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Exploring Modern Folklore

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

Eva LunaWatching the Olympics always makes me curious about other cultures. What are their values? What bedtime stories do they tell? For answers, I turn to literature, because I find storytelling more interesting than nonfiction, and because I think it’s possible to learn a lot about other cultures by exploring their folklore.

To begin, I selected a book from one of the masters of modern folklore (often referred to as magical realism), Isabel Allende, who is an award-winning author from Peru.

Allende’s books are steeped in magic and passion. Her most recent work, Island beneath the Sea is a visceral and shocking tale of endurance and triumph. Not only does this book explore other cultures, but it also takes a look at history.

Island beneath the Sea tells the story of Tété, a slave in Saint Dominique, who has been raised with the ways of the voodoo loa (deities). The story chronicles Tété’s life as a beloved child, a concubine, a slave, a servant, a revolutionary, and a voodoo priestess. Throughout her life, the loa guide, frustrate, play tricks, and provide Tété with the power to overcome.

“I strike the ground with the soles of my feet and life rises up my legs, spreads up my skeleton, takes possession of me, drives away distress and sweetens my memory. The world trembles. Rhythm is born on the island beneath the sea; it shakes the earth, it cuts through me like a lightning bolt and rises toward the sky, carrying with it my sorrows so that Papa Bondye can chew them, swallow them, and leave me clean and happy.” – Tété

If you like this book, and I think you will, then I suggest exploring other titles by Allende, such as The House of the Spirits or Eva Luna, both set in the recent past and full of cultural identity.

Laura Esquivel is another fantastic author from Latin America. Like Water for Chocolate is probably her most famous work and would make an excellent choice for a book club! There are so many recipes, themes, and striking characters that you will want to discuss with friends.

At its core, Like Water for Chocolate is a story of unrequited love and family dynamics. It is full of longing and sorrow, magic, and triumph. Tita is the youngest daughter of a respected Mexican family. She will never be allowed to marry or have her own life. Instead, it is her duty to devote herself to the care of her aging mother. Sounds a bit like Cinderella, doesn’t she? The themes are similar and both tales include magic, but Like Water for Chocolate is not a Disney version of the story.

Tita begins her lifetime of work in the kitchen where she learns to express all of her emotions through food. Since she pours herself into her recipes, the food she makes is imbued with the magic of her feelings and has the power to affect those who eat it. Imagine what happens to the wedding cake when her sister marries the man Tita loves! This beautiful tale of Mexican folklore has also been made into a movie which is available at the library.

I also read Esquivel’s The Law of Love, which is set in the future. The book includes a CD of music to be played at certain points in the text. You will enjoy every “interlude for dancing!” As you read, you’ll learn about the relationships and achievements valued in Esquivel’s culture.

Finally, a book that really surprised me was Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan, a fascinating author from Indonesia. The “rich and astonishing strangeness” of this story makes it very difficult to put down and even more difficult to forget. Visions of fireflies who rob the site of a man with a guilty conscience, a tornado of a mother who makes the house shake and drives out a cheating husband, and bees who drown out rational thinking will stay with you long after you finish this story.

It was interesting to me how the lines between “good” and “evil” characters are blurred in Of Bees and Mist. I’m used to clear distinctions in moralistic tales. Characters suffer because of bad decisions and bad influences, but at times it is difficult to figure out who the “bad guy” is. Every character is complicated, and I found myself slightly frustrated because this style is out of step with my native culture. It was a pretty cool discovery!

Of Bees and Mist has received mixed reviews, and the plot certainly doesn’t take a direct path to the finish line. Before you dive in, I suggest reading a few pages from the middle to see if you enjoy the tone and style. I certainly hope you decide to give it a try.

Literature and folklore provide powerful lenses for seeing into cultures around the world. I encourage you to explore new cultures by traveling as many places as you can and by finding new ideas in books.

If you need any more recommendations, please visit us at the Manhattan Public Library.

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

The SandlotIt’s the end of July, the all-start game is a thing of the past, and more hot summer lies ahead. In a 162 game season, there’s a lot of baseball left to play. And that’s only the regular season. From opening day in April through the first cooling days of October, baseball is America’s pastime. There’s nothing like being at the ballpark on a green and glorious day, watching your favorite team, munching on a hotdog, and cheering with the crowd. But if you can’t make it to the ballpark, you can always watch one of these great baseball-inspired movies.

