Month: June 2021

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Celebrating Juneteenth and Pride Month

Celebrating Juneteenth and Pride Month

By Julie Mills, Learning & Information Services Supervisor

Summer can be a great time to explore your inner activist.  There are several ways one can go about making changes whether you are looking for a quiet revolution or attending marches in the streets. As I write this, Juneteenth, celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800’s, was just honored by becoming a Federal Holiday.  This is a wonderful start but there is still much more work to be done. Juneteenth commemorates the ending of slavery in this country, but not the end of racism. However, the celebration continues to resonate in new ways, given the sweeping changes and widespread protests across the U.S. over the last year and following a guilty verdict in the killing of Mr. Floyd.

Also, as I look ahead to next week, the fifty-second anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising is soon to be here along with the end of this year’s Pride Month celebrations. On June 28, 1969, there was a series of protests that centered around the Stonewall Inn, a gay tavern in New York City. This is meaningful as it marks a turning point in the movement for gay rights. The Stonewall uprisings became the symbol of resistance to the social and political discrimination for the LGBTQIA community and an international gay rights movement began.

Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement” by Angela Y. Davis is a collection of essays that connect the struggles here and around the world. Shining a light on the connections between Ferguson, Palestine, and Anti-Apartheid, the author shows us that what we need is a movement for human rights and liberation in the entire world. Throughout history there have been many battles fought for basic human rights and their legacies can continue to teach us and hopefully bring us together in the fight.

For adult patrons, there is “The Stonewall Reader”. It is an anthology published by the New York Public Library for the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and is edited by Edmund White. From the New York Public Library’s own archives, this is a collection of first-person accounts, journal entries, and many articles from that time. One key aspect of this book is to showcase both the myth and reality of the riots from the perspectives of everyone from participants to journalists.

Along the same lines but for young adult or juvenile readers, “The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets” by Gayle Pitman is a collection of interviews and historical information leading up to and including the riots. Along with illustrations, there are photos, newspaper articles and historical artifacts. The interviews even include one with a woman who was ten years old at the time.

For a local connection to activism try “No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas” by C.J. Janovy. The author explores the reason why many LGBT people stay in such a red state, when it is better known that most leave Kansas.

When you find yourself feeling frustrated with the way things have always been done, it is critical to discover new ways to make a difference. Here are a few more books that may help you get started. “How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation” edited by Maureen Johnson is located in the Young Adult area, but is an excellent resource for adults as well.  I especially enjoyed the prose by Junauda Petrus titled “Could We Please Give the Police Departments to the Grandmothers”. I personally believe the world would be better off for it!

Also, in the Young Adult section is “We Are Power: How Nonviolent Activism Changes the World” by Todd Hasak-Lowy. And for even younger readers there is “How to Make a Better World” by Keilly Swift located in the Children’s Room.  These are two excellent books for budding young activists.

Perhaps you’re interested in learning more about these parts of U.S. history. Or maybe as a modern activist, you’re interested in learning more about the roots of the LGBT rights movement in order to start your own grass roots movement. Whatever the reason, the Manhattan Public Library has several selections to check out and help you learn more about what some call the beginning of Pride and ways to create a revolution.

Email us at or call 785-776-4741 ext. 300 for other recommendations!

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Worlds Away

Worlds Away

by Hannah Wright, Library Assistant 2, Learning and Information Services

Let’s be honest, sometimes it feels like the whole world has gone crazy. It’s gone so crazy that people are trying to leave the world entirely. With companies like SpaceX trying to take off into a galaxy far, far away, it’s hard not to imagine what it might be like to live in space. Luckily for us, we don’t have to wonder. There are books out there that let us leave Earth behind and set sail for the stars, without having to drop thousands of dollars on a ticket.

You think your last breakup was bad? Try going through a breakup on the same day your planet is invaded! That’s exactly what happens to Kady Grant and Ezra Mason in “Illuminae.” Written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, “Illuminae” follows Kady, Ezra, and the rest of the survivors through space as they try to outrun the enemy ship hunting them down. Help is nowhere to be found and they’re running out of supplies. Just when you think it can’t get worse, the ship’s artificial intelligence program, AIDEN, goes haywire. Instead of keeping the passengers safe, it starts attacking them. With Ezra conscripted to help defend the ships and Kady using all of her hacking skills to get AIDEN back on their side, they’ll have to work together if they want to survive this space race. After that breakup? Talk about awkward.

