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 “Weirdo Fiction with a Shot of Southern Gothic Influence”

By Danielle Schapaugh

Not often will you find a witty, southern gothic, heartfelt, fiercely-loving, mystery story featuring Hindu mythology, but that’s just what Joshilyn Jackson’s latest novel “The Opposite of Everyone” has to offer.

Jackson is one of my favorite writers, always surprising readers with plot twists and engaging us with the kind of irreverent humor it takes to overcome hardship.  Her characters are authentic and original, and if you like to get wrapped up in a good story, she is a perfect author for you to explore.

“The Opposite of Everyone,” published in 2016, is the story of Paula Vauss, a smart and smart-mouthed divorce attorney who transformed herself after getting her gypsy-spirited mother arrested and imprisoned. Paula was only ten at the time and she was left to finish growing up in foster care with a new identity shaped by regret.  Her emotional armor expresses itself as sarcasm and outlandish behavior, but never does she seem crass or uncaring.  She’s someone you’ll want to meet. Paula’s mother has many secrets, but her love for her daughter and her unique approach to life and storytelling leave a deep imprint.

Then one day, her mother’s most treasured secret arrives on Paula’s doorstep and she is forced to crack open her armor to search for clues to her past and discover her mother’s whereabouts. This touching story has sharp edges, strong bonds, and a big heart. Paula is actually one of the minor characters from one of Jackson’s earlier novels “Someone Else’s Love Story,” which brings me to my next recommendation.

“Someone Else’s Love Story” is focused on Shandi Pierce and William Ashe.  Shandi is a young woman trying to raise a three-year-old genius, finish college, and keep her complicated life from jumping the rails—when she falls for William, an older man she meets at a gas station hold-up. As funny and “meet cute” as that sounds, this touching story is full of heartbreak, loss, and forgiveness, as well as humor.

None of Jackson’s characters is a flat stereotype, and that might be what I like most about her work. William Ashe, the hot, older-guy-hero Shandi falls for in “Someone Else’s Love Story,” is not just a good looking guy. William is a genetic scientist with Asperger’s. With the help of his best friend from high school (Paula Vauss from “The Opposite of Everyone”) he has learned to adjust. The chapters told from his perspective are full of the mental calculations he performs in order to read social situations, and they are never boring.

Jackson cares about her characters, and never does them the disservice of making even the minor players one-dimensional. In fact, she has another pair of novels that swap characters, and I think you will be interested to read them. Just between us, you should start with these if you are new to Jackson’s work.

The book that made me fall in love with Joshilyn Jackson’s writing is actually her very first novel, “Gods in Alabama.” This is a whopper of a story full of southern charm, grit, and sincerity.

godsThe tale begins with pressure. Arlene Fleet vowed never to return to Alabama, in fact, she made a deal with God about it. If He kept that dead body hidden, she would never again set foot in her hometown, never again see her family, and never again do the things that landed her in the predicament in the first place. Arlene goes about living a good life in Chicago, but unfortunately, neither party is able to hold up their end of the bargain.

Arlene’s family begs her to return. Her long-time boyfriend demands to meet her family.  Then Miss Rose Mae Lolly, who happens to be the former girlfriend of the dead body, shows up at Arlene’s doorstep looking for her lost love.

When you’ve finished “Gods in Alabama,” it’s time to pick up “Backseat Saints” and learn about the life of Miss Rose Mae Lolly. Rose is a hero in her own right, and Jackson will also show you another side of the dead quarterback. She proves, once again, that humans are more complicated and fascinating than we like to assume.

I can’t say enough about Joshilyn Jackson and I want to sum up my esteem for her saying, she’s just a great storyteller and I think you should start exploring her books immediately. Look for her books on the first floor of the Manhattan Public Library in the fiction section or find them at your local bookstore.

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Perfect Weather and Perfect Books to Share

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

Spring weather has blown in to Manhattan. It’s a time to appreciate Earth’s beauty, head out on the nature trail or spend an evening at the ball diamond. Here are some children’s books that pair nicely with the season.

