News & More...

Archive for Mercury Column

Holiday Stress Relievers

Hurry Less Worry Less at ChristmasThe song claims that it is the most wonderful time of the year, and in many ways it is, but we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that for many it is also a time of great stress. Social media sites give us so many great ideas for making the holidays more special, and we can feel lazy if we don’t try as many of them as possible. Friends and family members add richness to our lives, but sometimes family gatherings bring conflicts and concerns. Our involvement in faith groups and organizations can give us fulfillment and support and joy, but also added activities (and last-minute costume hunts!) during this season. As always, the library has some tools to help smooth the way.
In “Hurry Less, Worry Less at Christmas: Having the Holiday Season You Long For,” Judy Pace Christie gives practical advice for simplifying your holiday, as well as spiritual guidance to help those who want to refocus on the spirituality of Christmas. “Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas” is Bill McKibben’s answer to the commercialism of the season, with suggestions for how to spend less and change the focus to family and community. “Real Simple: Celebrations” by Valerie Rains will help you simplify any gathering, with helpful tips and plans so that you can enjoy instead of endure.
In the midst of the seasonal flurry, it’s important to take care of yourself. If you’ve overdone it and need to regroup, we have a couple of DVDs that can help. “Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Energy and Stress Relief” has three twenty-minute programs designed to help you restore your calm. The background scenery of Western Colorado provides a bit of an escape as well. In “A Beginner’s Guide to Mindfullness Meditation: 10 Days to Change Your Life Forever” Ira Israel covers the steps for this ancient practice to bring you serenity and inner peace.
Techniques from the business world can be helpful as we try to find ways to make our home lives less stressful. “Managing Stress,” a 21-minute course available through on Manhattan Public Library’s website teaches how to identify your triggers, manage interactions and time, make positive personal choices, and start with small steps.
Honestly, though, sometimes we all overdo it and need a quick fix to heal the spirit. This would be the time to call in the laughter. It’s the best medicine, after all. If all that Christmas cheer is getting to you, David Sedaris can help you explore the darkly humorous aspects of the season in “Holidays on Ice.” He discusses a family Christmas letter that spins out of control, a scathing review of a children’s pageant, and, the highlight: a memoir of his time working as an elf at a department store. For something with a bit more light, you might enjoy “The Christmas Companion: Stories, Songs, and Sketches” by Garrison Keillor. Containing traditional Prairie Home Companion fare with a holiday theme, this audiobook can’t help but brighten your mood. For a quick laugh that won’t tax your brain, “Wreck the Halls: Cake Wreck Gets Festive” by Jen Yates is ideal. Full of hilarious cake decorating snafus, this book will reassure you about your attempts at new holiday projects that have gone awry.
Nothing adds cheer to all of the wrapping, cleaning, decorating, and cooking like a holiday movie. We have everything from classics like “White Christmas” and “Miracle on 34th Street” to Will Ferrell’s “Elf” and “Arthur Christmas.” If all else fails, it’s time to take a break. Put on a CD from our holiday collection, make a cup of tea, put up your feet, and read something fun.

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column, News

Leave a Comment (0) →

New Nonfiction Standouts for Adults

By Marcia Allen, Collection Development, Manhattan Public Library

With summer activities but a memory, and colder weather looming in the near future, it’s time to return to indoor activities.  Fortunately for us, these changes coincide with the release of new fall book titles.  And this season’s releases offer some intriguing topics that just might attract you.  Consider the following:

  • The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff. This lengthy book received a lot of advance attention, primarily because of the tremendous success of Schiff’s 2011 nonfiction bestseller, Cleopatra, as well as her 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning book,   This time, Schiff recounts that shameful period of American history known as the Salem Witch Trials.   She opens the book with a reminder that in the year 1692, nineteen people were hanged in the little town of Salem, after their accusers testified to a series of horrendous deeds they suffered at the hands of those they accused. A list and description of the major characters involved in this tragedy helps us to better understand the nature of this frenzy.  Schiff’s telling is dramatic, and though we know how the story plays out, the book is a worthy reminder about human behavior at its worst.


