Author: Luke Wahlmeier

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An Apple a Day, as They Say

An Apple a Day, as They Say

by John Pecoraro, Associate Director

     An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Oh, if it were only true. There are over 7,500 varieties of apples, but a 2015 study found no evidence that, while apples are good for you and tasty, eating one a day won’t necessarily keep the doctor away. Today is Eat a Red Apple Day. It is the perfect time to sample a few of the books on growing and cooking apples available at your library.

The Apple Lover’s Cookbook,” by Amy Traverso, is the most complete cookbook for enjoying and cooking with apples. This full-color guide to fifty-nine apple varieties comes with flavor descriptions, history, and, how to use apples in the kitchen. The author gives us a front row seat to meet farmers, cider makers, and other apple enthusiasts. There are one hundred recipes in this book running the gamut from simple cobblers to exotic fare such as Cider-Braised Brisket or Apple-Gingersnap Ice Cream.

Apples, From Harvest to Table,” by Amy Pennington, features 50 delicious recipes organized into five chapters, from Breakfast & Brunch to Jams, Jellies & Preserves. This book is illustrated with beautiful food photography and vintage botanical drawings. It also includes essays on topics including how to make your own apple juice, heirloom apple varieties, and recipes and apple crafts for kids.

The Apple Cookbook: 125 Freshly Picked Recipes,” by Olwen Woodier, is a revision of the author’s 1984 classic. It has been updated to include guides to newer varieties and cultivars, along with 30 new recipes, and full-color photography. This book offers descriptive information on the history of apples, as well as apple selection, storage, and cooking methods. While recipes for apple pies are featured, the author also provides unique savory preparations such as Apple Meatloaf and Ground Lamb Kebabs with Apple Mint Raita.

Apples to Cider: How to Make Cider at Home,” by April White and Stephen Wood, is a beginner’s guide to making hard cider. This book begins with information about the roots of hard cider in America, giving the history and styles of cider. It then focuses on equipment, the types of apples to use, and how to set up the space for fermentation. Along with the step-by-step directions for cider making, the authors suggest techniques for evaluating each batch to further improve the end product.

We’ve all heard the tale of a man wandering in the American wilderness, wearing a pot on his head, and throwing apple seed. John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, was more than a myth. Born in 1774 in Massachusetts, by the 1790s, Chapman was making his way west into Pennsylvania and Ohio, planting apple trees and spreading Swedenborgian philosophy.

In “Johnny Appleseed: the Man, the Myth, the American Story,” author Howard Means attempts to separate history from the folklore surrounding John Chapman. The rag-clad, barefoot nomad with a tin pot for a hat, was welcomed into frontier cabins despite his appearance.  Chapman was known for his boundless love of nature, his kindness, generosity, and bravery.  The seeds Chapman planted generally grew to trees bearing scrawny, sour apples, better suited for cider than anything else. While much of Chapman’s life is legend, Means pulls together his research on a fascinating figure and the myths that surround him.

Additional titles about Johnny Appleseed for younger readers include “Seed by Seed: the Legend and Legacy of John “Appleseed” Chapman,” by Esme Codell, and “Johnny Appleseed: a Tall Tale,” by Steven Kellogg.  Codell portrays a man who sometimes traded his trees for clothing. Chapman also gave away seedlings, lent his books to settlers, planted medicinal herbs, and, showed great kindness to animals.

Kellogg chronicles Johnny Appleseed’s travels, his legendary scattering of apple seeds, and his telling of Bible and adventure stories to the children and adults he meets along the way. Both picture books are brilliantly illustrated.

Food for Fines is coming again to the library. On Saturday, December 7, from 10:00 to 5:00, you can donate nonperishable food items for the Flint Hills Bread Basket in exchange for vouchers to pay your overdue fines. Vouchers are limited to $10 per account, and must be used during December. That’s a sweet way to get rid of your overdue fines, and help your neighbors.

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Kansas Reads to Preschoolers “I Like Myself”

Kansas Reads to Preschoolers “I Like Myself”

by Jan Johnson, Children’s Librarian

Would you love yourself if you had purple polka-dotted lips, or horns protruding from your nose, or hair that’s like a porcupine? Of course!

To celebrate Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Month, the Kansas State Library has provided copies of this year’s choice, “I like Myself” by Karen Beaumont, to each public library in the state. With funds provided by the Manhattan Library Association, Manhattan’s public library was able to give each family, who attended storytime the week of November 11​-16​, a free copy of the book.