Greensburg, Kansas is celebrated in Allan Drummond’s newest picture book, Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future. Beginning with the aftermath of the 2007 tornado, Drummond portrays the damaged town, the worried citizens, and the many decisions that had to be made. Children can see how a few bright ideas about rebuilding Greensburg “green” caught on and took hold throughout the whole community. Sidebars give further information about influential townspeople and building sustainable structures. Published just in time for Earth Day, this will be a popular resource for teachers and an inspiration to young students all over the U.S.

Cricket Song by Anne Hunter will set the mood as your day comes to a close. Beautiful illustrations using watercolor and ink show frogs, foxes, otters and whales settling in for their evening. The calming text intertwines animal sounds with poetic prose, perfect for reading aloud to a toddler or preschooler. “The frogs puff their throats full of cool air from the woods, where the poorwill calls poorwill! poorwill! and listens for the footfall of the fox.” The framework of the story connects one sleeping child at the beginning to another sleeping child at the end, with the land and ocean and all the animals between them. Another gorgeous title to share is Kevin Henkes When Spring Comes, with enticing illustrations by Laura Dronzek. Young children are amazed by the green and the blossoms and the critters that come with springtime. Henkes captures this wonder and the joy it brings.

moMo Jackson is the star of a beginning reader series by David Adler, who also writes Cam Jansen mysteries, picture book biographies and a slew of other series. In Get a Hit, Mo!, Mo’s baseball team, the Lions, is playing the Bears. Mo was excited about the game, but after he arrives, he remembers that he is the smallest on his team. He always bats last and is stationed in boring right field. The Bears, on the other hand, look big and strong and they pitch fast. Mo strikes out, not once but twice. Many kids will identify with Mo’s moods and will cheer him on to the very end. Adler, a seasoned writer of beginning readers, has the formula down perfectly with just the right amount of text, controlled vocabulary, and illustrations by Sam Ricks that will clue readers in to the story as they decipher harder words.

Headed out to the park with your “helicopter parent” shoes on? Check out some facts and advice from Heather Shumaker’s It’s OK to Go Up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids, a recent addition to our Parent and Teacher Resource Center. There’s a reason why your child wants to go up the slide. In fact, the urge to take risks or try new challenges is part of healthy development. Shumaker uses her Renegade Golden Rule, “It’s OK if it’s not hurting people or property,” to sort through many situations kids and parents encounter. She tackles topics parents may not have even considered questioning, like talking to strangers or doing homework, and includes a helpful section on limits for screen time. With each new chapter, or “rule,” Shumaker includes examples, facts about child development, and practical tools for parents to try. She provides words to say (and words to avoid), as well as how to “take off your adult lenses” to get past preconceived notions. Chapters can easily be read alone, so busy parents or teachers can read what they need instead of tackling a 300+ page book.

Enjoy the transformation of spring with your kids, and if the wind or rain drives you inside, curl up with a good library book.

 

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

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BOOKBROWSE: YOUR GUIDE TO EXCEPTIONAL BOOKS

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

Are you a reader who goes beyond the bestseller lists? Are you looking for new books that will enthrall you, that will keep you reading far into the night? Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and inspire you, and that you just can’t wait to share with your friends?

BookBrowse is an award-winning online resource for booklovers that offers an outstanding e-magazine and website that are packed with information about new and forthcoming books for discerning readers. It is available from Manhattan Public Library through the library’s website, it’s completely free and simple to use, and it offers:

  • A twice-monthly newsletter for avid readers, delivered directly to your email inbox
  • Previews of new books and notable authors publishing soon
  • Helpful reviews of the latest books in fiction and non-fiction
  • Recommendations of fiction by genre (mysteries, sci fi, romances) and by setting, time, and theme
  • Thousands of read-alikes by book and by author (as in, “if you liked X, you might also like Y or Z”)
  • Resources for book clubs, including book recommendations and reading and discussion guides
  • A readers’ blog with frequent posts about good books and reading lists
  • One-click direct links to our MPL catalog so you can locate the books that pique your interest and place your requests then and there.