  • Ivory Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown. This book is about the Lewis chessmen of the Scottish National Museum and the British Museum which are considered rare treasures indeed, but the book is more of a whole cultural experience.  The 12th century, during which the chessmen were created by the talented Margret the Adroit of Iceland, is displayed in all its colorful history.   Curious readers will discover the extent to which the Vikings controlled the North Atlantic.  They will learn of the hunt for coveted walrus ivory.  They will explore the culture of Norse society.  Each chapter opens with a reference to a particular chess piece, but it soon veers off into tales of contemporary nobility and war, the creation of art, the written tales, and so much more.  There’s a bit of everything in this wonderful tale.

  • Fortunate Son by John Fogarty. This is one of many autobiographies written by entertainers to come out this season, but it’s also one of the better ones.  Well known for his role in Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogarty tells of his early admiration for musicians like Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MGs, and he recalls the band’s memorable performances, like their arrival at Woodstock.  He shares his naïve dealings with his first agent, and he describes the motivation behind so many of his hit songs, like his intent with “Run through the Jungle.”   He speaks well of his successes, but he also recounts the poor choices that he made, thus we discover the humble storyteller that he is.


  • SPQR
    by Mary Beard.  At over 600 pages in length, this history of ancient Rome seems intimidating, but Cambridge professor Beard brings an amazing period back to life.  Her goal?  Of course, she tells the story of the growth of a powerful empire, but she also works to dispel the Roman myths we have all come to accept as truth.  She tells us, for example, that Rome was not some inferior copier of Greek culture; in fact, Rome was a nation of inventive people fascinated with structural engineering.  We learn in these pages more than history ever previously revealed about Roman perception and Roman thinking.  Recent discoveries in literature and in excavation have given us a truer picture of those who lived so many centuries ago.  Think of Beard as a lively guide, displaying for us a lost age.

  • The Art of Grace by Sarah L. Kaufman. What a lovely book!  As author Kaufman says, “Grace is being at ease with the world, even when life tosses wine down your pants.”  Her book is a collection of the characters and the anecdotes which speak to her of the true nature of grace.
    Roger Federer, says the author, exhibits grace in beautiful movement on the court.  Margaret Thatcher exhibited grace for her bearing and her attention to her appearance even when facing the House of Commons.  Ballerina Margot Fonteyn demonstrated grace in her poise and obvious joy in dance.  At the heart of grace is ease, says Kaufman, a talent that one can attain through a practical consideration of her ten helpful points.  A lively look at an admirable characteristic.

With all the readily available new titles that this season offers, we can shift comfortably into the confines of winter.  An armchair adventures awaits.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Notable November

by Brian Ingalsbe, Youth Services Library Assistant

October is already behind us, and our lives seem to get more eventful as the holidays draw near. Manhattan Public Library is no exception. Throughout the month of November, the Youth Services Department has a wide variety of programs and parties that will keep you on your toes!

Read with a Dog is one of the most engaging programs MPL has to offer – occurring Sundays, November 8th and 16th. At this event, children can sign up for a fifteen-minute time slot to read to a dog. All dogs are certified therapy dogs; they are eager and waiting to hear your favorite stories! Read with a Dog is a great program because it offers a lot of flexibility for all ages. What if your child doesn’t read? No problem! These dogs thrive on human contact and would love nothing more than to sit and keep your child company. Let’s be honest: is there anything more exciting than corgis in the library?

Fast forward to the week of November 16th. This is when the real excitement begins! Kansas Reads to Preschoolers (KRP) is a statewide event that celebrates a love of all things literacy. Every year, an esteemed board chooses a book, which is featured during this week-long celebration. This year’s winner – Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino – features a young llama, comparing his mother’s attributes to those of his close animal friends.

