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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!

by Jared Richards Jared Richards No Comments

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.

by MHK Library staff MHK Library staff No Comments

“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

Cover of "Last Night At The Telegraph Club" by Melinda Lo. Glowing yellow words against a painting of the chinatown district of San Francisco At NightIn 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.

by Jared Richards Jared Richards No Comments

“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.

by Jared Richards Jared Richards No Comments

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)”

by MHK Library staff MHK Library staff No Comments

Older Americans Month

Older Americans Month

by Rhonna Hargett, Associate Director of Learning and Information Services

May is Older Americans Month! As the Administration for Community Living states “Older adults play vital, positive roles in our communities – as family members, friends, mentors, volunteers, civic leaders, members of the workforce, and more. Just as every person is unique, so too is how they age and how they choose to do it – and there is no “right” way.” We have some reading suggestions to help celebrate this important part of our community.

You might remember the author Mary Pipher from her 1994 New York Times Best Seller on adolescent girls entitled “Reviving Ophelia.” In “Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age,” she explores the lives of women in their 60s and beyond, discussing the challenges and joys of being a woman in this age group. She covers the changes in roles, relationships, physical well-being, and mental well-being that many face, and shares her expertise on how to best navigate all of them. Reading this book is like having coffee with a friend who also happens to be an expert on human development. The tone is relaxed, full of anecdotes and personal stories, but her knowledge in the field shines through. Snippets from several interviews are included to add breadth to her perspective. “Women Rowing North” is an enjoyable, empowering, and informative book.

Practicing neurosurgeon, member of the National Academy of Medicine, and chief medical correspondent for CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta explores brain health in his book “Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age.” According to Dr. Gupta, dementia is not an inevitable condition of aging. He shares what can be done to prevent dementia and concrete advice for moving forward if it has already been diagnosed. The book includes a twelve-week program of nutrition, exercise, and other activities to set readers on the right track. His advice isn’t particularly new, but his optimism and ability to write about the topic in an engaging style make “Keep Sharp” a valuable contribution to the subject.

We have two brand new titles that I haven’t had a chance to read yet. “The Inside Story: The Surprising Pleasures of Living in an Aging Body” by psychologist Susan Sands discusses how common cultural beliefs can give us negative perceptions of our bodies that aren’t necessarily accurate, and shares advice for developing positive relationships with our bodies. In “From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life,” behavioral social scientist and Harvard Professor Arthur C. Brooks helps those who identify strongly with their working lives navigate the challenges of aging.

The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman is the first in a series that takes place in Coopers Chase, a retirement village in Kent. The club started when former member Penny shared unsolved murder cases from her previous position as a police inspector. A group starts gathering in the jigsaw room to investigate and hopefully solve each case. When a Coopers Chase employee is murdered, they team up with an underappreciated police officer to solve the case. Osman’s novel is a humorous and intricately plotted mystery that is an absolute delight to read, while he also shows us a glimpse of the complex lives of the characters. While the world has discounted them, they are noticing the things that others don’t, building fast friendships, and navigating the complications of their lives. This is a fun read that also gives insight into the later years in life.

All of the included books are available in print, and some are available digitally as ebooks or audiobooks. For these titles and more, visit our website at www.mhklibrary.org, or come see us at 629 Poyntz Ave.

by MHK Library staff MHK Library staff No Comments

Oceans of Possibilities at the Library

Oceans of Possibilities at the Library

By Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Services Manager

Summer Reading 2022 Oceans of Possibilities June 1 - July 31School is out, and it is a time of freedom for many kids. With some of the pressure lifted, everyone can breathe easily and enjoy some sunshine. Summer is also the perfect time for exploration and discovery through books. The library’s summer reading program will begin June 1st, with early registration opening Monday. Our reading challenge is all about having fun and enjoying books.

This year’s theme is Oceans of Possibilities, so look for some cool, blue decorations in the library and a special sea creature waiting for your books to be returned at the new returns machine inside. School kids might tell you about a shark that visited their school, promoting prizes (including two free books) that can be earned by tracking their reading time. Everyone, even adults, are invited to sign up.

