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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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Audiobooks for the Whole Family

By Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

The use of audiobooks is on the rise for all ages, and Manhattan Public Library has a lot to offer, both digitally and in CD format.  With an MPL card, you can check out five physical audiobooks at one time.  After registering the card with the Sunflower eLibrary, you can check out five titles on digital format as well.  Digital audiobooks can be downloaded to any mobile device or tablet via the free Overdrive app.  For help with downloading digital audiobooks, view the tutorials online or speak with a librarian.

The physical and online collection include audiobooks for children and adults.  If your child wants to follow along with the text, MPL has book bags that include a picture book and the audiobook on CD.

Audiobooks offer many benefits to readers of all ages, including the introduction of new vocabulary, critical listening, and a model for good interpretive reading and reading aloud.  When listening to audiobooks, a person can “read” at a higher level than usual and connect with the story in a more visceral way.  Since summer is the season of vacations and long road trips, stop by the library and check out these recommended titles that your whole family will enjoy.

 Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale     If you are going to have a lot of listening time on your hands, this is the series to start with.  Jim Dale is the master of audiobook narration, using multiple voices to bring the characters to life.   If you are unfamiliar with the series, be advised that, as the series progresses, there tends to be more violence and mature content.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood, narrated by Katharine Kellgren     A teenaged Penelope Lumley is hired as a nanny for a family who just adopted three children who were raised by wolves. As she helps them adjust to human life, they come across many mysterious situations and have to problem-solve their way to safety and understanding.  Maryrose Wood’s writing is whimsical and hilarious, and Katherine Kellgren’s narration is filled with entertaining voices and the necessary animal sound here and there.

Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, narrated by Tim Curry     A 13-book series filled with quick wit and extraordinary circumstances, this series will have everyone rooting for the Baudelaire children as they endure through a. . . series of unfortunate events.  Parents can appreciate the puns and seemingly unbelievable events, while kids will appreciate the individual characters and their strengths.

The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, narrated by Stockard Channing     This classic series follows young Ramona Quimby through struggles with her family, school and just simply growing up.  Everyone will be entertained by her crazy antics and quite literal take on life.  Ramona learns life lessons in a way that is accessible to children and laughable to parents. Stockard Channing reads in a matter-of-fact way as Ramona faces life head-on with occasional confusion.

Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry, narrated by Jim Dale     A prequel to J.M. Barrie’s beloved Peter Pan, this series follows the adventures of Peter and his friends on the high seas.  Because the story is full of action and entertaining characters, each person in the family is sure to have a favorite villain or orphan boy in each of the storylines.

If you have younger children in your family who would like to follow along with the book, here are a few series that can be enjoyed by the parent-driver and child alike:

Henry and Mudge series and Annie and Snowball series by Cynthia Rylant     Cynthia Rylant has been writing early chapter books for kids for decades and still amazes readers with each publication.  The above series follow, respectively, a boy and his dog, and a girl and her rabbit.

Manhattan Public Library staff would love to help you find your next great audiobook.  Stop by any service desk to get a great recommendation for your road trip or other activity in need of a story in your ears.

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

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It’s a winter wonderland out there! Or is it?

by Amber Keck, Children’s Library Assistant

picture of young girl reading

Winter is definitely still upon us, and parents and caregivers may be scrambling to find indoor activities for their toddlers, preschoolers, and older children.  Thankfully, Manhattan is a great community which offers a lot opportunities to stay indoors and still have tons of fun.

Flint Hills Discovery Center (FDHC) currently has a Kansas exhibit where students and their families can learn interesting facts about our great state.  On the third floor of the FDHC, you’ll also find an excellent play and exploration area for younger children, including a fort, bouncy area, and lots of fun toys.  Admission is $9 for adults and $4 for children ages 2-17. Opt for a yearly pass at a cost of $22.50 per adult, and $10 per child.

The Riley County Family and Child Resource Center offers several playgroups throughout the week for younger children ages 0-5 years.  Staffed by Parents as Teachers, these playgroups give parents and children the opportunity to socialize, engage in imaginative play, and learn the basics of parenting from early childhood educators.  The playgroup schedule caters to specific age groups each time the playroom is open.  View the complete schedule here.  All playgroups are free of charge and do not require pre-registration.

Manhattan Public Library has so much to offer families who are looking for free activities in the wintertime!  Storytimes are currently in session, with ten weekly programs for children from birth to early elementary.  These sessions are free and do not require pre-registration.