MPL will be endorsing this book at our regular storytimes throughout the week, by focusing on animal families and llamas. A FREE book will be given to children attending a storytime. The week will culminate with the wonderful Zoofari Tails storytime, a partnership between MPL and the Sunset Zoo, which will feature animal bio facts pertaining to llamas. Can you think of a better way to celebrate early literacy?

If KRP is not enough of a reason to come and visit the library, let me give you another: story quilts – courtesy of the Konza Prairie Quilter’s Guild – will be on display the same week as KRP. The guild’s theme, Cuddle Up in a Good Book, was chosen to commemorate the 2014 children’s expansion. Each quilt will feature children’s works in some capacity – including Dr. Seuss books, Harry Potter, Charlotte’s Web, and The Pokey Little Puppy, as well as some more traditional quilts with fabric and shapes inspired by children’s literature. I have not seen them for myself, but my sources have informed me that these quilts are absolutely stunning. Do not miss this wonderful opportunity.

The week of November 16th keeps its momentum moving forward until the very end of the week. As mentioned above, Zoofari Tails will be hosted Friday, November 20th. That same day, Youth Services staff will host a Holiday Card Crafts party. Children ages three to twelve will have an amazing time creating crafts and cards for the upcoming holiday season. The party is a come-and-go event beginning at noon – meaning you can craft till your heart’s content, or until 4:00, whichever comes first. If you have a teen – grades seven to twelve – we will be hosting a Holiday Pinterest Party on Saturday, November 21st. This party will be full of crafts and creations inspired from the near infinite number of Pinterest boards. Do you have the crafting ability to create a masterpiece? Come and find out!

As the week of November 16th comes to a close, MPL has one more event to keep your child occupied before Thanksgiving. The Youth Services Department will be hosting a kids’ movie marathon on Wednesday, November 25th. A movie for preschoolers will be shown beginning at 10:00, followed by a school-aged-appropriate movie at 2:00. Feel free to bring your own easy-to-clean-up snacks!

MPL is a great resource, and our staff is always ready to help you find your next great read, explore the online world, or answer any question you may have. You can contact the Youth Services Department staff at or (785)776-4741 ext. 125.

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, library services, Mercury Column, News, Parents

Leave a Comment (0) →

What’s Tween and Why Does It Matter?

Rachael Schmidtlein
Teen and Tween Services Coordinator

Across the far reaches of the Internet are articles, surveys, and studies about how to raise children to be reasonable, functioning human beings (some day). Children approach learning differently, and those approaches differ depending on their age, attentiveness, activity level, etc. New research is constantly being published to help parents and educators figure out how to increase literacy in children. This is a wonderful thing! A side effect of all of this research is that new age groups are constantly emerging.

The idea that a child is not, in fact, just a short adult is relatively new. Until 1836, no labor laws existed. The first children’s department within a library didn’t even come about until the Boston Public Library opened their children’s room in 1895, which was followed quickly by the practice of storytelling in the library.

Young adult literature and services were still slower coming. After World War I, children stopped going into the job market at the age of 14 (instead finishing school or even attending college). Libraries realized that by designating materials for teenagers, they could give them a sense of belonging and keep them engaged in continuous learning. In the 1990’s, libraries began dedicating services and librarians exclusively to teenagers.

A pattern, however, began to emerge. Children’s services were seeing a huge drop between the number of children using library programs and the number of teens using library programs. Even more troubling, children who were initially “reluctant readers” stopped reading entirely and would continue to have trouble in school. What was happening? Where did they go?

As most parents know, in grades 4-6, kids start get super busy. They become less easy to attract to library programs. Sports, religious activities, mountains of homework: the list just keeps going. To make the over-programmed juggling act more difficult, parents have to drive their children from place to place because kids can’t start driving until high school. We know that keeping preteens connected with reading is an important step in creating lifelong learners, especially for reluctant readers, but the question is how?

