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Debut Authors to Freshen Up Your Reading List

by Rhonna Hargett – Adult Services Manager

We’ve put away the coats and sweaters and pulled out the sandals and shorts. It’s time to tuck winter away and breathe in the fresh air of spring. Along with the new leaves, flowers, and grass, this is a great time to freshen up your reading with new authors. At Manhattan Public Library we have some fantastic books by debut authors that will invigorate your transition into summer.

In Dodgers by Bill Beverly, East, 15-year-old gang member from LA is sent on a road-trip to kill a witness in Wisconsin. Traveling in a minivan with three other gang members, including his younger brother, he is unprepared for the lessons forced upon him about his own identity and how he fits into the world around him. This bildungsroman/crime/road novel will appeal to fans of HBO’s The Wire.

Julie McElwain delivers mystery and romance with A Murder in Time. While FBI agent Kendra Donovan attempts to wreak revenge upon the criminal who killed her fellow agents, she is accidentally transported to 1815. She attempts to adapt to her surroundings, jumping in to offer her assistance in solving a murder. Described by Library Journal as “absolutely captivating,” McElwain leaves us in anxious anticipation for sequel.

When a naked newborn girl is found in the snow, 8-year-old Aurelia Vennaway takes her home and insists that her wealthy and unkind parents take the baby in. As they grow, Aurelia and the newly named Amy Snow grow to be the best of friends. When Aurelia dies unexpectedly, she leaves a letter that sends Amy on a treasure hunt to unlock a long-held secret. Set in Victorian England, Amy Snow by Tracy Rees delivers a tale of friendship and intrigue.

On a lighter note, Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen shows how one little black dress brings a bit of magic to the lives of nine women. From a Bloomingdale’s sales clerk mooning over her ex to a Brown grad with no job but a fabulous fake life on social media, all their lives are touched in this laugh-out-loud delight of a book. A great read for those who adored the movie Love Actually.

In We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenridge, Laurel Freeman is recruited by the Toneybee Institute to use their sign language skills to teach a chimpanzee named Charlie to speak. She and her family welcome Charlie into their home, not realizing how the relationship will interfere or the questionable background of the institute. Exploring issues of race, religion and communication, Greenridge’s novel exhibits her deft storytelling skills.


Rush Oh!
by Shirley Barrett takes us back to 1908 in New South Wales, Australia. Mary Davidson is responsible for the care of her five younger siblings, as well as cooking for the members of her father’s whaling crew. In this view into the domestic side of whaling, Barrett shares some of the nitty-gritty details, humorous tales, and Mary’s romance with a former Methodist minister on her father’s crew.

Shelter by Jung Yun explores the dilemma of Kyung Cho, a college professor who is drowning in debt. He resists moving his family to live with his wealthy, abusive parents, but is beginning to accept this as his best option. When his parents are the victims of a brutal crime, they instead move in with him, creating a stew of resentment and tensions. Booklist calls Yun’s debut “a work of relentless psychological sleuthing and sensitive insight.”

Yaa Gyasi’s saga Homegoing covers seven generations in Ghana and the United States, starting with the half-sisters Effia and Esi. Alternating chapters tell the stories of Effia’s life married to a British colonizer and Esi’s captured into slavery in the American South and of the descendants that followed them. Reminiscent of Alex Haley’s Roots or Lalita Tademy’s Cane River, Homegoing is painful at times, but Gyasi’s beautiful use of language skillfully considers how individual lives can shape the fabric of a nation.

Find out more about these titles at www.mhklibrary.org. If you would like to get the scoop on upcoming titles, go to our Books page to sign up for newsletters that we email out each month.

 

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The Growth of an American Icon:  Georgia O’Keefe in Fiction

By Marcia Allen, Manhattan Public Library

I’ve always been fond of fictional books like Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank, the story of Mamah Borthwick Cheney’s affair with and influence on Frank Lloyd Wright.  Equally appealing to me was Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, which vividly conveyed the early marriage and the fractured relationship between Ernest and Hadley Hemingway.  What is it about such books?  Probably the intertwining of fact and fiction in telling the lives of famous artists.

