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Babies Need Board Books

By Amber Johnson, Youth Services Library Assistant

ABC Alphabet FunAs babies grow into toddlers and begin exploring the world around them, books play a very important role.  Books offer an experience outside of their everyday world, as well as access to vocabulary and concepts that will be important as their language develops.  Not unlike other objects in their lives, babies interact with books by chewing on them and throwing them around.  Because of these developmentally appropriate actions, it is vital to offer sturdy books for them to play with.  Enter the board book.  A board book is made of thick paperboard.  The paperboard is used for the covers and the inside pages.  A board book is specially scored, folded and bound, unlike traditional hardback binding.  Board books are generally smaller than paperback or hardback picture books, making them easier for tiny hands to grasp.  Manhattan Public Library has a great selection of board books.  Here are a few that we might suggest starting with.

Touch and feel books: Even though they don’t yet have words to describe what they are experiencing, babies take in the world around them with all their senses.   Books that have different textures that the baby can feel only expands their view.  Putting books in their mouths is a developmentally appropriate action.  Having shiny and dull illustrations offers depth perception understanding.  Offer them books about animals that have pretend fur and scales.  Check out books with vehicles that are squishy and shiny.  The DK Touch and Feel series is a great series to start with when introducing your child to sensory books.

High contrast books: Some board books contain illustrations only in black and white.  The high contrast in color of these books is developmentally appropriate for younger babies.  When very young, babies can only take in illustrations or things around them when there is a stark difference in color value.  As they develop their eyesight, introducing books with bright colors is a great idea. Author Tana Hoban has many books with simple black and white illustrations.

Simple concept books: It is never too early to introduce simple learning concepts to babies.  Books that feature numbers, colors and the alphabet will help them begin their journey of learning.  Teaching shapes to children directly correlates to their learning of numbers and the alphabet.  These books also allow them to flip around in the book instead of reading it straight through.  A few good titles to consider are ABC Alphabet Fun and My Very First Book of Numbers.

Books with real photos: As is true for adults, it is important for babies to see themselves in books, as well as things and people that are different from them.  Many board books feature photos of babies expressing different emotions, or photos of real animals or toys.  When babies see real photos in the books they are reading, it makes it easier for them to identify objects and people in real life.  I See Me is a great example of a book that contains photos of babies on the move.

Nursery rhyme books: Reading books with rhymes helps children develop a sense of rhythm when reading.  Hearing similar sounds over and over gives meaning to the words themselves.  Books containing nursery rhymes allow parents to repeat the same rhymes over and over again, solidifying the rhythm and flow of the text. Manhattan Public Library offers collections such as The Real Mother Goose Board Book or books with just one rhyme as the text of the book, like Humpty Dumpty.

Manhattan Public Library has hundreds of board books available for checkout, including the aforementioned titles and series.  Library card holders have no limit as to the amount of books they can check out.  Youth Services staff are available to recommend more good titles and to talk more about early literacy skills and child development.

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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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Pokémon GO: Who, What and Why

By Rachael Schmidtlein, Teen & Tween Services Coordinator

Pokémon Deluxe Essential Handbook: The Need-to-Know StatsBy now you’ve probably heard the news: Pokémon is back and with a bang. Pokémon GO has rekindled the nerd flame for anyone who grew up dreaming of training their own creatures to battle others. To be honest, for millennials of all ages, Pokémon never actually left. Trust me, based on the holds list for the graphic novels at the library, Pokémon is as popular now as it was in 1995.

Those who have loved Pokémon just bided their time playing the card game, watching the TV show and reading the books until the world found a way to bring their love for the game into modern times. And they’ve done it! Who are “they” you might ask? (Or not, but I’m going to tell you anyway.) Niantic, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company get the credit for this. The missing puzzle piece all these years was Niantic, a software company originally part of Google that develops augmented reality games. These are the people who thought: Wouldn’t it be great if you could see Pokémon in the real world?. My answer to them is “yes” and “thank you.”

In Pokémon GO, players use their GPS enabled devices to visit locations in their communities dubbed Poké Stops. Along the way, players collect Pokémon characters and battle them against other players at locations called Poké Gyms. The goal of the game is to create the most advanced Pokémon and achieve higher levels than other players. In order to do this, players are forced to walk, run or bike around town. The game is promoting exercise as well as player interaction.