That’s where I come in! My name is Rachael Schmidtlein, and I am the new Tween and Teen Services Coordinator at the Manhattan Public Library. Our Youth Services staff at MPL has already been working on some awesome tween programs. At the Manhattan Public Library, we’ve defined a Tween as someone between the 4th and 6th grade. Every time we have an event that is specifically for tweens, we witness kids excited that they have a place to come just for them. Our programs may not seem like they are directly related to literature, but no matter if it’s a haunted library after hours, a holiday card craft or something equally as cool, we make sure that the tweens know that there are resources here for them to read and study on every subject imaginable.

Tweens are at the perfect age for library programming. They’re starting to get into the more complicated elements of their subjects at school, and the library offers them a fun, free place to explore those core learning elements, without the restrictions of state education standards. We often offer programs that are based in popular culture, like Doctor Who, and then we dig even deeper into the STEAM, science, technology, engineering, arts, and math components of the topic. This leads to some seriously creative and out-of-the-box thinking. Our tween programming is just beginning to take off, and we have a lot of ideas planned for the future! If you have any questions about tween or teen services at the Manhattan Public Library, you can email our staff at

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Teens, Mercury Column, News, Parents, Young Adult Dept

Leave a Comment (0) →

Finding Diversity in Reading

by Amber Keck, Youth Services Librarian

The artful act of reading is a beautiful thing to observe.  Different people have different motives and end goals when they participate in reading.  For some, it is done in order to gain knowledge and facts.  For others, reading is a pleasurable activity, meant to allow readers to indulge and escape.  For many, reading is a way to escape AND a way to gain knowledge.  Readers might find themselves engrossed in the story of a person living a life they will never have.  By reading about that character, readers can experience a life different from their own.  Reading diversely allows people to enter into a world that is not their past, present or future reality.  While they may not be able to understand the full experience of the character, they gain a bit of insight into a life.

The summer and fall of 2015 offered many new book releases that can help you diversify your reading.  Here are just a few picks for you to consider.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a journalist and educator, specializing in social, political and cultural issues in America.  His 2008 memoir, The Beautiful Struggle, revisited his childhood, growing up in a poor Baltimore neighborhood with a father determined to raise his son right.  Between the World and Me seeks to help readers understand race culture and the struggles that African-Americans face today and have faced in the past.  This book is written as a letter to his son, as Coates lays bare life as a black man in America.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Plus-sized teenager Willowdean is comfortable in her own body and not afraid to say it.  When she gets a crush on a boy and starts to lose her swagger, she decides to enter a local beauty pageant.  Author Julie Murphy takes the classic bildungsroman to a whole new level with this young adult novel.  With a character comfortable in her own skin, she sends a message to girls of all sizes, to embrace their inner beauty and outer beauty at the same time.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Award-winning author Jenny Lawson is not afraid to tell the truth about how she was raised and how her brain functions in the context of mental illness.  Her first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, stunned readers with its vulnerability and comfort in the truth of living with depression and anxiety.  In Furiously Happy, Lawson goes even further in an effort to help readers truly accept the “crazy” moments and the “normal” moments, to make them memorable and wonderful.  Lawson writes about mental illness in a fresh way that leaves readers crying and laughing.

Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is a TV writer, actress and creator of the The Mindy Project, a show in which she also stars.  Her first set of essays, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, gave readers a glimpse into the life of a young minority woman working in Hollywood.  Why Not Me? is a second set of personal essays, offering even more insight into finding success in television.  Kaling discusses her ongoing relationship with co-writer B.J. Novak, as well as America’s fixation on the weight of actresses.  Kaling’s wit and snark make her essays enjoyable, while her honesty and vulnerability keep her writing accessible.

These titles are just a few among many that can diversify your reading life.  The Manhattan Public Library staff would love to help you find your next great read.  Talk to a staff member today, or request a personalized reading list at the library or online.


