Author: Luke Wahlmeier

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Predicting the Winner for Best Illustration

Predicting the Winner for Best Illustration

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

Once again, K-State students studying children’s literature are hosting a Mock Caldecott voting session for Manhattanites. The real Caldecott medal is the prestigious American Library Association (ALA) award given to the illustrator of the “most distinguished” picture book of the year. That award will be announced January 28 at the ALA conference. But, if you admire the artistic quality found in many of today’s books for kids, join us for our own mock Caldecott discussion and voting session on December 1st. Below are a few of the titles we may be looking at:

Dreamers, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Certain to win some awards this winter, Dreamers is a book everyone should experience. It is based on the author’s true story of immigrating from Mexico to the U. S. in the 1990’s, and a way to navigate this new world. A Kirkus review called Dreamers “a resplendent masterpiece,” and the gorgeous mixed-media paintings will cause readers to stop and ponder both the amazing art and the expressive text.  The magical moment when Yuyi discovers the public library is striking: “Suspicious. Improbable. Unbelievable. Surprising. Unimaginable. Where we didn’t need to speak, we only needed to trust.” Morales leaves readers with a feeling of hope, which is important for any type of dreamer. Check this title out now for free on the library’s Hoopla app to see the Dreamscape video version of the book, as well as the author’s autobiographical notes.

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

How would you illustrate the beginning of the universe and time? Holmes stretches herself as she accompanies Bauer’s powerful poetry to take us from nothingness to the very moment “YOU burst into the world.” Marbled swirls and splashes of paint progress to outlines of animals, planets, and finally people — “All of us the stuff of stars.” This book takes an abstract idea to the heart of the reader through beautiful language and art.

Love by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Loren Long

Describing many different ways love can show itself in a child’s life, de la Pena provides reassurance that through happiness or sadness, you will always have love. Loren Long is often associated with his popular picture book series about Otis the tractor, but in this book he deftly draws not just humans, but people with character and soul. The double-page spread of a child searching her own eyes in her reflection is powerful. Alongside de la Pena’s message, this image will may cause readers to stop and dwell on the statement, “And the face staring back in the bathroom mirror – this, too, is love.” Self-love is as important as showing love to all those we care about.

A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Lane Smith

Readers will be smitten by Smith’s gorgeous illustrations from the beginning. The story of two children finding an old, abandoned house is revealed almost wistfully with dainty flowers and demure splashes of color. The notes on the copyright page explain that the effect was created by using India ink “drawn on vellum with a crow quill pen, then pressed while wet onto watercolor paper creating a blotted line effect,” and the colors were added later underneath. As the children dream up stories to go with the artifacts left behind by the house’s last owners, their imaginative stories take shape with more solid illustrations. Then it’s back to the blotted, nostalgic renderings as the children head home from their dreamy afternoon adventure, leaving a mystical impression on the reader.

Anyone is welcome to join us at the library for the Mock Caldecott discussion on Saturday at 1:30, co-sponsored by the K-State English Department, Children’s and Adolescent Literature Community (ChALC), and the library. It is a time to celebrate some of the amazing books being published for the next generation and to appreciate the talent that goes into their creation.

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World War One Ends at 11:00 on November 11, 1918

World War One Ends at 11:00 on November 11, 1918

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the guns of August finally fell silent across the Western Front. The Great War, the War to End All Wars, what later came to be known as the First World War, came to an end.

The term “First World War” was used by Charles à Court Repington in 1920 as a title for his memoirs. The term “World War I” was coined by Time magazine in its June 12, 1939 issue. In the same article, the term “World War II” was first used to describe the new approaching war.

World War One was a costly four years in terms of the human toll. Combat deaths from all belligerents totaled over 8 million, with total military deaths (including those missing in action) were estimated at between 8.5 and nearly 11 million. Total casualties, including civilians, were estimated at between 15 and 19 million. The greatest loss of life as a percentage of total population was the Ottoman Empire with over 3 million dead, amounting to over 15% of the population. In comparison American casualties totaled 117,465, or 0.13%.

There have been countless books about the war. The library has a collection of titles on individual battles and other aspects of World War One, including a few titles about the end of the war and its aftermath.

