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This Season’s Dark and Twisted Mysteries

By Marcia Allen,  Manhattan Public Library Collection Development

I always look forward to the latest that favorite mystery writers have to offer.  Like so many readers, I anticipate what the next story line might promise, and I thoroughly enjoy reading about my longtime favorite characters.  That’s why the latest crop of new tales has really caught me by surprise: my recent picks have revealed some really nasty details.  We’re talking about some exceedingly heinous crimes.

Consider author Lee Child, for example.  Jack Reacher, a perennial favorite at the library, most recently appears in Child’s Make Me, a disturbing story of unbelievable crime.  You know Jack Reacher: the quiet loner who always manages to get involved in protecting underdogs in out-of-the-way locales.  This story opens with his arrival in a tiny hamlet called Mother’s Rest.  Why is Reacher there?  Because the name of the town made him curious.  Thus, Child takes us on a pulse-pounding investigation into suspicious cover ups.  Reacher is aided by private investigator Michelle Chang who also arrives in the town, hoping to locate her missing partner who vaguely resembles Reacher.  Child’s villains are always disgustingly sleazy, and this book has its share of those repugnant criminals.  And their involvement in sordid Internet websites leads Reacher to discoveries he’d rather not have made.  But the real shock is in the nature of the serial crimes that Reacher gradually uncovers.  This is one for the many Jack Reacher fans, as well as those who like some nasty surprises in their crime fiction.  The final chapters of this book will make you cringe in horror.

If that doesn’t appeal, you might try Jonathan Kellerman’s latest mystery, The Murderer’s Daughter.  You know Kellerman: the favorite author of the ever-popular Alex Delaware series?  While Delaware is mentioned in this new book, he is but a peripheral character barely mentioned in past dealings.  The real story is that of Grace Blades, a highly respected psychologist who has a particular flair for helping to heal patients tormented by past violence.  Her expertise is one thing, but the fact that she is actually a sociopath with her own childhood history of violence and loss is what kicks off the story. We learn of Grace’s loss of incredibly bad parents, and we also learn of a compassionate psychologist who takes an interest in the young Grace, as he sees in her the potential for a great future.  When Grace later suspects that a violent child from her past is now a thriving adult killer, she sets off in hopes of righting that wrong.  Recurring flashbacks reveal why Grace is able to plan her movements so coldly, and her lack of remorse makes the story a real shocker.  This is one for those who like a good character study with their mysteries.

And finally, I discovered talented mystery writer, Julia Heaberlin.  Heaberlin’s third mystery, entitled Black-Eyed Susans, is the disturbing story of Tessa Cartwright, the only survivor of a serial killer’s crime spree some twenty years earlier.   Tessa’s memory of the ordeal is vague, but she does recall the field of wildflowers in which she was found.  More recently, she had gone through years of therapy due to that experience and now has a good life as a single mother of a teenage daughter.  But over the years, someone has chosen to plant black-eyed Susans in her yard as a reminder of the crime.  While the convicted killer has spent years on death row, the ongoing flower plantings make Tessa question whether the wrong man was convicted.  This is an unsettling read, perfect for those who like psychological suspense in their crime reading.

As always, we have lots of other mysteries new to the library that just might appeal if the edgy stories I’ve mentioned don’t grab your interest.  If you love mysteries as so many do, you’re bound to find an undiscovered treasure at your library.

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Summer’s the Time for Blockbusters

by John Pecoraro,  Assistant Director

Movie buffs always look forward to summer anticipating the release of major motion pictures.  Summer blockbusters have often been record-breakers in terms of revenue generated for movie studios, but that’s not why the movie-going public loves them. For the chronic movie fanatic, the habitual Netflixer, or the active DVD and Blu-ray borrower, these movies are about pure entertainment.      The term “blockbuster” first made its appearance in the American press during World War 2 in reference to bombs with the power to destroy entire blocks of streets. The term was later applied to successful theater plays, then hit movies, best-selling novels, and computer games.  Movies such as “The Ten Commandments,” “Gone with the Wind,” and “Ben-Hur,” were the blockbusters of their times. In terms of summer blockbusters, however, and the concept of the blockbuster as a film genre, we have to look no further than Steven Spielberg’s 1975 hit “Jaws.” After the success of “Jaws,” Hollywood producers attempted to create similar “event films” with wide commercial appeal. The 1974 novel, “Jaws,” by Peter Benchley, was also a blockbuster, spending 44 weeks on the bestsellers list and selling millions of copies.