Many have grumbled about Pokémon Go players “not paying attention” to their surroundings. I even know of someone who is convinced that Pokémon Go is the first step in bringing forth Ray Bradbury’s world of Fahrenheit 451. I can’t tell you if Pokémon GO will lead us all to a dystopian future where firemen burn books (I sincerely hope not) but I can tell you that the game has gotten people moving. Families are now taking time together to go “Poké hunting”. Friends who usually sit inside to play the card game are now out in the world, moving among nature and rekindling their connection to communities. Businessmen and women now take walks during their break times to “catch ‘em all” instead of sitting inside for eight hours at a time. Are people paying more attention to their phones because of Pokémon GO? Well, yes probably, but really not more than people already were with Facebook, Snapchat and texting.

Now that you’re clued into the who and why, I’m going to give those of you who aren’t in tune with the Pokémon universe some tools to get started on the what.

Pokémon Adventures, volume 1, graphic novel

All your favorite Pokémon characters jump out of the screen into the pages of this action-packed manga! Red doesn’t just want to train Pokémon, he wants to be their friend too. Bulbasaur and Poliwhirl seem game, but independent Pikachu won’t be so easy to win over! And watch out for Team Rocket, Red… they only want to be your enemy!

Pokémon Deluxe Essential Handbook: The Need-to-Know Stats, non-fiction

Gotta read about ’em all! This revised and updated edition of the mega-bestselling Pokémon Essential Handbook includes stats and facts on over 700 Pokémon. It’s everything you ever wanted to know about every Pokémon — all in one place!

I Choose You, chapter book

Ash wants to be the world’s greatest Pokémon master. With Pikachu at his side he sets off to capture and train every Pokémon he can find. Ash is determined, but there is one huge problem: Pikachu won’t listen to a single thing Ash says.

Pokémon Indigo League. Season 1, DVD

Join friends Ash, Brock, and Misty as they begin their journey through the Pokémon world. Enjoy the Pokémon story from the beginning. Meet our hero Ash, in his hometown of Pallet Town where boys and girls are encouraged to begin their Pokémon journeys. This set includes all 26 episodes.

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The Best of YA in 2015

by Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is more than half over already! It’s a good time to review some of the hottest YA books of the year so far. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but here are a few books generating a lot of buzz:

“A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah Maas

the court of thorns and roses coverThe human world is in danger. After generations of hostility, faeries and humans live apart, separated by a wall. One day, 19-year-old Feyre kills a wolf in the woods near her home hoping it will help her family survive the harsh winter. Instead, a monstrous creature shows up at her door demanding her life in exchange for killing the wolf. Feyre returns with him to the Fae realm as payment, and she soon realizes that the Fae are not what she expects. This book is a good choice for fairy tale fans. For similar books try “Cruel Beauty” and its sequel, the recently released “Crimson Bound” by Rosamund Hodge.

“Finding Audrey” by Sophie Kinsella

Finding Audrey coverThis is Kinsella’s YA debut after her popular “Shopaholic” series for adults, and it is a winner. Audrey is struggling with depression and an anxiety disorder. She has recently been released from the hospital and refuses to leave her house or interact with others outside of her family. With the support of her therapist, comically dysfunctional parents, two brothers, and a new love interest, Audrey begins to heal. This book is an excellent choice for fans of Jenni Han’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” or her latest book, “P.S. I Still Love You.”

“Ghosts of Heaven” by Marcus Sedgwick

Ghosts of Heaven coverPrintz award-winning author Sedgwick creates another winner. This unique novel is told in four separate stories over a span of centuries. The stories are linked by one single element, the spiral, and can be read in any order. If you are looking for a haunting and thought-provoking choice, this one is for you. Also, try “More Than This” by Patrick Ness, or my favorite by Marcus Sedgwick, “Revolver.”

 

 

“All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places coverSeniors Theodore and Violet run into each other at the top of their school bell tower where both are contemplating suicide. “Theodore Freak, “as he is known to classmates, is impulsive, unpredictable, and eccentric. Bullied by classmates and his own father, suicide is on his mind a lot. Violet, a popular cheerleader, is grief stricken after the death of her sister in a car crash. The two teens, who tell their stories in alternating chapters, form an unlikely relationship. Read this if you liked “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green.

 

“The Walls Around Us” by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us coverAt first glance, Amber and Violet have nothing in common. Amber is an inmate at Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center. Violet is a ballet dancer bound for Julliard. Orianna is the one who ties their two lives together. Ori, Violet’s friend and also a dancer, is sent to Aurora Hills after committing murder to protect Violet. The suspense builds as all the girls’ secrets are gradually revealed. This is a great read alike for “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart.