Why is it so important to read to a child birth through five years old? 90% of a child’s brain is developed before the age of five, with 80% of that development relating directly to the activities children experience with and observe in parents and caregivers. When parents, caregivers, teachers and librarians read, sing, and play with young children every day, they are helping young brains to grow and form the necessary foundation for reading.

I like Myself” is a fun look at the importance of self-esteem and acceptance. What better time to learn about how awesome it is to be ourselves than when our brains are developing? With positive text, bright illustrations and bopping rhymes, this book will become a lifelong favorite.

Another book that explores the importance of self-esteem is “ABC I like me!” by Nancy Carlson. This fun take on learning the ABC’s also teaches the importance of feeling good about ourselves. “I Like Me” by the same author introduces us to our best friend and that best friend is me!

Be Who You Are” by Todd Parr is a bright, colorful, whimsical book for toddlers and beginning readers to help them embrace the importance of being who they are, just as they are. It explores what makes all people unique, whether it’s appearances, the way a person talks, where they are from, who is in the family – everyone is special and should be celebrated!

The Skin You Live In” by Michael Tyler emphasizes how beautiful all are, no matter what a person’s skin looks like. This book introduces concepts of diversity, acceptance, social differences, and self-esteem that play a role in making us all unique.

I Love All of Me (Wonderful Me)” by Lorie Ann Glover is a body positive board book that is fun to read while teaching baby about their wonderful body. Any time a parent or caregiver reads to their child and can incorporate physical movement like wiggling toes and noses and cheeks, they help strengthen a child’s understanding of words.

There’s a jungle dance in Africa where everyone shows up to party in “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae and poor Gerald doesn’t feel that he can dance as gracefully as the warthogs waltzing, chimps doing the cha-cha, or baboons performing a Scottish reel. When Gerald meets a violin playing cricket who tells him to just feel the music, his body moves and grooves to the jungle beat.  “We can all dance when we find the music that we love” is a theme we can all connect to.  This book lets us know that it’s ok to just be yourself and have fun. Manhattan Public Library has several different versions of this book available, including the book with read along CD, and a fun cartoon version of the story available free to library card holders though our Digital Library on Hoopla and Kanopy.

Manhattan Public Library has several copies of “I like Myself” in our collection, as well as a Spanish language copy. Stop by the children’s library through the end of the year to check out our fun interactive display based on this book aimed at building the skills pre-readers need to enjoy a lifelong love of reading.

For more information on Kansas Reads to Preschoolers visit

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Books and Food to Be Thankful for

Books and Food to Be Thankful for

by Crystal Hicks, Collections Librarian

            To me, the best part of fall is making food to share with family and friends. Holiday cooking and baking are all about sharing, and I love the feeling that comes from showing my appreciation for others by gifting them with delicious food. I’m already making lists of what I want to make over Thanksgiving, and I’ll continue baking regularly for everyone I know clear into January. I’ve seen a lot of recent picture books that echo my gratitude for food, family, and friends, and, best of all, there’s something that will appeal to every palate.

Dawn Casey and Genevieve Godbout’s “Apple Cake” captures the essence of thanksgiving and gratitude. The deceptively simple book follows a girl and her dog as they gather ingredients for apple cake at their farm and thank everything from the bees to the earth for their parts in making apple cake. The warmth this book radiates in its illustrations and message makes it a delightful read, and the text would serve as a lovely blessing for Thanksgiving or another holiday celebration.

Around the Table that Grandad Built,” by Melanie Heuiser Hill and Jaime Kim, is another book perfect for Thanksgiving celebrations. Structured around the rhythm of “The House that Jack Built,” this book shows a family preparing for a large meal centered around—you guessed it—the table that Grandad built. I love the mentions of past memories and traditions, like using “the glasses from Mom and Dad’s wedding,” and the list of foods they’re making sounds positively scrumptious. The bright, cheery illustrations are inviting, and I love the diversity of the family featured.

Fry bread holds a special place in Native American families and cultures, and Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal dive into what it means to them in “Fry Bread.” This book is both entertaining and informative, telling the story of a family celebration made special with fry bread and also explaining the history of where fry bread originated. Best of all, the illustrations are warm and comforting, like a grandmother’s love or a fresh piece of fry bread.

