Author: Jared Richards

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Escape the Heat with Indoor Hobbies

Escape the Heat with Indoor Hobbies
by Crystal Hicks, Collection Services Manager

Temperatures are through the roof, with heat indexes even higher, which means I’m cranking the AC and finding things to do indoors. I’m normally content to read books or watch TV, but with this current unending heat wave, I’m itching for some variety in my hobbies. Fortunately, the library has gotten several new hobby, crafting, and cooking books that give me plenty of alternative indoor hobbies to pursue.

I’ve been knitting since high school, and I’m always looking for new projects that easily travel. Though I know many knitters favor socks, every method I’ve learned thus far has been finicky in one way or another, so I haven’t made more than a couple pairs. Enter “Knit 2 Socks in 1” by Safiyyah Talley, in which she proposes a new method for making two socks at once. Talley essentially knits one long sock from toe to cuff, inserting lifelines for the heels and for splitting the sock in two. After knitting the extra-long sock, Talley splits the sock in two at the middle and adds another toe, another cuff, and heels on each sock. I’m eager to try this technique out, maybe with a pair of socks for my toddler.

I come from a family of sewers, but sewing has never caught my interest until this past month, when I fell down a YouTube rabbit hole about Victorian and Edwardian clothing styles and sewing techniques. Written by YouTuber Bernadette Banner, “Make, Sew and Mend” is an essential introduction to the art of hand sewing and creating clothing. Banner focuses on presenting the basics of sewing, starting with necessary materials and understanding fiber content of fabrics, going through stitches and ending on practical applications for the skills learned. This book doesn’t include patterns, but it contains a lot of background knowledge required for knowing where to start with a book of patterns. I’m eager to finish it and begin my sewing journey.

Likewise, stained glass is a hobby I’ve yet to begin, but my interest was also sparked by delightful YouTube tutorials. When I’m ready to dip my toes, “Kicking Glass” by Neile Cooper is where I’ll begin exploring this gorgeous hobby. Cooper’s thorough tome walks beginners through setting up a space, picking out supplies, and basic techniques required for creating stained glass. Cooper also covers many safety measures, including an essay by Missy Graff Ballone about reducing the harm that comes from repetitive movements on hands and wrists. Patterns make up the latter portion of the book, including both two- and three-dimensional objects, along with patterns that incorporate found objects within the finished project.

Like many adults, I’ve been cooking myself food for years, but I’ve never taken a cooking course and have only a muddled knowledge of food science. America’s Test Kitchen comes to the rescue with “The New Cooking School Cookbook: Fundamentals,” a hefty volume perfect for novice and intermediate home cooks who want to learn more about food science and proper cooking technique. This book boasts 400 recipes incorporating 200 different cooking skills, all divided up into easy-to-approach courses. Love eggs? Start with scrambling, then progress to frying, boiling, and poaching. Prefer vegetables? Skip eggs and learn to boil, steam, sauté, roast, broil, and grill veggies. Basic bread and dessert recipes are also included, for home cooks looking to expand into the realm of baking. A second volume, “Advanced Fundamentals,” comes out this November.

Last year I took up bullet journaling and started dabbling in calligraphy as an easy way to decorate my journal’s pages. At its simplest, calligraphy can be done by anyone with pen and paper, and Joyce Lee’s “Joy of Modern Calligraphy” provides an accessible introduction to this beautiful craft. Lee breaks down the strokes and proportions that form the backbone of calligraphy, with a strong emphasis on repetition and proper form. Lee explains that calligraphy can be a lifestyle, incorporating aspects of mindfulness to ensure the best results. The book includes 20 different practice pages, which can be photocopied, and several project ideas as starting points.

I hope you take the opportunity this summer to stop by the library, enjoy our AC, and check out some books. Whether you’re investigating a new hobby, researching a topic, or just looking for new fiction, the library has plenty of books to cater to anyone’s interests. While you’re here, make sure you’re signed up for our summer reading program, which runs through the month of July and is open to everyone, including adults!

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Fun with Words: Wordplay in Children’s Picture Books

Fun with Words: Wordplay in Children’s Picture Books
by Hannah Atchison, Children’s Librarian

The first step to developing a love of reading is to develop a love of words. To nurture a love of words, you need to create positive memories and associations. Reading picture books that use wordplay with your child is one of the best ways to associate comfort and love with a good book. Encourage your child to play with words and sounds the way they play with other things.

Here are a few of my favorite picture books that use wordplay.

Amelia Bedelia” by Herman and Peggy Parish. I grew up reading these. They made me laugh and laugh. The originals are actually in our beginning readers collection, but we have some in our picture books and chapter books too. In the picture books Amelia is only a child, but in the beginning readers, Amelia Bedelia works as a housekeeper. The books are about her confusion with odd phrases. Instructed to dress the turkey, she sews him clothes. The kids will learn what these phrases mean and enjoy all of Amelia’s hilarious mistakes.