In his book “A World on Edge: The End of the Great War and the Dawn of a New Age,”   Daniel Schönpflug describes the aftermath of the Great War that has left Europe in ruins. He writes that with the end of fighting comes the possibility of a radical new start. That with new politics, new societies, new countries, new art and culture, the window of opportunity suddenly opened for Europe and the world. Unfortunately, that window closed again too soon.

Nicholas Best presents the final days of the Great War in “The Greatest Day in History: How, on the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month, the First World War Finally Came to an End.” He gives firsthand accounts of the war’s end from the viewpoints of the famous such as Charles de Gaulle, Harry S. Truman, George Patton, and Marie Curie, as well as the lowly private soldier, and a certain Corporal named Adolf Hitler. Some of the survivors of the Great War were caught up in the next great conflagration that burned the world a mere two decades later.

The consensus among historians is that the Versailles Peace Conference was a failure. Not only a failure, but it set the stage for World War II. In “Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World,” Margaret MacMillan provides perceptive portrayals of the key players at the conference. Individuals such as David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau, and especially Woodrow Wilson. MacMillan characterizes Wilson as often rigid, arrogant, and vague about concepts like self-determination that confused even his own advisors. This book is a must for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of one of history’s most tragic failures.

While November 1918 saw the end of the global war, it was in the middle of another worldwide tragedy. The outbreak of Spanish Influenza beginning in the spring of 1918 claimed the lives of between 50 and 100 million people. In “Pandemic 1918: Eyewitness Accounts from the Greatest Medical Holocaust in Modern History,” Catharine Arnold focuses on the challenges that World War One posed on containing the flu. Mass troop gatherings and movements helped spread the disease. Authors including Katherine Anne Porter and Thomas Wolfe wrote of the flu’s destruction in fiction, and survivors recalled that there were no medicines to cure the disease, and very little any doctor could do. Arnold’s is a well-researched history serving as a stark warning of the threat of pandemic disease.

The spark from an assassin’s bullet in Sarajevo that set off a fire the likes of which the world had never known, was finally quenched on November 11, one hundred years ago. For more information on the Great War, visit the National World War One Museum and Memorial in Kansas City

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All Creatures Great and Small

All Creatures Great and Small

By Linda Henderson, Adult & Teen Services Librarian

My first hardcover book, Eric Knight’s Lassie Come-Home, kindled in me a love of animal stories that has never gone away.  As a child growing up without a local library, I had mostly read comic books (at ten cents apiece) and Little Golden Books.  Lassie influenced my reading choices from then on and I still display my original copy on my piano at home.  The titular Lassie is prize collie and companion to young Joe; when Joe’s father loses his job, they have to sell the dog.  She escapes her new owner three times, fighting great odds in the highlands of Scotland to return to her place waiting outside school for Joe.  I begged for and eventually received a collie of my own – of course named “Lassie.”

Our close relationships with pets and other animals have inspired many great animal stories and also inspired excellent movie adaptations.

The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford, is an incredible tale of a cat and two dogs braving a 250-mile journey to rejoin their family.

Fred Gipson’s Old Yeller might be the quintessential “boy meets dog” tale of a stray dog helping 14-year-old Travis defend the family farm in the 1860s Texas Hill country.

The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, stirs a longing for adventure and the unique relationship between dog and man. London’s descriptive, yet natural writing can make you feel like you, yourself, are on the snowy flats in Alaska pulling a heavy sled. The dog, Buck, is torn from a comfortable home to face abuse and hardship as a Klondike sled dog and eventually returns to the wild.

Reading Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, a classic story told from the horse’s point of view, led me to a great series by Walter Farley, entitled, The Black Stallion.

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, tells the story of a man and his dog, also narrated from the dog’s point of view; it has been adapted to children’s stories, as well.

Another canine narrator, Bailey, journeys through multiple lives, often humorous and emotional, in A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron.  Bailey wonders, each time he wakens in another place, if there he will find a purpose.

Catl mysteries also abound: Rita Mae Brown’s Mrs. Murphy series, and Lilian Brauns Cat Who series have multiple titles.

Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, focuses on a single gull, but his journey to think and fly differently than the rest of the flock, may be a lesson for us.

Imagined stories and tales are wonderful, but sometimes the true stories are even more remarkable.

