Life on the Edge: Smithsonian’s Mountaineers

By Marcia Allen
Technical Services and Collections Manager

Dorling Kindersley Publishing has long enjoyed a respected reputation for high quality books, particularly those with beautiful photography and interactive layout.  Each title seems to be an engrossing, all-encompassing tour of its topic, one which treats the reader to a visual feast.   Local readers may well be familiar with the lovely Eyewitness books that so many children love, or the Eyewitness travel books for adults that do so much more than simply describe a destination.
Fairly new to the library is one of the nicest books I have seen in the last year.  Mountaineers, which was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, was written by Ed Douglas and polished by a team of consultants.  I invite you to browse this wonderful book; though you may have little interest in mountaineering, you will be stunned by the audacity and determination of the central characters.
There are excellent references to climbers of ancient times.  In 1991, for example, German hiker Helmut Simon was exploring the Italian-Austrian border with a friend.  To the dismay of the two men, they discovered a skull protruding from a shelf of ice.  They reported what they thought were recent remains of a lost hiker, but further research indicated the man to have lived during the Neolithic Age, some 5000 years earlier.  The man, called “Otzi the Iceman” by scientists, had died as the result of an arrow wound that caused massive internal bleeding.
The Japanese monk Kukai, born in 774, is one of the more unusual climbers mentioned in the book.  He ascended Mount Koya located near Osaka in 818 to begin work on a monastery designed for meditation.  Avid followers brought about a permanent Buddhist refuge that is still in use today.
Albert Frederick Mummery was an avid pioneer of alpinism during the 19th century.  Though dogged by childhood ailments, this determined Englishman climbed the Matterhorn at the age of eighteen and went on to espouse unguided climbing.  He even wrote a seminal memoir about climbing, entitled My Climbs in the Alps of Caucasus.  Like so many other enthusiasts of the sport, he disappeared during a climb, probably the victim of an avalanche.
Another equally famous climber, Charles Houston, is featured in the book.  Houston, a 20th century American physician, was involved with several climbs, among them two tries at scaling K2.  His failed attempts nearly caused his death, but they also brought about a greater good.  Houston wrote a book entitled Going Higher: Oxygen, Man and Mountains, that has been a valuable resource for other climbers, particularly on the subject of altitude sickness.
Women climbers are also prominently featured in this book.  Lucy Walker, for example, was the 19th century daughter of Francis Walker, a British advocate of the adventure of climbing.  Lucy suffered from rheumatism and sought relief from it by joining her father and brother in a trek through the Alps.  Taken by the beauty of her new sport, she went on to become the first woman to scale the Matterhorn.
Lest you think the book omits the most famous of the climbers, rest assured that George Mallory, Edmund Hillary, and Reinhold Messner are not forgotten.  Their stories, along with those of the many other successful , as well as tragic, climbers are highlighted by drawings,  photographs and maps that make each venture a treat for the reader.
Mountaineering gear featured in the book is absolutely fascinating.  The ergonomically designed 20th century crampons that replicate the shape of the foot are now standards for serious climbers.  But 16th century wood and rope boot attachments, designed to steady steps in the snow, are also pictured.  The climbing rope, another vital component of a successful ascent, is also explained.  Hawser ropes from the 17th century, as well as highly specialized ropes from the 21st century, are featured along a timeline that illustrates clever uses by famed explorers.
Beyond hiking up a couple of the Colorado Fourteeners with my family several years ago, I have never climbed a mountain.  Nor do I intend to.  But the breathtaking photographs and thrilling adventures stories will bring me back to this book again and again.  It’s that good.

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MLK, Jr. Art & Writing Contest Winners Chosen

By Janene Hill

Manhattan Public Library was honored again this year to host and help sponsor the Martin Luther King, Jr. Art and Writing Contest. This year’s contest garnered 150 entries, 64 artwork submissions and 86 written pieces.

With the theme “Looking Back, Looking Forward:  50 Years of Change”, this year’s entries acknowledge the importance of integration and cooperation as highlighted by Dr. King’s messages.

Submissions for the contest were accepted at Manhattan Public Library beginning in December, with judging taking place January 9.

Winning entries honor Dr. King and encourage us to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as we strive toward a brighter future in our community and world. All of the participants in this year’s contest understood the importance of Dr. King’s place in the world that still resonates throughout society today.

This year’s artwork came in the form of nail art, photography, chalk drawings, watercolor painting, and drawn artwork in pencil and crayon. Writing included a wide variety of formats including poetry, letters to Dr. King, creative writing pieces, and narratives.

Winning entries were displayed at Manhattan Town Center Mall during Martin Luther King Day activities, and are now on display at Manhattan Public Library (MPL) and on the library website, where they will remain for the next month. Several non-winning entries are also on display at the library in the Children’s Room.

