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Diverse Award Winning Books for Kids

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Escape the Ordinary this Summer!

by Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

Escape the ordinary this summer! Entertain your brain with one of the more than 200 magazines available at the public library.  A wonderfully varied collection stands ready to expand your reading choices this summer.  Familiar favorites like Time, Good Housekeeping, and Sports Illustrated sit next to numerous specialty magazines that cover diverse topics: lifestyle magazines about hobbies, home decor, cooking, and gardening; up-to-date coverage of news, science, and politics; and wide-ranging material on history, art, and entertainment.  On the go?  Borrow back issues and read them when and where you choose.  Or, scan materials using our free scanner, then save them to a flash drive or e-mail them anywhere using a simple touch-screen panel.

Indulge your nesting instinct!  Our home collection boasts titles like Dwell, a unique magazine that stylishly explores both interior and exterior home design by showing modern ways to put identity, creativity, and harmony into living spaces.  Check out Elle Décor, which bridges high fashion and home design with decorating trends to create personality-packed interiors.  And, don’t miss other home-making titles such as This Old House, Victorian Homes, and Fine Homebuilding. 

Get some dirt under your fingernails!  The green-thumbed will surely enjoy many of our gardening titles, like Fine Gardening, Country Living, and Heirloom Gardening.  Don’t miss Taproot Magazine, an ad-free independent homesteading quarterly that also digs into food, farm, family, and craft.  These titles burst with ideas and inspiration to help you make your summer garden fresh.

Spice up your cuisine!  The library serves up a regular buffet of cooking magazines.  Some aspire to gourmet tastes, like Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Cook’s Illustrated.  Others have a down-home touch, like Cook’s Country, full of easy-to-follow recipes for putting together honest home-cooked meals.  Many more cater to specific tastes, including Eating Well, Vegetarian Times, and Mary Jane’s Farm, which also explores organic farming methods and handicrafts.

Stray away from the beaten path!  Explore our collection to find magazines on bicycling, flying, and running, like American Cowboy, Cycle World, and Runner’s World; catch up on well-seasoned favorites like Outdoor Life and Sports Afield.  Backpacker offers straightforward “you can do it–here’s how” advice for packing more into your wild excursions and charts the best locations, gear and techniques for camping and hiking, including fold-out maps and stunning photography.

Make something unique!  The library’s craft magazines offer information and projects that will let you hone your skills while making things you will treasure.  Sew things up with Interweave Crochet and Interweave Knits; build up some steam with Model Railroader; work the grain with Woodcarving, Fine Woodworking, and loads of other hands-on titles from skilled artisans of all stripes.

Reshape yourself!  Grow healthier, exercise effectively, and build the right “you” with advice and encouragement from current exercise, wellness, and nutritional magazines. Women’s (and Men’s!) Health, Yoga Journal, Fitness, and Eating Well are only some of the titles on our shelves that can help you develop confidence and energy through better health.

Learn something truly new!  Titles like Air & Space, Astronomy, Discover,  and Scientific American Mind push the bounds of nature and technology.  Go beyond with Ad Astra, the award-winning magazine of the National Space Society, featuring the latest news in space exploration along with dazzling photography.

Beat the trends!  Titles like Brides, Elle, Vogue, Lucky, and Instyle will help you keep your closet current.  Marie Claire offers a classy perspective on fashion, beauty, celebrities, careers, and love.

Rediscover the Sunflower State!  Magazines such as KC Magazine, Kansas, and Kansas History explore the current and historical happenings that make Kansas a unique place to live­.  Also, free copies of Manhattan Magazine are available at the Information Desk.

Shine a new light on today’s news!  Utne Reader is a quarterly American news magazine that collects and reprints articles on politics, culture, and the environment, generally from alternative media sources including academic journals, regional weeklies, amateur zines, and music papers.  Many more perspectives on life and current events can be found in Week, Humanist, American Spectator, and many more magazines.

Keep your trade current!  Up-to-date business news and insightful financial commentary is yours to command in publications like Inc., Investor’s Business Daily, and Black Enterprise.  Don’t miss the Kiplinger Letters from our newsletters section, or the Wall Street Journal, just one of many newspapers available at the library.