The newly expanded children’s library has many activities available all the time, including a puppet theatre, reading corner, arts and crafts table, and science toys.  The children’s library staff is more than happy to assist you in finding more activities in the community to do with your children.

Manhattan is a wonderful community comprised of many families with children.  Though the winter months are sometimes difficult to get through, especially with small children, there are many opportunities throughout the city to enjoy playtime indoors.

If you know of any fun winter activities for kids that aren’t mentioned here, tweet them to us @ManhattanPL.

Posted in: Children's Dept, News

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Extraordinary Lives of Ordinary Women

Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

Learning about other people’s lives can be endlessly fascinating, particularly if they are people who inhabit another place or time very different from your own. In my case, I love to read about the domestic and personal lives of ordinary women in American history as told through their journals or letters, the artifacts of their lives, or the evidence of historical sources and documents. Here are some outstanding books from Manhattan Public Library about the lives of American women.

A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Martha Ballard, the subject of this Pulitzer Prize-winning book, was a housewife, midwife, and healer in Maine in the 18th century. Her diary is compelling reading, an intimate, personal view of the daily concerns and events in Ballard’s own life and the lives of the women she served, as well as happenings and social dynamics in the communities she traveled.

perfectionPerfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century, by Laura Shapiro, recounts the development of the Domestic Science reform movement in the Progressive-era U.S. between 1880 and 1930. The movement was an ambitious plan to improve the lives of American women and their families by applying “modern” scientific knowledge to common domestic activities, thereby boosting efficiency, promoting better health and sanitation, and improving food and nutrition. The impact of this movement on American homemakers and its legacy up to the present time include both positives and negatives. This is an enlightening and entertaining book.

Never Done: A History of American Housework, by Susan Strasser. Using plentiful illustrations and primary sources, this book offers a comprehensive overview of housekeeping and women’s work in U.S. history, from colonial and pioneer households through the industrialization of America to the consumer culture and time-stressed lifestyles of the 20th century.

No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, by Anne L. Macdonald. Great fun for knitters as well as armchair historians, this book chronicles the role of “the womanly art of knitting” through our national history. “From the Colonial woman for whom idleness was a sin to her Victorian counterpart who enjoyed knitting while visiting with friends, from the war wife eager to provide her man with warmth and comfort to the modern woman who knits as a creative and artistic outlet, this book offers a unique perspective on American women’s changing historical roles.

The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, follows 14 handmade artifacts of American domestic life through their history and the lives of the people who made and used them. An engaging combination of women’s studies, history, and the study of museum artifacts, this book guides the reader through American material culture of colonial times, Revolution, frontier life, the growth of commerce, and the Industrial Age in America.

Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home, 1760-1860, by
Jane C. Nylander. The image of the early American home has been idealized over time and infused with great nostalgia. In “Our Own Snug Fireside”, author Jane Nylander draws from the journals of four women to discover the truth about the customs, traditions, friends, families, and work of the historical New England household, and creates a “fine social history of forgotten routines.”

Linoleum, Better Babies, and the Modern Farm Woman, 1890-1930, by Marilyn Irvin Holt. Studying the Domestic Science movement and the resources and programs it offered to the lives of rural women in America (home economics education, Extension Home Demonstration Units, etc.), this is a very readable, well-illustrated history of changing roles for women in agriculture that is significant in its inclusion of African-American and Hispanic American farm women.

somethingSomething from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America, by Laura Shapiro. The story of how post-war overcapacity in the food manufacturing industry intersected (collided?) with the needs of 1950s housewives to produce dramatic changes in American kitchens, women’s lives, and family life. Characters in this entertaining history include modern marketing and food science, the advent of television advertising, advances in the American kitchen and diet, changing race relations in America, and the appearance of homemaking and cooking icons, both fictitious and real, from Betty Crocker to Julia Child to Freda De Knight. Close enough to present day to strike the chords of memory for many of us, this is fun and fascinating social history.

 

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

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Happy Fathers Day!