With a grant from the Manhattan Fund of the Caroline F. Peine Foundation and matching funds from the The Gallery for Peace and Justice, along with other contributions, the contest committee is able to award over $1200 in prizes to this year’s winners.

Prizes included gift certificates from Varney’s and, for Best of Show winners, gift certificates from Manhattan Town Center Mall. They also received a book and bag from MPL and the Manhattan Library Association, t-shirts and certificates courtesy of HandsOn Kansas State, and a certificate of recognition from the MLK Art & Writing Contest Committee.

A huge thanks goes out to the Contest Committee Members and judges for this year’s contest. These individuals contribute valuable time and effort into making the contest a meaningful community event.

MLK Art & Writing Contest Committee Members include:  Jennifer Adams, Susan Withee, Laura Miles, and Janene Hill, all of MPL; and Cindy Burr, Director of the Gallery for Peace and Justice.

Judges for the 2012 contest included, writing judges:  Dr. Peter Pellegrin, Instructor of English at Cloud County Community College, Geary County Campus; Marcia Allen, Technical Services Manager at MPL; and John Pecararo, Assistant Director at MPL. Art judges were:  Jay Nelson, Director of the Strecker-Nelson Art Gallery; Amanda Hedrick, Education & Marketing Director at the Manhattan Arts Center; and Grace Benedick, a student at Kansas State University.

Award winners were invited to participate in two community ceremonies recognizing their achievement. The first was the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Celebration” sponsored by HandsOn Kansas State. Which took place on Sunday, January 15 at the KSU Leadership Studies building. The second took place during community MLK celebration at Manhattan Town Center Mall on Monday, January 16. Manhattan Mayor Jim Sherow announced the winners in the annual recognition ceremony.

Selected entries may be published or broadcast in or through local media outlets as schedules allow. Winning entries may also be used for development into greeting cards through The Gallery for Peace and Justice. More information is available through Cindy Burr at the Gallery. Last year’s winning art entries are currently available as note cards, on sale at all Varney’s locations.

MLK, Jr. Art and Writing Contest Winners

Best of Show:  Vonnie Neyhart (Adult)
First Place:
Grades K-2nd:  Ava Bahr, Manhattan Catholic School, first grade
Grades 3-5th:  Colin Hohenbary, Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, third grade
Grades 6-8th:  Kaitlyn French and Nicki Keller, Amanda Arnold Elementary School, sixth grade
Grades 9-12th:  Heather Goodenow, Rock Creek High School, sophomore
Adult:  Mary Gordon, Kansas State University
Honorable Mentions:  Mason Camera, Manhattan Catholic School, fourth grade;  Jazmin Gantt, Lee Elementary School, third grade; and Erin Logan (Adult)

Best of Show:  Karis Ryu, Manhattan Catholic School, seventh grade
First Place:
Grades K-2nd:  Rachel Corn, Manhattan Catholic School, second grade
Grades 3-5th:  Elizabeth Hohn, Amanda Arnold Elementary School, fourth grade
Grades 6-8th:  Macie Frakes, Manhattan Catholic School, eighth grade
Adult:  Christy Sauer
Honorable Mentions:  Breigh Brockman, Manhattan Catholic School, second grade; and Carly Smith, Manhattan Catholic School, eighth grade

Posted in: For Adults, For Kids, For Teens, Mercury Column

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New Year, New Beginnings

by Mary Newkirk- Adult Services Librarian

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.  ~Bill Vaughan.  To make a New Year’s Resolution is to be an optimist.
A few weeks of this new year have already passed but 2012 is still merely an infant.  With nearly 350 days left which we can either wisely use or waste, may I suggest a few books to spark your interest in making improvements or changes in your life. Enjoy the quotes from the famous and infamous that reflect humor and wisdom in each of these categories.

To improve intellect or brain power– Do you feel one taco short of a combination plate or dumb as a fence post?  These books will challenge your thinking and exercise your brain.
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything Joshua Foer
How to Be a Genius  John Woodward – Children’s department
Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind  Daniel Tammet
Brain Power Game Plan: Foods, Moods and Games to Clear Brain Fog, Boost Memory and Age-Proof Your Mind  Editors Prevention and Cynthia R. Green, PhD
The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong  David Shenk

Self Improvement– We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.  ~Ellen Goodman
One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this:  To rise above the little things.  ~John Burroughs
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.  ~Oprah Winfrey
18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done  Peter Bregman (new book, soon to be available)
Fortytude: Making the Next Decades the Best Years of Your Life Through the 40s, 50s, and Beyond  Sarah Brokaw
Empowerment: The Art of Creating Your Life As You Want It  David Gershon
The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and In Life  Leo Babauta

