Month: September 2018

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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage with Food

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage with Food

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Mexican cuisine is the second most popular menu type in restaurants in the United States? Varied menu is number one, with pizza a distant third. As of April 2017, there were more than 59,800 Mexican restaurants in the U.S. That’s 9% of all restaurants. Since we’re in the middle of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), this is a great opportunity to celebrate Hispanic heritage with food.

Of course there’s more to Hispanic or Latino cooking than Mexican food, but it’s a good place to start.

In “The Essential Cuisines of Mexico,” Diana Kennedy has combined her three best-selling books on Mexican cooking “The Cuisines of Mexico,” ”Mexican Regional Cooking,” and “The Tortilla Book.” Kennedy is the recognized expert on Mexican cuisine (the equivalent to Julia Child and French cooking), and this book is essential for anyone wanting to learn more about authentic Mexican food. Chapters in the book cover courses from appetizers through side dishes, sauces, main courses, pastries, and drinks. The author includes tips on equipment and ingredients such as cheeses, chiles, spices, and herbs. The result is a fabulous assortment of recipes from the exotic Stuffed Chiles in Walnut Sauce and Turkey in Mole Poblana to familiar tacos and tamales.

Food recipe taster and editor Marcela Valladolid explains that there is more to Mexican food than globs of orange cheese in “Fresh Mexico: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor.”  Valladolid’s book presents a broader, healthier, and more diverse version of Mexican cuisine.  She follows a looser tradition than Diana Kennedy, using recipes with ingredients that are readily available in American supermarkets. She emphasizes “weeknight” recipes that anyone can make with a minimum of effort and a few good flavors. She offers recipes not traditionally Mexican, or Mexican with non-traditional ingredients. Examples include osso bucco with lime zest and chilis, and pastel de tres leches, made with Italian (cooked) meringue instead of raw egg whites.

How did Mexican cuisine become so popular? That’s the question Gustavo Arellano answers in “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.” It’s no surprise that salsa is the number one condiment found in most American kitchens, but the origin of the taco is up for debate. Arellano focuses on how the phenomenon of a simple tortilla folded over fillings made it across the border. Starting as street food, the popularity of the taco grew with the mass production of tach shells. Step in Glen Bell, the San Bernadino, California founder of Taco Bell in 1951, and the rest is history.

Mexican food is not the be all and end all of Hispanic cooking. In “The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History,” food writer Ana Sofia Pelaez demonstrates the depth of Cuban cuisine. Her book features recipes like creole fried chicken, and potaje de garbanzos (chickpea stew). Pelaez also pays attention to classic Cuban dishes like escabeche (fish in vinegar sauce), ropa vieja (shredded beef and vegetables), and the Cuban sandwich. Overall this is a good introduction to the cuisine of Cuba.

Take a whirlwind tour of Hispanic cooking with “A Taste of Latin America,” by Patricia Cartin. This book introduces readers to the culinary traditions and classic recipes of several Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru, and Venezuela. The recipes for 70 dishes included are all accessible to beginning and intermediate level cooks. Ingredients like sweet potatoes, squash, corn, chocolate, and chili peppers, are all familiar, and they all originated in Latin America. While learning about the cooking of ten Latin American countries, you’ll also learn about the history and culture of our neighbors to the south.

In “Healthy Latin Eating: Our Favorite Family Recipes Remixed,” Angie Martinez and Angelo Sosa present recipes featuring lighter versions of classic Latin foods. Flan made from soy and almond milk, for example, and poached corn dumplings rather than deep fried. This is not a diet book, but rather the authors offering of the foods they cherish from their Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican backgrounds.

In between preparing and sampling some fantastic Hispanic recipes, remember to make a trip to the library. If you don’t already have one, you can register for a library card in minutes. Then you’ll find, in the words of author Marc Brown, “Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card.”

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Books that Started as Podcasts

Books that Started as Podcasts

By Crystal Hicks, Adult Services Librarian

You may have heard of podcasts and how they’re taking the world by storm.  For the uninitiated, think of them like talk radio, but with myriad options that you can curate according to your tastes.  I’d dabbled in podcasts, but my own interest in them wasn’t sparked until I picked up the book Tiny Beautiful Things, a compendium of advice columns Cheryl Strayed wrote for the column “Dear Sugar.”  Soon afterward, I learned that Strayed was continuing her advice-giving tenure on the podcast Dear Sugars, and I promptly began listening to hours of podcasts.  Podcast interest piqued, I’ve now learned that, while podcasts come in all shapes and flavors, so do books related to those podcasts.  Allow me to take you on a brief tour of some of the many realms podcasts, and their associated books, explore.