The latest issue of “The BookBrowse Review” arrives in your email inbox automatically twice a month, and it’s a gem! With its new book recommendations, sneak previews of upcoming books, professional and reader reviews, and much more, readers can use it for building their reading lists, placing holds on books in the library, and requesting new purchases for the library’s collection.

As an avid reader myself, as well as someone who is frequently asked for book recommendations, I am a huge fan of the BookBrowse magazine. I’m always happy to see it when it pops up in my inbox and in every issue I find new books I want to check out. It’s a cinch to place requests on them in my MPL account (one click takes me to the catalog) or to submit a suggestion for purchase if the library doesn’t have them yet. The website and readers’ blog are equally fun. Just this week I was delighted to see a post in the BookBrowse blog, “A Spot of Britain: 10 Books Set in Britain,” written for grieving Downton Abbey fans!

But, as they say, don’t just take my word for it.  Here’s what others have said about BookBrowse:

“Bookbrowse gets an ‘A’ for easy-to-use info and smart advice; [it’s] the armchair version of browsing your favorite bookstore.” – Family Circle Magazine.

“[Bookbrowse] offers lengthy excerpts from select popular and literary titles.” – San Francisco Chronicle Best of the Web

“Once I discovered your site…all of my [book club] picks are from your lists and recommendations.  Thank you so much for making it so easy for me and others in our club to make great choices easily.” – Kim

 “Excerpts from the best books for sale now,…and we’re not talking teensy fragments.” – Yahoo Incredibly Useful Site of the Day

 “I have to tell you, when I finally found BookBrowse…I swear a light shone down on my monitor and angels began to sing!” – [the appropriately yclept] Angela

To sign up to receive the “BookBrowse Review” twice a month, or to catch up on previous issues, go to the MPL website at www.mhklibrary.org and click on the Books & More tab. Scroll down to click on the BookBrowse link, and then click on SUBSCRIBE in the “Free Newsletters” box.

Or come to the library and talk to one of the librarians at the second floor Reference Desk about BookBrowse and other readers’ services and guides.  They are trained and eager to help you find something good to read.

 

 

 

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 Discover Your Passion

by Brian Ingalsbe, Youth Services Library Assistant

Spring break officially begins tomorrow, and most – if not all – of our children are ready for a FULL WEEK of relaxation. What will they do with that week? If they’re like me, they’ll spend the first few days splurging on all of their favorite activities and pastimes. But what then? Take them to Manhattan Public Library to discover their next great passion. How? Well, I have just the answer for you!

Have fun

During the week of spring break the Youth Services department is having several fantastic programs that both you and your child can enjoy. You can find information about any of these events in three ways: 1) visit our website at mhklibrary.org and click on the events tab, 2) grab a March monthly calendar at any of our service desks, or 3) ask any of our staff!

Take a book trip

If you think that you need to physically move to go on a journey, then you have never read a good book. Stories of all kinds can transport you to vast worlds – both imaginary and real. Half of the fun of reading is escaping your humdrum routine for something a bit more exhilarating. As a lover of fantasy fiction, I understand this as well as anyone. If this is the kind of read you love, here are a few great books for you.

Savvy by Ingrid Law – For generations, the Beaumont family has inherited a magical secret. Each family member is endowed with “Savvy”, a special ability on their thirteenth birthday. On the eve of Mibs’s birthday, her father is in a terrible accident. Determined to prove her magic can save him, she hitches a ride on an ordinary bus, which is headed in the wrong direction.

School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani – Agatha and Sophie live in a world outside of the magical forest. Agatha is always glum and gloomy; Sophie is cheery and happy as can be. When these two unlikely friends are abducted to the School for Good and Evil they learn that appearances are not always what they seem.