Spirituality– You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass-produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman. ~Max Lucado
Glory to God in highest heaven, Who unto man His Son hath given; While angels sing with tender mirth, A glad new year to all the earth. ~Martin Luther
Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well  Billy Graham
Falling Upward: Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life  Richard Rohr
Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words  Brian McLaren
Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy  Donald Kraybill
Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life James S.J. Martin

Diet and Exercise– People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.  ~Author Unknown
Chic & Slim Toujours: Aging Beautifully Like Those Chic French Women Anne Barone
21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health  Neal Barnard
Carrots ‘n’ Cake: Healthy Living One Carrot and Cupcake at a Time  Tina Haupert,
Cleanse Your body, Clear Your Mind: Eliminate Environmental Toxins to Lose Weight, Increase Energy, and Reverse Illness in 30 Days or Less  Jeffrey A. Morrison.
20 Years Younger: Look Younger, Feel Younger, Be Younger  Bob Greene

Humor–  A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.  ~Author Unknown
Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve.  Middle age is when you’re forced to.  ~Bill Vaughn
I Didn’t Ask to be Born (but I’m Glad I Was)  Bill Cosby
Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter  Lisa Scottoline
Cool, Calm and Contentious  Merrill Markoe
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)  Mindy Kaling

Organization and Time Management– Nothing is as far away as one minute ago.  ~Jim Bishop
How Did I Get So Busy?:  The 28-day Plan to Free Your Time, Reclaim Your Schedule and Reconnect With What Matters Most Valerie Burton
One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, The Week-by Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized For Good  Regina Leeds
Getting Things Done:  The Art of Stress-free Productivity   David Allen
The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth and Purpose   Robert Pagliarini

Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past.  Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.  ~Brooks Atkinson


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Classic and Award-Winning Westerns

by Susan Withee
Adult Services Manager

Every month, the librarians of Manhattan Public Library’s Adult Services Department read and discuss books from a different chosen fiction genre or subject area.  We do this in order to keep informed about good books to recommend to our readers and also to challenge ourselves to read outside our usual preferences.  This month we tackled Westerns, and for most of us it’s been a departure and a pleasant surprise.
Genre fiction is considered to be written according to a roughly recognizable formula.  The most popular fiction genres are mysteries, science fiction, fantasies, romances, and Westerns.  Traditionally, Westerns have been short adventure novels of the legendary Old West (not necessarily factually accurate Western history), taking place on the moving edge of the American frontier throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.  They offer a simple writing style and straightforward plot featuring lots of action and strong and self-reliant heroes (or heroines) who are engaged in the timeless conflicts of good vs. evil, man against nature, culture vs. culture.  Westerns have made the transition to film with great success and have been updated and re-interpreted into stories of superheroes and Star Wars’ space cowboys.
Just as mysteries have come a long way from Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple to Jeffry Lindsay’s Dexter Morgan, Westerns have come a long way from the early novels of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour.  Today’s Westerns offer a wider spectrum of settings, characters, and time frames, and also more depth and moral ambiguity in their plots.  In spite of the concept of formula fiction, there are endless permutations to the formula and literary quality is often superb.  Reading a good Western can be an engrossing, enjoyable, and satisfying experience.
If you’re not already a Western fan and want to give one a try, a great source for book suggestions is the list of nominees and winners of the Spur Award, annual prize of the Western Writers of America.  In addition to such classics of print and film as The Virginian by Owen Wister, The Ox-bow Incident by Walter Clark, Shane by Jack Schaefer, and True Grit by Charles Portis, you’ll find recent winners and best-sellers like:

  • Last Train from Cuernavaca by Lucia St. Clair Robson, winner of a 2011 Spur Award and a rare woman-authored, female-protagonist Western;
  • Summer of Pearls by Mike Blakely, featuring a riverboat community and the Great Caddo Lake Pearl Rush of 1874;
  • Far Bright Star by Robert Olmstead, described by the Dallas Morning News as a “thinking reader’s Western”;
  • Bound for the Promise-Land by Troy D. Smith, the saga of Alfred Mann, a freed slave, Civil War soldier, Buffalo Soldier, and Medal of Honor winner, and his quest to rise above ignorance and intolerance;
  • Masterson by Richard S. Wheeler, a “sprightly romp” (Publisher’s Weekly), featuring legendary gunfighter Bat Masterson as an aging, hard-drinking curmudgeon intent on revisiting the locales of his past adventures with his young common-law wife Emma;
  • Valdez Is Coming or 3:10 to Yuma by Elmore Leonard and The Undertaker’s Wife or The Branch and Scaffold by Loren Estleman, both prolific writers of bestselling contemporary fiction as well.