In the world of podcasts, none is as famous as Serial, a podcast whose first season investigated the murder of Hae Min Lee.  Just about everyone I know who listens to podcasts was riveted by the slow unfurling of the story and the question of whether or not Adnan Syed is guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend.  For listeners who’d like to explore the story further, they can check out Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry.  Chaudry, a family friend of Adnan Syed, has long believed in his evidence and compiled this book as a definitive case for his innocence, partially driven by the need to expand on the story being told by Serial.

For those interested in the historical events that have inspired folklore or stuck with our cultural consciousness, give Lore a listen.  An engrossing nonfiction podcast, Lore’s episodes range from the potential origins of werewolves to more concrete events, like the murders committed by the Bloody Benders in Kansas.  The library has two books that supplement the stories told in the podcast: The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures and The World of Lore: Wicked Mortals.  If you’d like something to read that’ll give you goosebumps and make you afraid to go to bed, these are a great reading choice and include much content not covered in the podcast.

WTF with Marc Maron is an enthusiastically-praised podcast with a simple premise: just two people having a conversation.  In each episode, Marc Maron invites a comedian or celebrity into his garage (which serves as his studio) and they talk.  Just “having a conversation” may sound boring, but the podcast goes in many interesting, intensely personal directions.  If you, like me, are intimidated by the high episode count (over 875 and counting!), Maron’s book Waiting for the Punch may be for you.  This book collects the best of his conversations into chapters based on topics like growing up, relationships, addiction, and mental health.  Reading the snippets of interviews with the many, many people Maron has interviewed may give you a starting point for approaching his podcast, and, at the very least, it’ll give you some wonderful reading.

Tim Ferriss’s podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, is another all-rounder where he interviews highly successful individuals to figure out how average people can use these experiences to enhance their lives.  After years of working on his podcast, Ferriss sat down to compile the highlights of his interviews into the ultimate advice book, and Tools of Titans is the result.  The interviews are divided into sections (Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise) and presented as fragments, so you can browse through the book until you find something relatable to you.  Even though this book looks intimidating with 673 pages, its construction is simple and intuitive, making it a great resource for finding quick inspiration to pull you out of a rut or get you pointed in a new direction.

There are, of course, many other podcasts and related books out there, with subjects ranging all the way from esoteric nonfiction topics to telling original fiction narratives.  Even if your favorite podcast doesn’t have a book out, I’m sure we can find you a similar book you’d like, so please stop by the Reference Desk and tell us about what you’ve been listening to.

While you’re stopping in, make sure to celebrate Library Card Month with us!  We’re currently holding a bookmark contest, and submissions are due on September 28 by 5 PM.  Winners will have their bookmarks printed out and distributed throughout the library.  You can also make sure all your friends have a library card and share the gift of free books, movies, storytimes, and classes with everyone you know.

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Dialogic Reading

Dialogic Reading

By Jill Keegan, Library Assistant Children’s Services

Early literacy, what children know about reading and writing before they actually read or write, is of the utmost importance. The best activity to develop early literacy is to read aloud to children, especially during their preschool years, according to the study Becoming a Nation of Readers sponsored by the National Institute of Education. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children introduced to reading early on tend to read earlier and excel in school compared to children who are not exposed to language and books at a young age.

Early literacy is at the forefront of storytimes presented at the Manhattan Public Library. Dialogic reading, an early literacy tool, is utilized during these storytimes. Dialogic reading essentially uses questions around the pictures in books. Using questions when reading helps to develop children’s knowledge, comprehension, imagination, and enjoyment of books. Saroj Ghoting, an Early Childhood Literacy Consultant and national trainer, created the acronym PEER to use during dialogic reading. This offers a great way to remember the different steps.

P is for prompt. Prompt the child to tell you something about the book by asking a question. You may ask “What kind of animal is that?” when looking at a picture in a book. Or ask, when looking at the cover of a book, “What do you think this book is about?”

E is for evaluating the child’s response. “Yes, that’s right. It’s a horse.”

E is for expand. Expand the child’s response by repeating, rephrasing, and adding information. “It’s a baby horse, called a foal.”

R is for repeat. Repeat the new word or phrase and allow the child time to repeat it back to you; help guide them if needed. “It’s a foal. Can you say foal?”