If you don’t fancy fiction, nonfiction is another viable option. It is always fun to choose a geographic location and immerse yourself in a culture and way of life. Here are some great nonfiction series that accomplish this.

Scholastic’s Enchantment of the World – This series focuses on different countries around the world. This series is great because it addresses many of the different factors that makes each country unique – including its people, land features, religious practices, and even national pastimes! This series is broken up with numerous pictures, which makes it much less intimidating for children.

America the Beautiful This series – also published by Scholastic – focuses on the diversity of the each of our 50 states. Each book addresses the state’s basic information – such as history, government, and economy. I love this series because it utilizes fun fact trackers including graphs, FAQ’s, wow factors, and travel guides. You and your child will love learning about a new state with this fun and engaging series!

Learn a new skill

When you’ve had your fill of travel, you can come back to MPL and grab some amazing books to explore your next great hobby or pastime – or just satisfy your thirst to learn something new. When I think about exploring a new hobby, there are several activities and books that pop into my head!

Learn to Draw – This series is great for children who crave creativity. Each book in the series explores different ways to draw various subjects – including animals, transportation, and even your favorite Disney characters! These books not only teach you how to draw well, they also include mini quizzes and fun facts on every page. How cool is that?

Easy Menu Ethnic Cookbooks – This series of cookbooks features authentic and easy-to-replicate recipes from all over the world. Cooking is something fun that you can do with any of your loved ones, and what better way than to explore a new cuisine together?

No matter what their passions may be, MPL has something for your children! Our staff is always ready to help you find your next great read, explore the online world, or answer any question you may have. You can contact the Youth Services Department staff at kidstaff@mhklibrary.org or (785)776-4741 ext. 400.

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

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Feminist Worthy Romance Novels

by Rachael Schmidtlein, Teen and Tween Services Coordinator
The romance novel industry has a notoriously bad reputation for producing predictable and unrealistic literature. I’ve recently been on a read-a-romance-novel-a-week kind of binge, and after awhile, I became seriously jaded with the lack of creativity that I was encountering. There are certain staple elements in romance novels, such as happy endings, but I didn’t see why that equaled boring. I wanted a story that had strong women, interesting men and a non-traditional story line. Is that really so much to ask for?

Well, did you know that there are websites, blog posts, and news articles dedicated to finding awesome and non-traditional romance novels? There are! After spending an unwise amount of time looking at these resources, I began reading again, and boy, have I loved it! Here are just a few of the feminist romance books that I discovered on my journey.

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan:  It’s the 1870’s and Frederica “Free” Marshall runs a women’s rights newspaper in London. She has a small army of supporters but even more enemies bent on destroying her business, reputation and life. Enter our hero, Edward Clark. Edward is an unscrupulous, jaded scoundrel set on revenge after his family left him for dead. Edward and Free aren’t the typical historical romance couple with opposing ideologies. They work together to accomplish their own goals and find undeniable chemistry in each other. Their story is ripe with sharp witty banter and scandalous intrigue.  Honestly, all of Courtney Milan’s novels are amazing. She pushes her characters and story lines to new places and experiments with unexplored romance-based territory. For me, The Suffragette Scandal takes the cake because of its sassy characters and my personal love for suffragettes.

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare:  Minerva Highwood is a logical and determined scientist. After she makes a monumental discovery, she decides to find her way to Scotland to present her discovery to the geologic society. Not one to worry about her reputation, and to save her sister from a disastrous match, she enlists the help of notorious rake Colin. Colin, Lord Payne, is stuck in wretched Spindle Cove until he turns of age to seize his inheritance. Watching this unlikely couple journey to Scotland is a fun and surprising adventure. The plot is character- driven and Tessa Dare delivers a truly funny story. A Week to be Wicked is a breath of fresh air because the characters don’t change for one another. At the end of the story, Minerva and Colin are the same people they were at the beginning, but the journey makes you love them all the more for it.