The summer blockbuster for 1977 was George Lucas’ “Star Wars” (the title we now know as “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”). The Star Wars saga also reached summer blockbuster status in 1980 with “The Empire Strikes Back,” 1983 with “Return of the Jedi,” 1999 with “The Phantom Menace,” and 2005 with “Revenge of the Sith.”   “The Amityville Horror,” was the hit of 1979. Based on the 1977 book “The Amityville Horror: A True Story,” by Jay Anson, it tells the story of Lutz family and the hauntings they endured in their house in Amityville on Long Island in New York.

Other successful books have made the transition to summer blockbusters. “Jurassic Park,” for example, was the hit of 1993. “Jurassic Park,” by Michael Crichton, was published in 1990, and spawned a series of books and movies. Is the latest installment, “Jurassic World,” the summer blockbuster of 2015? At grossing over a billion dollars worldwide already, it’s a pretty safe bet. Who can forget “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” the summer hit of 1982? Steven Spielberg again. In fact if you look at the list of top grossing films from 1975 to 2014, a third of them can be attributed to Lucas, Spielberg, or both.

It’s not a surprise that summer mega-movies are often of the action-adventure variety. There have, however, been exceptions. “Grease,” a musical, was the summer hit of 1978, while the romantic ghost story, “Ghost,” took those honors in 1990. Family rated movies have also made the summer splash. Disney’s “The Lion King,” made it big in 1994. “Shrek,” another hit based loosely on the book of the same title, by William Steig, was the blockbuster for 2001, followed by “Shrek II,” in 2004. In between, during the summer of 2003 we were watching “Finding Nemo.” While “Toy Story,” and “Toy Story 2,” were popular Pixar films, only “Toy Story 3” made it to top grossing summer movie status in 2010.

Superheroes have been popular with summer audiences. “Batman,” was the top grossing movie of 1989. “Batman Returns” took that honor in 1992, “Batman Forever” in 1995, and “The Dark Knight” in 2008. But the Caped Crusader wasn’t alone. “Spider-Man” made it big in 2002, and “Spider-Man 3” in 2007. The last few years of summer hits have belonged to Marvel comics: “Marvel’s The Avengers” in 2012, “Iron Man 3” in 2013, and “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 2014.

Other films that made the summer blockbuster list include “The Omen” (1976), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “Ghostbusters” (1984), “Independence Day” (1996), and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998).

You can find the complete list of the top grossing summer films from the past forty years at Don’t forget that most of these titles are available in DVD and/or Blu-ray at your Manhattan Public Library.







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Fall Films Based on Books

by Judi Nechols, Adult Services Librarian

The question always asked about books made into movies is—which was better…book or film? And which should come first—read the book, then watch the film, or watch the film then delve into the written word? Personally, I enjoy reading a book prior to seeing the film adaptation—the film rarely portrays characters, in looks or in actions, in the way that I imagine them as I read. There are several films being released in the next few months that are based on popular books. If you haven’t read them yet, pick up a copy soon—when a film is released, the book usually is in demand at the library! The following films are due to be released this fall, and all are adaptations of books that have been very popular at the Manhattan Public Library.

Paper Towns” is based on a novel by John Green. Released July 24, the film tells the story of Quentin “Q” Jacobsen as he tries to find Margo—a girl he has loved from afar and who has vanished, leaving clues just for him.

“Dark Places” is based on the book by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the blockbuster book and film “Gone Girl”. Libby Day was seven years old when her mother and sisters were murdered—and her brother convicted of the crimes. This film is reported to be filled with suspense, twists and turns—catch it in the theater on August 20.