And now I’ve discovered another jewel of a book.  Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe by Dawn Tripp is a masterful retelling of the love affair between O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, the famed American photographer who promoted O’Keeffe’s art and eventually married her.  I would highly recommend this new title to readers who are also drawn to similar tales for a variety of convincing reasons.

First, the author does an incredible job of developing O’Keeffe’s style.  Those familiar with her stark New Mexico landscapes and striking flower paintings will note the development of her talent throughout the story.   Her initial efforts promised talent, but her gradual creation of a totally new modern art form didn’t come until later.  Stieglitz recognized her potential early on, and encouraged her work, showing and selling it in his gallery.  The novel conveys this through vivid descriptions of settings that compelled the painter, as well as her frustration with pieces of art that she felt were unsuccessful. Vivid colors and open spaces are key throughout the book.

O’Keefe’s character is equally well rendered.  Always a very independent woman, she fought for her own style.  Extended stays in New Mexico gave her the opportunity to experiment with color and light, and she began collecting bones and rocks that inspired her.  A gradual realization that that landscape was essential to her work led to her many lengthening trips to the area and also to the most famous landscape paintings of her career.  Author Tripp’s descriptions of journeys to the Southwest and her lovely references to O’Keeffe’s favorite sites help us better see her creativity in progress.

More important to the book is O’Keefe’s relationship with Stieglitz.  Following a brief correspondence with him, the painter traveled to New York to show him her work.  The two formed an instant bond, and soon they became lovers, despite his marriage and the wide age gap between them.  A very messy divorce allowed the two to marry later.   As their relationship strengthened, Stieglitz arranged displays of her work and encouraged her to explore different mediums.  He also took the famous photographs of O’Keefe, both clothed and nude, that are still considered classics.  Because of Tripp’s careful research and her talent with the writing, we readers witness the intimacy and complexity in the relationship of two very talented and strong-willed individuals.O'Keeffe photographic portrait by Halsman

Tripp’s account of O’Keeffe’s mental breakdown is heartrending.  This collapse took place in the 1930s when a series of events became unbearable.   A contract to paint a mural in Radio City Music Hall fell through when the construction failed to meet deadlines. Stieglitz’s ongoing love affairs became blatant, and O’Keefe could no longer accept his assurances that she was the love of his life.  She found, too, that his insistence on dominating the direction of her career stifled her independence.  The passages in the book that convey this turmoil are fraught with helplessness and despair.  O’Keeffe experienced a grief that became a physical one, because of the death of her long relationship with Stieglitz.  There’s a sad healing realization toward the end that she had to be alone to fulfill her talent.

Like all books that are so well written and so revealing, this one has sparked my curiosity about the life of O’Keeffe.  I plan to re-read Roxana Robinson’s memorable Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life in the near future.  Author Tripp cites it as one of her research sources for this lovely fictional rendition.  You just might wish to do the same.

 

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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.

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Celebrate Women’s History Month!

March is Women’s History Month! Many women who had a hand in changing or making history have been overshadowed by the men of their era. We are all familiar with Clara Barton, Betsy Ross and Amelia Earhart, but there are many other women who were pioneers in their fields, overcoming prejudice and discrimination along the way.  Manhattan Public Library has many books that tell the stories of women adventurers, explorers, rebels and educators—women whose discoveries or adventures have inspired others or have changed the world. Some books that may be of interest are:

  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott. This fascinating book tells the stories of four women during the Civil War: Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides; Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War; the beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals; Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives. Their stories are remarkable and the strength, bravery and resilience of the women is extraordinary. This is a fascinating look at four women willing to place their lives on the line for their causes.
  • American Heroines: the Spirited Women who Shaped Our Country by Kay Bailey Hutchinson Author Hutchison tells the stories of women who overcame prejudice and resistance in their various field to become accomplished leaders. One such woman is Emma Willard, who founded the first school in the US for women’s higher education in 1821, and who advocated for the education of women all of her life. Hutchison also illustrates the accomplishments of more contemporary women who achieved their successes on the shoulders of the women who came before them.
  • African American Women of the Old West by Tricia Martinau WagnerWagner profiles ten remarkable women who went west to find a better future for themselves, but still faced the prejudice and ostracism of the time. Some were slaves, some free, and some were both during their lifetimes. One woman, Abby Fisher, a former slave, moved her family to San Francisco and first began cooking for wealthy residents, began a catering business, began a food manufacturing business, and eventually was the first former slave to publish a cookbook. Described in this book are nine other women including philanthropists, educators and businesswomen.
  • Medicine Women: the Story of Early-American Women Doctors by Cathy LuchettiBeing excluded from all-male medical schools caused nineteenth-century women to form their own colleges to learn medical skills. Forced to overcome prejudice against women, especially educated, professional women, along with a distrust of the medical field itself, early female doctors were forced to prove themselves time and time again. This book tells their stories through their own writings and through photographs and narrative. It is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of early frontier doctors—women who challenged the social norms of the time and overcame formidable obstacles to practice medicine.
  • Undaunted: the Real Story of America’s Servicewomen in Today’s Military by Tanya BiankDespite advances, today’s servicewomen are constantly pressed to prove themselves, to overcome challenges men never face, and to put the military mission ahead of all other aspects of their lives, particularly marriage and motherhood. By focusing on four individual stories,  this book brings to light the real issues they face–of femininity, belonging to an old boys’ club, veiled discrimination, dating, marriage problems, separation from children, questions about life goals, career trajectories, and self-worth. Undaunted is the story of these courageous trailblazers–their struggles, sacrifices, and triumphs in the name of serving the country they love.
  • Founding Mothers : the Women who Raised our Nation by Cokie Roberts. Roberts reveals the often surprising stories of these fascinating women, bringing to life the everyday trials and extraordinary triumphs of individuals like Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Read Franklin, Eliza Pinckney, Catherine Littlefield Green, Esther DeBerdt Reed, and Martha Washington — proving that without our exemplary women, the new country might never have survived. The  stories of these women prove beyond a doubt that like every generation of American women that has followed, the founding mothers used the unique gifts of their gender to be a force for change in a new nation.

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In A Galaxy Not So Far Away: The Best of Science Fiction Film

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Back in 1977, in a galaxy not so far away, “Star Wars” captured the imaginations and the dreams of billions. In the six additional films in the series, as in the many incarnations of “Star Trek”, and in the hundreds of motion pictures both good and bad in the years before and since, science fiction on film has continued to draw audiences.

Ask 100 people to name their favorite science fiction movies, and you’ll probably get 100 different answers. Search the Internet for the best films in the genre, and you’ll walk away with multiple opinions. To simplify matters, this column will highlight the top ten science fiction films as judged by the games and entertainment media company, IGN, from The Top 25 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time http://www.ign.com/articles/2010/09/14/top-25-sci-fi-movies-of-all-time.

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10) “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” 1991. In this sequel to the 1984 movie, “The Terminator,” a liquid metal, shapeshifting terminator is sent back in time to kill John Connor and prevent him from becoming leader of the human resistance against the machines.

9) “The Road Warrior,” 1981. Also a sequel (“Mad Max” 1979), the film uses a western movie motif to tell the story of a community of settlers who defend themselves against a band of marauders in a post-apocalyptic world.

8) “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” 1951. A humanoid alien, Klaatu, comes to earth with an eight foot tall robot, Gort, to deliver an important message to Earth. Live peacefully, or else. Who can forget those immortal words, “Klaatu barada nikto?”

7) “The Matrix,” 1999. The first in a trilogy about a dystopian future in which “reality” as perceived by humans is actually a simulation called the Matrix, and the real world is ruled by thinking machines.

6) “The Planet of the Apes,” 1968. Based on the novel by French author, Pierre Boulle, astronauts travel to a strange planet ruled by apes, and humans are an inferior species. There were 4 sequels to the original film, as well as a 2001 remake.

5) “The Empire Strikes Back,” 1980. Also known as “Star Wars Episode V,” the title of this film says it all. After the triumph of Luke, Leia, and Han Solo in the original, the galactic empire and Darth Vader strike back at the rebel alliance.