The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev:  Ria is the perfect Bollywood actress, but she has a secret. Her entire life she has kept her ice princess persona in check but when she is found in a compromising situation she decides to attend her cousin’s wedding in Chicago. Also attending the wedding is Vikram, an ex-love, from a relationship that ended really badly. Emotions ignite as the two characters dance around one another in this very emotional read.  If you love heart-wrenching romance and angst, then The Bollywood Bride is your kind of book. The language and imagery of the Indian – American culture is stunning, and the love story is sweet and passionate. Sonali Dev does a really great job of making the characters believable and the story addicting.

Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl:  Veronica has moved back to her hometown in Wyoming after failing to accomplish her dreams in New York City. Desperate, she takes a job as a relationship advice columnist and blunders her way through topics that she knows nothing about. Then she meets Gabe, the rugged small town librarian.  This book is entirely about Veronica’s transformation from an insecure mess to a strong woman who can stand on her own. Gabe is a great example of a male character who challenges the stereotypes of traditional male qualities and guides, not forces, Veronica’s transformation.

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Diverse Award Winning Books for Kids

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

If you would like a list of good reads with a huge range of styles, topics and diverse characters, the children’s book award winners list is where it’s at!  Every year, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, gives out the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott awards, as well as a long list of other medal winners, honor books, lifetime achievement awards, and even best audio books and videos.

After the recent controversy of the “all-white Oscars,” it’s great to see recognition for literature that is inclusive of different races, cultures and economic statuses, showing both challenges and opportunities. Let’s start with the top dog of children’s book awards, the Newbery Medal, given to the most distinguished American children’s book of the year. Started in 1922, the Newbery was “the first children’s book award in the world,” according to ALSC. This year, the Newbery committee deviated from the common path of recognizing a longer work for older children.  Matt de la Pena’s picture book, Last Stop on Market Street, won with a mere 32 pages of sparse (but memorable) text.

In the story, young CJ boards a city bus with his Nana, and along the way he has many questions for her. “Nana, how come we don’t got a car?” and, seeing some teens listening to music on devices, “Sure wish I had one of those.”  But Nana’s responses help CJ see the world and the people around him, appreciating where he is right at that moment.  De la Pena said in an interview with BookPage, “My favorite reaction is when I go to underprivileged schools and diverse students take ownership of the story. The book feels validating to them.”  Colorful illustrations by Christian Robinson also won the book a Caldecott Honor for artistic merit, as well as a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.

Another Caldecott Honor book caught my eye when it came out this year. Trombone Shorty, written by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews himself, with pictures by Bryan Coillier, is a fantastic picture book autobiography. Troy teaches himself to play the instrument he happened to find, a trombone, and then is discovered when Bo Diddley brings him onstage during the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Collier’s vibrant art emulates the sound of trombones, bands, music and joy, in the tradition of Treme, making the book an inspiration for any budding musicians. Collier also received the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for the most outstanding African American illustrator of a book for children.

Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina and illustrated by Angela Dominguez won awards in two categories of the Pure Belpre Awards for best works portraying, affirming and celebrating the Latino cultural experience.  This is a sweet story about a girl learning to communicate with her grandmother who had been living far away, where parrots lived in the palm trees. The two find it is slow going at first, with each trying to teach the other a few words in Spanish or English.  Mia can see that Abuela misses her old home, so she asks her mother to buy a parrot from the pet store to cheer her up.  The parrot, named Mango, learns both English and Spanish along with them and helps Abuela practice during the day while Mia is at school.

Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls won a Schneider Family Book Award for artistic expression of the disability experience with their picture book biography of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah.  In Emmanuel’s Dream, young readers see Emmanuel’s struggle growing up in West Africa with only one leg. Most children with disabilities did not attend school or find jobs.  But “Emmanuel hopped to school and back, two miles each way, on one leg, by himself.”  He taught himself to ride a bicycle and even found a job in a big city.  After receiving a bike from the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Emmanuel trained and then he began riding all over Ghana, promoting the idea that disabled people can succeed.  His story is one of amazing perseverance, and his activism helped change the way disabled people are treated in Ghana.