Posted in: Children's Dept, For Adults, Mercury Column

Leave a Comment (0) →

Fall Fun for Kids at the Library

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager
Looking for some fun activities for your kids this month? The library has planned some fun parties and events that will bring out your child’s creative juices and keep them begging to visit the library.

A Cardboard Creations Party on October 22 for kids in K-3rd grade will allow kids to see what happens when boxes meet their brains. There are so many possibilities when you have some paper towel tubes, boxes, tape and markers. We have no idea what they will dream up, but we’ll be ready with the camera. After making their cardboard creations, kids are invited to stick around and play with their new inventions, as well as a large cardboard playhouse and rocket ship. Don’t be surprised if this inspires new found fun at home with leftover tubes, cereal boxes and other bits and pieces from the recycling bin. For more ideas, kids can check out books from the Arts & Crafts section such as The Cardboard Box Book, Fun Things to Do with Cardboard Tubes or The Paper Playhouse.

Tweens in 4th-6th grade can register to attend our first ever “Tween After-Hours Party” on October 24 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. Has your child been wondering what it would be like to be in the library after it has closed and everyone’s gone home? This thrilling concept, along with the “Haunted Library” theme, will let kids see the library in a new light and keep them busy on a Saturday night (while Mom and Dad catch a relaxing dinner out). Activities led by library assistant Mr. Brian will include an ice-breaker game called “Wink Murder,” followed by a “Humans vs. Zombies” scavenger hunt around the library, (low level) Fear Factor challenges, and a spooky tale from Anthony Horowitz’s children’s book series “Horowitz Horror: Stories You’ll Wish You’d Never Read.” Also, there will be plenty of snacks! Register tweens for this event by visiting the library’s webpage at on the Events for Tweens page.

Younger children are invited to come dressed in costume for our annual Halloween storytime on October 30, with sessions at 9:30 and 11:00. Fun stories will include Click, Clack, Boo! by Doreen Cronin and the classic tale The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, as well as action songs and rhymes. After storytime, children are invited to trick-or-treat at a couple of stations in the Children’s Room. Also, this year members of the Flint Hills Junior League will be in the atrium to give storytime trick-or-treaters a free book. What a great way to start the Halloween weekend!

Look for more programs this month on USD383’s “no school” days including a movie tomorrow afternoon, Minecraft gaming on Friday, plus the monthly Sunset Zoo visit for an animal-themed storytime on October 23. October is also the month for National Friends of the Library week, a great time to join our fabulous Friends group that funds our youth programs and events. Look for the link to Manhattan Library Association (MLA) or ask about it at our service desks.

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Adults, For Kids, Mercury Column, News

Leave a Comment (0) →

Spin That Dough, its National Pizza Month

by John Pecoraro ,  Assistant Director

Something vaguely similar to pizza has existed for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the lowly, new world, tomato arrived in Europe that the pizza we know and love today became a possibility. Thought for years to be poisonous (as a member of the nightshade family), tomatoes had become a regular part of the diet of the southern Italian poor by the late 18th century. Pizza crossed the Atlantic to America along with Italian immigrants in the late 19th century.

As testament to how much we Americans enjoy pizza, consider that there are 70,000 pizzerias in the U.S., and that annual pizza sales revenue is 32 billion dollars. Three billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. every year, with the average consumer eating 46 slices (usually not at one sitting). An estimated 93% of Americans eat at least one piece of pizza early month, with more pizza consumed during Super Bowl week than at any other time of the year.

Since October is designated National Pizza Month, take the opportunity to sample some of the books about this delectable round (and sometimes rectangular) food.

In “Truly Madly Pizza,” food stylist Suzanne Lenzer sings the praises of pizza as a blank slate happy to be topped with whatever you’ve got floating around your refrigerator. Take a really good crust and have fun repurposing leftovers. What could possibly go wrong? Lenzer begins with one incredibly easy recipe for pizza crust, followed by hundreds of sauces, spreads, and topping combinations to make pizza a nightly affair.