One can always expand on the details of the picture, as well. “It’s a brown foal with white spots. What does a horse say?” The more words you speak to a child, the bigger their vocabulary knowledge will be, which will help them when learning to read.

Books that have pictures, are not too long, and that are of interest to your child are excellent choices for dialogic reading. Children often like to have the same book read to them over and over again. Dialogic reading assists in diversifying the reading of a story by simply asking different questions each time.

One of my favorite books to use dialogic reading with is Stuck by Oliver Jeffers.  This book is overflowing with items to discuss on each page and the story is hilarious. Seriously, if this is the book that you have to reread, like I did, you will be ever grateful for all of the different images to discuss together.

I also love encouraging children to guess what will happen next in every book that is read to them. This opportunity allows them to comprehend what has already happened in the book and also opens the door to expand their imagination. Little Red Riding Hood: A New Fangled Prairie Tale by Lisa Campbell Ernst is an amazing book to read aloud and discuss together.  You and your audience will enjoy the different take on this classic tale.

The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski is a magical book and perfect for dialogic reading. It is a wonderful story where a young girl starts trying to come up with her own stories.  Dipping her mind and imagination into something new and challenging brings great joy to her by the end of the book. We each can bring something different to the same story with use of dialogic reading.

September is also National Library Card Sign Up Month! This is a swell time to get your child a library card.  A Library Card Day party for kids will be from 10a.m.-6p.m. Friday, September 21, 2018. Visit the library for read-alouds, games, prizes, and an opportunity to meet Elephant and Piggie, two lovable characters from Mo Willems’ beginning reader series.

The library is a great place to expand on early literacy.  Nine storytimes are offered per week at the Manhattan Public Library, along with other programs for children that are free to the public. Please come join in the fun and the gathering of community while we work together to instill a lifelong love of reading to the children of this area!

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Young Adult Graphic Novels

Young Adult Graphic Novels

By Grace Benedick, Teen Services Librarian

With school in full swing, everyone’s “to-read” lists are getting filled with assigned texts so sometimes you need something short and fun for leisure reading. Graphic novels fit that bill perfectly and cover a variety of genres.

In Brave by Svetlana Chmakova, Jenson is just trying to get through middle school without drawing too much attention to himself. He doesn’t enjoy the kind that he usually gets from his classmates. Jenson wouldn’t mind getting the attention of the newspaper team, though. He really wants them to publish his article on sunspots–he just hasn’t written it yet. Speaking of sunspots, he really wants to work for NASA someday, but failing math doesn’t seem like a promising start to a career in the sciences. Meanwhile, the newspaper team is trying to interview him for an exposé on bullying. But Jenson isn’t being bullied…Sure, everyone is mean to him, but…they’re just joking, right? Chmakova writes strong characters with quirky personalities, and draws facial expressions that bring the conversations to life. If you like realistic fiction and school stories, you’ll enjoy this.

Set in an alternate Victorian Paris, The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang, is about a young prince with a secret passion for beautiful gowns. He manages to hire a talented seamstress, Frances, to create custom designs just for him. At night they go out on the town together, and it isn’t long before Lady Crystallia (Prince Sebastien’s other name) is the fashion icon of Paris. Frances and Sebastien are the best of friends, but as Lady Crystallia becomes increasingly famous, they reach a crisis point. In the end though, the decisions they’re forced to make will help them lead their best lives. If you like fairy tales and gender fluidity, you’ll love this.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff opens with Selim. Selim is a brilliant man who speaks multiple languages and loves to make—and drink—delicious tea. Unfortunately for him, those kind of skills aren’t worth much in his line of work–the Turkish army. So when a prisoner escapes and a misunderstanding leads to Selim taking the blame, he’s more than willing to escape with the prisoner, the danger-loving Delilah Dirk. Delilah is an Englishwoman who roams the world stealing things, rescuing people and generally getting into a lot of sword fights. Roped into her life of swashbuckling, Selim eventually finds that the excitement of travel and danger has ruined his taste for quiet and calm –but not tea. The art effectively conveys a sense of action and will make you want to travel, but the real highlight of the book is the snarky tone of the conversations. If you like adventure, be sure to read this.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll is a collection of horror stories. Girls stranded in a farmhouse during a snowstorm keep disappearing, one a day. A bride arrives at her new husband’s mansion to find the ghost of his first wife. A man murders his brother in the woods, but three days later, that brother reappears. Two best friends pretend to be clairvoyant until a real spirit gets involved. A girl visits her brother and his wife for summer vacation only to discover that her new sister-in-law is not human. The art adds a gruesome quality without being graphic, and the vague endings heighten the sense of suspense. If you’re into horror or suspense films, you’ll enjoy this.