The Book with No Pictures” by B. J. Novak. This book has no pictures, but will keep your kid engaged. It is filled with funny words and sounds that the grown-up who is reading has to say.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin. I read this one when I was little and I use it frequently in my storytimes. The lowercase alphabet is climbing up a coconut tree. But the tree gets crowded and they all fall out. This book uses rhyming and rhythm to teach the kids their letters. Reading a book with rhythm and tapping your legs or clapping your hands is also a great way for the kids to learn about and practice syllables.

The Great Dictionary Caper” by Judy Sierra. This is a playful book about the different kinds of word groups that ‘hang out’ and what they do together. The action verbs are very active and the interjections are always interrupting. When the words have a parade, everyone shows off.

Llamaphones” by Janik Coat. This is a book about homophones, words that sound the same, but mean different things, that uses llamas to illustrate them. This book is part of a collection that also includes, “Comparrotives” and “Hippopposites”. The library has all of these in board book format so that even the smallest humans may enjoy them.

Moose, Goose, and Mouse” by Mordicai Gerstein. Moose, Goose, and Mouse need a house. This book plays with rhymes and word sounds.

P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever: All the Letters that Misbehave and Make Words Nearly Impossible to Pronounce” by Raj Haldar. This book has been one of my favorites for a few years now. It has a sequel which is equally enjoyable. “No Reading Allowed: The Worst Read-Aloud Book Ever: A Confusing Collection of Hilarious Homonyms and Sound-Alike Sentences.” These books are a great way to laugh some of the more frustrating elements of language.

7 Ate 9: The Untold Story” by Tara Lazar. Private I is solving a missing person, or number, case. Number 9 is missing and rumor is, 7 ate 9. This book plays with both numbers and words.

Where’s the Baboon?” by Michael Escoffier. Using different colored font, this book hides the answers to questions in other words. This is a good introduction to anagrams, new words you create by mixing up letters, and compound words.

The Whole Hole Story” by Vivian McInerny. This is another new favorite of mine. If you enjoy stream of consciousness and a good bit of nonsense, give this book a try.

Wordplay” by Ivan Brunetti. This book is actually a beginning reader in our collection included in the Toon Books series. Several examples of compound words are given with silly illustrations and stories to go with them.

Wordplay is both silly and informative. Reading picture books that use wordplay with your child will allow them to explore how language works in a fun and meaningful way. Find a book that you both will enjoy. It doesn’t have to be from this list. It could be another one from the library collection, or one you have at home. Learning doesn’t have to be serious. Thank goodness.

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“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo: A Review

“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo: A Review

by Savannah Winkler, Library Assistant

In the opening pages of “Last Night at the Telegraph Club,” 17-year-old Lily Hu’s life is suddenly changed by a newspaper advertisement. The year is 1954, and Lily lives in San Francisco’s Chinatown with her family. The ad promotes a male impersonator named Tommy Andrews and her performances at the local Telegraph Club. Lily quickly hides the ad, and it becomes her secret, but it isn’t her only one. On trips to the pharmacy, she flips through pages of pulp romance novels, particularly one about two women. As she begins to understand her sexuality, Lily becomes even more determined to hide her growing feelings—that is, until fellow classmate Kath Miller discovers her secret. But instead of the shame and humiliation she was anticipating, Lily realizes Kath may share her feelings.

As their friendship grows, Kath and Lily sneak out and visit the Telegraph Club. They meet women who openly flirt with one another and share kisses in the club’s shadows. They watch Tommy Andrews’s electrifying performance, and Lily is captivated by her. But Tommy isn’t the only person Lily crushes on. Lily’s feelings for Kath grow into love, but outside forces continue to complicate their relationship. McCarthyism and the fear of communism threatens the livelihoods of Chinese-Americans. When her father’s citizenship papers are taken by the FBI, Lily realizes her actions affect not just her, but her entire family. She faces an impossible choice: her family or being true to herself.

Malinda Lo’s book has become one of my favorite historical fiction novels. I will never get to truly experience 1950s San Francisco, but while reading this book, I felt like I stood under the glow of the neon signs and smelled the smoke inside the club. This book provides the opportunity to learn more about LGBTQ+ history, including lesbian clubs and male impersonators (better known today as drag kings). A timeline of real historical events that coincide with the book’s happenings is included throughout the chapters. The amount of historical detail brings the book alive.