“A Walk in the Woods” is based on author and humorist Bill Bryson’s story of his journey on the Appalachian Trail. He chronicles the travails of hiking the trail by two inept hikers—himself and his hiking partner–with humor and with details of the animal life, scenery and the various characters they encounter along the way. Robert Redford stars as Bryson in the film, due in theaters on September 2.

The Scorch Trials” is the second installment of the “Maze Runner” series, based on the book series by James Dashner. This dystopian thriller provides plenty of action as 16-year-old Thomas and the rest of the Gladers discover that their escape from the maze is just the beginning of their attempts to survive “the Scorch”. “The Maze Runner” has been a very popular teen series here at the library.

Into Thin Air” Author Jon Krakauer was on assignment to write a magazine article about expeditions on Everest a storm caused the deaths of nine climbers on a horrific day on the mountain in May of 1996. His first-hand account of the heart-wrenching stories of life and death, and of the difficult choices that had to be made by climbers and sherpas is gripping and haunting. The film is titled “Everest”–be prepared for an intense experience, either in watching the film or reading the book!

Brooklyn” is based on the novel by Colm Toibin. It tells the story of Ellis, a young Irish woman who leaves her family behind in order to find work in Brooklyn. She embraces her life in American but must return home when tragedy strikes. The film is said to be both heartbreaking and powerful.

Mockingjay” by Susan Collins is the final installment in the “Hunger Games” and is sure to be a blockbuster film, as the revolution led by Katniss, spreads.

“”The Martian” by Andy Weir tells the story of a NASA crew member’s struggle to survive on Mars after being stranded alone. Starring Matt Damon, this SciFi film is sure to be as popular as the book.

In the Heart of the Sea” by Nathan Philbrick is the terrifying, true account of the sinking of the whaling ship Essex in 1820 by a sperm whale, and the hardships encountered by the crew as they try to survive months at sea in small boats.

The Revenant” by Michael Punke is a novel based on a true incident in 1823, when mountain man Hugh Glass was attacked by a grizzly bear and was left for dead by his partners. His desire for revenge pushes him to survive a harrowing journey through the wilderness. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this film will be released July 25.This is a great selection of both books and films—read the books and watch the films and decide which you like best!

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The Best New Books!

By Marcia Allen, Collection Development

There’s always a bounty of wonderful new adult books at the library in the spring.  With so many to choose from, it’s difficult to narrow your picks to just a special few.  Here’s a very limited sampling of what has recently arrived:

  • “Inside the O’Briens” by Lisa Genova. Genova, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard, became an instant celebrity when she released “Still Alice,” a heartbreaking novel aboutAlzheimer’s disease.  This time, she focuses on the effects of Huntington’s disease, often called  the “cruelest disease known to man.”  Joe O’Brien, a veteran Boston police officer, earns his family’s concern when he begins stumbling and when he exhibits wild mood swings.  Once diagnosed, he learns that there is a 50% chance that his four grown children may also develop symptoms.  This novel is a realistic look at a fatal disease with horrendous effects.


  • “Reykjavik Nights” by Arnaldur Indridason is the latest from one of Iceland’s most recognized mystery writers. A number of well-written mysteries about Inspector Erlendur have featured the patient detective unraveling tales of murder, but this book differs in time period.  This story, the puzzling account of two perhaps unrelated murders, features a much younger Erlendur when he was a police officer.  Already displaying the dogged curiosity and interest in missing persons that Indridason’s many readers enjoy, our determined officer wants to know why a misplaced earring, a missing woman, and the drowning of an old alcoholic are connected.
  • “The Siege Winter” by Ariana Franklin is a nice piece of historical fiction. Franklin, the author of the bestselling “Art of Death” mystery series, wrote this new tale to convey the horror and uncertainty of the year 1141, when King Stephen and Empress Matilda fought each other for the throne of England.  It is now the year 1180, and the dying Abbot of Perton has arranged for a scribe to record the events that took place some forty years earlier.  Important players in the story from the past include Gwil, an archer bent on revenge, and Penda, a brutalized child who becomes a very talented archer.


