwin Drood.

Memorable characters abound in all Dickens’ work. We easily recognize Pip, Estella, and Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations;” Little Nell in “The Old Curiosity Shop;” and of course Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol.”

Dickens has been a popular subject of biographers since his friend, John Forster, completed the first biography in 1874. More recently, Peter Ackroyd wrote a comprehensive biography entitled “Dickens,” and Claire Tomalin wrote “Charles Dickens: A Life.” Dickens was a biographer of the city of London and wrote of it as no one has since. If you are interested in daily life in Dickens’ time, read “The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London,” by Judith Flanders. Or, try “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist – The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England,” by Daniel Poole.

Hundredcharless of film and television adaptations have been made of Dickens’ works, including nearly fifty of “A Christmas Carol.” All the novels and many of the shorter works of Charles Dickens are available as free eBooks from websites including Project Gutenberg and ManyBooks.net. The collection of titles in Project Gutenberg is also searchable through the library’s Sunflower eLibrary.

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The Hillerman Prize: The Best of Western Mysteries

by Marcia Allen, Collection Development

Tony_HillermanI still miss having a fresh, new Tony Hillerman mystery to read.  I never tired of reading the latest adventures of law officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, as they patiently sorted out the facts of murders and thefts that took place in the Southwest.  To me, and to so many other long-time fans, the characters and situations that Hillerman so skillfully described in each tale were among the best in American mystery writing.

The range of awards that the author earned was astonishing.  The Anthony, the Edgar, the Macavity, and the Nero were among his accolades, some of them received multiple times.  And one special honor was earned in 2002 when Hillerman received the Agatha Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement for having written novels in the spirit of Agatha Christie.

While Hillerman died in 2008, the spirit of his creativity lives on.   The Tony Hillerman Writers Conference is held each year in Santa Fe, New Mexico during the fall.  Workshops led by award-winning writers and promotional activities supporting the writing of any genre are conducted.  One of the highlights of the event is the announcement of the year’s Hillerman Prize.  The lucky winner has the opportunity to meet the editor of St. Martin’s Press with whom he or she will collaborate on that first novel.  The author also wins a cash prize of $10,000.

Among other prbad countryize guidelines, the author must have never before written a published mystery or be under contract with a publisher, and the debut mystery must take place in the Southwest.  The crime itself must be murder or other serious crimes, with a focus on solution rather than the actual details of the crime.

Which brings me to C.B. McKenzie, the 2013 Hillerman winner.  I had never heard of the author, but the bold “Winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize” logo on the cover caught my attention.  Bad Country seemed promising, so I began to read of the adventures of Rodeo Grace Garnet, private investigator/warrant server in a desolate corner of Arizona called El Hoyo (The Hole).  The action begins when Rodeo discovers the battered body of a Native American near his home.  Further investigation reveals a whole string of violent murders, all committed against various tribal members.  Told by law enforcement to avoid involvement, Rodeo begins piecing together the similarities of the crimes.  Full involvement begins when a grandmother of one of the victims asks for Rodeo’s help, yet she displays no sympathy or compassion toward her deceased grandson.

What makes this mystery one-of-a-kind is a flawed but caring main character.  Rodeo has made a lot of mistakes, like his relationship with the treacherous Serena Ray Molina, but he also cares deeply about justice and the victimization of helpless characters like Samuel Rocha.  The mystery itself is a complex tale of deception and violence, with a hit-and-run accident that has far-reaching implications.  And the ending of the book is explosive.  Understated tones and short passages pack a wallop of a finale.

If you like this territorymystery, you’ll probably want to check out other Hillerman award winners.  MPL also has Andrew Hunt’s City of Saints (the 2011 winner).  This mystery takes place in Salt Lake City in the 1930s when and unusual pair of crime-solvers must discover the killer of a socialite.  Or, you might try the 2010 winner, The Territory by Tricia Fields.  This tale explores the nasty interactions between the inhabitants of a West Texas town and violent drug cartel members.  The 2008 winner, The Ragged Edge of Nowhere by Roy Chaney, concerns ex-CIA Agent Bodo Hagen, who turns to crime-solving when his brother, who somehow possesses an ancient relic, is murdered in the desert.

So, there you have it.  A variety of different styles and storylines that share only a focus on Southwest crime, but each special in its own way.  These are, after all, the prestigious winners of the Tony Hillerman Prize.

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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!

Posted in: Mercury Column, News

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