Eleven time world pizza champion, Tony Gemignani, offers a collection of over 100 recipes in “The Pizza Bible.” This is a comprehensive guide to making pizza, covering nine regional styles including Neapolitan, Roman, and Chicago.

Just what are the differences in pizza styles? Neapolitan is tomatoes, garlic, and oregano (pizza marinara) or tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil (pizza margarita). Sicilian is thick-crusted, deep-dish, and usually rectangular in shape. Chicago style is the ultimate deep-dish pizza, baked in a high-edged pan with large amounts of cheese and chunky tomatoes. New York style is traditionally hand-tossed, covered with marinara sauce and cheese, and its oversized slices often eaten folded in half.

You don’t necessarily need a brick oven to cook delicious pizza. In “Grilled Pizza the Right Way,” barbecue champion John Delpha, reveals the best techniques for cooking perfect pizza on your outdoor grill. The results are pizzas with a crunchy crust, perfectly melted cheese, and a smoky flavor.

You can get quite a workout kneading pizza dough, but for a less strenuous experience, Jim Lahey presents “My Pizza: the Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home.” You do have to be patient with your dough, which has to rest unkneaded and unattended for eighteen hours. After the dough, the sky’s the limit, and Lahey’s recipes include innovations beyond tomato, cheese, and pepperoni.

“The Pizza Book,” by Evelyne Slomon, claims to explain everything there is to know about the world’s greatest pie. Included are more 200 easy-to-follow recipes, and advice about ingredients, equipment and technique.

Over the years pizza has become one of America’s most popular foods, especially in school lunchrooms. In her “Pizza: a Global History,” Carol Helstosky explains how pizza has been adapted to local cuisines and has become a metaphor for cultural exchange. Her book also features several recipes and a wealth of illustrations.

Pizza goes great with everything, especially when it’s free. Last April, Director J.J. Abrams bought pizza for 1,500 fans waiting in line for a Star Wars event in Anaheim, California. And speaking of Star Wars, the library celebrates Star Wars Reads Day on Saturday, October 10. Activities including crafts, trivia, selfie photo booth, and a Yoda impersonator contest begin at 11:00. The will be a showing of the movie that started it all at 1:00

Whether you enjoy your pizza delivered to your home or office, picked up from a pizzeria or supermarket, savored as you dine at your favorite pizza place, or love to make your own, October is the month to indulge your pizza fantasies. Happy National Pizza Month.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

People and their Stories

by Janet Ulrey, Adult Services Librarian

Have you ever noticed how many books are written about people? More than one-fifth of the Manhattan Public Library nonfiction collection is categorized with a biographical subject heading. Who reads these books? Our customers do! People are enamored with other people’s lives. We want to know how they made it through challenging circumstances, or how they were able to accomplish great feats. So, what do we do? We read about them. Stories of other people’s challenges and triumphs are interesting, rewarding, and satisfying to our humanity. To quote Studs Terkel, “People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being.”

One of my favorite biographical books, one that is popular with many Manhattan Public Library patrons is “Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II” by Vicki Croke. It is a story of wild elephants taught to work with their keepers. It is a story of life in the jungles of Burma, its hardships as well as its beauty. It is a story of war, but it is also a story of love and respect. James Howard “Billy” Williams not only had an “uncanny rapport with the world’s largest land animals,” he also had a great rapport with the people of Burma. An inspiring story, indeed!

A friendship begins with “A Walk on the Beach” of Cape Cod and ends up with a hike on the Inca Trail in Peru.  The author, Joan Anderson, finds a friend and mentor in Joan Erikson. Ms. Erikson, even at 90, was a very active person, so the situations these two got themselves into were amazing. Eye-opening in places, but also entertaining along the way.