Other titles to look for:  Stranger in Thunder Basin or Trouble at the Redstone by John D. Nesbitt; The Hanging Judge by Lyle Brandt; Vengeance Valley by Richard S. Wheeler; The Way of the Coyote by Elmer Kelton; The Trespassers by Andrew J. Fenady; A Cold Place in Hell by William Blinn; Dreams Beneath Your Feet by Win Blevins; Killstraight or Camp Ford by Johnny D. Boggs; The Sergeant’s Lady by Miles Swarthout.
For readers wanting books with a woman’s perspective on the Western experience, try winners of the Willa Award, an annual prize given by the writers’ group “Women Writing the West,” named in honor of author Willa Cather (O Pioneers, My Antonia).  Look for popular authors Sandra Dallas, Jane Kirkpatrick, Molly Gloss, Cindy Bonner, Jeanne Williams, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jana Richman, Bess Streeter Aldrich, Pamela Nowak, Loula Grace Erdman, Elizabeth Crook, Augusta Locke, Nancy E. Turner, Sandi Ault, and Kim Wiese, to name just a few.

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Inspiration from the Refugee Experience

Library column printed in The Mercury, Jan. 1, 2012

Several books featuring refugee children have left me in awe of the rebounding spirit of children and their amazing ability to hope, dream and find their place in the world. Though these are all fictional accounts, several authors had personal experiences that led them to write, and their openness adds integrity and genuineness to the characters’ tales.

Betti on the High Wire by Lisa Railsback is an engrossing read told from the point of view of 10-year-old Babo/Betti. Babo is one of the “leftover children” in a worn torn country when two “melons” (as she calls them) from America decide to adopt her and rename her Betti. Betti’s honesty about losing the world she understood, however strange and difficult it was, and her struggle to understand American life is fascinating. Betti clings to what she knows of her past, of being born into a circus camp where her parents were famous, and is sure her parents will one day return for her, which is why she needs to convince Mr. and Mrs. Buckworth that she is so bad they need to send her back. Railsback, who has worked with children in refugee camps, creates a strong character in Betti that readers will love to get to know, and seeing from her perspective might make kids interact with more kindness and understanding when they meet other children who have moved here from different countries.

Similar in some ways, 10-year-old Ha’s refugee story comes alive in Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again, which recently won the 2011 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Ha’s family flees South Vietnam in 1975, leaving behind everything they know and taking with them the unsettled sadness of their father missing in action for nine years. Lai gives the story a unique feel by writing in sparse verse. “Ten-year-olds, especially Vietnamese, think in tight images. I cut out every word I didn’t need,” she said in an interview. The words flow and match the tone of each experience as Ha describes her Saigon landscape, travel by sea, and acclimating to the strangeness of Alabama.

Ha’s story mirrors Lai’s own childhood when she moved with her mother and eight siblings from Saigon to the U. S. in the 70’s. “Life got more complicated, with me not speaking English and never having tasted a hot dog,” Lai recalls in her biography on the publisher’s website. “Add that to my looks. I was the first real-life Asian my classmates had ever seen.” In the story, Ha endures bullying from classmates, mean comments and alienation, but she also finds kindness, friendship and a determination to succeed in her new life.

Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water is a real gem. It is based on the true story of Salva Dut, one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, starting with the day soldiers burst into his village and burned his school. Young Salva ran into the bush and had to find his way without his family to a refugee camp in Ethiopia, and later to a camp in Kenya. Park says that some aspects have been “fictionalized,” but she interviewed Salva extensively and made the story as true to his experience as possible. Salva’s fear and daily trials are entwined with another story, that of teenage Nya who must walk two long trips every day to a pond to get water for her family. Although Nya’s story takes place years after Salva’s, they intersect with each other in the end.

Salva’s story is both upsetting and inspiring. The realities of war are so harsh and cruel, but Salva learns to take one step and one day at a time to persevere, which he says (in a letter at the end of the book) is the important thing that he would like to pass on to others.

Linda Sue Park flawlessly captures the essence of Salva’s remarkable story. Readers may want to start raising money for Water for South Sudan, a not-for-profit organization created and led by Salva Dut. More than 100 wells have been drilled, allowing children like the fictional Nya to go to school every day instead of walking miles to get water, and keeping families healthier with clean drinking water. It is amazing to read about the many close calls Salva survived in order to be at this point where he is helping hundreds from his country live better lives.

Finally, What You Wish For is a new short story compilation honoring the children of Darfur, with well-known children’s authors contributing like Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries), R. L. Stine (Goosebumps), Cornelia Funke (Inkheart), and Jeanne DePrau (City of Ember). The foreword by Mia Farrow describes one of her many encounters with children in refugee camps. “And this is the amazing thing,” she says. “No matter how dire the circumstances or bleak the prospects, every child I have met in Chad, Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, or Angola has a dream.” The stories are quite varied, going from an abandoned baby floating down a river in a box to a clique of teenage girls living in a futuristic, overcrowded world. They all contain the themes of wishing and hoping for something better, and often doing something about it. Sprinkled with poetry, photos of refugee children, and even a comic-book-style story, What You Wish For is perfect for short reading breaks or for sharing in a classroom setting.