4) “Alien,” 1979. The crew of a spacecraft on its return voyage to Earth lands on a small planet in response to a distress call. They discover an alien spacecraft and the remains of a giant alien. I think you know what happens from there. “Alien” spawned 3 sequels.

3) “Star Wars,” 1977. No, not number one according to IGN. Later retitled “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” this is the film where we first meet Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Obi Wan, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, and of course, Darth Vader. The rebel alliance seeks to destroy the Galactic Empire’s planet-destroying Death Star.

2) “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1969. Based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke, this film follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer Hal after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affecting human evolution.

2001

And the number one best science fiction film of all time, “Blade Runner,” 1982, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Rick Dekard is a blade runner, a special police bounty hunter tasked with hunting and killing replicants (androids) from off world who have illegally escaped to Earth.

Most of the top ten films on this list are available at the library. If your favorite science fiction movies didn’t make the list, don’t worry, the library has hundreds of other films in the genre. You should also checkout the selections of science fiction films on Hoopla, the library’s streaming service. Thousands of films, television shows, audiobooks, music cds, ebooks, and comics are available for free streaming on your computer, or to download to your tablet or smartphone.

Remember that today is the final day of the Manhattan Library Association’s annual book sale. It’s bag day. Fill a bag or box with books and other materials for one low price. Now that’s a bargain you won’t have to travel to a far off galaxy to find.

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Book Sale at the Library

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator2016_booksale2

Friday, February 26 is going to be a big day at the Manhattan Public Library. That’s the scheduled kickoff of the Manhattan Library Association’s (MLA) annual book sale!

For those unfamiliar with the annual sale, it’s a three-day event featuring gently used books, DVDs, audiobooks, and more.  With hardcover books going for $1.50 and DVDs for $2, browsers are sure to discover stacks of treasures destined for home shelves.

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The sale opens Friday the 26th from 5:30-7:30 p.m. with a special preview for MLA members only.  Memberships to MLA (also known as the Friends of the Library) can be purchased at the door for just $10 per individual and $15 per family.  Shoppers on this night get the privilege of first pick of the thousands of hardback books, children’s books, paperback books, movies, audiobooks, and other materials which have been carefully sorted and prepared by volunteers.  Plus, every membership purchased helps fund library programs and services.

Then on Saturday, February 27, the sale will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  To help keep everyone’s energy up, volunteers from the Teen Library Advisory Board will be selling sweet treats and baked goods in the morning.

Sunday’s sale on February 28th runs from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. with special deals on the remaining materials.

So, where do all these books come from?  The Manhattan Library Association collects materials, either those donated by library users or those removed from the library’s many collections, all year long.   This dedicated team of volunteers meets at the library several times a week to sort through materials and keep everything organized.  During the year, some of the donations are offered for sale at Rosie’s Corner Book Store, which is located near the library’s Tech Center on the first floor.  If you can’t make it to the sale, you can always find great deals at Rosie’s Corner.

Readers might also wonder, why is the sale so important?  Beyond the fact that shoppers can find terrific prices, the sale also helps replenish resources for the library.  All of the money raised will be used to fund library programs and purchases such as new books, new furniture, and special events for kids.  In 2015, $10,400 was raised to support the Manhattan Public Library, and we hope to top that number this year.

DVDsThe book sale would not be possible without the work of dedicated volunteers.  Roger Brannan, Elaine Shannon, and Doug Schoning, who have been friends of the library for many years, co-chair the book sale committee.  They each go far beyond ordinary volunteer efforts to plan the layout of the sale, organize a full staff of other volunteers to work during the three-day event, and answer any questions people might have.  Wilma Schmeller, Carol O’Neill, and the entire crew of Rosie’s Corner volunteers work tirelessly to sort and price all of the donations, in addition to keeping Rosie’s Corner stocked with fresh materials all year long.  Other kind friends, like Carol Oukrop and Rosalie King, donate countless hours of work to this event.  It is truly a community project that helps support a community resource.