Baseball-almanac.com lists “Major League” (1989) as number 10 on its list of the top 10 baseball movies. The film deals with the exploits of a fictionalized version of the Cleveland Indians. Rachel Phelps, the new owner of the Indians, wants to move the team to Miami, but the move hinges on poor ticket sales in Cleveland. To help drag the team down, Phelps hires the most incompetent players available, including a near-blind pitcher and an injury-prone catcher. But fate has other plans.

Number 9 on the best list is “The Sandlot” (1993). Scotty Smalls, the shy new kid on the block wants to join the pickup baseball team that plays every day in the neighborhood sandlot. Only problem is, he doesn’t know how to catch a baseball. He learns to play, but soon sets in motion adventures that bring the gang face to face with The Beast. You have to watch the movie to see what happens next.

“A League of Their Own” (1992) follows at number 8. This comedy portrays a fictionalized account of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The league, founded by chewing gum magnate, Philip Wrigley, was active 1943-1954, and kept baseball in the public eye when so many male players were off to war.

Movie number 7 is “The Natural” (1984) starring Robert Redford, and based on the novel by Bernard Malamud. Sixteen years after a mysterious woman lead to the premature end of his budding baseball career, a once-promising pitcher comes back to baseball armed with his childhood bat “Wonderboy.”

Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal, and Jodi Foster follow in “The Bad News Bears” (1976) at number 6. Called the best pure baseball comedy, this movie will remind you what Little League was really like.

“The Pride of the Yankees” (1942) is at number 5. This movie chronicles the life of Lou Gehrig, the legendary first-baseman who succumbed to a fatal neurodegenerative disease at the peak of his career. You won’t have a dry eye as you watch Gary Cooper, as Gehrig, give his “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech.

“Eight Men Out” (1988) is number 4 on the list. This is a dramatization of the Black Sox scandal when the underpaid Chicago White Sox accepted bribes to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series. One of the characters that figures in the story is none other than Shoeless Joe Jackson, who later returns to Iowa in another of the best baseball movies of all time.

Number 3 is “Bang the Drum Slowly” (1973). This film tells the story of the friendship between a star pitcher, wise to the world, and a mentally challenged catcher played by Robert de Niro, as they cope with the catcher’s terminal illness through a baseball season.

One of my personal favorites, “Field of Dreams” (1989) is ranked at number 2. This movie is an adaptation of W.P. Kinsella’s novel “Shoeless Joe.” Farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice, and believes that if he builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield, Shoeless Joe Jackson from the infamous 1919 Chicago “Black” Sox will return. But that’s just the beginning.

And the number 1 best baseball movie as ranked by Baseball-almanac.com is “Bull Durham” (1988). This list calls “Bull Durham” the most authentic portrayal of baseball. This romantic comedy deals with a very minor minor-league team, an aging baseball groupie, a cocky foolish new pitcher, and the older, weary catcher brought in to wise the rookie up.

So head out to the ballpark before the season ends. Or, head over to the library, checkout one of these great films on DVD or Blu-ray, get your popcorn ready, and enjoy.

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Books Reviewed by Our Summer Readers

by Rachael Schmidtlein, Teen and Tween Services Coordinator

Every summer a *magical* thing happens. Like the Monarchs that migrate to Mexico, crowds converge on the library in June and July to craft, to play video games, and to read. It’s a wonderful time of year that makes our librarian hearts expand with pride. However, summer is also a very busy time when our staff is giving out summer reading prizes, planning around 20 events a week and restocking the shelves as fast as humanly possible.

We love reviewing and recommending books, we really do, but during June and July we sometimes have to put that duty on the back burner. Luckily, we have a really great community that helps us out with that!

When anyone turns in their summer reading minutes, they have the opportunity to review a book they read during that time frame. Incredibly, when we were reviewing the most recent submissions, we realized that over six hundred and fifty books have been reviewed this summer.

Without further ado, I give you five books reviewed by YOU, our incredible Manhattanites.