For a slightly more fantastical take on family cooking traditions, check out Eric Velasquez’s “Octopus Stew.” When Ramsey’s grandma starts cooking an octopus for octopus stew, he ends up having to save her from the rampaging creature. This is a fun, lively look at cooking getting out of hand and also features Afro-Latinx characters, who are rarely seen in children’s books.

Lou Peacock and Jasmeen Ismail liven up the traditional morality tale about the importance of sharing in “Nuts!” Two squirrels are happily collecting nuts until—uh-oh!—they discover the other squirrel poaching on their nut-hunting territory. In the end, the squirrels see the benefits of sharing with each other and other animals. This book is great for young readers, using few words and expressive illustrations to tell an engaging, relatable story.

During the fall, food holds even more importance for animals than it does for humans, as they have to eat in order to survive the cold winter months. You can learn all about the winter survival strategies of different animals in “Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle: How Animals Get Ready for Winter” by Laura Purdie Salas and Claudine Gévry. Informational sidebars accompany the main text, highlighting how animals from foxes to whales and butterflies survive the coldest months, and notes in the back talk about each animal’s survival strategies in greater detail.

Lynne Rae Perkins’s “Wintercake” does what I thought could never be done: it makes me want to try fruitcake. Thomas the gopher has misplaced his dried fruits, the ones he’s been saving for Winter’s Eve wintercake. With the help of his friend Lucy and a stranger, he recovers his dried fruits, then decides to do a kind turn for the stranger and share his wintercake in return. Perkins’s story combines several plot threads with inviting illustrations and dry humor to make a story about friendship, holidays, and food that is to be savored. It’ll also make you hungry for some cake.

Make sure you stop into the library throughout the holiday season and find some more books to be thankful for. If you’d like, you can go beyond reading about food and check out some cookbooks, too, which are sure to help make your holidays tastier. Be sure to share your favorite books with others, and you can even ask our staff for their favorite holiday and food book recommendations, too.

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by Jared Richards, Technology Supervisor

In times of stress, I find myself escaping into nostalgia, taking a break from my current existence and losing myself in a simpler time. To be fair to my present, that simpler time probably wasn’t any better, but time has the welcoming ability of blurring the harsh edges and giving everything a rose-colored hue, thus allowing me a bit of escapism and a chance to catch my breath.

I first noticed myself doing this in grad school when I needed an escape that wouldn’t increase my mental load. This led to rediscovering old favorites from my childhood. Today I go back, not only to escape stress, but also to revisit different periods in my life and rekindle old memories.

In my twenties, I worked at a movie theater and had all the time in the world to read stacks of books. My interests were all over the place, but I spent a lot of time reading historical nonfiction. A few of my favorites are “Salt” by Mark Kurlansky, which showcases the importance of salt throughout the history of the world; “Longitude” by Dava Sobel, the story of how John Harrison came to invent the marine chronometer to help sailors at sea determine their location; and “Colossus” by Michael Hiltzik, about the building of the Hoover Dam. Prior to construction of the Hoover Dam, J. Gregory Tierney fell from a survey barge and drowned in the Colorado River on December 20, 1922. Exactly thirteen years later, on December 20, 1935, Tierney’s son, Patrick Tierney, became the last person to die during construction, after falling to his death. As Hiltzik put it, this was a rather “mordant bookend of the project’s record of human loss.”

In college, I read the classics, because I feel like that’s the time in life when you not only have the time to do that, but you’re also still trying to figure out your place in life. I read Ayn Rand, both “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.” I found both to be interesting, if unnecessarily long, but neither was really my thing. I enjoyed “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller because it was humorous and had an interesting format. After reading it, I purchased the movie through Blockbuster (gone but never forgotten) and liked it almost as much as the book. Library patrons now have access to Kanopy, an online video streaming service, where you can check out up to 10 movies a month, including the original “Catch-22.”

Kurt Vonnegut dominated my high school years, “Welcome to the Monkey House” in particular, and Jules Verne dominated my time in middle school. Reading my grandpa’s old copies of “Popular Mechanics” featuring flying cars, and Verne’s visions of the future, led to hours of trying to envision what my future would look like. I’m sad to admit my predictive prowess pales in comparison to Verne’s, and is certainly far less grand.

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Lackey, introduced me to the “Goosebumps” series by R. L. Stine. I was a bit distracted in class that year, maybe even distracting, so things could have turned out much differently. Instead, I walked away with only positive memories, a bag of confiscated toys, and a fondness for “Goosebumps,” a series that was creepy and funny, and maybe just a little bit scary, but nothing I couldn’t handle with the lights on.