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle, winner of the Pura Belpre Author Award and a Sibert Honor for nonfiction, is a poetic memoir of the author’s childhood in L.A. before and during the Cold War.  Margarita’s mother was born in Cuba, a magical land Margarita visited and fell in love with as a young child. But later, there is only hate spewed about Cuba, from the government, teachers and her peers, as they practice hiding under desks during air-raid drills. Margarita’s poems cover so much territory — emotions and thoughts carried on the wing of her words as she traverses childhood and adolescence, as well as physically traveling the world and discovering the beauty of so many places.

Triple recognition for Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hammer is well deserved. Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes, this nonfiction Civil Rights Movement book is unique.  The text is written in Fannie Lou Hammer first person and set into poetry.  The power of the words comes from the real experiences of her life, like realizing that the students she had inspired had been murdered by the KKK.  “I cried like I lost my own sons.” The artwork accompanying each poem is a striking combination of paint and collage, winning a Caldecott Honor and the John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award.  It also won a Sibert Honor for best nonfiction.

Many other outstanding books for children and young adults were recognized with awards this year.  Take a look at the long list at www.ilovelibraries.org and check out some fantastic reads to start off the new year.

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

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A New Year at the Library

By Grace Benedick, Youth Services Library Assistant

parents and toddlers at toddler wiggleworms storytime2016 marks the start of our second year in our expanded children’s space at Manhattan Public Library, and we are excited to offer many exciting programs this semester. January has already been a full month with Baby and Toddler Play Dates and Yoga Storytimes to fill the gap between our storytime sessions, and on January 25th our spring storytime session will begin.

If you have a little one 18 months or younger, try out our Baby Rhyme Time Storytime, on Monday mornings from 11 to 11:30 and on Thursday mornings from 9:30 to 10. Baby Rhyme Time is designed for infants and young toddlers with their parents or caregivers. We will sing nursery rhymes and silly songs with interactive actions for parent and baby, read short books together, and play with shakers and music.

Toddlers have three storytime opportunities each week. On Monday and Tuesday mornings we will have Toddler Wiggleworms from 9:30 to 10, and on Wednesday it will be from 11 to 11:30. Toddler Wiggleworms is an active storytime for toddlers, with picture books read by the librarian, choral readers read together by all the parents, lots of action rhymes, and music so your little wiggleworms can get all their wiggles out.

If your child is 3 or older, check out one of our Preschool Story Train storytimes. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we will have Preschool Story Train from 11 to 11:30, and on Wednesday mornings from 9:30 to 10. This is a lively story and music session very similar to Toddler Wiggleworms but with longer picture books, more complex action songs, and activities with directions to follow.

On Saturday mornings we will have Family Fun Storytime from 11 to 11:30, a storytime with great picture books, action songs, and music for all ages.

We’ll continue to collaborate with Sunset Zoo to bring you Zoofari Tails on the 4th Friday of each month. January’s Zoofari Tails program will be about possums and prairie dogs. We’ll have action songs and read funny picture books, including Janet Steven’s Great Fuzz Frenzy. We are also partnering with Flint Hills Discovery Center this year to host “exhibit preview” programs in the library. The first event is January 30 at 2:00, featuring “How People Make Things” with hands-on activities for kids in grades K-6. Kids can cut, mold, deform and assemble a project to take home.

Our Read with a Dog program will continue on the 2nd and 4th Sunday afternoons each month from 2-4 pm. This popular program allows children to practice their reading skills without pressure while reading aloud to a loveable therapy dog. In February, Read with a Dog will take place on the 14th and the 28th.