All Creatures Great and Small was my first James Herriot book.  I first read it during a trip with friends, and I broke out laughing so many times that they insisted I read aloud.   Herriot’s descriptions of his experiences as a young veterinarian in 1930’s Britain are alternately touching, funny, and sad.  Herriot wrote three more volumes which became a PBS series.      .  Check out the DVD at Manhattan Public Library. His son, Jim Wight, has added a memoir.

Dewey the Library Cat by Vicki Myron, is the true story of an abandoned kitten found by a librarian one morning in the bookdrop. In time, Dewey transformed that small library through friendships made during his 19 years at the library.

A parrot that talks – and listens? Alex & Me  by Irene Pepperberg relates how a scientist and a parrot uncovered a hidden world of animal intelligence—and deeply bonded in the process for over thirty years.

The Man Who Listens to Horses is the true story of Monty Roberts, a horse trainer who helped pioneer nonviolent methods of breaking in and training horses.

A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life, by James Bowen, tells of how a stray street cat helped a struggling street musician and recovering heroin addict turn his life around. The ginger tomcat Bob and James appear in YouTube videos, and a DVD you may check out at Manhattan Public Library.

For a bit of pure fun, see Underwater Dogs, Seth Casteel’s exhilarating photography series of dogs underwater, for a chaotic ballet of bared teeth, bubbles, paddling paws, and ears billowing in currents.

Writers around the world have penned countless animal stories and memoirs.  I read many genres – westerns, romance, biography – but animal stories offer me special joy, and I eagerly read a wide assortment of books as they become available at Manhattan Public Library.

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By Hannah Atchison, Children’s Librarian

If you love to lose yourself in a good book, chances are during at least one point in your life you have experienced book-withdrawal. This can happen when you have recently finished a really good book or series or are waiting for the next book in a series. As a lover of all things fantasy I have fallen for new worlds, creatures, and characters multiple times and am more than familiar with book-withdrawal.

The first time I experienced it was when I had to wait for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, book six in J.K. Rowling’s famous series. It has been years and the phenomenon still rages. I see evidence of that with the young readers I have the honor of assisting every day in their quest for interdimensional travel. I see the same panicked look in parents’ and children’s eyes that I once had. What should they read next? Here are a few of my go-to suggestions:

The “Pendragon” series by D.J. MacHale –In book 1, The Merchant of Death, fourteen year old Bobby Pendragon unintentionally discovers another dimension, Denduron, and fights to accept not only the existence of other worlds besides Earth, but also the important role he now has to play.

The “Keys to the Kingdom” series by Garth Nix –Arthur Penhaligon, a seventh grader in book 1, Mister Monday, is given an odd key shaped like the minute hand of a clock. Mister Monday sends dog-like creatures to take the key. As Arthur battles Mister Monday and his creatures, he encounters many strange, new creatures and discovers there is much more to his world than he thought.

The “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series by Rick Riordan –Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, book 1 in the series, is about a boy named Percy who struggles in school until his mother takes him to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods, and he finds out his father is Poseidon the sea god. He makes friends with a satyr and a daughter of the goddess Athena and together they leave Camp Half-Blood on a journey to prevent a battle between the gods.

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien –Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit leading a normal and comfortable life until Gandalf the wizard and a group of dwarves arrive at his hobbit-hole home one evening. They convince him to join them on a quest to rid The Lonely Mountain of the dragon Smaug and reclaim the treasure and the once-great dwarven kingdom of Erebor.

The “Inheritance” series by Christopher Paolini –Eragon, book 1 of the “Inheritance” series, follows the adventures of fifteen year old Eragon of Alagaesia that ensue after his discovery of a strange-looking stone which turns out to be a dragon egg.

The “Redwall” series by Brian Jacques –In Redwall the first in the series, the peaceful mice of Redwall Abbey are fearful that the rat Cluny and his dreadful followers are preparing to take siege. The fate of the abbey lies on the shoulders of a young apprentice, and his quest for the great sword of Martin the Warrior.

The “His Dark Materials” series by Philip Pullman –Book 1, The Golden Compass is about the journey of Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pan, an animal companion with whom she shares a soul, as they travel into the Far North to rescue children like herself who have been kidnapped.

“The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis –Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are four siblings who, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, accidentally stumble into another world known as Narnia, a beautiful land full of magic and magical creatures that has been cursed by the White Witch to be always winter but never Christmas.