Go beyond hard copies!  The library offers access to several research databases that provide full text articles from thousands [right??] of professional magazines and journals.  Ask for assistance at the Information and Reference desks, and find the right materials for your research needs.

*Summer Reading—The adult summer reading theme is “Escape the Ordinary!” To be eligible for prizes you are invited to sign up online at Manhattan Public Library’s main page (www.MHKlibrary.org)  or at the Information Desk on first floor.

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

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Iditarod–“The Last Great Race”

by Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

Get ready for the “Last Great  Race.”  The Iditarod starts on March 7.  Lots of good information is available on the Iditarod website:  videos, plans, maps and insider stories and meet the races for 2015.

iditarodThe Alaskan Iditarod is an annual 1180-mile dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome that generally takes two to three weeks to complete. If you’d like to experience the race without the dangers, Manhattan Public Library has a number of good books available.

You might begin with Winterdance: the fine madness of running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen. Paulsen is a popular YA writer who participated in the race in 1983 and 1985. He was training for a third race when a heart condition forced him to retire. Winterdance, is primarily an account of Paulsen’s first Iditarod and its frequent life-threatening disasters, including wind so strong it blew his eyelids open and blinded his eyes with snow, cold so deep matches would not strike, and packages of lotions kept next to his skin that froze solid.

I had the pleasure of sharing supper with Paulsen years ago,  just after he published his young adult novel Hatchet.  Hatchet is about a youngster surviving alone in the wilderness and I asked him how he came to write with such detail.  He told me of his experiences in northern Minnesota, his dog races  and his own love of the wilderness.

Bill Shernowitz’s Iditarod: The Great Race to Nome, recounts the history and past three decades of the Iditarod and looks forward to its promising future, while photographer Jeff Schultz provides thrilling new photos, from the arctic landscape to the competitors and the dogs they rely on.

Just for fun, you might try Sue Henry’s fiction story:  Murder on the Iditarod Train or Cherry Adair’s On Thin Ice.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

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Celebrate E-Book Week!

sunflowerToday begins National Read an E-Book Week. E-Books are easy to download and read on your mobile device, tablet, e-reader or computer. Just go to the Sunflower E Library,  whose link is on our home page. Have your MPL library card handy to log-in, then search for books. There are also several sites for free e-books, such as Project Gutenberg.  E-books downloaded to a mobile device or reader are handy–you’ll always have reading material while waiting in line at the DMV or at a doctor’s office! Check out the Sunlower E Library today!

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

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Celebrate “Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week”

By Laura Ransom, Children’s Librarian

“Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week” is an annual event that promotes reading to all Kansas children from birth through age five. Parents, librarians, and caregivers are encouraged to read the chosen book during the week of November 16-22.

funI am especially excited about this year’s selection, Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas. Three happy cows and a frustrated chicken bounce through the pages of this light-hearted picture book. We love promoting this event at Manhattan Public Library, and each child who attends a storytime during the week will receive a free book! Funding for the free books is generously provided by the Manhattan Library Association.
My love for books began when I was very young. I have such fond memories of sitting in my mom’s lap while she read Don Wood’s The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear to me night after night. She later told me that she had the book memorized since I requested it so many times. What a patient parent! Another of my all-time favorites is The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. I remember chanting along with that brave engine, “I think I can, I think I can!” These engaging books stirred a desire in me to learn how to read the words on the pages.
readaloudAs a children’s librarian, I obviously endorse reading aloud to children, but research supports it, too. One example is a study by the U.S. Department of Education, which concluded with these words: “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” This quote is from The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, a wonderful book filled with read-aloud suggestions and helpful tips for parents. Books include a wider vocabulary than we often encounter in television shows or everyday conversations. Even though children are unfamiliar with these new words, exposure to them is a stepping stone to reading independently. If they have heard the word before, they will be better equipped to know how to read it on the printed page.
A love for reading is just as important as the actual reading process. The fancy name for the desire to read is called print motivation. This is one of six skills children need in order to read successfully. The other skills are: Notice Print All Around; Talk, Talk, Talk; Tell Stories About Everything; Look for Letters Everywhere; and Take Time to Rhyme, Sing, and Play Word Games. These skills were originally identified by the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read Program. Johnson County Public Library modified the information that program first developed, and they renamed it “6 by 6: Six Skills by Six Years.” Many of these skills are things parents already practice with their children without taking much time to consider the educational benefits. Things like pointing out the letters on a stop sign or words on a billboard can actually help children notice that words are all around them. Little habits like this can truly make a big difference in a child’s attitude toward reading.