As a child, I was enamored with Laurel & Hardy. My grandpa had a collection on VHS tapes, and I am still impressed with how durable VHS tapes are. I must have watched each one somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand times, and, much like Laurel & Hardy, they never failed me. One of my favorites was “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” which you can check out any time you want using Hoopla, another one of our online resources. I’d also recommend the 2018 film “Stan & Ollie,” featuring Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy. Both actors clearly cared for the person they portrayed and went to great lengths to personify them, even down to the smallest mannerisms.

Recommending something to someone can be tricky because we all like different things, but I bet you know yourself pretty well. So instead, I’ll simply suggest, that every once in a while, you escape into nostalgia. Hit the pause button on whatever is currently stressing you out, take a break from living in the future rather than the present, and indulge in your past. The familiarity is comforting.

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by Rhonna Hargett, LIS Associate Director

One of the things I love about Manhattan is how diverse it is. This is partially thanks to K-State and Fort Riley, but if we look back a bit further we can see how Manhattan’s African-American community has been here from near the beginning of the town and really exploded when the Exodusters moved to Kansas in the late 1870s. The Riley County Genealogical Society has recognized the 140th anniversary of the occasion with their new book “The Exodusters of 1879: And Other Black Pioneers of Riley County, Kansas” which inspired me to dig into this topic and highlight the titles we have that help tell the story.

Kansas was formed at the height of the slavery debate and became the center of tensions that eventually led to the Civil War. In “Frontier Manhattan”, Kevin G. W. Olson shares the story of Manhattan’s abolitionist settlers, who moved west to cast votes to make Kansas a free state. This abolitionist background may have sown the seeds for more inclusiveness than many other places in Kansas experienced. Manhattan’s first black citizens started coming during the Civil War, and K-State (called Kansas State Agricultural College at the time) welcomed African-American students in its very first class in 1863.

In 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes ended Reconstruction and removed troops from the southern states. This removed the protection for black Americans and ushered in a new era of violence and persecution, pushing many to leave the place of their birth and move north. Kansas, with its proximity and history as a free state, was the destination for many. The first two railroad cars bringing “Exodusters” to Manhattan arrived April 24, 1879. In the Riley County Genealogical Society’s “The Exodusters of 1879,” Marcia Schuley and Margaret Parker researched documents from the past and have compiled them into a comprehensive work about this vital period in our community’s history.

“The Exodusters” begins with a summary of the history surrounding the Exodusters (or Exodites, as they were called in Manhattan). With several photographs and newspaper clippings, Schuley and Parker have fleshed out a rich part of our community’s history. The summary is followed by profiles of the Exodusters and other African-American residents in the 1860s through the 1880s. They have gathered information from several sources to give deeper insight into the lives of this group that shaped the town we live in today. By gathering information from the census, newspaper articles, and other sources, they manage to create a reasonably thorough view of each individual. They have often been able to determine the makeup of the families, what work people did, and how they died. The appendix discusses the Old Paper Mill (where the Exodusters were housed when they first came to town), maps of where their homes were, those that served in the Civil War, and more resources that expand upon the information in the book.

We can’t talk about the history of Manhattan’s black population without mention of Geraldine Baker Walton’s book “140 Years of Soul: A History of African-Americans in Manhattan, Kansas 1865-2005.” Walton was the head of Reference at Manhattan Public Library, and during her time in that position, developed a curiosity for her own family background and the history of Manhattan’s black community. She shares background for many families in the community and also gives more detail about Manhattan’s black institutions, such as the Douglass Center, the churches, businesses, clubs, and connections with Fort Riley. The appendix includes several family trees.

Kansas’ role in the history of African-Americans has been significant, if not well-known, and Manhattan has always been heavily involved in that history. The Riley County Genealogical Society and the Riley County Historical Society have done excellent work in preserving that history and we at the library are delighted to help make their research available to the public.

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Diversity in Picture Books

Diversity in Picture Books

by Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Services Manager

In 2014, a new movement began in children’s literature to increase the number of diverse characters found in books. “We Need Diverse Books” is a nonprofit organization that grew from the frustration many people felt when they noticed 90 percent or more of children’s books focused on white characters (not including books featuring animals as main characters).