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman (Young Adult Fiction)

“New Twist on Sleeping Beauty”

This masterfully written reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White is another work of art from the whimsical mind of Neil Gaiman. In this retelling, Snow White is a queen on a journey to rescue Sleeping Beauty and Sleeping Beauty isn’t quite in need of rescuing. Told in his typical creepy and dark fashion, Gaiman gives these tired stories a reboot.

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline (Adult Fiction)

“Real page-turner. Couldn’t put it down!”

Christine and Marcus find themselves facing the difficult reality of being unable to conceive a child. After an incredibly difficult road, they decide to use a donor. Now happily pregnant, they are ready to move on with their family. That is until Christine sees a man on TV being arrested for a series of brutal murders. The man also happens to undeniably remember her donor. Scottoline take the reader through an emotional and fast-paced journey that poses the question: what decisions would you make if the biological father of your unborn child was a killer?

 

Stolen by Lucy Christopher (Young Adult Fiction)

“This book is very gripping and at times heart-wrenching. At first you see Ty as a monster and Emma as a victim but, will that change? Will Emma learn to love Ty or will she escape and turn Ty in? There is no way to know…”

Sixteen year old Gemma has been kidnapped and taken to the Australian outback. However, her captor Ty is nothing like you would expect. Written as a letter, this story explores the complicated and unsettling nature of love and reliance. The desolate but beautiful Australian outback acts as a silent character, and readers are constantly torn between reality and unreliable characters.

 

Gumption by Nick Offerman (Adult Non-Fiction)

“Nick Offerman makes me feel like there are butterflies in my stomach. #mancrush #mancandymondayeveryday”

A combination of serious history and light humor, Nick Offerman tells of those throughout history who inspired him. This books meanders through the topics of religion, politics, woodworking, agriculture, philosophy, fashion and meat in a seriously funny way.

 

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (Young Adult Fiction)

“If you are any sort of a Sherlockian (that is, any fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his characters), you will love this new take on the amazing duo, Sherlock and Watson. This novel is told from the point of view of a teenage descendant of the original Dr. James Watson. He meets his counterpart, Charlotte Holmes at a Connecticut boarding school called Sherringford. This is the first book in a trilogy about the two and the cases they solve.

I love this book and I love that the author references the original cases Doyle wrote about. I also love the title’s play on words.”

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The Summer Reading List Begins

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

On your mark, get set…READ!  The library’s annual summer reading program has begun. Everyone, from babies to seniors, can participate by keeping track of reading and earning prizes or tickets for prize drawings. So, what is on your summer reading list?  Here are a few on mine:

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

The author of the Clementine series has written a very different kind of story, switching from her spunky, comedic, Ramona-like character Clementine, to what looks like a quiet, thoughtful, and likely sad tale about a boy and his pet fox.  Booklist gave this a starred review, saying “Pennypacker’s expert, evenhanded storytelling reveals stunning depth in a relatively small package.” It sounds like Pennypacker is able to switch gears with skill and finesse.

We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman

Freedman has won many awards for his nonfiction writing, and I have enjoyed several of them. I prefer my nonfiction to read like a novel, and Freedman’s well-researched accounts always deliver that element of storytelling. Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie were Hitler Youth who turned against Hitler, forming the White Rose opposition.  They sacrificed everything to work against the Nazis. Seems like a worthy and important read.

Soar by Joan Bauer

Bauer’s books are always worth a read, and this one sounds inspiring.  Jeremiah Lopper is a baseball fanatic, but he hasn’t been allowed to play since he had a heart transplant two years ago at the age of 10.  When he and his adoptive dad move to Hillcrest, Ohio, Jeremiah simply decides to find a baseball team to coach instead. Words reviewers used to describe this story are “motivating,” “triumphant,” “largehearted,” and “irrepressible.” I will grab this when I need some lifting up.