Meanwhile, in Marissa Meyer’s “Cinder,” the Earth is in danger of marriage gone awry. Aliens from Luna are attempting to take over Earth by marrying their Queen Levana to New Beijing’s crown prince, Kai. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that Levana is capable of mind-control, and she’s not afraid to use it. All other members of the royal family who could claim the Lunar throne have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. That’s where Cinder comes in. Cinder is the adopted daughter of a disgraced New Beijing family, but she’s treated more like a servant. Cinder dreams of running away, but running is difficult when you’ve only got one leg. Due to a hovercraft accident when she was a baby, Cinder has two mechanical limbs. She’s a cyborg. When she meets the crown prince, she agrees to help him find a long-lost Lunar princess to take the throne from Levana. But can she do it without being killed by the evil queen?

The only things that can make space better are space pirates. Luckily for us, “Starflight” by Melissa Landers has one of the best crews around. When Solara turns 18, she decides to move across the galaxy to start a new life. It’s difficult though, since she’s just been released from jail and she’s broke. The only person who can help is Doran, her high school bully. He’s a spoiled, rich kid with nothing to lose. That is, until he’s framed for conspiracy. The two jump on a pirate ship and head for the stars before the law catches up to them. They split their time on the ship between figuring out who framed Doran and trying not to punch each other. With the help of the captain, the crew, and the adorable sugar glider named Acorn, Doran and Solara are in a race against the police to make it to Planet X and find out who’s really behind the end of the world as they know it.

Aurora Rising” by Amie Kaufman; Two hundred years ago, a mission left Earth to explore the planet known as Octavia III. Sadly, the mission was a failure and the ship was lost. Until it wasn’t. The day before he’s promoted to Alpha status, Tyler not only finds the lost ship, but a passenger still alive. Auri was cryogenically frozen at some point during the mission. She just can’t remember why. With the help of Tyler and his crew, Auri tries to recover her missing memories while coping with the fact that she’s 200 years in her future. But something’s off about Auri. It’s like something has invaded her mind. Something ancient and powerful. Too bad no one can tell if it’s good or evil.

Have I convinced you to jump on a spaceship yet? Maybe not. Hopefully I’ve convinced you to check out some books though. Don’t forget to log your reads in the library’s Summer Reading Program. We’ve got tons of prizes to give out, and luckily, we’re a lot closer than a world away.


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Backyard Vegetable Gardening

Backyard Vegetable Gardening

By John Pecoraro, Associate Director Support Services

In order to raise awareness of the importance of fruits and vegetable in nutrition, the United Nations has proclaimed 2021 to be the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. June is also National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, the goal of which is to increase the daily consumption of fresh produce. As such, and since we have entered the backyard planting season, this is the perfect time to sample a few of the vegetable gardening books available at your library.

Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook” is the perfect companion for every vegetable gardener. This book demystifies gardening by demonstrating proven methods for sowing, growing, and harvesting. With plentiful color photographs, and reference tables and charts, this handbook provides step-by-step advice for growing over 30 varieties in any plant hardiness zone.

As its subtitle claims, “Niki Jabbour’s Veggie Garden Remix” presents 224 new plants to shake up your garden. Jabbour introduces vegetable varieties from around the world, providing detailed information on how to grow each plant. She also presents fun facts and plant history. After perusing this book, you’ll be a little more familiar with cucamelons, mizuna, and Jerusalem artichokes, while also expanding your knowledge of tomatoes, potatoes, and greens.

Growing Good Food,” by author and climate activist Acadia Tucker, is a beginner’s guide to growing herbs, fruits, and vegetables using organic and sustainable practices. She offers advice on preparing and clearing land, and cultivating healthy soil. She also explains how to protect your plants from pests and disease without damaging the environment. In the end the author will teach you how to grow 21 popular perennials and annuals, including fruit trees, herbs, and vegetables, while also describing the climate changes happening in your own backyard.

For the novice with that little plot of ground who doesn’t know where to start, “Growveg: the Beginner’s Guide to Easy Vegetable Gardening,” by Benedict Vanheems is the place to begin. The friendly instructions and step-by-step photographs explain in detail more than 30 small-scale gardening projects. Chapters cover everything from choosing the best location to plant, to starting from seeds, transplanting, and harvesting. For gardeners without a lot of ground, Vanheems presents alternative methods such as growing potatoes in a trash can, carrots in a basket, and chilis in a bucket.

Turkish orange eggplant, rat-tail radish, walking-stick kale, sweetleaf, and fuchsia berry, these are just a few of the out of the ordinary edibles Matthew Biggs explains how to grow in “Grow Something Different to Eat.” In addition to step-by-step instructions on growing some unusual crops, Biggs includes cooking and preserving suggestions. All the plants detailed in this book can be started indoors and transplanted, grown outdoors in the garden, or kept as houseplants.

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest,” by Michael VanderBrug demonstrates how to grow your own food in the Heartland. This title focuses on the uniqueness of the Midwest gardening calendar with its month by month format. Perfect for Kansas gardeners. Available as an eBook from Hoopla.