Please plan to join us for some browsing at this year’s sale.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful bargains.  Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your purchases will help keep the library stocked with wonderful new books!  If you wish to donate materials to the sale, please wait until March and your materials will be added to next year’s sale.

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SHAKESPEARE FAIRE AT MANHATTAN PUBLIC LIBRARY

Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

 

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Manhattan and KSU are in the throes of a full-out Shakespeare First Folio frenzy this month!  Joining in that spirit, Manhattan Public Library invites you to share the genius, joy, and fun of Shakespeare with us at three different events – a Shakespeare Faire here at the library on Saturday, February 20, with programs for all ages; a series of four modern film adaptations of Shakespeare plays on Saturday afternoons from February into March; and a casual evening Shakespeare Reading Party (with delicious hors d’oeuvres) on Thursday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m. at the Little Apple Brewing Company.

To kick it all off, join us for a Shakespeare Faire for all ages on February 20 from 10:00-3:00 p.m.  The day’s programs will include a workshop for kids, insightful and informative talks, live music, Renaissance instruments, open mic poetry and readings, experimental theatre, and a critically acclaimed film.  You’re welcome to come for a single program, come for all, or choose from the buffet.

Here’s the program line-up for the Shakespeare Faire:           

10:00 a.m., auditorium:  “Shakespeare Workshop for Kids.” Recommended for age 6-14, but all are welcome.  Warm up by shouting some pithy Shakespearean insults (“You beetle-headed, flap-eared knave!”).  Then discover more about Shakespeare’s world and Elizabethan England, play a trivia game, and explore the language of the time through word play.  Presenter: Melissa Poll, KSU College of Music, Theater, and Dance.

11:00 a.m., Groesbeck Room:  “Tinkering with Shakespeare’s Text” presented by Michael Donnelly, with an afterword from Don Hedrick, both faculty members in the KSU English Department.

11:30 a.m., auditorium:  KSU Collegium Musicum presents a Renaissance Instrument Petting Zoo.  If you’ve ever been curious about sackbuts, viols, cornetti, crumhorns, frame drums, and lutes, here is your chance.  Some instruments are to see and some are to try.  There will also be examples of turn-of-the-17th-century printed music.

12:00 noon, auditorium:  KSU Collegium Musicum directed by David Wood offers a program of Renaissance vocal music and recorders that is sure to be a delight.

12:30 p.m., Groesbeck Room:  Speed Scholars from the KSU English Department present short, TED-style talks on a variety of Shakespeare-related topics.  Presenters include Kara Northway, Wendy Matlock, Tosha Sampson-Choma, and Joe Sutliff Sanders, and their topics include the history of the First Folio, the literary roots of Shakespeare’s plays, Shakespearean characters reimagined, and the modern uses of Shakespeare in comic book format.

1:00 p.m., main atrium:  “Sonnets & Soliloquies: Open Mic” will be your chance to step up to the microphone and declaim from the library’s atrium balcony.  Join KSU students at the open mic as they and you read favorite passages from Shakespeare’s drama and poetry.  Selections for you to choose from will be available at the event, or bring your own script!

2:00 p.m., auditorium:  “Experimenting with Shakespeare:  Short Plays Inspired by Hamlet” presented by the students of the Manhattan Experimental Theater Workshop led by Jim Hamilton and Gwethalyn Williams.

Also on Saturday, February 20, from 3:00-5:00 in the auditorium we’ll show the first in a series of four modern film adaptations of Shakespeare plays. This first film is a 2012 black-and-white contemporary reinterpretation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies.  Filled with scheming, mistaken identity, betrayal, and a contentious romance, the film showcases the human tendency to create a lot of fuss, bother, and drama about …, well, nothing!  Rated PG-13, this film is more suited to older teens and adults.