Join us in February for special events for older children, starting with Harry Potter Book Night on February 4th.  Celebrate this magical series by completing a scavenger hunt in the Children’s Room between 4 and 7. Children receive a “galleon” for each correct answer which they can exchange for small prizes our sweets shop.  Supplies for making wands and paper Hogwarts pets will also be available. Dress in costume, or come as a muggle!

dorkCelebrate Chinese New Year with us the following day with a party on February 5th from 2-3 pm. Kids in grades K-3 can come learn about the traditional celebrations of the Chinese New Year. We’ll read New Year’s stories, make paper dragons, and do a dragon dance. Then bring your tweens (4th-6th graders) on February 11th for a party featuring the Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. We’ll play games and decorate pens and journals, so kids can keep their own diaries. On February 24th, grades K-6th are invited to come to our Acting Out at the library event. We’ll play theatre games and act out skits in celebration of Shakespeare’s First Folio Exhibition coming to the Beach Museum in February.

Check the library website for more information on upcoming programming and events. If you have any questions regarding children’s and tween programs, please contact the Youth Services Department staff at kidstaff@mhklibrary.org or (785)776-4741 ext. 400.

 

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New Year’s Resolution: This Year I Mean It!

by John Pecoraro,  Assistant Director

Every January 1st, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, and every January 2nd or 3rd millions of people forget about them. According to Statisticbrain.com, 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, but a mere 8% of that number actually manage to achieve their goals. That statistic isn’t as grim as it sounds. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than people who don’t. The first step in any effort to make a change is to decide to make it.

What kind of changes do we want to make? The top New Year’s resolutions are pretty basic: lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, and spend more time with loved ones. Change isn’t always easy. The most common reasons for failing to keep New Year’s resolutions include setting unrealistic goals, not tracking progress, or just forgetting about them.

Manhattan Public Library has several titles that can help you in your efforts to make your life changes, your promises, and your resolutions.

Why do we stay in bad relationships or hold on to failing investments? What stops us from changing? These are the questions Rolf Dobelli asks in “The Art of Thinking Clearly.” This book examines the faulty reasoning that leads to mistakes. Herd mentality is often part of the problem. Dobelli also warns against buying into apparent experts, authoritative news anchors, and “beautiful people.”

Any New Year’s resolution worth the trouble is going to involve change, whether drastic or simple. Brett Blumenthal inspires and motivates readers to live healthier and to make positive changes in their lives in “52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier Healthier You.” The changes detailed in each chapter of this book build on the ones before, or readers can sample the 52 changes at random.

The 31 methods for change in “Wow: A Handbook for Living,” by Zen Ohashi give you the tools you need to get the life you want. The exercises are simple, such as writing down what is working for you right now. Another method is to write down the date you will accomplish something once you’ve decided to do it. You can change your life by making small changes to the way you think and live.

Based on the idea that achievement can be learned, Bernard Roth offers an accessible primer to success in “The Achievement Habit.” As the subtitle states, this book challenges its readers to stop wishing, start doing, and to take command of their lives. According to Roth, once you learn to flex your achievement muscle, you can meet life’s challenges and fulfill your goals.

Why do dieters fail in their attempts 95% of the time? Why do most New Year’s resolutions fade after a few days? “Change Anything,” explains the science of personal success. This holistic plan has been developed from the research of the Change Anything Labs, a group that studies and works with people who have a pattern of self-destructive behavior. The book encourages you to avoid blaming your inability or lack of willpower, but instead to recognize powerful influences that can counteract negative behavior. Maybe there is a financial incentive that can enable you to change, or maybe what you need is a radical change in the physical spaces you inhabit.

Sometimes what stops us from changing, from fulfilling our New Year’s resolutions is our lack of confidence, our fear of failure, our fear of rejection. Jia Jiang has a unique take on this issue in “Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection.” Realizing that his fear of rejection was a bigger obstacle than any single rejection could be, Jiang sought out rejection. Jiang learned how the initial “no” can be converted into something positive. He also learned ways to protect himself from rejection and ways to develop his own confidence. Along the way he learned that even the most preposterous wish may be granted if you ask in the right way.

