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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.



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

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M-m-m-m Chocolate!

hersheysHershey’s Chocolate was founded February 9, 1894. “How Sweet It Is” and has continued to be– for 121 years.

pureManhattan Public Library  has many wonderful books  about chocolate– both nonfiction and stories. Certainly we have cookbooks:  Pure Chocolate: Divine Desserts and Sweets by Fran Bigelow; The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book by Carolyn Wyman;  The Mrs. Fields I Love Chocolate Cookbook by Debbi Fields; and Making Your Own Gourmet Chocolate Drinks  by Mathew Tekulsky.

You will find stories with “chocolate” in the title just to tempt you. Sweeten your day with Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts;  White Chocolate Moments by Lori Wick; and an old favorite:  Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.

cookiesMysteries abound:  Death of a Chocoholic by Lee Hollis; The Chocolate Snowman Murders by JoAnna Carl;  Chocolate Covered Murder by Leslie Meier; and  Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson

You may enjoy this amusing and honest memoir:  Chocolate & Vicodin, My Quest for Relief… by Jeanette Fulda

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

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Learn more about Norman Rockwell

normanby Janet, Adult Services Librarian

On this day 120 years ago, Norman Rockwell was born. At age 14 he knew he wanted to be an artist, so he enrolled in the National Academy of Design, then went on to the Art Students League of New York. In 1916, he submitted his first successful cover painting, Mother’s Day Off, for The Saturday Evening Post. He completed 323 original covers during the next 47 years. Rockwell spent the last 10 years of his career painting about civil rights, poverty, and space exploration for Look magazine. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of America’s highest civilian honor, in 1977 for “vivid and affectionate portraits of our country.” Find more books about Norman Rockwell at Manhattan Public Library!

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Souper Bowl Soups are Needed

by Mary, Adult Services Librarian

sundayDo you have any extra cans of soup in your pantry to share?  This weekend is the almighty Super Bowl, and Bill Kennedy has been coordinating and promoting it as Souper Bowl Sunday for a number of years.  “Long after a day when most of us celebrate with food and drink and relaxation, hunger will remain…   From 9a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, January 31, volunteers will be collecting canned food at each of Manhattan’s grocery stores.  Also every church and organization in the area can likewise collect food for hungry people.”

We all can enjoy thinking about the warmth soup can bring to us in the winter. In fact February 4th is National Homemade Soup Day.


Why not try Grammy’s Broccoli Soup from the website.

1 bunch broccoli, cut up

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced carrot

1 quart water

2 -4 chicken bouillon cubes

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup flour

1 quart milk (2% or whole is best)

4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese


1.Combine broccoli, celery, carrots, water, and chicken bouillon in a large soup pot. Boil 20-30 minutes.

2.While vegetables are cooking – In a saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender.

3.Add cornstarch and flour to butter mixture, stirring until browned.

4.Gradually add milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thick. Add shredded cheese and stir until melted.

5.Add the cheese sauce to the broccoli mixture and stir until well combined. Simmer until heated through.

Try a new soup from one of our many cookbooks that focus on hearty goodness in a bowl.

300 soups300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder

Sunday Soup: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering Easy to Make Recipes by Betty Rosbottom

Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup by Maggie Stuckey


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New Year, New Goals?

new yearIt’s a new year and many of us see this as a time to set new goals for ourselves or our families. Manhattan Public Library can assist you in achieving those goals! Stop by our display case filled with books about fitness, diet and exercise, financial management, organizing your home and work spaces or time management. Start on your way to keep those New Years resolutions with the help of some of our great resources!

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All things Austen!

by Judi, Adult Services

AUSTEN139 years after her birth, the works of Jane Austen remain popular, both in print and on film. Born to a clergyman on December 16, 1775, Austen was familiar with the habits of the gentry and aristocracy, and wrote satires for the entertainment of her family. She self-published her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, in 1811, and followed that novel with others—Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815). Her works had been published anonymously, and their authorship was announced by her brother Henry only after her death in 1817. He also arranged for the publication of two more of her works in 1818—Northanger Abby and Persuasion. Austen’s wit and social commentary have caused her novels endure, making her one of the most widely read British authors.

emmaThe TALK program at Manhattan Public Library will be discussing one of Austen’s most popular works—Emma—on Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 7:00pm. Join fellow Austen-lovers in discussing this comedy of manners as Emma Woodhouse, a young, beautiful, privileged woman decides to become a matchmaker. But she learns the hard way that people don’t fall in love according to plan. The discussion will be led by Thomas Prasch, professor and chair of the History department at Washburn University and has been leading KHC TALK discussions since 1999. Pick up a copy of “Emma” at the Information Desk and join us for the discussion!


Another indication of the continuing popularity of Austen’s works are the many novels that have been written in recent years about characters from her books:

worldIf you are a lover of all things Austen, Manhattan Public Library has numerous items that will interest you—from the fiction already mentioned to non-fiction titles from designing a garden to crochet to tea time recipes all in the style of Austen. To learn about the times in which she lived, try “Jane Austen’s World” or “Jane Austen’s Country Life”. Or you can immerse yourself in one of the many film adaptations of her books. Manhattan Public Library has what you need to celebrate all things Austen!


Posted in: Adult Services, library services, News

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Icons in the World of Music: The Latest in Unforgettable Biographies

By Marcia Allen, Collection Development

Hard times were a daily reality for Elmo and Mamie Lewis in the state of Louisiana during the 1930s. Elmo made a living sharecropping and sometimes cooking whiskey, until he was caught and sentenced to five years in prison. Son Elmo, Jr., who often sang in church and who cared for his younger brother Jerry Lee, was killed at the age of nine when a drunken driver struck him. That left Mamie and little Jerry Lee to make the best of the situation.

jerryIn 1940, four-year-old Jerry Lee realized the path his life was to take. During a visit with his mother’s sister, he pressed down a single key on his aunt’s piano. He later described the experience as one similar to fire reaching through his head. With no previous experience, he immediately began the opening chords of “Silent Night.”