The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Transformed Their Lives” by Cheryl Jarvis is about a $37,000 diamond necklace and the women who wore it. Jonell McLain saw the necklace in a local jewelry store display window and began to wonder why personal luxuries were so plentiful yet accessible to so few. Thus began her desire and plan to make the necklace a part of her life by convincing twelve other women to invest in the necklace with her. The necklace was not only worn by the original thirteen women, but was also loaned to friends and family members for special occasions. Many lives were profoundly changed as a result of this quirky experiment.

Everyday life may never seem everyday again after you read “Mama Makes Up Her Mind: And Other Dangers of Southern Living” by Bailey White. Life in Southern Florida with Mama is never everyday stuff. When Bailey’s father left them a 1958 Porsche, in mint condition, Mama wanted to put it out to pasture with the tractors and lawnmowers. Instead, she took the screen off the back porch and parked it there, never to move it again. The antics of Mama and other family members will keep the smiles coming as you read about their southern living.

An absolutely great book I have just finished reading is “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates” by Wes Moore. It is about two boys growing up in the same city with the same name and under similar situations. The main difference is that one of them ended up in prison while the other became a Rhodes Scholar. The K-State Book Network has chosen this title for its 2015 common reading selection. This is one story that you will want to add to your reading list if you haven’t done so already.

Whether you enjoy reading about great adventure or about something humorous, you can easily find books written about people. Come to the library and let us help you find a great biographical book, or visit and search the catalog. All you need to do is type in the subject of your choice, pair it with “biography,” and voila, you will get results.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

This Season’s Dark and Twisted Mysteries

By Marcia Allen,  Manhattan Public Library Collection Development

I always look forward to the latest that favorite mystery writers have to offer.  Like so many readers, I anticipate what the next story line might promise, and I thoroughly enjoy reading about my longtime favorite characters.  That’s why the latest crop of new tales has really caught me by surprise: my recent picks have revealed some really nasty details.  We’re talking about some exceedingly heinous crimes.

Consider author Lee Child, for example.  Jack Reacher, a perennial favorite at the library, most recently appears in Child’s Make Me, a disturbing story of unbelievable crime.  You know Jack Reacher: the quiet loner who always manages to get involved in protecting underdogs in out-of-the-way locales.  This story opens with his arrival in a tiny hamlet called Mother’s Rest.  Why is Reacher there?  Because the name of the town made him curious.  Thus, Child takes us on a pulse-pounding investigation into suspicious cover ups.  Reacher is aided by private investigator Michelle Chang who also arrives in the town, hoping to locate her missing partner who vaguely resembles Reacher.  Child’s villains are always disgustingly sleazy, and this book has its share of those repugnant criminals.  And their involvement in sordid Internet websites leads Reacher to discoveries he’d rather not have made.  But the real shock is in the nature of the serial crimes that Reacher gradually uncovers.  This is one for the many Jack Reacher fans, as well as those who like some nasty surprises in their crime fiction.  The final chapters of this book will make you cringe in horror.

If that doesn’t appeal, you might try Jonathan Kellerman’s latest mystery, The Murderer’s Daughter.  You know Kellerman: the favorite author of the ever-popular Alex Delaware series?  While Delaware is mentioned in this new book, he is but a peripheral character barely mentioned in past dealings.  The real story is that of Grace Blades, a highly respected psychologist who has a particular flair for helping to heal patients tormented by past violence.  Her expertise is one thing, but the fact that she is actually a sociopath with her own childhood history of violence and loss is what kicks off the story. We learn of Grace’s loss of incredibly bad parents, and we also learn of a compassionate psychologist who takes an interest in the young Grace, as he sees in her the potential for a great future.  When Grace later suspects that a violent child from her past is now a thriving adult killer, she sets off in hopes of righting that wrong.  Recurring flashbacks reveal why Grace is able to plan her movements so coldly, and her lack of remorse makes the story a real shocker.  This is one for those who like a good character study with their mysteries.