Review by Jennifer Adams

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London Subterranean

By Marcia Allen
Technical Services & Collections Manager

City fathers decided the city of London required a new county hall in 1910.  When construction crews began excavating the site, they stumbled upon the immense ruins of a Roman galley.

The bombings of London during World War II obviously caused massive destruction.  From the ruins, however, were exposed the foundations of an ancient Roman fort.  Further reconstruction revealed a complete Roman bath-house located beneath Thames Street.

Treasure-seekers frequently stumble upon dusty mugs and other half-hidden artifacts near the Fleet River.  The site once housed the Gaol of London, an 800-year-old prison that was leveled in 1845.

Those fond of reading history, archaeology, or travel literature will find a rare treasure in Peter Ackroyd’s new book entitled London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets.  This thin book is an astounding guide to the unexpected ruins left behind by the passing of the years.  As Ackroyd says in his opening paragraph:

“Tread carefully over the pavements of London for you are treading on skin, a skein of stone that covers rivers and labyrinths, tunnels and chambers, streams and caverns, pipes and cables, springs and passages, crypts sand sewers, creeping things that will never see the light of day.”

Given that caution, who could resist the promise of Ackroyd’s expertise? What follows immediately captures readers’ attention.  There is, for example, an entire section on London sewers.  The oldest known treatment of sewage is said to have occurred during the thirteenth century, when pipes were installed in some areas to carry waste underground.  As early as 1531, London had a formal board of officials who supervised the sewers and authorized the installation of new ones.  That was certainly an improvement over the open fetid pits previously used, but still there were some serious problems.  Methane gas explosions and “the great stink” of 1858 were major setbacks for human hygiene.  And the horrifying tales of cholera outbreaks and the reports of gargantuan rats roaming the dark tunnels go on and on.

Yet another section describes the burial grounds, some of them quite old, located throughout the city.  The grave of Celsus, a policeman from long ago, was located in Camomile Street.  Ackroyd assures the reader that there were as many as 200 separate burial sites located within the city, many of which are no longer marked.  He reminds us that the cemetery of Christ Church, Spitalfields, was open for 130 years beginning in 1729, and that during that time, an unbelievable 68,000 people were interred within its walls.

Obviously, London has undergone great cosmetic change.  The first established community, for example, began to sink almost before it was completed.  This was due to the mixture of sand clay, chalk and gravel upon which the city was built.  As a result, above-ground housing soon became basement-level dwellings.  How did the citizens deal with the sinking?  They continued to build atop ground level, so that now the original dwellings lie some 30 feet below the surface.  Of course, old roadways, houses and personal belongings became part of the well-packed detritus of history.

Ackroyd’s accounts of found treasure are perhaps the most fascinating tales of the book.  He reminds us that a huge stone head, crafted to resemble the emperor Hadrian, was discovered in the bed of the Thames in 1832.  Further, an intact crypt of a long-forgotten monastery was exposed when workers were digging on Bouverie Street in 1867.  A long-hidden trap door was uncovered in 1865 when workers were repairing Oxford Street.  Curious investigators pried open the door to reveal a large room, in which a formal pool or bath was still being fed by a bubbling spring.

Ackroyd’s London underground is surely a place of evil, of trepidation.  Prisons, he reminds us, were originally built underground.  And the tunnels beneath the city were used extensively by criminals for hundreds of years.  A natural fear of the unknown adds to uneasiness toward what lies beneath the surface.
But Ackroyd’s underground is also a place of grand adventure.  The forgotten booty of another age frequently astonishes those who find such treasures.  And the old reminders of past lives tell their own wonderful stories.  This lovely little book is a brief glimpse of the world as it once was.

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Grammy Nominated Music Available at Your Library