If you want to find some ocean-themed books to go along with summer reading, here are a few great new choices.

Marine Biologists on a Dive” by Sue Fliess is the first in a new series, Kid Scientist. The picture book format makes this an easy way to introduce young kids to science field careers. In this story, Maggie and her team are studying whales. They scuba dive in with a pod of humpback whales, and each young scientist is exploring a different aspect of whale life. Maggie is recording the whale songs, and later listens to them in the lab to see if her hypothesis about whale communication patterns holds true. Illustrations by Mia Powell are more on the cartoony side, giving a simple visual aid that’s perfect for young listeners.

Can a story about the life of krill be delightful? I wouldn’t have thought so, but “Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill” by Matt Lilley surprised me. Krill actually have a very complicated life cycle just getting to be full grown, but their daily tasks are very simple. Once they have grown their mouths, it’s just eat, swim, and grow. They continually molt out of their shells, even as adults, and can live 10 years…that is, if they are not eaten by everything around them, including blue whales.

If you have never delved into the life of anglerfish, Elaine Alexander’s “Anglerfish: The Seadevil of the Deep” will introduce you to life in the midnight zone of the ocean. With eye-catching illustrations by Fiona Fogg, the anglerfish life cycle comes to life, from its beginnings as a vulnerable egg on the water surface, to an impressive fish, up to 3 feet long, with a dangling bioluminescent “fishing pole” fin and a stomach that can handle prey twice its size. Satiate your sea lover’s curiosity about strange and fascinating animals with this title.

Storytimes begin on June 7 for six weeks of fun stories, songs, action rhymes, puppets and dancing, with 8 different options throughout the week for various ages. Working families can join us on Saturdays at 10:00 or 11:00, June 11 – July 16. More information is on the library events webpage. These titles are a few samples of what storytellers will be reading.

Not Quite Narwhal” by Jessie Sima will be a big crowd-pleaser with a unique sea critter named Kelp who doesn’t fit in with his fellow narwhals. Will he come to realize who he really is when he meets a “land narwhal”? No need to worry, everyone ends up under the rainbow together.

Equally fun is Joyce Wan’s “A Whale in my Swimming Pool.” With cute illustrations influenced by Japanese pop culture, kids will laugh as a little boy tries to figure out how to get an enormous whale out of his pool.

For a calming effect, try “Oceans of Love” by Janet Lawler. This sweet, rhyming book centers on comforting language about mama sea animals taking care of their young. Holly Clifton-Brown’s mixed media art is full of color and light, creating playful scenes of undersea life.

For more summer reading book lists, join the summer reading challenge and check out our book lists for all age ranges. To sign up, visit the library’s webpage, www.MHKlibrary.org/SR, or come into the library.

by MHK Library staff MHK Library staff No Comments

Find Your Next Woodworking Project at the Library

Find Your Next Woodworking Project at the Library

by Jared Richards, Learning and Information Services Supervisor

I recently had to build a new mailbox post after finding the old one lying in the yard. Was it just old and rotten, or was it related to the car antenna found near the fallen timber? We may never know, but I do know that it gave me the opportunity to pull out my power tools and build a needlessly-complicated but nice-looking post out of fresh lumber. Last year, my creative pursuits were almost exclusively digital, so it’s a refreshing change of pace to build something that exists in the real world.

There is a feeling of accomplishment associated with mowing a yard or baking, but then a week passes and you’re back behind the lawn mower, or a few days go by and you’re wondering where all the cookies went. I like when that feeling isn’t as fleeting, and there’s something to be said for made objects that can last generations. An example of this is the small wooden rocking chair currently sitting in my living room. My grandpa made it for me when I was a child, and now my son will be able to enjoy it for years to come, even more so when we don’t have to prop him up with pillows and stuffed animals.

The great thing about woodworking is that it covers such a broad range of activities, from carving small objects to making furniture, or even building a house. I am fairly confident we can rule out the house for a second project, but that still leaves a lot of options.