If you do find yourself head-over-heels and stuck on a good book and you can’t bring yourself to open another, I have two more suggestions for you. Look for other books by the author. They may not have the same characters you love, but they may still give you a sense of security through a familiar writing style. And my personal favorite, you can recommend your book to a friend. Misery loves company…just kidding.

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Local History and The Food Explorer

Local History and The Food Explorer

By Mary Swabb, Adult & Teen Services Librarian

Humans are naturally inquisitive creatures. At some point in life, many people become fascinated with their family history or the local history of where they live. Detecting one’s family history can be thrilling; however, it can also be a daunting task to begin or continue if information is sparse. Manhattan Public Library (MPL) has numerous resources to help patrons address these curiosities. Not only can be accessed on library computers for free, but there are numerous books within MPL’s collection that residents might find helpful.

If you’re interested in exploring your family’s history in Manhattan, Kansas, MPL has a non-circulating Kansas History Reference book collection where volumes of local historical significance are kept. The Official State Atlas of Kansas: Compiled from Government Surveys, County Records, and Personal Investigations by L.H. Everts & Co. is part of this collection and contains a variety of maps, including historical county maps. These maps allow library patrons to see where family members lived, and how local landscapes have changed overtime.

In addition to the Kansas History Reference book collection, MPL also archives local papers such as the Manhattan Mercury, which can be utilized to find birth announcements, obituaries, marriage announcements, and other articles about family members. Historical back issues of local papers can be accessed via microfilm. The library also has microfilm indices where names or dates can be looked up to help narrow down which microfilm reel needs to be utilized. The newspaper indices are one of the best ways patrons can learn about their relatives’ lives.

If you’re interested in more generally exploring local history, you might check out Frontier Manhattan: Yankee Settlement to Kansas Town, 1854-1894 by Kevin G.W. Olson, Manhattan by James Earl Sherow, or The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats by Daniel Stone.

Frontier Manhattan: Yankee Settlement to Kansas Town, 1854-1894 follows the adventures of Isaac Goodnow and five other New Englanders as they settle between the Kansas and Big Blue rivers on the Great Plains frontier. The book chronicles the first forty years of Manhattan, elucidating the various forces that settlers had to overcome in founding the town amidst the backdrop of the Civil War era. Frontier Manhattan is packed with rich historical details and written in a very amusing and accessible way that will hold readers’ interests.

In Manhattan, Sherow features prominent local events from 1854 to 2013. He provides an overview of Manhattan’s founding and explains how early social reformers established a land grant university that would become Kansas State University, formed a mutually beneficial alliance with Fort Riley, and navigated the ecological forces of the Flint Hills. This book provides valuable details in a concise way, and it’s a great introduction to the history of Manhattan.

The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats follows voyaging botanist and agricultural explorer, David Fairchild as he searches for “food that would enrich the American farmer and enchant the American eater.” Ultimately, Fairchild’s journey transforms America into a more diverse food system. Fairchild is credited with bringing kale, mangoes, avocados, dates, nectarines, soybeans, and pistachios to American farmers. The book also touches on other native sons of Manhattan, Charles Marlatt and Walter Swingle. Stone’s biography vividly narrates Fairchild’s adventures over five continents and his insatiable desire to discover new produce varieties and promote agricultural development.

If you’re interested in local history, especially, as it revolves around agriculture and food, MPL will be hosting a book discussion of The Food Explorer at 7 p.m. Monday, November 5, 2018. The discussion will be led by William Richter, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and former K-State first Associate Provost for International Programs. This discussion kicks off a series of events taking place during K-State’s Science and Communication Week, many of which revolve around The Food Explorer. Daniel Stone will visit K-State on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 and the Riley County Historical Society and Museum will be offering a driving tour, Where the Adventure Began: Touring the Home Town of the Food Explorers beginning November 7, 2019. More information about Science and Communication week events can be found at

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New Adult Titles that Defy Categorization

New Adult Titles that Defy Categorization

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

Daniel Mason, who gained much attention for The Piano Tuner some years ago, has written yet another remarkably complex novel.  At first glance, The Winter Soldier seems like a straightforward piece of historical fiction.  But a reading of the novel reveals something altogether different.  You be the judge of this excellent tale’s nature.