  • “Bill O’Reilly’s Legends & Lies of the Old West” by David Fisher serves as a companion piece to the Fox News series for the Bill O’Reilly docudrama. This is a must-have for those readers who can’t get enough about the real West.  Colorful characters like David Crockett and Doc Holliday have dedicated chapters, while O’Reilly and Fisher expose the myths and answer mysterious questions about the now-famous westerners.  We learn, for example, more about Crockett’s self-promotion, as well as the probable cause of his unwitnessed death at the Alamo.


  • “Into the Nest” by Laura Erickson and Marie Read is absolutely outstanding. If you like birds, this book will entrance you for hours.  Subtitled “Intimate Views of the Courting, Parenting, and Family Lives of Familiar Birds,” this is an encyclopedia of photographs and descriptions of all our favorites.  The passages on the Ruby-throated hummingbird, for example, describe the dive displays the male uses to court the female.  It also displays a typical nest, often located 40 feet above the ground atop a branch.  And these swift little birds, we learn, migrate an amazing 500 miles when autumn nears.
  • “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough needs no introduction. This is the long-awaited next title from the author of such magnificent books as “Mornings on Horseback” (National Book Award title) and “John Adams” (Pulitzer Prize winner).  Lauded by “The New York Times Book Review,” “Publishers Weekly,” and “The Economist,” this book is destined, like so many other McCullough titles, to become an instant bestseller.


Still puzzled by what to read next?  Come browse the new book shelves in the adult collection to find your next winner.  You’re bound to find something that grabs your attention.


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Scared of technology?

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

There’s a secret group of people out there (code name EVERYONE) who can sometimes feel intimidated by technology. It almost seems as if technology has constructed a new culture with a set of encrypted rules and customs that are frightening to outsiders. If you didn’t learn the language of the tech-y as a child, never fear! There are plenty of ways to catch up, and the library is here to help.

Here are a few best practices that will serve you well. If you’re a pro, it’s still a good idea to brush up on the basics now and again, so keep reading.

First, you need a system for keeping your information safe online. This is the most important step. Once you’re safe, you can explore and try new things without fear.

Which brings us to PASSWORDS. *Cue scary music.* You need strong passwords for every account, and it isn’t safe to re-use them. Think of the Titanic: if there’s a breach, you want all the security measures and safety locks in place to keep the ship from going down. But how do you manage to remember it all? You don’t. You get to write it down in a password book.

A password book is like an address book for all your accounts. “But how is that safe?” you ask. It’s safe because it’s kept in a physically secure location, and you can write hints rather than passwords if you want to be extra sure the information won’t leak out. Step 1) Find a password book, address book, or even a notebook to use. Step 2) Write down your information whenever you add an account, and keep it up-to-date. Step 3) Stash the book in a safe place that you can still access when needed. Don’t keep the password book on top of your desk or in your purse. Create a physical barrier of some sort so the information isn’t easy for someone else to find.

Next, develop a code for creating and remembering your passwords so you don’t always need to check the book. For example, if I am interested in astrology, I might use the signs of the zodiac as my code. I could start with the sentence “Aquarius likes water,” and replace a few of the letters with symbols such as @ for lowercase “a” and $ for “s.” The result is Aqu@riu$like$w@ter. That’s good, but not great. It needs a little more code, so I will use H20 instead of “water,” and add 3 instead of “e”. The result is a rock-solid password like Aqu@riu$lik3$H20 that’s difficult to hack, but relatively easy to remember because it has meaning for me. If you use the same substitutions for all your passwords, you’ve got yourself a secret code. (Which kind of makes you a superspy!)

Once you have solid passwords in place, you can explore the internet without fear. “But what about all the devices, social media, apps, and everything else? What the heck is a hashtag? This is only the tip of the iceberg!” you plead.