Yes, Jerry Lee went on to lead a scandalous personal life, shocking his followers with his many marriages and his exploits with drugs and alcohol, but he also produced a phenomenal library of songs that few have matched. Songs like “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” which were considered provocative when they were first released, are now deemed groundbreaking rock and roll with hillbilly overtones
What makes “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story” remarkable is author Rick Bragg’s flair for retelling the musician’s story. Bragg, author of award-winning tales like “All over but the Shoutin’” and “Ava’s Man,” brings to the story an incredible skill for southern storytelling and a genuine fondness for Jerry Lee. This story packs a wallop as a colorful character study. (more…)

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column, News

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Remembering Pearl Harbor

pearl harborby Linda, Adult Services Librarian

Pearl Harbor Day, anniversary, December 7, 1941 “A day that will live in infamy,” said President Roosevelt after the sudden catastrophic bombing in Hawaii by Japanese aircraft. The raid which lasted little more than an hour, left nearly 3,000 dead and since most the entire U.S. Fleet was anchored there, few ships escaped damage and 200 aircraft were destroyed. The attack brought an immediate Declaration of War which was announced on December 8.

Manhattan Public Library has a multitude of books for adults and children on the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Two dvds, “Pearl Harbor: Legacy of Attack” and the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora” will give viewers a good idea of the devastation.

Remember Pearl Harbor, The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Why Did the Whole World Go to War? will help youngsters who are curious about the times.

FDRSome of the most popular for adult reading are Reflections of Pearl Harbor: an Oral History of December 7;   At Dawn We Slept;   Day of Deceit: the Truth About FDR The Way It Was: Pearl Harbor– the Original Photographs   and Eyewitness Pacific Theater: Firsthand Accounts of the War in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to the Atomic Bombs.


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Learn about Thanksgiving with these titles!

The holiday season is upon us and we’re counting down to Thanksgiving. I like Thanksgiving; for a major holiday, it remains relatively straightforward and uncomplicated. It’s comparatively free of the cumbersome traditions, frenetic activities, and crippling expenditures that come with some holidays (I’m looking at you, Christmas!), big stressors that can get in the way of fundamental enjoyment, not to mention spiritual gratification.

Granted, Thanksgiving does have its own daunting potential for stress – travel and logistical chaos, inter-personal and family drama, intensive food prep and consumption, hours of digestive recovery, and overwhelming kitchen clean-up! But the day can also be celebrated with a simple shared meal, quiet reflection and rest, even solitude or a private getaway, and when it all comes together well, Thanksgiving can be deeply meaningful and spiritually strengthening.

Our celebration of the Thanksgiving feast as a national historical event also has its baggage, a mythology of Pilgrims and Native Americans that is rooted in history but that has grown over time to barely resemble the actual event. As is nearly always the case with history, the truth turns out to be far more complicated and vastly more interesting than the myth. This year, pick up one of the following books to help you sort out the real story of the Mayflower Pilgrims and broaden your understanding of our country’s fascinating history.

philbrick   “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” by Nathaniel Philbrick details the history of the Pilgrims as religious Separatists in England and as political refugees in Holland, then follows them through their voyage on the Mayflower, the settlement and early years of the Plymouth colony, and the meeting of European settlers and Native Americans. Philbrick adds depth to what we know of familiar historical figures like William Bradford, Chief Massasoit, Squanto, Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullins, John Alden, Edward Winslow, and numerous secondary characters, revealing unexpected and surprising historical details.

In “Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World,” another richly detailed history, author and Englishman Nick Bunker writes about the Mayflower Pilgrims as Englishmen themselves, and places them in the context of the political world in which they lived. An exhaustively detailed recounting of the first years of settlement, this book tells a stirring tale of “indomitable courage, religious faith, commercial ambition, international rivalry, and domestic politics” (Publishers Weekly).

indexH4IDI2ML   If you only have time for a short read and want a more condensed recounting of the Mayflower Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, Glenn Alan Cheney has hit the high points and given a broad overview in his well-researched and -organized history of 1620-1621, “Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims’ First Year in America.” An easy-to-read and enjoyable page-turner, it is nevertheless written in evocative, descriptive prose. As one reviewer said, the book is “full of surprising information, and sympathetic to the humanity of all the participants.”

“The Mayflower Papers: Selected Writings of Colonial New England,” edited by Nathaniel and Thomas Philbrick, is a compilation of 17th century primary source material about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower voyage, and the founding of the Plymouth Colony. It contains “Of Plymouth Plantation” by Governor William Bradford, the seminal first-person account of the early days of the settlement. Written in the Elizabethan English of the times, it is not easy reading but it nonetheless is a detailed, emotional recounting of an enterprise that took immense courage, devotion, and fortitude. In addition, this anthology contains “Mourt’s Relation,” an account of the colony’s first year in New England and the original story of the first Thanksgiving celebrated in autumn 1621, and “Good News from New England,” a continuation of the history, both by Edward Winslow.

times     “The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony” by leading Plymouth archaeologist James Deetz is a social history that is especially strong in its descriptions of the daily lives and society of the colony. Drawing on the archaeological evidence, it touches on crime, food, sexual and social relationships, legalities, and material culture, and upends many of our misconceptions about Pilgrim society.





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