Lucius, the son of a wealthy Viennese couple, is a promising medical student at the beginning of World War I.  Because he wants to be a part of the war effort, he has made arrangements to travel to what he believes to be a professional field hospital.  An accidental fall leaves him with a broken wrist, but he continues on his way to his field hospital.  Unfortunately, it is an abandoned church in the middle of nowhere, with few resources and lots of wounded men.  In addition, the doctors in attendance have all deserted because of an outbreak of typhoid.  The only person in charge is a mysterious nun, Margarete, who continues to treat even the most serious of the wounded.  Since Lucius has never previously performed surgery and is hampered by his wrist, she becomes his teacher, and the two form an adequate medical team.

In fact, the two become much more than medical partners.  Gradually, our war story transposes into romance, and Lucius realizes that the person who has taught him so much about medicine and about caring is actually a mysterious character.  When the two are separated by the devastation of war, Lucius begins a journey that becomes more puzzling with each new discovery.  It seems we actually have an historical novel/romance/mystery all in one.  Not a bad thing in a tale that has great emotional depth and realistic psychological repercussions of war trauma.

For an equally complex story, you might also consider Stuart Turton’s The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.  This novel has all the markings of an English murder mystery.  Aiden Bishop is one of many guests at a rather shabby country estate.  When the book begins, he has just regained consciousness in a nearby forest, knowing that he heard a woman scream and believing he saw some kind of pursuit going on.  He is baffled by the confusion of his memory, but thinks his return to the estate will answer all questions.

But that is not to be the case.  Soon he meets an imposing figure known only as the Plague Doctor.   The figure tells him that he has been assigned the challenge of solving the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, and he must do so in the next eight days.  To help him with the investigation, he will be assigned to the body of a different guest each day, so that he can discover what the other guests might know about the circumstances.

That is only the first of the unusual elements of the story.  Time travel becomes crucially important in the story, as the murder has not yet been committed, so Aiden is an actor in a drama that unfolds day by day.   He must determine which characters can be trusted and which pose danger to him.  Further, if Aiden does not uncover the true crime, all events are predicted to begin over again, so the days will be repeated in unending cycles.

Baffling, isn’t it?  That is because author Turton has introduced a whole series of unexpected events.  His lengthy tale swiftly becomes a mystery/ time traveling fantasy that Aiden may or may not be able to crack.  What is initially confusing becomes an intriguing adventure in space and time.  How did Aiden wind up at the estate?  Who is Evelyn Hardcastle?  What is this creepy Plague Doctor?  Too many questions, and only eight days to solve the mystery.

The new fall novels are always special, and this year’s offerings are wonderfully creative.  Stop by the library and check out some more mind-bending tales.

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By Rhonna Hargett, Adult and Teen Services Manager

I am one of those people who soaks up cooking shows like a Victoria sponge but doesn’t really do much in the kitchen. I sit with my family and share my very opinionated views about what flavors go together or whether the gluten has properly developed in a contestant’s bread, but I haven’t baked bread in years, and even then my expertise involved dumping ingredients in a machine and pushing buttons. But it has become clear to me lately that my health (and age) might dictate that I become less of an observer and more of a participant in the food world. Here’s what I found to help me.

The first thing that struck me about Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual was its size. At less than a ½ inch thick, this looked like a food guide that I could actually manage to read all the way through. Food Rules grew out of a phrase from one of Pollan’s former books, In Defense of Food. This phrase sums up much of his philosophy: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He gathered hundreds of rules from tradition and culture, researched to find the most helpful and valid, and boiled them down to 64 rules. The idea of 64 rules can sound a bit overwhelming, but Pollan doesn’t expect you to follow every rule. I read it with an attitude that there might be a few helpful nuggets in it, and I found that to be true. The book did not influence me to change everything about the way I eat, but I think a few of the tips will start to make an appearance in my food choices. There is an overabundance of health information available to Americans, and most of us just don’t have time to sort through all of it. Food Rules boils it down and makes it easier to navigate the grocery aisles and create a healthy diet.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan discusses the subject from a very different angle in Food: A Love Story. Gaffigan manages to fill over 300 pages with his love of food, making me chuckle throughout. He gushes about the wonders of cheese, fawns over bacon (the candy of meat!), and dotes on french fries. He explores the many facets of American food that he has experienced in his travels, sharing his map of the significant food areas of the U.S. and his recommendations for the best dishes in each, except seafood (which he calls seabugs). He has nothing good to say about seafood, which he admits could be a result of his landlocked Indiana upbringing. Gaffigan does not claim to be an expert. “What are my qualifications to write this book? None really. So why should you read it? Here’s why: I’m a little fat. If a thin guy were to write about a love of food and eating, I’d highly recommend that you do not read his book.” His ability to laugh at himself and his ability to share a genuine love of good food blend to make an enjoyable exploration of American cuisine.