So if you’ve made a New Year’s resolution for this year, or if you plan to, here’s hoping you really mean it!

 

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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.

Posted in: For Adults, For Teens, Mercury Column, News, Young Adult Dept

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The Good Books Club Focuses on Native American Mysteries

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

 Manhattan Public Library’s monthly book discussion group, the Good Books Club, will again host a winter-spring series of programs from the Kansas Humanities Council’s TALK (Talk About Literature in Kansas) program. Our theme for this series will be Native American Mysteries and will feature books that are rich in varied geographic locales and atmosphere, Native American cultures and spiritual traditions, and the changing social, ethnic, and political face of America. Book group meetings are on the last Thursday of each month – January 28, February 25, March 31, and April 28 – and will start at 7:00 p.m. in the library’s 2nd floor Groesbeck Room.

On January 28th we’ll introduce the series with “DreadfulWater Shows Up”, a stylish mystery debut by Hartley GoodWeather, pseudonym of literary author Thomas King. Cherokee ex-cop Thumps DreadfulWater has left law enforcement behind and moved to a reservation in Montana in an attempt to shed memories of a killer who got away. Thumps now pursues a career as a fine-arts photographer and hopes to reignite a past relationship with Claire Merchant, head of the local tribal council. After a murder at the reservation’s glitzy new casino and resort development, Claire’s son becomes a suspect and Thumps reluctantly decides to track the real killer. The leader for the January discussion will be Trish Reeves, a retired English teacher at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence.

Our book choice for February 25 is fast-paced mystery thriller “Dance for the Dead” by Thomas Perry. A member of the Seneca Wolf clan of upper New York State, clever, beautiful, and fearless sleuth Jane Whitefield runs her own witness protection service, making victims vanish. Relying in part on ancestral traditions of mysticism and woodland lore, she conjures up new identities for people with nowhere left to run. When an eight-year-old boy, heir to a fortune, is stalked by the same killers who murdered his parents, Jane takes readers on a wild ride of switched identities and super killers, facing dangerous obstacles that will put her powers and her life to a terrifying test. Discussion leader for February is Erin Pouppirt, a member of the Kaw Nation and an independent scholar.

On March 31, we’ll read and discuss “The Shaman Sings” by James D. Doss. Ute Tribal Police investigator Charlie Moon and Granite Creek, Colorado, Police Chief Scott Parrish join forces when confronted with the brutal murder of an ambitious and unscrupulous female university researcher. Aged Ute shaman Daisy Perika draws on native spirituality to guide the investigation, including visions and foreboding dreams that, inexplicably, are shared by other characters. Combining Ute prophesy, scientific investigation, and Mexican fatalism, the author switches points of view and exposes complex motivations as these characters track and find the killer before he strikes again. Our March discussion will be led by Deborah Peterson, an instructor of Chinese language and East Asian civilization at KU.

The final book in our series, on April 28, will be “Dance Hall of the Dead” by author Tony Hillerman, one of his series of complex, colorful, and compelling Southwestern mysteries starring Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navaho tribal police. Two young Native-American boys, one of them a Zuni, have disappeared into thin air, leaving a pool of blood behind. Lt. Joe Leaphorn is called to the case but his investigation is complicated by an important archaeological dig under way and by roadblocks created by the unique laws and sacred religious rites of the Zuni people. Hillerman is a master of recreating the exotic atmosphere of Zuni and Navajo culture and ceremonies overlaid by the splendor of the natural setting of Southwestern Native American lands. Discussion leader for the April meeting will be Mickey Chance-Reay, an author and historian who teaches at Kansas State University.

Please join our intrepid and enthusiastic band of avid readers for these discussions this winter and spring. This series is sponsored and by the Manhattan Library Association (the Friends of MPL) and by the Kansas Humanities Council.

 

  

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