comedyJoin us at the Little Apple Brewing Company on Thursday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m. for a casual evening Shakespeare Reading Party, accompanied by generous hors d’oeuvres courtesy of the Manhattan Library Association.  Drinks and dinner available at your own expense.  We’ll take turns reading our way through Shakespeare’s shortest play and one of his most farcical comedies, “The Comedy of Errors,” with plenty of time-outs for conversation, food, and beverages. The play centers around two sets of identical twins separated at birth and is full of mistaken identities, slapstick humor, confusion, wordplay, and puns.  Copies of the play are available for free download to your e-reader device from Project Gutenberg and are available for purchase from amazon.com for $4.95 (the Signet Classic paperback edition).  A few paperback copies will be available at the event for those who decide to drop in and enjoy the fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Dynamics of the Con

By Marcia Allen, Collection Development

Have you ever heard of Ferdinand Waldo Demara? How about William Franklin Miller? Chances are, you are unfamiliar with those names, as was I. It turns out that they rank among the most gifted of con artists. Demara, for example, was posing as Dr. Joseph Cyr, a surgeon on board the HMCS Cayuga during the Korean War, at which time he routinely treated those injured in the conflict and even performed surgeries. The problem was that he not only assumed the identity of a respected medical doctor, but also failed to graduate from high school. Miller, in similar fashion, fabricated his investment strategy expertise in the late 19th century by luring friends to deposit small amounts of cash for a guaranteed 10% return and no risk. In this manner, he built a personal fortune worth over $1 million dollars.

Both men are mentioned briefly in a wonderful new book by Maria Konnikova entitled The Confidence Game. This fascinating look at the con offers both unbelievable stories of those who successfully conned others and a close look at the psychology involved.

Konnikova explains the success of the con artist through what she calls “soft skills.” Con artists are not hardened criminals that take and harm through violence; they are those who appeal to our sense of trust or sympathy. Konnikova points out that the con artist doesn’t force victims to do anything. Instead he allows the victims to work with him, offering up whatever he is willing to take from them. The author faults the human condition of need for story. She says that we all crave narratives and that we want to believe what others tell us, regardless of actual truth.

What makes a good con artist? The author describes the most talented of a cons as those who can read emotions and backgrounds in a heartbeat. They are intelligent and highly perceptive and can sense the desires of victims even when those desires seem to be well hidden. How did Konnikova discover so much about cons? She did the research and even consulted a mind reader who (without knowing her name or occupation) played on her job insecurities and raised issues of self-doubt.

All of this leads to Konnikova’s chapter entitled “The Play.” Here we learn what it is that hooks the heedless mark into the trap. She cites an example of a young woman who fell in love with a brilliant young scientist. The two young people moved in together, but the woman began noticing inconsistencies in her beloved’s stories. He had, for example, very few personal effects and offered her no clues to his past or family. When the young woman finally investigated his esteemed research position, she found he had no such position and no educational background. Because she wanted to be in a relationship, she had long ignored oddities that she would normally have spotted.

Where does the ideal con end? The author suggests that it successfully ends just when the mark is at his most convinced. Perhaps the victim has had some financial success or actually bought an object of genuine worth from the con. The con has extended some success to his victim, and the victim has invested complete trust. If there has been some disappointment in transactions, the victim believes it has been an honest mistake. Konnikova suggests that we have a solid belief that everything is going to turn out well for us, even when we should be discovering serious doubts.

Why are human being so vulnerable to the con? Konnikova says that they promise us a reality that we so want to believe. We want to attain the wealth, the contentment, the togetherness with others that the con offers us. That, she says, is what makes the scam the true “world’s oldest profession.”

This book is riveting. The intricacies of the conning process and the individual accounts of theft are simply eye-opening. Chances are very good that interested readers will recall episodes from their own lives during which they were completely baffled by well-constructed lies. Allow this gifted writer to help you avoid future scams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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

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Delve into the Rich History of the Manhattan Area!

by Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

In 1855, the Hartford, the first little steamboat built specially to travel the Kansas River, beached on a sandbar near the mouth of the Little Blue River.   Little could these new visitors to Kansas imagine their legacy: a rich history of people and unique accomplishments!   First named “New Boston,” “Manhattan” was established after a compromise between two major settling companies.  The Riley County Historical Society, the Riley County Genealogical Society, and Manhattan Public Library maintain reams of history for anyone interested in knowing more about how our city came to be.