Our librarians love to help children discover the joy of reading. Come visit us at the library for great book recommendations and resources for growing readers.

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

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October is National Reading Group month!

by Rhonna, Adult Services

Hopefully you’ve noticed that we have some options for gathering to talk about books here at the library  but even if you prefer to create your own book group, we’re here to help you out.
Two databases are available to help you. Novelist Plus is the go-to tool for exploring all information about books, including helpful discussion guides for some titles. BookBrowse also offers discussion questions, but goes beyond that to provide advice for starting and running a book group, book recommendations, and author interviews. Both resources are available from the library Research Page .
readingIt can be difficult to get enough books for your entire group to read. Fortunately, some libraries in Kansas have created book group kits, including several books and often a discussion guide. The Kansas Library has provided a list of all of the sets available in the state. If you find something that works for you, contact our Interlibrary Loan department at 785-776-4741 ext. 139.
We also have some books that might be helpful for you: Read It and Eat: A Month-By-Month Guide to Scintillating Book Club Selections and Mouthwatering Menus by Sarah Gardner, Reading Group Choices: Selections for Lively Book Discussions, and Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

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Ready for Fall

By Jennifer Adams, Children’s Services Manager

The new school year always brings with it a barrage of children’s book publications. It’s a wonderful time to fill shelves and backpacks with brand new books. Here are a few seasonal picture books that arrived just in time for falling leaves, pumpkin patches, and getting settled into another school year.

Fall Leaves“Fall Leaves” by Loretta Holland, with enchanting illustrations by Elly MacKay, is the perfect book to discuss the season. Each spread is centered on a two word phrase, such as “Fall arrives” and “Leaves leave.” Further description gives meaning to the phrase and sometimes a simple scientific explanation of what happens as the season moves from September to December.

“Otis and the Scarecrow,” a new Otis the tractor book by Loren Long, will be a popular choice. Otis is a good-natured tractor who loves his farm, and he is not sure what to do with the new arrival who doesn’t “smile or say hello,” but just stands there with “a sour look on his face, staring at the cornfield.” How does one make friends with a scarecrow? Leave it to Otis to come up with a way. (more…)

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

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Bedtime Books for Summer Nights

by Grace Benedick, Children’s Librarian

As a child, I loved the long summer days and the warm summer nights, but if there was one thing I really hated about summer, it was bedtime. I think we can all remember the childhood trial of trying to fall asleep before the sun had set—when it seemed the whole world was still wide awake. Fortunately, for all of you grown-ups with children undergoing that yearly trial, the library is full of wonderful bedtime stories to appease your wakeful children. In fact, over 200 titles will come up if you search our catalog for picture books about bedtime, so here’s a small selection of summery favorites to get you started:

atnightJonathan Bean’s debut picture book, At Night is all about one of those restless nights when sleep just won’t come. The story moves at a poetic, quiet pace, following a restless girl as she chases the night breeze up to her city roof. With her curious mother trailing behind, she takes her pillows and blankets upstairs to the rooftop terrace, where she can see the moon and feel the breeze, and better yet—fall asleep.

 

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

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Bibliomysteries!

indexU4IF9XSTA genre that deserves attention (and is a natural favorite of book lovers) is the bibliomystery.
Bibliomysteries are a genre of mystery novels which have books as the central theme of the plot. They may be have manuscripts, libraries, publishing houses, booksellers, or writers occupy a prominent role.
One of the very best bibliomysteries is Booked to Die by John Dunning (1992). Booked to Die is Dunning’s first novel in his “Bookman” series, and it’s a minor classic, especially if you’re a fan of the bibliomystery genre or a book collector. It’s the story of a Denver cop-turned-rare book dealer Cliff Janeway, and it will teach you a lot about the book trade while taking you on a mystery thrill-ride at the same time. Dunning is himself a rare book dealer, which makes the story even more authentic. (more…)

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