Although many of us are rushing around getting ready for theholidays right now, this is also the time of the year for awards nominations,including the Grammy nominations which were announced last week.   For your listening pleasure, we have a goodcollection of the nominated titles available for you at Manhattan PublicLibrary.
The two most prominent performers that you’ll be hearingabout are Adele and Bruno Mars.  Adele isa British singer classified as Pop, although her album 21 exhibits influencefrom blues, gospel and even country. Also classified as Pop, Mars’ album doo-wops & hooligans carriesstrains of Reggae, R&B, soul, and hip hop.
The Best Pop Duo category has some genre-crossing songs, aswell.  “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster thePeople is on the album Torches which is also nominated in the BestAlternative Album category.  A tributealbum called Rave On Buddy Holly includes “Dearest” performed by The BlackKeys.  Other nominated Pop albums you cangrab at the library are Teenage Dream by Katy Perry, Born This Way by LadyGaga, Loud by Rihanna, The Road From Memphis by Booker T. Jones, and The Gift by Susan Boyle who rose to world-wide fame after a TV appearance on “Britain’s GotTalent.”
For those who want their music a bit more on the edge, checkout Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons, a London indie rock quartet that strives tomake “music that matters, without taking themselves too seriously.”  Recorded entirely on analog, Wasting Lightby the Foo Fighters brings in 4 nominations.
If you like Rock, you might like this royal roundup: The King is Dead by The Decemberists, The King of Limbs by Radiohead, and Come Around Sundown by the Kings of Leon. You might also enjoy the Alternative category nominations Codes and Keys by Death Cab for Cutie and Circuital by My Morning Jacket.
The highlighted R&B albums are Love Letter by R.Kelly, which pays tribute to Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke and F.A.M.E. by ChrisBrown, which includes collaborations with Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne andothers.  Also in the R&B category is theBob Marley cover “Is This Love” from Corinne Bailey Rae’s album The Love EP,Raphael Saadiq’s “Good Man” from his album Stone Rollin’, and El DeBarge’s Second Chance, which he describes as his “spiritual memoir”.
Moving into rap, we have Lasers by Lupe Fiasco, which hecalls “an album with a mission.”  WizKhalifa’s debut album, Rolling Papers has songs that were nominated for bothBest Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. A nomination for Best Rap/Sung collaboration comes from the ever-popularBeyoncé along with André on her album 4.
Going in a completely different direction, the Countrynominations are led by recent Country Stampede performer Blake Shelton’s Red River Blue and Taylor Swift’s entirely self-composed album, Speak Now withnominations also for My Kinda Party by Jason Aldean, Play On by CarrieUnderwood, Blessed by Lucinda Williams and Own the Night by LadyAntebellum.  The group Civil Wars appearsin both Country and Folk categories for their album Barton Hollow.  In other Folk nominations, we have SteveEarle’s tribute to Townes Van Zandt entitled I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, Helplessness Blues by the Fleet Foxes, and The Harrow & the Harvest by Gillian Welch.  InBluegrass we have Paper Airplane by Alison Krauss and Rare Bird Alert bySteve Martin, yes that SteveMartin.  Remember the banjo he often usedin his comedy?  Now we get to hear thefull range of his talents.
Starting off our Blues category is husband/wife teamTedeschi Trucks Band with their album Revelator, followed by Gregg Allman’s Low Country Blues and Warren Haynes’ Man in Motion.  Rounding things out with a bit of Jazz is Bird Songs by Us Five.
Quite a list and there’s still time to listen before theawards are given!  Stop by and we’ll behappy to assist you.  Or you can alwayscheck our online catalog to see what’s  available or to place a hold on an itemthat’s currently checked-out.  If youjust like to see what new music we have, there is always a list on the frontpage, “Library Info” tab, of the catalog.

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Books for Wonderstruck Readers

>Library column printed in The Mercury, December 4, 2011

When kids start reading longer novels, many are captivated by the magical qualities they can experience through the pages of a book. This is not a new phenomenon, considering children’s classics like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), to name just a couple. Luckily for our kids, children’s book authors continue to combine magical adventures and imaginative plots with skillful writing, creating avid young readers who clamor for more. Here are few titles that might top the list this year:

In Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier, Peter is a blind orphan who works for a cruel master. He has enhanced senses to make up for his loss of sight, which have helped him become a stealthy, skilled thief. One day he steals a mysterious box from a charismatic haberdasher, but the contents of the box are puzzling – just six strange little eggs. When he cracks the eggs open, he finds the yolks are inedible, but they feel powerful to Peter. Finally, in a moment of realization, Peter recognizes the yolks as eyes! “Ever so gently, he slipped the two eyes into his sockets. He blinked. And just like that, Peter Nimble vanished into thin air.” Thus his great adventure begins.

Auxier’s debut novel reminds me a bit of Baum’s Wizard of Oz. Peter picks up some eclectic friends along the way (including a part-cat, part-horse knight, Sir Tode), and these characters help him as much as he helps them. Like Dorothy and her cohorts, they encounter a number of extreme environments, going from a vast ocean with giant fish to an endless desert run by ruthless ravens to the inner walls of a clockwork castle. References to age-old nursery rhymes are scattered throughout, as in the name “Nimble” and a rock shaped like a teapot, giving the book a fairytale quality. If originality is what you crave, you will not be disappointed. Watch the enticing book trailer or read the first chapter on Auxier’s website,

Another fantasy that spins off the fairytale world is Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu. The title invites readers to conjure up images of Hansel and Gretel escaping the woods, but the plot is more centered on Hans Christian Andersen’s haunting tale, The Snow Queen. I haven’t finished this novel yet, but I am intrigued by the connections between the stories main character Hazel reads and tells, and the way pieces of these tales come alive in her world that is otherwise grounded in harsh reality. Will Hazel become the heroine needed in her story, like the ones she admires in Narnia and The Golden Compass? Kids who have read a lot will appreciate Hazel’s references throughout to many children’s books, from A Wrinkle in Time to Coraline.