Forest of Wonders by Linda Sue Park

Another author veering off into new genre territory, Linda Sue Park has written the first in a fantasy series called Wing & Claw.  Previous books like A Long Walk to Water, Project Mulberry, and Newbery Medal-winning A Single Shard are realistic or even based on true stories.  Now she enters the realm of magic and talking animals. Raffa Santana is a young apothecary who seeks out a rare vine in the Forest of Wonders to create a cure for an injured bat. Unexpectedly, the bat not only recovers but also acquires the ability to speak. Gregor the Overlander comes to mind, and I am in.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Sometimes, I admit I judge books by their covers. When I saw this one with its intriguing gold-lettered message facing out, I had to read the cover. Then I had to quickly place a hold on the book. To top that off, Publisher’s Weekly mentions two favorite books of mine in its review of Wolf Hollow: “Echoing the tone and themes found in To Kill a Mockingbird and Summer of My German Soldier, this WWII story traces the unlikely friendship between a country girl and a shell-shocked veteran.” It is sure to be a good one.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

Well, I wouldn’t be much of a children’s librarian if this was not on my list, would I?  Coming out on July 31 (Harry’s birthday, of course), this play script features Harry’s middle child, Albus Serverus Potter. As expected, there is much news and a plethora of opinions about this “eighth story” in the Harry Potter series that was supposed to end with book seven.  We will see if the Harry Potter craze continues, and if it lives up to the hype. Not much chance I will see the play anytime soon, since it is in London and is sold out through May 2017.

Stop by the Children’s Room to sign up for summer reading, and let us know which books you are hoping to read under a shady tree this summer! While you’re here, check into our weekly clubs and storytimes, vote for a winner in the Tournament of Books, and register a teen to attend the “After Hours” party at the library this Saturday for an Iron Chef-inspired culinary competition. It’s sure to be hopping at the library with lots of good options for everyone.

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In A Galaxy Not So Far Away: The Best of Science Fiction Film

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Back in 1977, in a galaxy not so far away, “Star Wars” captured the imaginations and the dreams of billions. In the six additional films in the series, as in the many incarnations of “Star Trek”, and in the hundreds of motion pictures both good and bad in the years before and since, science fiction on film has continued to draw audiences.

Ask 100 people to name their favorite science fiction movies, and you’ll probably get 100 different answers. Search the Internet for the best films in the genre, and you’ll walk away with multiple opinions. To simplify matters, this column will highlight the top ten science fiction films as judged by the games and entertainment media company, IGN, from The Top 25 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time http://www.ign.com/articles/2010/09/14/top-25-sci-fi-movies-of-all-time.

earth

10) “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” 1991. In this sequel to the 1984 movie, “The Terminator,” a liquid metal, shapeshifting terminator is sent back in time to kill John Connor and prevent him from becoming leader of the human resistance against the machines.

9) “The Road Warrior,” 1981. Also a sequel (“Mad Max” 1979), the film uses a western movie motif to tell the story of a community of settlers who defend themselves against a band of marauders in a post-apocalyptic world.

8) “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” 1951. A humanoid alien, Klaatu, comes to earth with an eight foot tall robot, Gort, to deliver an important message to Earth. Live peacefully, or else. Who can forget those immortal words, “Klaatu barada nikto?”

7) “The Matrix,” 1999. The first in a trilogy about a dystopian future in which “reality” as perceived by humans is actually a simulation called the Matrix, and the real world is ruled by thinking machines.

6) “The Planet of the Apes,” 1968. Based on the novel by French author, Pierre Boulle, astronauts travel to a strange planet ruled by apes, and humans are an inferior species. There were 4 sequels to the original film, as well as a 2001 remake.

5) “The Empire Strikes Back,” 1980. Also known as “Star Wars Episode V,” the title of this film says it all. After the triumph of Luke, Leia, and Han Solo in the original, the galactic empire and Darth Vader strike back at the rebel alliance.

4) “Alien,” 1979. The crew of a spacecraft on its return voyage to Earth lands on a small planet in response to a distress call. They discover an alien spacecraft and the remains of a giant alien. I think you know what happens from there. “Alien” spawned 3 sequels.

3) “Star Wars,” 1977. No, not number one according to IGN. Later retitled “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” this is the film where we first meet Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Obi Wan, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, and of course, Darth Vader. The rebel alliance seeks to destroy the Galactic Empire’s planet-destroying Death Star.

2) “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1969. Based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke, this film follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer Hal after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affecting human evolution.

2001

And the number one best science fiction film of all time, “Blade Runner,” 1982, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Rick Dekard is a blade runner, a special police bounty hunter tasked with hunting and killing replicants (androids) from off world who have illegally escaped to Earth.