The intelligent, talented and impassioned people who started or joined the movement have helped to make a real impact on the publishing industry, with programs that support writers and artists of color with awards, grants, internships and mentorships. They bring attention to the high quality books being published, and recognize publishers and booksellers who are championing the cause. In 2018, the percentage of books depicting people from diverse backgrounds increased somewhat to 23 percent, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center.

We Need Diverse Books has a mission to “create a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book,” and “to help produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.” Now these books are put into our hands to share with children, read aloud and bring into the classroom and the home. Here are just a few recently added picture books from the Children’s section at the library that include every day diversity.

First Laugh-Welcome, Baby! by Rose Anne Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood tells the precious story of a Diné (Navajo) family watching their new baby’s tiny developments and waiting for that first amazing laugh. The Navajo have a tradition of celebrating a baby’s first laugh, the end notes explain, and the person who is able to get the baby to laugh has “the honor of hosting the First Laugh Ceremony” (“Latse Awee’ ch’ideeldloh”). Jonathan Nelson’s illustrations convey the wonder and excitement of interacting with a new baby.

In Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Zuri appreciates that her curly dark hair can look differently depending on her mood. But one morning, none of the hairstyles her dad tries are right. One rubber band pops off a puff of hair and hits dad in the eye. When mom returns home from a trip, she loves Zuri’s “funky puff buns” that go perfectly with her superhero cape. Dad wears his hair in long dreds, and mom wears a head scarf covering her hair, and everyone is full of hair love.

Here and Now by Julia Denos is a beautifully illustrated picture book about being in the moment you are in, which is reading this book. Children and parents of all colors serenely painted by E. B. Goodale show people in the midst of various activities in different locations, just living their lives. It is a quiet but powerful message that “Right here, right now, YOU are becoming.”

Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds have teamed up for another winner, I Am Love, which Verde calls her “love letter to the world.” As in I Am Human, I Am Peace and I Am Yoga, a child sets out to help others he or she sees in distress, describing how each action is a part of love. With simple text and drawings, this team shows how love is comfort, and also effort; love is tiny gestures, and connection. Love is for and in all people, if we follow our hearts.

What If Everybody Thought That? by Ellen Javernick is a conversation starter with children. In each scenario presented with a double-page spread, one child is working up the courage to try something. Children are shown struggling with a sport, having a skin condition, eating ethnic food, or misspelling words. The other kids around them are silent, but their thought bubbles are clear. They assume the child can’t do it, that the child is embarrassed or just doesn’t belong. “What if everybody thought that?” is the book’s refrain. The page that shows the child’s success answers, “They might be wrong.” This book goes deeper than addressing outright name calling or unkindness. Instead, it makes us think about our assumptions and how our silence can hurt others, too. We might be wrong, so we should give everyone a chance and “be more thoughtful.”

Many good lists of diverse children’s books for the whole range of ages are out there, including some from the We Need Diverse Books website ( If you find the library collection lacks books with characters that reflect your child’s life, let us know about it.

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Movies That Keep You on the Edge of your Seat

Movies That Keep You on the Edge of your Seat

by John Pecoraro, Associate Director

     Suspense is defined as that state of uncertainty that makes us anxious. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, but one we often enjoy in books and movies. It’s related to surprise, but not exactly. Alfred Hitchcock explained the difference in this way. Surprise is when a couple is sitting in a café and a bomb goes off. Suspense is when we, the audience, witness someone placing the bomb under the table, we watch the couple sit at the table, and maybe we even see the timer ticking down, before the bomb explodes. We’re not surprised there was an explosion, but we were in suspense anticipating it.

The website lists the best of suspense on film. All of these movies are available at the library.

Several films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, including “Psycho,” “Rear Window,” and “North By Northwest,” are included on the list. Mother-dominated Norman Bates manages the Bates Motel in “Psycho.” Marion Crane, with the $40,000 dollars she has stolen from her employer, decides to stop for the night at the Bates Motel. She’s the first guest in weeks, Bates tells her, along with strange stories about his mother. Exhausted from hours of driving Marion decides to take a relaxing shower. You know what comes next, and wait until you meet Mother Bates.

Rear Window,” features photographer L.B. Jeffries whose broken leg has him confined to a wheelchair in his apartment. He entertains himself using binoculars to watch the neighbors. One set of neighbors in particular are Lars Thorwald, and his nagging wife. When one afternoon Mrs. Thorwald’s nagging suddenly stops, Jeffries makes up a scenario where Thorwald has murdered his wife and disposed of her body. The trouble is that Jeffries theory might be correct.