No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko is told from alternating viewpoints of three siblings: India, the annoyed fashion-minded teenager; Finn, the responsible worrywart brother; and Mouse, the super intelligent youngest sister. Everything makes sense at the beginning. The children’s mother reveals that their house is going to be taken by the bank, and the children must go live with their uncle. After a bout of turbulence on the plane ride, the story takes a surreal turn. The children exit the aircraft to find they have mysteriously landed in “Falling Bird” instead of Denver. Their taxi is “shocking pink with silky white feathers,” the driver turns out to be a kid with a fake mustache, and it feels as though they are flying through clouds instead of traveling on roads. However strange this seems, the ride is warm and comfy, lulling the children to sleep.

When they wake up, they find that Falling Bird is rather well-prepared for their arrival, greeting them with signs of “We love you, India,” and “Mouse is our favorite.” In fact, everything in Falling Bird seems to be a dream come true for each child. But maybe it’s a little too good. Finn is the first to notice that something is off kilter, and staying in Falling Bird might be a detrimental decision. The question is, how do you leave a place if you don’t know how you go there? A surprising twist at the end kept me thinking about this story long after I finished.

Finally, an excellent new novel-picture book by the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (soon to be released as a movie) is Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. It is not a fantasy per se, but certain coincidences in the plot have a magical edge to them. Twelve-year-old Ben’s life has gone a little haywire since his mother was killed in a car accident and a freaky lightning storm causes him to go totally deaf. Meanwhile, Selznick weaves in a story that takes place 50 years earlier, involving another deaf child, Rose, and her desire to explore New York City. Like Hugo Cabret, this 637-page book is filled with more than 450 pages of black and white sketches that tell much of the story through pictures. Ben’s journey leads him to the American Museum of Natural History, where he stumbles upon a new friend and a place to hide out while he discovers the secrets of his past. Rose emerges, too, with her own masterpiece to share.

Enjoy settling in with a cup of hot cocoa and any of these marvelous adventures to add a little magic to your reading this winter.

Review by Jennifer Adams

Posted in: Children's Dept, Mercury Column

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What’s New in Downloadable Content?

Sunflower E-Library: A New Downloading Experience

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director and Marcia Allen, Technical Services & Collection Manager
ManhattanPublic Library
Why is the downloading option ending at Manhattan PublicLibrary on Monday, December 5th?
Because ofchanges and increased rates for the state-wide consortium, the  currentdownloading option is ending. Unfortunately, any requests that you may have inplace will disappear along with the old platform.  Currently, the state is in theprocess of building the  OneClickDigitalservice for audiobooks, as well as the 3MCloud Library service for ebooks.  Oncethese services are in place, borrowerswill be able to follow links from the library website to browse and checkouttitles.
Are there other options offered through the library?
Beginning on Monday, November 28th,those who prefer reading devices can download ebooks from thelibrary.  MPL is now a part of theSunflower eLibrary Consortium, a cooperative effortamong several Kansaslibraries that enables participantsto share the same platform as well as purchased titles.
What about all the different devices that readers might use?
Most of thetitles are available in epub format.  Thatwill allow users to manage a varietyof different devices with the same process. In addition, most titles will download onKindle devices with the same quick results.
How can I register for the Sunflower eLibrary service?
You musthave a Manhattan Public Library card and pin number to use this collection.  Then you can begin borrowing items andplacing holds on the contentsthat you desire.
What kinds of limits are there?
 Readers canborrow five titles at a time and place as many as seven requests onitems that are unavailable.  There arealso checkout period limitations. Borrowerscan determine at the time of checkout whether they wish to borrow for seven or fourteen days.  Readers can also opt to return items early sothat others may usethem.  Our goal is to make titlesavailable to readers as quickly as possible.
Is this just available for adults?
At thistime, we have several young adult and children’s titles available.  As the collectioncontinues to grow, we will add more content.
What about audiobooks? I prefer them to ebooks.
Again, thestate has contracted with Recorded Books to provide audiobooks for readers whoprefer to listen.  That collection willalso have a wide range of titlesthat can be downloaded on a portable device. Readers will go to OneClickDigitalto register and begin the borrowing process.
Can I use my Manhattanlibrary card to gain access to the state’s audiobooks?
Readersmust have a Kansas Library Card (available at MPL) to register.
For those contemplating thepurchase of an ebook reader or listening device, there are plenty of resourcesfor nice, new titles at the library.  Andwe will continue to refresh the collection, adding new materials as we areable.  List of upcoming titles will allowus to keep informed of new possibilities.
            As the holidays near, it might be agreat time to expand your electronic holdings and venture into newformats.  Not sure which device topurchase?  It’s up to you and your needs.  Most of what we have selected is compatiblewith Nooks, Kindles and ipads, as well as other selected devices.  There are many website that review portabledevices.  Take a look at e-Book Reader 2011 at,for example, or 2011 Tablets ProductComparisons at   For a more comprehensive review source,check out the
Ultimate Tablet ReviewComparison Guide,  You might also take a look at the article ontablets, e-book readers, and smart phones in the December issue of Consumer Reports, available at thelibrary.
            Look forthese new services on the library’s web page beginningMonday, November 28th.