Most of the top ten films on this list are available at the library. If your favorite science fiction movies didn’t make the list, don’t worry, the library has hundreds of other films in the genre. You should also checkout the selections of science fiction films on Hoopla, the library’s streaming service. Thousands of films, television shows, audiobooks, music cds, ebooks, and comics are available for free streaming on your computer, or to download to your tablet or smartphone.

Remember that today is the final day of the Manhattan Library Association’s annual book sale. It’s bag day. Fill a bag or box with books and other materials for one low price. Now that’s a bargain you won’t have to travel to a far off galaxy to find.

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Book Sale at the Library

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator2016_booksale2

Friday, February 26 is going to be a big day at the Manhattan Public Library. That’s the scheduled kickoff of the Manhattan Library Association’s (MLA) annual book sale!

For those unfamiliar with the annual sale, it’s a three-day event featuring gently used books, DVDs, audiobooks, and more.  With hardcover books going for $1.50 and DVDs for $2, browsers are sure to discover stacks of treasures destined for home shelves.

books3

The sale opens Friday the 26th from 5:30-7:30 p.m. with a special preview for MLA members only.  Memberships to MLA (also known as the Friends of the Library) can be purchased at the door for just $10 per individual and $15 per family.  Shoppers on this night get the privilege of first pick of the thousands of hardback books, children’s books, paperback books, movies, audiobooks, and other materials which have been carefully sorted and prepared by volunteers.  Plus, every membership purchased helps fund library programs and services.

Then on Saturday, February 27, the sale will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  To help keep everyone’s energy up, volunteers from the Teen Library Advisory Board will be selling sweet treats and baked goods in the morning.

Sunday’s sale on February 28th runs from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. with special deals on the remaining materials.

So, where do all these books come from?  The Manhattan Library Association collects materials, either those donated by library users or those removed from the library’s many collections, all year long.   This dedicated team of volunteers meets at the library several times a week to sort through materials and keep everything organized.  During the year, some of the donations are offered for sale at Rosie’s Corner Book Store, which is located near the library’s Tech Center on the first floor.  If you can’t make it to the sale, you can always find great deals at Rosie’s Corner.

Readers might also wonder, why is the sale so important?  Beyond the fact that shoppers can find terrific prices, the sale also helps replenish resources for the library.  All of the money raised will be used to fund library programs and purchases such as new books, new furniture, and special events for kids.  In 2015, $10,400 was raised to support the Manhattan Public Library, and we hope to top that number this year.

DVDsThe book sale would not be possible without the work of dedicated volunteers.  Roger Brannan, Elaine Shannon, and Doug Schoning, who have been friends of the library for many years, co-chair the book sale committee.  They each go far beyond ordinary volunteer efforts to plan the layout of the sale, organize a full staff of other volunteers to work during the three-day event, and answer any questions people might have.  Wilma Schmeller, Carol O’Neill, and the entire crew of Rosie’s Corner volunteers work tirelessly to sort and price all of the donations, in addition to keeping Rosie’s Corner stocked with fresh materials all year long.  Other kind friends, like Carol Oukrop and Rosalie King, donate countless hours of work to this event.  It is truly a community project that helps support a community resource.

Please plan to join us for some browsing at this year’s sale.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful bargains.  Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your purchases will help keep the library stocked with wonderful new books!  If you wish to donate materials to the sale, please wait until March and your materials will be added to next year’s sale.

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YA for Adults

by Rachael Schmidtlein, Young Adult Librarian

Because I’m a twenty something, when people find out that I read YA, I sometimes receive a lot of ridicule. Many times I receive questions along the lines of, “Aren’t you a bit old for that?” or comments like, “Oh, so you don’t read REAL books”. When I respond by explaining that I actually make a living by finding new ways to get YA lit into people’s hands, the reaction is usually humorous befuddlement coupled with a subtly offensive question about what I “actually do”.

So, why do I love YA lit as an adult? Because YA lit is bursting with hope, humor, and optimism. After I read a YA book, my faith in humanity is temporarily restored. Yes, there is sometimes hokey romance. Yes, the characters can be over the top. Yes, sometimes the premise of the book is so unrealistic that it’s laughable. But you know what? Sometimes that is not a bad thing!

If you love YA or haven’t had the chance to take the plunge yet, these reads may be just what you need.