North by Northwest,” is a tale of mistaken identity. Innocent advertising executive, Roger Thornhill, is kidnapped and chased across the United States by agents of a mysterious organization. They are convinced he is a spy and they are trying to prevent him from blocking their plan to smuggle government secrets on microfilm. Anything else I tell you would be a spoiler.

Movies based on novels by Stephen King, including “Misery,” directed by Rob Reiner, and “The Shining,” directed by Stanley Kubrick also made the list. In “Misery,” novelist Paul Sheldon survives a severe car wreck, only to end up in the nursing clutches of a reclusive fan of his work, Annie Wilkes. She becomes distraught when she discovers that Sheldon has killed off his popular character, Misery Chastain. She holds him captive until he can write a new Misery novel.

Jaws,” directed by Steven Spielberg, and based on the novel by Peter Benchley, frightened millions of movie goers from ever going to the beach again. It’s the height of tourist season, and a shark is terrorizing the sun loving beach goers of Amity Island. Mayor Vaughn sends Police Chief Brody, visiting ichthyologist Hooper, and local fisherman Quint to take on the Great White in Quint’s boat “The Orca.” Chances are they’re going to need a bigger boat.

The Departed,” directed by Martin Scorsese is the tale of questionable loyalties and identities set in the South Boston organized crime scene. Billy Costigan is a young cop assigned to infiltrate the inner circle of crime boss Frank Costello. Collin Sullivan is a street-smart criminal who has penetrated the police department in order to report their every move to that same crime boss. Each man is in a race against time to reveal his counterpart before his identity is exposed by the other.

Alien,” directed by Ridley Scott follows the crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo and their encounters with the Alien, a deadly extraterrestrial set loose on the ship. The crew lands on a rocky moon to investigate a distress signal, discovering that it comes from a derelict alien ship. Warrant Officer Ripley translates part of the transmission, determining it to be not a distress signal, but a warning. Meanwhile, Executive Officer Kane discovers a chamber containing hundreds of large egg-like objects.

Don’t forget to bring the kids to the library parking lot at 6:30 pm on Sunday, October 27 for Trunk or Treat at the Library, sponsored by the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

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Standouts in Adult Fiction for This Fall’s Readers

Standouts in Adult Fiction for This Fall’s Readers

by Marcia Allen, Collections Manager

Image result for rage of dragons evan winterThe autumn publishing season is always exciting for adult readers.  Cooler weather coincides with one of the biggest annual releases of new books, and the library is receiving new titles almost daily.

As always, there are long-awaited books from favorite authors, as well as surprises from new writers.  You might consider one or more of the following if their plots appeal to you:

THE DUTCH HOUSE by Ann Patchett marks the return of a perennial favorite author.  Patchett, the author of BEL CANTO, which won both the Orange Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 2012, has written another outstanding novel.  This lovely book follows the travails of Danny and Maeve Conroy, whose lives are disrupted when their wealthy, divorced father remarries a younger woman with two daughters.  When the father dies unexpectedly, the stepmother eases them out the door of the family mansion, and informs them that she has inherited the father’s wealth.  While Maeve is a grown woman, Danny is still a child, and so Maeve becomes the parent he no longer has.  Thus, the book follows the closeness that Maeve and Danny share, and we see the siblings struggle to build new lives.

What’s remarkable about this book is the complexity of relationships.  Danny, for example, does not remember his real mother who deserted the family when he was a baby, so when the mother comes back into the lives of her children, he feels a great deal of indifference toward her and resentment toward Maeve for her renewed attachment to her mother. The language of the book rings true: we feel the rejections and the recoveries that are part of the human condition.

THE CHESTNUT MAN by Soren Sveistrup is ideal for fans of Stieg Larsson (GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) or Jo Nesbo (THE BAT).  This new Nordic crime mystery takes place in Copenhagen, where the tortured and mutilated body of a young mother has been found.  Near her body, detectives Thulin and Hess locate a little doll made of chestnuts.  When a second mutilated victim is found, yet another chestnut doll is found, so signs seem to point to a serial killer at large.  Further investigations pinpoint a connection to the long missing teenage daughter of the minister for social affairs.

Those who like grim murder tales with graphic violence will find the book appealing.  Set against a dismal background of approaching winter, this mystery has a complicated link to past savagery.  Author Sveistrup is a creator of successful TV series, and this book will be adapted for a Netflix series.