In “Build Stuff with Wood,” author Asa Christiana is a proponent of making simple projects with power tools and materials found at your local home center. The learning curve for this is much smaller than hand tools and rough-cut lumber. This increases your chances of success, which in turn will encourage you to continue with the hobby, and maybe one day get to the point where you’re milling your own lumber and using hand chisels like a pro. I’ve added the outdoor bench from this book to my Maybe Someday I’ll Make This list.

Once you knock a few projects out and are realizing it would be much easier to work on future projects if you had a dedicated space, you should checkout “Wood Magazine: How to Build a Great Home Workshop.” This book covers everything you need to know, whether you’re working out of your basement, your garage, or even a dedicated shop. I particularly enjoy the deep dive into dust collection and lighting, possibly two of the least glamorous aspects of woodworking, but arguably the most important. We also have “Workshop Dust Control,” if you really want to keep your workshop as clean and safe as possible.

A central feature of almost any workspace is a workbench, and I did not realize how specialized they could be until I read “The Workbench Book” by Scott Landis. He starts with the evolution of the workbench and then covers various specialized workbenches that have been developed for tasks like boatbuilding, carving, and lutherie. I already knew I wanted a workbench, but now I really want one, so I also checked out “How to Make Workbenches & Shop Storage Solutions.” This book features aspirational workbenches, as well as more realistic carts and tables, and includes detailed instructions, full pictures, and even cut diagrams for the projects.

One final aspect of woodworking that I really enjoy is the level of creativity and freedom to completely customize the project you want to make to suit your needs. For example, in “The Handbuilt Home” by Ana White, there are plans for a recycling console that would be great for my kitchen. But my kitchen is also small and lacks counter space, so I can combine that project with the folding work table project from “How to Make Workbenches & Shop Storage Solutions” and add casters and a back that folds out into a table that can be used for food prep. It looks great in my head.

When I get a wild hare and fall down the rabbit hole of a new hobby, I tend to start by window shopping all the possibilities on the internet. More often than not, this sates my interest and I move onto something else. But every now and then my interest survives the warren that is the internet, and I find myself at the library, trying to check out more books than I can carry. It’s a fun challenge.

by MHK Library staff MHK Library staff No Comments

YA Books by AAPI Authors

YA Books by AAPI Authors

by Jennifer Jordan, Adult Services Librarian

This month’s ReadMHK challenge is to read a book by an AAPI author. As a Filipino-American, I was most excited for this month, both to read books and to celebrate my heritage during national Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Finding books with characters to identify with has been a difficult journey growing up. As I’ve gotten older and more BIPOC authors are being published every day, I find more characters that represent me and other Filipinos.

In “They Called Us Enemy” by George Takei, he tells the story of his and his family’s time in U.S. run internment camps. He shows us the discrimination they and many other Japanese-Americans faced as they were deemed “enemies” by presidential proclamation on February 19, 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which stripped rights and freedoms of anyone who is of Japanese descent. Takei depicts the realities and choices every Japanese-American had to make from filling out questionnaires to giving up their citizenships. Takei guides readers through his life before, during and after his and 120,000 other Japanese-Americans’ imprisonment in this emotional graphic novel-memoir.

Internment” by Samira Ahmed is a near future dystopian novel where the US starts imposing similar restrictions Japanese-Americans faced in the 1940s to Muslim-Americans. The novel follows Layla, a 17-year-old who had a normal life until the government started putting more restrictions on her and anyone else who answered yes to being Muslim on the US Census. As more anti-Muslim restrictions were put in place, the government forced her and many other Muslim-Americans into Camp Mobius. She and others organized peaceful protests to show the guards and US government that they won’t be silenced.