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin begins when teenagers Hazel and Mari meet at a bingo game in the 1960’s and fall in love. When their parents realize that the girls are romantically involved with each other, they are quickly separated and Hazel is married off. Years later after raising families and having grandchildren, they meet again. The spark is still there. Once again, their families oppose their love but for different reasons this time around. This a sweet love story featuring queer women of color. If you like historical fiction and rainbow pride, you won’t want to miss this.

For more great graphic novels, check out the list “2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens” on the Young Adult Library Association’s website.

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The American Push for British Marriages

Image result for husband hunters anne de courcyThe American Push for British Marriages

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

Anne De Courcy’s latest book, entitled Husband Hunters, is the perfect read for the many devoted fans of Downton AbbeyThe book is a nonfiction account not of one individual, but of the many wealthy young ladies who married into British aristocracy during the 19th century.   Some have referred to those marriages as “Cash for coronets,” but the factors that played into those unions are more complex than the phrase suggests.  Here are a few insights to be gained from this fascinating account.

Most such marriages took place during a period that extended from 1870 to 1914.  For one thing, many British landowners had experienced an extensive agricultural depression in the late 19th century, brought on by repeated droughts and harsh winters.  Fortunes were depleted, and estates needed other sources of income if they were to remain intact.  For another thing, society in major urban cities, like New York City, was tightly controlled by the wealthiest of the citizenry who selected and rejected which families would be allowed into their social circles.  Such circles often rejected enthusiastic newcomers, who looked for other ways to attain status, hence the desirable interactions with the British.  Third, among the wealthiest of American families, it was often the mothers who dominated social interactions, and those same mothers felt a responsibility for arranging impressive marriages for their daughters, if not with other prominent Americans, then with British aristocrats.  As arranged marriages were quite acceptable at the time, such unions came as no surprise.   Thus, over 450 young American heiresses wed titled European men during that time period.

Of course, not all such unions were happy ones.  American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt, daughter of Alva and William Vanderbilt, may have been educated in French, German and English languages, but she was also very strictly supervised.  Her mother banned her from contact with the opposite sex and even kept her daughter imprisoned in her Newport estate,   Marble House.  Consuelo managed to evade her mother’s control and fell in love with a young admirer, but her mother ended that relationship and bartered a marriage with the Duke of Marlborough through a hefty dowry.  Neither member of the couple was ever happy, nor did the marriage survive.

Another such marriage led to certain fame.  Jennie Jerome, one of three well educated American sisters, traveled to Europe with her mother and was instantly attracted to Lord Randolph Churchill.  Despite opposition to the union by Randolph’s father, the Duke of Marlborough, the happy couple made plans to wed.  Married in 1874, they resided at Blenheim Palace where Jennie became a noted hostess, entertaining dignitaries while wearing one of her many fine Worth gowns.  A friend of the Prince of Wales, she also led social circles in London.  While her marriage failed, she was the mother of Winston Churchill, and she continued a very social public life, in addition to working for improved hospital care.

The end of the hunt for British spouses came suddenly.  While ostentatious social balls had been hosted in New York and in Newport for decades, an 1897 affair met with social outcry.  Cornelia Bradley-Martin arranged for a great affair at the Waldorf Hotel in New York.  Chosen guests, some 86 people clad in elaborate historical costumes, attended an event that would have cost 7 million in today’s terms.  But the lavish decorations and the exquisite food that the press used to fawningly compliment caused great protest.  There was much poverty and need during these times, and people were horrified by the excess of that single night.

Another factor that brought about an end to the husband-hunting was the changing times.  Educational trends and the rise of women’s rights were major influences opposing arranged marriages.  The average person was no longer impressed with showy spending; such a show was regarded as vulgar.  In addition, the grand houses became more and more expensive to maintain and repair, something which not even American fortunes could sustain.  And finally, there was the fast approaching conflict of World War I which changed the face of Europe.  The rush for English connections was over.

This book is a riveting tale of various romances against a backdrop of Gilded Age wealth.  Downton Abbey aficionados won’t want to miss the stories of those who inspired the popular drama series.

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