It’s difficult for print materials to keep up with the trends, thus it’s almost impossible to recommend a good book for reference. Instead, try learning online so you can practice as you explore. Start with sites like tutorials, Learning Express training through the library’s website, or, which offer the basics.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You will be surprised at how many other people are looking for the answers, too. If you ask, you will either find an ally in your search or a sage who can answer your question. There’s no shame in the search for knowledge!

Just make sure you’re asking for advice from people you trust. Visit the library, talk to a librarian, and use one of our computers if you want to explore risk-free. Type in your questions online and look at sites with names you recognize like Apple and Microsoft, read instruction booklets that come with devices, ask your friends, or enroll in a class.

UFM offers computer training classes, the library has Tech Tuesday courses, and you can make appointments at the library for one-on-one training, too. Call the Manhattan Public Library at 776-4741 ext. 141 to schedule a session.

Most importantly, don’t give up! It’s better to try and fail than to do nothing and succeed. The world of technology is all around us, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.


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Nonfiction for Young Readers

By Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

When you think about your reading life as a child, do you remember going through phases?  Maybe you couldn’t get enough of the Berenstain Bears as a preschooler?  Maybe there was a time when Nancy Drew was the only fiction you would read?  A lot of readers might remember devouring nonfiction in the early elementary years.  This trend is still true today, with boys and girls alike asking for nonfiction throughout their elementary years.  Publishing companies invested in children’s reference books have made great strides in producing quality material for all ages.  In the Children’s Room, we have nonfiction books for preschoolers, sixth graders, and every age in between.  Here are some great series of books to consider for your young nonfiction reader.

dk“DK Kids”:  Dorling Kindersley is the world’s leading illustrated reference publisher, and it is very apparent in their kids’ publications.  DK Eyewitness books are aimed at older elementary readers and teens, while DK Eyewonder books are intended for younger elementary readers.  Full of color pictures and information on subjects like animals and history, these books are perfect for children wanting to explore new topics.

“Let’s Read and Find Out Science”: Books in this series range from topics on weather and the earth, to how our bodies work.  Hand-drawn illustrations are used, helping children to transition from picture books to nonfiction.  These books are shorter, intended for preschoolers or younger elementary age students.

“National Geographic Kids”: The National Geographic Society has a wealth of information and photos about the world around us, so it should come as no surprise that their children’s publications are stellar.  The titles are a great stepping stone for early readers, as they each contain a picture glossary, captions, and large text.  This series comes in four reading levels, allowing students to “graduate” to the next level of reading but stay in the same format of book.  National Geographic Kids also has many titles for older readers, such as bird guides, almanacs, and atlases.

“You Wouldn’t Want To” series: Aimed at older readers starting to think critically about science and history, this series examines what it was like to live at a certain time period.  Titles include “You Wouldn’t Want To Sail with Christopher Columbus” or “You Wouldn’t Want To Work on the Great Wall of China.”  Told in second-person narrative, these books allow readers to truly enter into the lives of people in history.

amelia“Childhood of Famous Americans”: This series explores the early years of important American figures.  Though each book is a fictionalized account of one life, the stories are true to the values and experiences of Americans during that time.  Readers can find out what gave Thurgood Marshall a passion for justice, or what made Mark Twain such a gifted and honest writer.

If your children are interested in nonfiction reading, make it a priority to encourage them down this path.  There is so much to learn about history, nature, and how things work.  If you don’t know where to start, ask a librarian.  We will be your advocates in exploring this part of your child’s reading life.



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The History of Baseball

by Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

With spring just around the corner, that means it is once again time for baseball, the all American pastime. To get yourself ready, or just to impress your friends with your vast knowledge, why not read up on the history of the sport?

If you want to brush up on your knowledge of the Negro Leagues, we have several books on the subject. Here are just a few to get you started.

monarchs“The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball” by Janet Bruce:   This book traces the story of the Kansas City Monarchs from their beginning as a charter member of the Negro National League in 1920 until their demise in the mid 1950’s due largely to the integration of the sport. The Monarchs were a powerhouse in their league and employed some of the great stars of that era, such as Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson. Did you know that the Monarchs were the first team to regularly play night baseball? They brought a portable lighting system with them which they quickly assembled at each new location when they travelled on the road. Bruce fills the book with many other interesting anecdotes as well as over 90 photographs of various players or scenes.

“Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams” by Robert Peterson:   Originally published in 1970, this is a classic book that thoroughly covers Negro league baseball from start to finish. There is detailed history about the league and some of its greatest players. There are also biographical sketches of many great players who never had the chance to play in the major leagues. Peterson manages to capture the heart and soul of Negro league baseball, while underscoring the tragedy of the lost opportunities of Negro league players because of segregation.

jackie“Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy” by Jules Tygiel:   No baseball history would be complete without the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in the major leagues. Tygiel, through interviews with players, newspaper accounts, and personal papers, recounts how Jackie Robinson influenced not only baseball, but American society as well.




For a general look at baseball history, the library has many books to offer. Here are a few of my picks:

boys“The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn:   Many are of the opinion that this is the best baseball book ever written, or at least somewhere on the list.  Kahn describes his youth  growing up in the 30’s and 40’s near Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, as well as his time as a beat writer covering the Dodgers in the early 50’s. In a very poignant section, Kahn then recounts what happened to these great players long after their baseball days were over. Even non-baseball fans should appreciate this book.

“Mudville Madness: Fabulous Feats, Belligerent Behavior, and Erratic Episodes on the Diamond” by Jonathan Weeks:   For a lighthearted look at baseball, give this one a try. Weeks takes you chronologically from baseball’s earliest days up to the present day, recounting the strange, bizarre, and little-known events that happen on the field of play. For instance, in 1957, while a woman was being carted from the game on a stretcher after being hit in the face by Richie Ashburn’s foul ball, she was hit in the leg by another Ashburn foul ball during the same at bat.

baseballwomen“Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball” by Barbara Gregorich:   The story of women in baseball is a fascinating one. I had no idea that there were a number of barnstorming “bloomer teams” that travelled across the U.S. playing against men’s teams. Or, that during the 1930’s in an exhibition game, one woman, Jackie Mitchell, struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Gregorich’s book is an entertaining account of this little known piece of baseball history.

These are only a fraction of the baseball books that MPL has to offer, so be sure to stop in and see what we have. Also, don’t forget to come hear Phil Dixon speak at the library on March 29 at 2:00 p.m. Mr. Dixon is an African America sports historian, author of nine baseball books, and co-founder of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Mr. Dixon will be discussing the history of the Kansas City Monarchs, games the Monarchs played in Manhattan, and the history of African American baseball players from this community.




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Library Secrets

By Danielle Schapaugh

Psst…I have a secret to tell you. There are free services at the library that you don’t even suspect!

scannerFor starters, Manhattan Public Library has a high-quality digital flatbed scanner. Users can scan documents, photos, articles, or even maps in color at high resolution, and save the images to a flash drive or send them directly to an email account. All for free.

If you’re in need of a high speed Internet connection, the library’s got you covered. Cardholders can access free 30Mbps WiFi in the building and at three WiFi hotspots around town: the Douglass Community Center at 901 Yuma, City Park Playground, and the Wefald Pavilion in City Park. The library received a grant in 2013 to test TV Whitespace as a way to provide free Internet access and it has been very successful. Log in to using your library card number and password. If you forget your password, visit the library to have it reset.

For those of us who feel outpaced by new technology, the library offers technology classes twice a month. In addition, Wandean Rivers in the Assistive Technology Center is available for one-on-one technology tutoring by appointment. Call Wandean at 776-4741 ext. 202 to schedule a session. Desk staff can also help with basic questions and assist you in finding the resources to learn more. These services, like all the services at the library, are free to cardholders.

Lynda_homepage_icon2If you prefer to explore on your own, the library offers several options for self-education. The most exciting new service is called With topics ranging from Improving Your Memory to 3D Video Game Design, provides training to interest any user at any level. I’ve used the service to improve my professional skills in office programs and graphic design. I can’t say enough about; I want to shout about it from the rooftops! Try any of the thousands of video tutorials and you will be amazed. is available completely free for all library card holders through the library’s website.