RAGE OF DRAGONS by Evan Winter is an action-driven epic fantasy.  Though the book really came out in the summer, it’s ideal for late night reading in cooler months.  In an ancient Africa cursed with ever-present war, a young man named Tau is determined to avoid war by injuring himself purposely.  But when he witnesses the murder of his father at the hands of an upper caste bully, he changes his plans and vows to become a great warrior so he can seek revenge.  Thus, his life becomes a pain-ridden struggle to become the best of combatants.

What makes this a standout?  It’s an initiation story of a young man who will not let himself be discouraged from his goal.  It’s also a story of the mysteries behind the power of dragons that can change the course of a battle.  And it’s a discovery of brutal techniques used in hand-to-hand combat.  I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy and am happy to tell you it’s the first part of a projected trilogy.

Yet another book worthy of mention is CILKA’S JOURNEY by Heather Morris, author of THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ.  This new historical novel is based on a true story of a struggle to survive.  It involves a sixteen-year-old girl who is sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942.  She does what she has to do to survive the horrors of the camp, and is charged with sleeping with the guards when the war is over.  Sent to a Siberian camp after the war, she adjusts to the harsh life of the prison camp as best she can.  This incredible tale of one woman’s fortitude is a must from an award-winning author.

For the books mentioned above and so much more, take a little time to scan the new book shelves in the library.  You’ll be happy to find that title that’s just right for you.

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Mental Health In YA

Mental Health in YA

by Grace Benedick, Teen Services Librarian

If you have any affiliation with Kansas State University, the following title may be familiar to you by now: “Darius the Great is Not Okay,” by Adib Khorram is the Kansas State Book Network choice for the 2019-2020 academic year. Written by a Kansas City author, the book follows Darius, an Iranian-American teen, as he navigates clinical depression, visits Iran for the first time, and has the life-changing experience of making a friend who truly sees him. The book explores multiple themes, but mental health is a major focus. Mental health is a subject that is rife with stigma and misunderstandings that can make it difficult for young people to find the support and help that they need. In light of that, we are working to expand our collection of young adult nonfiction that addresses mental health in some way. Today, I am sharing a few titles from our collection.

In the past year, two anthologies on mental health written by young adult authors were released. The first, “Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles,” edited by Jessica Burkhart, includes essays by some very popular authors, including Ellen Hopkins and Lauren Oliver. The recommended resources at the back are limited, including only three websites and a hotline. The collection has a simple goal: the authors just want to let teens know that they are not alone.

The second anthology,  “(Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health,” edited by Kelly Jensen, includes pieces by authors and celebrities, such as Libba Bray, Adam Silvera, Meredith Russo, and Kristen Bell. This volume has a variety of work, with essays, poems, and comics. The goal is slightly higher here, as the authors wish to reach a wider audience than just the reader, by giving readers the tools to bring the subject of mental health up with others. Consequently, the resource list at the back of this book does not skimp, giving options for different ways to foster conversation about mental health. It has the requisite non-fiction, hotlines, and websites, putting teens in touch with help and reference material, as well as listing young adult fiction and films that could serve as an opening to talk about mental health in a group.

While the anthologies cover a broad range of mental health experiences, there are also books that are more specific. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 13.3% of youth between the ages of 12 and 17 experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2017.  “Depression: a Teen’s Guide to Survive and Thrive,” by Jacqueline B. Toner, PhD and Claire A.B. Freeland, PhD is an example of a book designed to help teens address a specific mental health challenge. This slim book is a product of the American Psychological Association. The first part of the book is accessible explanations to give teens the context they need to understand depression. It includes guidance on finding appropriate help, describes what therapy is like, and what teens can expect if they choose to visit a therapist. The authors write from the perspective of cognitive therapy, and the bulk of the book focuses strongly on giving teens a variety of coping mechanisms to help alleviate symptoms of depression.