Posted in: For Adults, For Kids, For Teens, Mercury Column

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Great Gift Books (for Yourself or Others)

    Just in time for gift-giving or your own reading wish list, there are great new books out for the winter holiday season.  You can find books for almost everyone, no matter their taste or interest, and you can also look forward to your own hibernation reading when the holiday bustle is over.  Here are some non-fiction picks for good winter reading from Manhattan Public Library.
            Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns edited by John Avlon, Jesse Angelo, and Errol Louis.  This anthology of great American writing is enthralling reading for lovers of history, politics,current affairs, and the art of journalism. It features selections on war, humor, crime, sports, politics, hard times, and civil rights from an overflowing wealth of writers – William Allen White, Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Damon Runyon, Dorothy Thompson, H. L.Mencken, Langston Hughes, Ernie Pyle, Will Rogers, Red Smith, Jimmy Cannon,Mike Royko, George Will, Maureen Dowd, William F. Buckley, Jimmy Breslin, DaveBarry, Molly Ivins, Mike Barnicle, Anna Quindlen, Carl Hiaasen, Peggy Noonan,Walter Winchell, Erma Bombeck, Pete Dexter, Cynthia Tucker, Steve Lopez  – to name just a fraction.  I couldn’t put it down.
            Heartland: The Cookbookby Judith Fertig.  Beautiful photographs,interesting narrative, and recipes featuring Midwest regional ingredientsdistinguish this scrumptious coffee table cookbook by a Kansas author.  Baked Eggs with Prosciutto and AsiagoCream?  Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie?  Grilled Duck Breast with Wild Rice-DriedCherry Pilaf?  Oh, yeah.
           The Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. The short presidency of James Garfield in 1881, seemingly a footnote inhistory, in fact came at a key time for the United States, and the era comesvividly to life in this lively and entertaining book.  Written as a suspense-filled historical taleof crime, medicine, scientific invention, and politics during the post-CivilWar era, this book is drawing rave reviews.
            100 Yards of Glory: The Greatest Moments in NFL History by Joe Garner and Bob Costas.  If you have a football fan on your gift list,this compendium from writer Garner and broadcaster Costas is a sure winner,covering the most memorable games, plays, coaches, and players in nearly 100years of NFL history.  Great photos,great writing and analysis, AND it comes with a video!
            The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt.Newly-announced winner of the 2011 National Book Award, this page-turnercombines history, biography, philosophy, and theology to describe how the 14thcentury re-discovery and translation of a forgotten ancient manuscriptinfluenced the thinkers of the day and set in motion the massive cultural“swerve” we now know as the Renaissance.
           The Ecstasy of Defeat: Sports Reporting at its Finest from the editors of The Onion.  Another wonderful, raw, and hilariouslysatirical look at the American way of life from the wildly offbeat “news”website  When the coverboasts headings like “Creepy Lifeguard Turns out to be Nine-Time Olympic Gold MedalistMark Spitz” you know you’ve stumbled into another adventure in irreverence, inthe same vein as the Onion’s previous bestseller, Our Dumb World.
            Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie.  Massie, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra,and The Romanovs, has created anothermasterful portrait of a captivating character in Russian history.  A poor princess from an obscure Germanprincipality, Catherine married into the Romanov dynasty at age fourteen.  Ambitious, determined, and shrewd, she roseto become Empress, brought the Enlightenment to Russia, and improved the lives ofher people dramatically.  A woman ofgreat courage, intelligence, passion, and ruthlessness, Catherine led afascinating life.
            Martha Stewart’s Handmade Holiday Crafts: 225 Inspired Projects for Year-Round Celebrations  Withthe beautiful illustrations and creativity that are Martha Stewart trademarks,this book is chock full of unique craft and entertainment ideas for celebratingholidays throughout the year.  A surewinner for Stewart fans.
           Inside Pee-Wee’s Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon by Caseen Gaines. Okay, boys and girls, for fans of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, today’s secretword is FUN!  An entertaining andnostalgic look back at the wildly-popular 1980s character and creative andground-breaking TV series.  “This book isso good, you’ll want to marry it!”
by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column

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