Happy Fathers Day to all of the dads out there! The role of fathers in our country has changed over the years, and dad is often no longer the remote disciplinarian of years past, but instead has been taking on a more active role in child-rearing. Manhattan Public Library has lots of books about parenting, including several entertaining and hilarious accounts of being a modern dad and coping with all that goes along with raising children. Check out these great reviews in our catalog:

good talkGood Talk, Dad by Bill Geist and Willie Geist: Bill Geist, the beloved, award-winning, long-time special correspondent for “CBS: Sunday Morning,” and Willie Geist, the Today Show host, popular member of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and author of the best-selling American Freak Show –have begun an extended conversation between father and son on areas of mutual interest, agreement, and disagreement. Told in a unique back-and-forth banter style, the hilarious father-son team will laugh together at the shared journey of their relationship. They’ll riff on fatherhood, religion, music, sports, summer camp disasters, driving lessons gone horribly wrong, being on TV, and their wonderfully odd family life.The Geists decided to write this book so their children and grandchildren would have a record of their unusual father-son relationship. The book is remarkably funny, as well as poignant and sincere, especially in light of Bill’s announcement that he’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. With its lighthearted look at the crazy things fathers and sons go through and the unique bond those experiences forge, the book is sure to be a must-have gift for Father’s Day.

 

dad is fatDad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan: Stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan,  expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children–everything from cousins (“celebrities for little kids”) to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.

 

 

roker

 

  • Don’t Make Me Stop This Car by Al Roker:  Drawing on his experiences as the father of two girls and his own childhood as the oldest of six children, the man whom the New York Post hails as the best-known and best-loved weatherman in the world presents his thoughts on parenting and on life in general.

 

 

 

dad saysSh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern:  “After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad. Sam Halpern, who is “like Socrates, but angrier, and with worse hair,” has never minced words, and when Justin moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad said to him. More than a million people now follow Mr. Halpern’s philosophical musings on Twitter, and in this book, his son weaves a brilliantly funny, touching coming-of-age memoir around the best of his quotes. An all-American story that unfolds on the Little League field, in Denny’s, during excruciating family road trips, and, most frequently, in the Halperns’ kitchen over bowls of Grape-Nuts, Sh*t My Dad Says is a chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship from a major new comic voice.” From publisher description

 

someoneSomeone Could Get Hurt by Drew Magary:  A sharp, funny, and heartfelt memoir about fatherhood and the ups and downs of raising a family in modern America No one writes about family quite like Drew Magary. The GQ correspondent and Deadspin columnist’s stories about trying to raise a family have attracted millions of readers online. And now he’s finally bringing that unique voice to a memoir. In Someone Could Get Hurt , he reflects on his own parenting experiences to explore the anxiety, rationalizations, compromises, and overpowering love that come with raising children in contemporary America. In brutally honest and funny stories, Magary reveals how American mothers and fathers cope with being in over their heads (getting drunk while trick-or-treating, watching helplessly as a child defiantly pees in a hotel pool, engaging in role-play with a princess-crazed daughter), and how stepping back can sometimes make all the difference (talking a toddler down from the third story of a netted-in playhouse, allowing children to make little mistakes in the kitchen to keep them from making the bigger ones in life). It’s a celebration of all the surprises–joyful and otherwise–that come with being part of a real family. In the wake of recent bestsellers that expose how every other culture raises their children better Someone Could Get Hurt offers a hilarious and heartfelt defense of American child rearing with a glimpse into the genuine love and compassion that accompany the missteps and flawed logic. It’s the story of head lice, almost-dirty words, and flat head syndrome, and a man trying to commit the ultimate act of selflessness in a selfish world.

Of course, Manhattan Public Library has more serious books on fatherhood and parenting, but take a minute to laugh at the antics of these fathers, think about the fun you’ve had over the years with your dad, and wish him a great day.

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Don’t miss the Football Exhibit at the Discovery Center!

It’s your last chance to catch the interactive Football exhibit at the Flint Hills Discovery Center–the last day is June 1. Think you’ve got the skills to go pro? Football is a 3,000 sq. ft. exhibition that introduces visitors to the science, math and technology behind the game and how they relate to our everyday lives. Test your throwing skills in the Passing Cage area. Try to match the speed of an NFL running back. Learn the trajectory for kicking a field goal. This highly interactive exhibit brings all the excitement and experience of playing football while also revealing the science that makes it all possible. Check out some of our football books or games at MPL as well!

Posted in: Adult Services, For Teens, News

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Tackling Serious Issues

Many of you probably think that all Young Adult literature is fluff, with love triangles, mean girls, vampires, and overwrought drama. While there is plenty of fluff to go around, there are a number of books dealing with serious issues that many teens face today, such as abuse, mental illness, body image, substance abuse, and much more. Here are a few suggestions for those teens or adults who want to tackle more serious issues.