All the titles reviewed in this column can be found in our young adult collection, which is housed on the second floor of Manhattan Public Library. If you wish to browse non-fiction for mental health books, start at the Dewey call number 616.85 and 616.89. If you’re interested in finding more young adult fiction addressing mental health, see the resources list in “(Don’t) Call Me Crazy,” edited by Kelly Jenson, or chapter six of “Better with Books,” by Melissa Hart, a title released this fall which lists fiction for pre-teens and teens by topics such as adoption and foster care, body image, immigration, learning challenges, race and ethnicity, and more. And of course, you can always ask a librarian!

by Luke Wahlmeier Luke Wahlmeier No Comments

Silly and Creepy Stories to Welcome the Fall

Silly and Creepy Stories to Welcome the Fall

by Crystal Hicks, Collections Librarian

Image result for scary stories for young foxes            It’s no secret that I’m impatient for fall to come—I started baking with pumpkin spice weeks ago, and I’ve been eyeing any trees I pass for hope of changing colors and falling leaves. Fall brings with it many great things, including that creepiest, most sinister of holidays: Halloween. We’re finally passing summer and entering autumn, when it’s time for the ghoulish, ghastly, and even more-silly-than-scary books. For those who eagerly wait all year to break out the cobwebs and jack-o-lanterns, for those who prefer monsters and ghosts, for those kids who can’t wait to dress up and come home loaded with candy, here’s a book list for you.

For the youngest of Halloween aficionados, we have plenty of picture books to amuse and delight. “Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies!,” by Megan and Jorge Lacera, features a zombie boy who prefers vegetables over brains, horrifying his parents. Revisit the catchy theme song for “The Addams Family” (and get it stuck in your head before seeing the movie next month) with a new picture book set to the lyrics, illustrated by Lissy Marlin. Learn all about skulls, which are “like a car seat for your brain,” in Blair Thornburgh and Scott Campbell’s “Skulls!,” which gleefully covers all the reasons why we should love skulls instead of fearing them. And just in case the weather turns cold and wintry in time for Halloween, curl up with “Snowmen at Halloween” by Caralyn and Mark Buehner for an idea of what snowmen might get up to on Halloween.

Children’s fiction has its fair share of not-so-scary, monster- and ghost-inspired books, too. “Jaclyn Hyde,” by Annabeth Bondor-Stone and Connor White, is a fun take on “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” about a perfectionist who takes a “Perfect Potion” with unexpected consequences. In Katherine Sparrow’s “Little Apocalypse,” an earthquake brings with it monsters only visible to children, combining apocalypse stories, the supernatural, and fairy tales. “Archimancy,” first in the Shadow School series by J.A. White, follows Cordelia Liu as she starts attending the ominously-named Shadow School and discovers that the school is filled with ghosts.

More traditional, slightly scarier children’s fiction also abounds, both in short stories and longer books. For short stories, try Josh Allen’s “Out to Get You,” which is filled with thirteen short stories of normal kids encountering strange and alarming situations where they least expect them, like settling down on the couch. “Scary Stories for Young Foxes,” by Christian McKay Heidicker, contains seven shorter tales held together by a frame story of seven fox kits desperate to hear stories so frightening their tails will go white. Kathryn Siebel weaves a more traditional ghost story in “The Haunting of Henry Davis,” a tale of séances and Ouija boards and a boy being haunted by a ghost named Edgar. In “Guest,” Mary Downing Hahn takes inspiration from Irish folklore, focusing on a girl whose baby brother is switched with a changeling and her quest to get him back.

Teens can look forward to some spine-chilling, supernatural-infused books, too. Those familiar with the legendary Edgar Allan Poe may be interested in “His Hideous Heart,” an anthology reimagining thirteen of his stories for a modern audience. For those wanting to revisit his original stories, thirteen of Poe’s stories and poems are included in the back of the anthology. Comics readers can pick up Terry Blas and Claudia Aguirre’s “Hotel Dare,” a fantasy comic on the tamer side of scary, which follows teens encountering the supernatural at a hotel which is actually a portal to other worlds. “Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist,” a short story written by David Almond and illustrated by Dave McKean, bridges the gap between fiction and graphic novel but is hair-raising nonetheless. Joe Quinn’s been telling everyone about his poltergeist, and narrator Davie finds himself drawn in despite himself and his initial disbelief in ghosts. Almond’s eerie storytelling is heightened by McKean’s art, which twists reality to unsettle the reader and convey Davie’s confusion, angst, and fear.

Beyond books, we’ve plenty of Halloween goodness in store for October. Kids and families can join us for Trunk-or-Treat at the Library on October 27 at 6:30 PM, and preschoolers can enjoy a monstrously fun time at our Monster Mash Dance Party on October 31 at 11 AM. If those all seem too far away to bear, then go ahead and put on your Halloween costume early, break out the pumpkin juice, and pick up some silly and spooky books to help pass the time.