Fantasy

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Ten years after the royal family was murdered and the kingdom cursed, Finnikin and his guardian go on an incredible journey to find the heir to the throne. This high fantasy is an epic journey of hope. But don’t let the YA nature of this book fool you: Finnikin of the Rock does not sugarcoat the characters treacherous journey. The plot is intricate and filled with magic.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Since Katsa was eight, she’s been a thug for her uncle, the king. She has very little expectation that her life will ever change much, until she meets someone else who is graced with combat skills similar to hers. Graceling is about Katsa learning to redefine herself and learning to trust other people. If you are a fan of Tamora Pierce, then you should definitely read this book.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Every November the water horses rise from the sea, and the Scorpio Races begin. Riders compete to keep control of their water horses and make it to the finish line. This year, Puck is determined to be the first girl to enter and win the competition. The Scorpio Races may be a fantasy with universal themes of loyalty and strength strewn artfully though the book.

Contemporary

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars is about a beautiful girl, a damaged boy, four friends who call themselves the Liars, and a secret. I really can’t tell you much about this book without giving away the whole thing, but if you must know something then know this: it’s a mystery and it’s amazing. E. Lockhart totally nailed it with this book.

On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Taylor dreams of a boy in a tree, of death and of Jellicoe Road. The story takes place at a school where the territory wars take place. A mixture of reality and dream world, Jellicoe Road can be a challenge, but the sarcastic and powerful nature of the character’s voice will guide the reader through. It also takes place in Australia, which is awesome.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Over the course of a year, Eleanor and Park ride the bus together. They know that first love almost never works, but their lives makes them desperate to try. Eleanor and Park is about being brave and trusting yourself. If you like Gayle Foreman or Stephen Shobsky, then you need to real this Rainbow Rowell book.

Historical

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity is the story of, Maddie and Queenie, who go on a secret mission behind enemy lines in occupied France in WWII. This book started out as a story of women who could fly planes in WWII and turned into a story about friendship and the importance of people and relationships.  The first half of the book can be confusing, but it’s worth it in the end.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Andi and Alexandrine are girls who live two centuries apart, but they’re also the same. Andi is angry and tired until she stumbles upon Alexandrine’s diary and her life comes into perspective.  This is the perfect read for someone who loves it when the past mixes with the present.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl living in 1941. Her life is torn apart when she is ripped from her family and sent to a work camp in Siberia. Her journey is long, about 6,500 miles, but with the help of her art, she might just be able to regain the life that was stolen from her. Between the Shades of Gray is beautiful, bleak and gritty. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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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 YA@mhklibrary.org.

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Star Wars Reads Day 2015

photo of boy posing as Darth Vader. Star Wars Reads Day October 10, 2015

The force is strong in Manhattan, Kansas! On Saturday, October 10th, from 11:00am to 3:00pm, Manhattan Public Library will celebrate Star Wars Reads Day with an Empire-sized party for all ages.

For the second year, Manhattan Public Library is getting in on the fun of this national celebration with a full schedule of activities. The party begins at 11:00am in the auditorium with crafts and activities including Star Wars Trivia, a Yoda ears creation station, and selfie photo booths with costumed characters. Dress as your favorite character and make sure you enter the selfie contest by tagging the library @ManhattanPL for a chance to win Star Wars prizes!

Then, after you’ve made your Yoda ears, wear them to compete in the Yoda Impersonation Contest at 12:30.  Have courage you must!  Prizes will be awarded to the best impersonators in the kid, teen, and adult categories.

At 1:00pm, sit down for a few laughs at the Star Wars Spoofs screening, then cheer as the winners of the trivia contest are announced.

The fun doesn’t stop there! At 1:30, get your popcorn and Yoda soda, then settle in for a screening of the movie that started it all.

Star Wars Reads Day was started in 2012 by Lucasfilm and its publishing partners as a way to highlight the vast number of books written about Star Wars, its characters, and its universe. Last year, there were over 2,000 schools, bookstores, and (of course) libraries that marked the day with read-a-thons, movie showings, and creative activities that feature the beloved sci-fi series and its characters.

For more information visit the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue,  call (785) 776-4741 or email us at refstaff@mhklibrary.org. Find the library on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too.

Posted in: For Adults, For Kids, For Teens, News, Press Release

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