Manhattan Public Library makes a point of preserving books about local history.  Winifred Slagg’s Riley County Kansas vividly portrays the early settlers of Riley County.  A local author, Lowell Jack, in his History of Manhattan, Kansas, Riley County and Ft. Riley, offers an excellent timeline starting in 1850.  He recounts personal stories of founders, like Mrs. E.B. Purcell, who persuaded Andrew Carnegie to contribute $10,000 to establish our first library, and Ella Child, women’s suffragist daughter of Seth Child, accompanying her parents to the polls so that they could all vote. Neighbors of the Past, also by Jack, recounts personal histories of interesting historic Manhattanites.

Another local author, Geraldine Baker Walton, wrote 140 Years of Soul: a History of African Americans in Manhattan, Kansas 1865-2005 An excellent review of Manhattan’s local architecture awaits in The Architects & Buildings of Manhattan, Kansas by Dr. Patricia J. O’Brien.  The public library also has many calendars and books full of historical photographs.  Or, on the fantastic side, Ghosts of Fort Riley shares stories and photos about legendary ghosts said to haunt Ft. Riley. The Official State Atlas of Kansas, published in 1887, holds a historic Manhattan city and Riley county map, along with many other Kansas locations, with drawings of many Kansas business buildings and farmsteads.  And, the Manhattan city directories list people and businesses from the 1950s until today.

Google does not know everything yet!  Manhattan Public Library maintains a huge collection of newspapers and local publications on microfilm. The earliest is from 1859 entitled: The Manhattan Express.  Other titles include The Kansas Radical from 1866, The Leonardville Monitor from 1884 on, and the Riley County Chronicle from 1889.  The Seaton family bought the Mercury newspaper in 1915,  and after several title reincarnations, the Seatons adopted the title:  Manhattan Mercury in 1954. Whatever its title, we archive the Mercury from then to now on microfilm – and of course, we keep the paper copies for three months, too!

The microfilm collection provides a wealth of history for Manhattan, Leonardville, Randolph, and the Riley County area.  Thanks to Sy Ekart, who has volunteered hundreds of hours over several years, manually inspecting decades of aging newsprint, we have indexes covering newspapers from the 1850s through the 1940s. Sy is continuing to index more newspapers on microfilm today. The indexes  note obituaries and many other articles in local newspapers.   Accidents, business openings and closings, elections, and so much more; if it happened here, Sy indexed who did what.

Beyond recounting the specifics of Manhattan, older newspapers can entertain!  It is sometimes startling and just plain funny to look at the past.    Familiar and strange things for sale for mere cents, political commentary that could almost have come from today’s op-eds, interesting personal notices – both more and less has changed than we tend to think!  Even browsing your local newspaper from when you graduated from high school can bring back many memories – the news of the time; what bands were playing; the best places to eat and relax.

Manhattan Public Library holds these wonderful indexes in the reference area on 2nd floor, and they are also available at the Riley County Genealogical Society.  Manhattan Public Library’s new microfilm readers let patrons e-mail, print, or save any of these materials for later reading or sharing.  We will be happy to request other Kansas newspapers on microfilm from the Kansas Historical Society at no charge.

Our local history cabinet holds articles and pictures about all sorts of things: local floods, from the massive pre-Manhattan Kansas River flood of 1844 to the floods of 1903, 1951, and 1993; the Tuttle Creek Dam controversy; local biographies; city maps from various times; articles on Kansas City’s George Giles, of the African American Monarchs; writings from anti-slavery settlers; the origins of Manhattan street names; stories about the Old Military Trail, and hundreds of other bits of local history.

Our popular “Tech Tuesdays” classes are starting this Tuesday, January 12 at 2:00 p.m. with “Download E-books and Audiobooks. The following Tuesday, January 19th, also at 2:00, p.m., the session will be on Smartphone Help.  Feel free to call Manhattan Public Library at 785-776-4741, ext. 300 for more information.

Photos courtesy of the Riley County Historical Society

 

 

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