If you or your teen are looking for books about eating disorders, there are some good choices out there. One such book is “Wintergirls” by Laurie Halse Anderson. In this first person account, eighteen-year-old Lia is battling anorexia and self-mutilation. Lia finds out that her estranged best friend, Cassie, also struggling with anorexia, has been found dead in a hotel room. What Lia doesn’t tell, is that Cassie tried calling her 33 times two days before, and Lia didn’t pick up the phone. The trauma of Cassie’s death, along with Lia’s guilt, only tighten her focus on controlling her eating. This is a heart-wrenching, realistic portrayal of someone struggling with anorexia. For a male perspective on eating disorders, try “A Trick of the Light” by Lois Metzger.

There are also many selections if you want a book tackling mental illness. For a look at schizophrenia, try Caroline Bock’s new book “Before My Eyes.” This book follows three struggling teenagers whose lives all overlap at the end of one summer. Max is the privileged son of a state senator, but secretly miserable. Claire’s mom has suffered a stroke, leaving her in charge of the household. Barkley has begun hearing voices and has an obsession with Claire. What will happen when their lives intertwine? Each of these narrators speak with unique voices and make this a gripping read. Alternately, try “I Will Save You” by Matt de la Pena, also about schizophrenia.

For another look at mental illness pick up “Invisible” by Pete Hautman. This book follows the story of Doug and his best friend and next door neighbor, Andy. Doug is a loner and spends most of his time working on his model train set, specifically in building a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge out of matchsticks. Andy, on the other hand, is the popular quarterback of the football team. It is immediately clear that something is a little off about Doug, and that some tragic event has occurred in the past that is causing Doug to spiral into destruction. His nightly talks with Andy seem to be one of the few things holding him together. For books on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, check out “OCD Love Story” by Corey Ann Haydu or “OCD, the Dude, and Me” by Lauren Vaughn.

“Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher is a sobering look at suicide in teens. Clay Jenson receives a mysterious package in the mail that is full of cassette tapes. Upon playing them, he is shocked to hear the voice of his dead classmate and secret crush, Hannah Baker. Clay is one of thirteen people to receive the cassettes which chronicle Hannah’s downward spiral that led to her suicide. Clay is horrified to hear how different friends and acquaintances have played a role in Hannah’s death and fearful to hear the role that he might also have played. “Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock” by Matthew Quick also tackles suicide.

There are many books that deal with substance abuse in teens or their family members. For a bit of a different take, try “Gym Candy” by Carl Deuker. High school football player Mick Johnson has grown up in the shadow of his dad’s failed NFL career. He is content to use legal vitamins and supplements to enhance his football skills, until the day when he messes up big time. He comes up short of the goal line in a pivotal play in the final game of the season and decides to begin taking steroids. His performance immediately improves, but along with it, come devastating consequences. For another look at drug addiction, check out “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins. This book is based on her own daughter’s addiction to crystal meth.

For these and many other contemporary issue books, come into the library and find the “We’ve Got Issues” display in the Young Adult area.

Posted in: For Teens, Mercury Column, News

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Irises on Mother’s Day

BigBlueEyes-SDBEach year on Mother’s Day, The Flint Hills Iris Society invites visitors to view the spectacular array of blooming irises at the KSU Gardens.  The Iris Collection includes hundreds of varieties, from tall bearded to Dwarf and Siberian. Members of the Iris Society will be on hand to answer questions about the care and planting of irises. Not that it’s possible to choose, but visitors will also get to vote on their favorite variety and the top five irises will be announced at a later date.

The KSU Gardens are located at 1500 Denison Ave and are open from dawn to midnight. Parking is available in the lot off of Denison, just northeast of the Conservatory.

To learn more about Irises, check out one of the many gardening books here at MPL, such as Irises: A Gardeners Encyclopedia by Claire Austin.

purple iris from KSU gardens

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Yard Art Classics Car Club Show

Come to City Park tomorrow for the 24th Annual Yard Art Classics Car Club Show. Register to enter your classic car or just wander our beautiful City Park from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and admire the vehicles! For more information about registration and fees, check the club web page. If you are interested in more information about classic cars, MPL has some great books to choose from–check one out!

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, News

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