The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Great Vegetables,” by Lorene Edwards Forkner is another title available for free download on Hoopla. This gardening primer covers 30 of the most popular vegetables and herbs, planting charts for every region, and instructions on what to do in your garden every month of the year. This eBook is bursting with color photographs, and filled with the information budding backyard agriculturalists need.

Edible Paradise: How to Grow Herbs, Flowers, Veggies and Fruit in Any Space,” by Vera Greutink, is useful both to container gardeners, and those with the space and ambition to start and maintain a garden. Chapters cover everything you’ll need to know from making compost and building raised planters to incorporating flowers with your herbs and vegetables. This work will help you create your own edible paradise on your patio or balcony, or in your yard.

Federal guidelines recommend adults consume 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits and 2-3 cups of vegetables each day depending on age and gender. The results of a recent study indicated that only 9% of adults met those recommendations. Are you part of the 9%? Growing your own vegetables can help you get there, or you can always visit the Downtown Farmer’s Market

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Summer Reading: Tails and Tales Prize Books

Summer Reading: Tails and Tales Prize Books

By Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Services Manager

Cover image for the book "Not Norman: A Goldfish Story" by Kelly Bennet, Illustrated by Noah Z. JonesThe children’s room of the library has been busy this week! Everyone is stocking up on reading material and signing up for the annual summer reading program. Kids, teens and adults can all join summer reading and get prizes and free books. These are just a few of the great prize books available for kids to choose from:

Bird & Squirrel: On the Run” (book 1) by James Burks is great little graphic novel that covers fear and trust, friendship, adventure, cleverness and cunning, and most of all, multiple ways to simultaneously annoy your friends and also save their lives. When Bird convinces Squirrel to head south together for the winter, the mean old cat decides to follow them, looking for a tasty lunch. It becomes clear that they won’t survive without each other, so Bird and Squirrel live out their catchy theme song while narrowly escaping many dangers.

Titanosaur: Discovering the World’s Largest Dinosaur” was written by the paleontologists who led the dig: Dr. José Luis Carballido and Dr. Diego Pol. The story begins with a gaucho in Argentina searching for a lost sheep when he happens upon a piece of exposed fossilized bone. He later recognizes the shape when looking at a dinosaur skeleton in a museum…only what he saw was “much bigger than that one.” Paleontologist José checks it out, and then brings in a team of scientists and diggers that “uncovered more than 100 bones from 7 different dinosaurs” in that area. When the new Titanosaur skeleton is assembled, it stretches 122 feet and is the largest dinosaur ever found. Dinosaur lovers will really dig this book!

The Bad Guys” (book 1) by Aaron Blabey is so entertaining, kids won’t even know they are reading. Mr. Wolf has been pegged as a bad guy, of course, but he says that is not true. He puts together the perfect team – a snake, a shark and a piranha – to go out and change their images from bad to good. All they need to do is become heroes! That works better if you have a “rock ‘n’ rollin’ chariot of flaming coolness” with “A – Wicked powerful V8 engine that runs on undiluted panther wee. B – Fat wheels for just looking insanely cool.” Etc. If you have a 3rd or 4th grader who rolls their eyes whenever you say it’s time to shut off screens and pick up a book, this is the perfect choice.

Gregor the Overlander” is a riveting fantasy written by Suzanne Collins prior to her fame with “The Hunger Games”. Kids who like to get sucked into a book so they won’t even hear their parents call them for dinner will appreciate this imaginative tale. Gregor is just a normal kid dealing with a little more trauma than usual. His dad has disappeared, and now Gregor has to watch his two-year-old sister, Boots, and look after Grandma whose memory is failing. When Boots falls down an old air duct, he has to go after her. That is how they end up in an underworld with rats, bats and a kingdom he never knew existed… a kingdom he and Boots are now tangled up in.

There’s a Pest in the Garden” by Jan Thomas is a hoot, and it is just right for kids in the early stages of learning to read. What will the farm animals do when they discover a pest is in their garden eating all the beans? Then the corn, and the peas? Maybe Duck has a plan. Thomas’s characters are expressive and funny, using word bubbles to tell their silly story, similar to the popular Elephant and Piggie books.

Not Norman: A Goldfish Story” by Kelly Bennett is about not getting the pet you wanted. Who wants a pet that just swims around and around and around and around? Norman’s owner comes up with some ideas for getting rid of his boring goldfish, but he also learns a few things about Norman in the process. Maybe he’s not so bad after all.

Signing up for summer reading is super easy. You can come to the library or call us, or download the free Beanstack Tracker app and look for Manhattan Public Library. Sign yourself and all your kids up to get some free books, coupons and other fun things while participating as a community that values literacy and reading!