And finally, I discovered talented mystery writer, Julia Heaberlin.  Heaberlin’s third mystery, entitled Black-Eyed Susans, is the disturbing story of Tessa Cartwright, the only survivor of a serial killer’s crime spree some twenty years earlier.   Tessa’s memory of the ordeal is vague, but she does recall the field of wildflowers in which she was found.  More recently, she had gone through years of therapy due to that experience and now has a good life as a single mother of a teenage daughter.  But over the years, someone has chosen to plant black-eyed Susans in her yard as a reminder of the crime.  While the convicted killer has spent years on death row, the ongoing flower plantings make Tessa question whether the wrong man was convicted.  This is an unsettling read, perfect for those who like psychological suspense in their crime reading.

As always, we have lots of other mysteries new to the library that just might appeal if the edgy stories I’ve mentioned don’t grab your interest.  If you love mysteries as so many do, you’re bound to find an undiscovered treasure at your library.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Using the Fall for Developing Early Literacy Skills

Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

As summer changes into fall, there are lots of opportunities to introduce literacy concepts to your child.  At Manhattan Public Library, we encourage parents and caregivers to embrace organic ways to instill a love of reading in children.  One of the important factors in a child’s learning to read is their enjoyment of the books and stories.  It is important to find stories that your children enjoy and look forward to reading with you.  In the Children’s Room, there are numerous books on leaves, hibernating animals and other aspects of fall. Here are a few books that you can read with your children, followed by any or all of the described activities.

Apples and Pumpkins
by Anne Rockwell

In Apples and Pumpkins, a little girl and her parents visit Comstock Farm, where they pick apples and pumpkins.  Visit an apple orchard and a pumpkin patch with your children.  Ask them questions about what they observe around them.  What does the air feel like? How many people do they think are there picking apples or pumpkins? Are they feeling happy?  When you get home, count how many apples were picked.  Have your children join you in making a special treat with the apples or carving the pumpkin.  Suggest that they call a friend or family member to tell them about the experience that they had.

Imitating activities from books gives deeper meaning to the story that your children are reading.  Retelling stories and experiences builds the concept of “beginning, middle and end.”

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

Leaf Man uses photos of leaves and other pieces of nature to tell the story of how leaves progress through the fall.  Take a nature walk with your children and have them take notes in a homemade or store-bought journal.  They can look for specific things or just simply observe the world around them.  Gather leaves and sticks to bring home.  Use the sticks to make letters on the sidewalk.  Try to find bits of letters or shapes in the veins of the leaves.   Make your own leaf man and exchange stories with your children about what your leaf man has done or will do.

As you observe nature, you will most likely use words that your children don’t yet know.  When children are exposed to a larger vocabulary, they tend to have greater reading success.  Don’t be afraid to use new words to describe the scenery around you.  Making letters out of real objects gives more depth to the letters themselves and emphasizes the fact that they form words and have meaning.

The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri

The Busy Little Squirrel follows a squirrel as he prepares for hibernation, gathering seeds, nuts and fruit.  Make your own “snack mix” with your children and try to form letters out of the pieces of food.  Have them help you cook a meal and talk about what you like to eat in the winter.  The more you talk with your children, the more they will learn about communication, words and stories.

Visit the Animals Neighborhood at the library to find non-fiction books on squirrels and other hibernating animals.  Consider reading non-fiction stories about the changing of the seasons, found in the Science & Nature Neighborhood of the Children’s Room.

Attending a storytime at MPL is a great way to get your child engaged with stories in different formats.  Storytellers coordinate activities during storytime that associate with the books being read.  Visit the website to see the current storytime schedule, or stop by the Children’s Room to pick up a schedule. Youth Services librarians are always willing to offer ideas to help your child develop early literacy skills, even starting from birth.

Posted in: Children's Dept, Mercury Column, News, Parents

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 20 12345...»