Perhaps you are someone who is “all about the books.” If you just want something good to read, ask a librarian. We have resources to recommend books based on your tastes, authors you like, genres you enjoy, bestsellers, and more. If you want a complete and customized list of recommendations, take a minute to fill out a personalized reading list request.  A librarian will comb the collection and give you a long list of books you’re sure to love. Why waste time reading mediocre books when there are so many great books to enjoy?

There are resources galore for children and families, but you may not have noticed the storytime kits and discovery packs. Librarians package books, games, toys, and even costumes in a backpack for a complete learning and entertainment experience. Find topics like New Siblings, Fire and Rescue, Potty Training (complete with Potty Elmo doll), World Records, and Dinosaurs. Discovery packs are perfect for grandparents with visiting grandkids!

Another resource you may not have noticed is simply space. The library has three meeting rooms and one computer classroom that are available to the public. Community and civic groups can reserve space to hold meetings, conduct classes, and even teleconference in the library’s meeting rooms for free. No groups can charge admission or conduct sales at the library, and some other restrictions may apply. For more information please call or visit the Manhattan Public Library.

I could go on and on, and then some. You can find language learning programs, resources to help teach your child to read, fun events, Consumer Reports,, and more. If you would like a group tour of library services, please call us at (785) 776-4741 ext.120. We would love to show you all the wonderful resources available at your local library.

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Read a Tale, Tell a Tale

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

February 26 is National Tell a Fairy-Tale Day.  I know you already know them, but in case you need some inspiration for your Thursday bedtime story, come visit our Fairy Tale and Folklore Neighborhood in the Children’s room. Look for the banner with the impressive Neuschwanstein Castle pictured atop its woodsy Bavarian hillside. In this section, we have pulled together our fantastic collection of anthologies and picture books so you can find plenty of options, including classic tales, tall tales, new tales, whimsical or “fractured” fairy tales, and stories from around the world.

A few recent additions to this neighborhood include:

chickenBrave Chicken Little retold and illustrated by Robert Byrd. Chicken Little is sure the sky is falling, and he gathers an even larger than usual crowd of animals in his wake when he runs into that sly Foxy Loxy.  This time, Loxy has a wife and seven little kits “who frazzle my wits,” and they are all hungry. Down to the cellar the other animals go, waiting for the stew water to boil. Can little Chicken Little save the day?  Byrd turns the tables on this tale and gives kids an unlikely champion for problem-solving and resourcefulness.

My Grandfather’s Coat retold by Jim Aylesworth. Children love the old Yiddish tale “I Had a Little Overcoat,” with the continual surprises of what the old man will make out of his clothing next.  This retelling has just the right amount of repetition for young listeners to get into the rhythm and start chiming in: “He wore it, and he wore it. And little bit by little bit, he frayed it, and he tore it, until at last…he wore it out!”  Barbara McClintock’s illustrations of family life add a personable tone, showing how the overcoat lasts for generations until “there was nothing left at all. Nothing, that is, except for this story.”

Twelve Dancing Unicorns by Alissa Heyman. In this magical fantasy, a king has 12 unicorns chained to trees in a pen. Only a little girl with a special cloak can discover the mysterious secrets of the mythical creatures and try to save them. This story is sure to satisfy young unicorn lovers with beautiful illustrations by Justin Gerard.

blueThe longstanding favorite anthologies by Andrew Lang are being reissued with the original illustrations, and you can find The Blue Fairy Book, The Yellow Fairy Book and The Green Fairy Book in the library’s collection, each with dozens of tales from around the world including both well-known stories and rare little gems. Lang’s prefaces are worth reading aloud, during which he generally acknowledges the superiority of the child’s mind over the dull thinking of grown-ups.