Ironically, both books inspired me to tweak my eating habits, Pollan through healthy suggestions and Gaffigan through encouraging me to laugh at myself and my eating foibles. Both authors have an appreciation of quality ingredients, and both persuade readers to savor every bite of a truly excellent meal. Our society is obsessed with food but never seems to find a place of confidence in what to eat. Pollan and Gaffigan provide guidance as we grapple with our dietary issues and, each in their own unique way, help readers to worry less and enjoy food more.

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Puberty: How to Start the Conversation

Puberty: How to Start the Conversation

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

A library customer recently came in asking for books or DVD’s to explain PMS to her 9-year-old daughter. The daughter avoided eye contact, while a male family member chuckled nervously. I immediately remembered the embarrassment of learning about puberty when I was young. Kids need to know, and trusted adults need to inform them, but the question is how to do that with sensitivity. Just bringing up puberty can lead to giggles, confusion, or all-out fear, depending on your audience. Books can help parents introduce the topic, provide facts and photos, and reassure kids that they are not alone in this journey.

Luckily, we’ve come a long way since Judy Blume’s 1970 novel, “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret,” which was still the go-to when I was kid in the 80’s. Now, children’s fiction is full of characters going through this phase of life. Additionally, I recently went through our nonfiction collection and ended up with a nice sized pile of books on my desk to review.

Girls can begin puberty as early as 8 or 9 years old, and some books are designed for these younger readers. The Care and Keeping of You from American Girl Publishing is colorfully designed with kid-friendly illustrations. It covers territory from hair care to periods. In Why Do I Have Periods?, girls will find good, concise information with more realistic illustrations or photos. The text is larger print, making it easier for younger readers to take in. The photos of some of the girls, including the one on the cover, are less happy, but that may resonate with girls who experience pain and cramping with their menstrual cycle.

The Girl’s Body Book and The Boy’s Body Book by Kelli Dunham are great choices for kids on the younger end of the puberty scale. They are longer, so kids may not read straight through, but they can easily find the topics they are interested in and read a short section to find out more about it. The books also include chapters about getting along with parents and family members, figuring out school, and friendship skills.

Lynda Madaras’s classic bestsellers What’s Happening to My Body? for boys and for girls are longer volumes packed with information. Madaras also has shorter books for younger ages, and workbooks that prompt readers to reflect on what they are learning.  For a Christian perspective, try Where Do Babies Come From and How You Are Changing from Concordia Publishing’s “Learning About Sex” series. Karen Gravelle’s The Period Book and What’s Going On Down There are slim paperbacks that some readers may find less intimidating. The text is straight-forward and full of useful Q & A’s, and the illustrations around the edges provide some comic relief. Humor helps young readers relax a little if they are stressed about the subject matter.  There are lots more options in the library collection, mostly in the Dewey Decimal 612’s, and also as downloadable e-books.

One of my favorite books is Growing Up: Inside and Out. It works for both boys and girls, and covers some sensitive but important areas in more detail than other books, such as suicidal thoughts, consent, sexual assault, and LGBTQ awareness. Author Kira Vermond doesn’t avoid difficult issues and frequently admits that it is all pretty complex and there are not always easy answers. This book is lengthy and covers a lot of territory, but the chapter titles and the index are helpful for skipping around as needed. It is the kind of resource that is handy to have available during the adolescent years.

If you think it will be a hard sell to get your child to read a book about puberty, there are some very short videos in the library’s DVD collection. Let’s Talk Puberty for Boys is animated, which helps to keep the topic light and create less embarrassment. The library also has My Changing Body for boys and for girls, and Start Smart: Puberty for Girls, all of which are only 10-20 minutes long. The videos might not give enough detail if your child is worried about something specific, but they provide a good introduction to this mysterious, transforming phase of life called puberty.

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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.”

by Luke Wahlmeier Luke Wahlmeier No Comments

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.