I enjoyed the historical setting, but the characters are truly what make the story. The romance between Lily and Kath is tender and honest. Readers easily root for them, and I found myself unable to stop reading because I needed to know if their relationship survived. I often hesitated while turning the pages and became increasingly nervous about the fallout if their relationship was discovered. “Telegraph Club” is a realistic novel, and it does not gloss over the discrimination that gay and lesbian couples faced in the 1950s. Despite this, Lo’s story remains unwaveringly hopeful.

This past March, Lo gave a talk to K-State affiliates and community members over Zoom. During her presentation, she explained her motivation behind writing this story. She wanted to bring people—specifically gay Chinese-Americans—out from the shadows and into the spotlight. These Americans were forced to live in secrecy for so long, and their stories were at risk of being lost forever. Authors like Malinda Lo have thankfully assured that will not happen. Without question, “Last Night at the Telegraph Club” succeeds at giving a voice to those who were once voiceless.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club” is a great read for those who enjoy young adult literature, historical fiction, or romance. The novel has been widely recognized, winning the Stonewall Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Youth Literature, and the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Lo has authored numerous other YA books, including the thriller “A Line in the Dark” and the fantasy “Ash.”

June is Pride Month, and the library will have numerous displays highlighting LGTBQ+ voices. If you can’t stop by in person or are looking for more recommendations, check out the booklists featured on our catalog page.

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Learn More About the Bloody Benders

Learn More About the Bloody Benders

by Audrey Swartz, Readers’ Advisory Librarian

As the newest member of the Manhattan Public Library family, I struggled to come up with a topic for my very first column, and a wise colleague told me to pick a topic I’m drawn to. Before diving into the world of America’s first serial-killing family, let me quickly introduce myself. My name is Audrey Swartz, and I am the newest addition to the library and information services department. I work in adult services, creating reading suggestions either through personalized lists or our LibraryAware newsletters. You can find me working the library reference desk on the second floor. Finally, I have taken over the role as the readers’ advisory librarian, making and organizing displays, reading lists, and assigning and writing article like these. With that said, let’s explore Labette County’s true crime history.

I have gotten really into true crime; add that to being a non-native Kansan, and you get that I’ve spent a lot of time digging around to find out what kind of history Kansas has. In doing so, I stumbled across the Bender family, who are more commonly known as the Bloody Benders: a German immigrant family who murdered people traveling along the Osage Mission Trail, a frequently-traveled path from Fort Scott to Independence, between May of 1871 and December of 1872. The Bender cabin and store was located about three-quarters of the way to Independence along the trail. The family consisted of four members: mother, father, daughter and son. They were estimated to have killed 11 people, but the numbers can run as high as 22. Only 11 bodies were discovered during the initial investigation at the Benders homestead. The true fate of the family remains unknown, but rumors vary from a successful bid for freedom to the family being lynched by a posse and sunk to the bottom of a river.

In his book “True Tales of Old-Time Kansas” (1984), David Dary explores Kansas tales spanning from hidden treasure to trail stories to murder. He takes eight pages to retell the commonly-heard story of the Bender family. While the telling is short, it is very informative and goes into more details about the family and their crimes than the more recent short telling by Larry Wood. His book “Murder and Mayhem in Southeast Kansas” (2019) is a fraction of the size of Dary’s and unfortunately has a fraction of the information. In his eight-page telling, Wood almost exclusively covers the aftermath of the Benders’ disappearance and the search to find them. He also takes up considerable space with images gathered from the Kansas Historical Society. While Dary provides some images, he does a much better job at balancing out the before and after.

A very recent addition to the library and to the Bender legacy is “Hell’s Half-Acre” (2022) by Susan Jonusas. She goes deep into the story of not just the Bender family but also their neighbors, the victims’ families, detectives, and other outlaws who may have helped the family escape. She divides her book into five sections, each dedicated to drawing the reader into her extensively-researched story. If one wants to get a clear picture of what frontier Kansas was like and a better understanding of the Bender family, you need look no further than this book. Jonusas paints a brutally clear picture of the grotesque discovery that, as she puts it, lay “beneath an orchard of young apple trees. (book jacket)”

These three books approach the story in a matter-of-fact and researched way. They are the epitome of non-fiction. There are, however, other materials that take the horrid story of the Benders and proceed to concoct more. Normally I would not suggest looking into the fiction surrounding an event, but I would be remiss in my job not to point out that we have these materials. The first is “Hop Alley” by Scott Phillips (2014), and the second is the film “Bender: America’s First Serial Killer Family” (2016). Phillips’ novel is set in western Kansas and embraces the Benders as just another part of the story, another obstacle the protagonist must face to achieve his ultimate goal. The Bender film is a dramatic retelling of the story that sticks fairly close to the original legend. The film won multiple awards at several film festivals and is perfectly chilling.

It only feels right to end this with the words of author David Dary: “The end of the Benders is not known. The earth seemed to swallow them, as it had their victims. (p.131)”

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