Two Robert Sabuda pop-up books are also displayed in the Fairy Tales & Folklore Neighborhood: Dragons & Knights and Beauty & the Beast. They are not available for check-out due to their delicate inner workings, but kids and adults love to pore through them while sitting on the fanciful purple bench.  So come read some books, play dress-up with your child, gaze into the “magic” mirror and be inspired to tell a thrilling tale with your own new endings on Fairy-Tale Day.

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

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New Year, New Room!

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

It has been nearly a full year since Kelley Construction Company broke ground outside the library to begin the children’s room expansion. Now, on January 17, 2015, just 358 days after the ceremonial groundbreaking, we will have a grand opening celebration to showcase the new Children’s Room, including fantastic reading areas, imaginative play spaces, and a larger Storytime Room for programs.

Already, the room is drawing crowds of kids, from an excited after-school bunch needing a place to hang out before evening ball games, to little tots discovering the secret doors into the playhouse.

kidsWalking into the room, anyone familiar with the library will immediately notice changes. Colorful carpet tiles lighten up the room, and an innovative bookshelf in the entryway draws readers in to have a look at the newest books available.  Kids who find something they like can crawl right into the bookshelf and begin reading in a comfy built-in nook.

Picture books have grown in popularity, so that space is enlarged with more book displays to show off the fantastic illustrations that define this genre.  The area formerly used for storytime has been renovated to encompass both an early literacy space for preschoolers and toddlers, as well as a parent and teacher resource center with a collection of books for adults.  Parents can browse for the perfect “toddler years” guide while their little ones are entertained with puppets, puzzles and books.

The new Storytime Room is a fabulous space with media capabilities that will allow for innovative programs.  There will be plenty of room for all the kids an  caregivers and even the double strollers.  Our first storytime in the room will be January 19.  Until then, children are enjoying the large, open space, bean bag animals, and bright colored cubes for seating.  On nicer winter days, families can slip out the side doors and enjoy the fenced-in garden area, free to explore nature, read outdoors, draw with chalk or play with items on the outside table.  Our new storytime schedule includes a Nature Storytime twice a week that will take place outdoors as often as possible.

roomOn the other side of the room, a special feature kids of all ages seem to enjoy is the climbable “Mount Verde”, a large, lime green, multi-level structure where kids can sit, lounge, or pose as King of the Mountain.  The structure resides in the Reading Corner amidst giant pillows, puzzle shaped seats, and soft comfy chairs.  The oval sloped lounge chair and blue wavy couch are other fun pieces on which kids or adults can relax as they preview their library choices.  This is the scene passers-by see as they drive past the windows of the library on Poyntz, and it is often teeming with children and parents.

Nestled around the edges of the room next to the Reading Corner are “neighborhoods” of books: Arts & Crafts, Science & Nature, Graphic Novels, Transportation, Geography, History, Animals, and Fairy Tales & Folklore.  Excellent selections of books on these subjects are perfect for young browsers who want to find everything on their favorite topics.  Children are drawn in with interactive features such as a magnetic gear and propeller wall, an enormous globe to spin, crafts to make on the spot, rotating displays, objects to build with, and even some live fire-bellied toads.  The fairy tale dress up clothes have been very popular, too.

The library’s large collection of children’s fiction is also relocated to this part of the room, and it includes divisions for beginning readers and early chapter books to help younger children find titles at the right reading level.

The additional space has allowed room for the children’s media collections that had been housed next to the adult media.  Children’s movies are now next to the librarians’ service desk, along with the children’s music CDs and audiobooks.  Customers have commented that they didn’t know the library had books on CD or music CDs for children until now.

studySoon, the Technology Zone in the children’s room will be upgraded with twelve touchscreen computers just for kids, loaded with entertaining and educational games, and quick links to kid-friendly websites.

Check it all out first hand, and tell us what you think. We are interested in hearing feedback as we continue to organize all our new furnishings and materials to make it the best library possible for all the kids and families who come in.  Join us on January 17, between 1:00 and 4:00, as we celebrate this new space with donor recognition, fun activities around the room for children, a musical performance by Rockin’ Rob at 2:00, and costumed characters Olivia and Curious George roaming the library.

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

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