 

“Ink and Bone: The Great Library” by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone coverIn a near future world, the library at Alexandria still exists, and the Great Library controls the flow of all knowledge. In this world, you can read books, but it is illegal to own them. Individuals can be fined, jailed, or worse if found with an original book.  Even though Jess comes from a family of black market book dealers, he still believes in the value of the Library. But when Jess begins training to become part of the Library, he uncovers sinister secrets that endanger his life. Fans of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series will devour this new series.

There are many other excellent new YA books, as well. Check out the New Books Display in the YA area, or ask a librarian for more ideas. If you missed last year’s outstanding titles, choose a book from the Teens’ Top Ten Display or the Award Winners Display.

Posted in: Mercury Column, News, Uncategorized, Young Adult Dept

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Baby Birds Come to Zoofari!

ZoofariJoin us this month for stories and rhymes all about baby birds and nesting! Children – and even adults – can flap their wings, shake their tail feathers, and even sing sweetly! Books read will include “Mama Built a Little Nest” “A Nest full of Eggs” and “I Hatched!“. After storytime, children can also explore various bird biofacts provided by zoo docents. Storytime will be held this Friday – in the storytime room! We will begin several minutes after 10:00, to allow time to find parking, and get everyone settled, and comfortable. We hope to see you there!

 

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Holiday Happenings in Manhattan

snowman ornament with snowy backgroundThe recent cold weather and snow flurries are good reminders that the holiday season is quickly approaching! Participating in holiday events can help make the season bright. Here is a list of holiday activities in town that will be fun for the whole family.

Books, movies, and music

The library has holiday music CDs and holiday movies on display to help you get in the spirit. Look for the library’s holiday decorations soon–we love to deck the halls!

Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Join friends and neighbors on Thanksgiving Day for a community dinner being held this year at Old Chicago from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. Dinner is free of charge but donations are appreciated. Call (785) 537-0730 for more information.

Festival of Lights at Blue Earth Plaza Nov. 28-Dec. 31

The lighting ceremony (with a special appearance by Santa!) will be held Friday, November 28 at 7:00 pm. The music and lights will dazzle viewers this holiday season!

Small Business Saturday Nov. 29

Shop locally and support Manhattan businesses.

College Musicum Free Concert – Monday, Dec. 1

Enjoy a free concert from K-State’s historical performance ensemble on Monday, December 1 at 7:30 pm in Kirmser Hall at McCain Auditorium.

Winterdance ’14 – Thrusday, Dec. 4- Monday, Dec. 6

WinterDance is K-State Dance’s annual fall concert that features faculty dance choreography. Jazz, modern, tap, ballet, movement theatre, and African dance styles will be shown. The performances will be in the Chapman Theater in Nichols Hall at 7:30 each evening December 4 through 6. Call for tickets 785-532-6428 or check their web site at http://www.k-state.edu/dance

Mayor’s Holiday Parade – Friday, Dec. 5

This festive parade starts at 5:30 at the mall and ends with a tree-lighting ceremony in Aggieville’s triangle park. You’ll see lighted floats and might even catch a special appearance by Santa Claus!

Family Holiday Workshop – Sunday, Dec. 7

The Beach Museum of Art is hosting a workshop on Sunday, December 7 from 2:00-3:30 pm, with winter-themed art projects for the whole family. For For more information, go to http://beach.k-state.edu. Fee charged.

KSU Orchestra – Sunday, Dec. 7

Get into the holiday spirit with beautiful music at this free concert at McCain Auditorium Sunday, December 7 at 3:00 pm.

Horse-drawn Carriage Rides Dec. 6-21

On Saturday and Sunday evenings December 6-21, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride around downtown Manhattan free with a donation of cash or goods for the Manhattan Emergency Shelter. Start at 3rd and Poyntz.

Helping those in need

• The Mayor’s Holiday Food and Fund Drive assists the Flint Hills Breadbasket in collecting food for needy families. A donation of $40 provides a food basket for a family of four. Food donations, or cash donations, are always welcomed at the Breadbasket either in person at 905 Yuma Street on online. Don’t let families go hungry this holiday season!
• Individuals, families or businesses may adopt a family in order to provide gifts for a family that otherwise might not celebrate the holidays. The Junior League of the Flint Hills is sponsoring the Adopt-A-Family Program this year and matches donors to families. Call 785-410-5086 or email jlfhadoptafamily@gmail.com to offer your help.

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