If you are a girl born in Huaxia, your destiny is not your own. In “Iron Widow” by Xiran Jay Zhao, 18-year-old Zetian’s family offers her up to become a concubine-pilot, which would earn them money but will almost certainly kill her in the process. To everyone’s surprise, she exacts revenge on the pilot who killed her sister, earning her the title of Iron Widow. In this patriarchal society, women give their lives to support the stronger male pilots of the Chrysalises, giant transforming robots, to keep them all safe from the Humduns, mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall intent on breaking through. Her power grows, and she is paired with the strongest (and most feared) male pilot Li Shimin. Zetian, Shimin and Yizhi fall in love and form a bond so strong that they can change the system and fight for equality, so girls are no longer sacrificed.

The Astonishing Color of After” by Emily X.R. Pan is a first-person novel published in 2018. When Leigh Chen Saunders loses her mother with severe depression to suicide, she receives a gift. The gift was sent from the home of her maternal grandparents Leigh has never met in Taiwan. The strange thing about the gift, containing her mother’s favorite jade necklace and letters written in Chinese, is that it arrived with no postmark. Was Leigh sure that she saw a bright red bird fly down and deliver the package? Leigh and her father travel to Taiwan to meet her grandparents and hopefully learn more about her mother and all the places she loved as a girl. Only Leigh knows that the red bird that she still catches glimpses of, is really her mother.

Even though this is the last month for our ReadMHK program, coming soon is our Summer Reading Program with this year’s theme being Oceans of Possibilities. There will be challenges and prizes for kids, teens and adults this summer. Summer Reading sign-up will start on May 23rd.

by MHK Library staff MHK Library staff No Comments

LGBTQIA+ reads for teens.

LGBTQIA+ reads for teens

by Jan Johnson, Teen Librarian

“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection, we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” This is a famous quote by Rudine Bishop Simms that she wrote back in 1990 when she noted the need for more diverse books in children’s literature.

When we step into the world of a good book, not only do we get to immerse our self in the story, but we get to step into the shoes of the characters as they journey through their adventure. We learn empathy for their plight, and we can share in their triumphs. When the only books we are exposed to tell stories where no one looks, acts, or feels like you do, that can feel pretty lonely.

For teens, this is especially important. When we’re learning who we are and what we want to do with the rest of our lives, it’s indispensable to have stories that relate to your experiences. Reading is a safe space to find characters who you can relate to, find answers to questions about your identity, and reading also gives us space to make you think. There may be questions you have that you’re not ready to talk about, or experiences that you think are yours and yours alone. You can read a story about a life path that you might not have thought possible. Of course, it doesn’t always have to be about a similar experience. Just reading about someone who identifies like you do can be reassuring and empowering.

We have a wonderfully diverse young adult collection that is full of characters and stories for every reader. The following is but a small selection of the titles we have that focus on LGBTQIA+ characters. Whether you want to glimpse through the window of someone from the queer community to gain more understanding and empathy, or if you are looking for characters and stories that mirror your own identity, check out these titles and so much more in our young adult collection.

In “The Girl from the Sea” by Molly Knox Ostertag, fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: she can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She’s desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends…who don’t understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan’s biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl.

In Jake Maia Arlow’s unabashedly queer middle grade debut, “Almost Flying,” a week-long amusement park road trip becomes a true roller coaster of emotion when Dalia realizes she has more-than-friend feelings for her Raia, the new girl on the swim team.

In “All That’s Left in the World” by Erik J. Brown, a deadly pathogen has killed off most of the world’s population, including everyone that Andrew and Jamie have ever loved. The road ahead of them is long, and to survive, they’ll have to shed their secrets, face the consequences of their actions, and find the courage to fight for the future they desire, together. Only one thing feels certain: all that’s left in their world is the undeniable pull they have toward each other.

Felix Ever After” by Kacen Callender is a revelatory novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

In Keito Gaku’s “Boys Run the Riot” manga series, a transgender teen named Ryo finds an escape from the expectations and anxieties of his daily life in the world of street fashion.

Our collection of nonfiction books is also extensive with titles like: “The New Queer Conscience” by Adam Eli; “Out! How to Be Your Authentic Self” by Miles McKenna; “Gender Explorers” by Juno Roche; and “The Pride Guide” by Jo Langford.

Manhattan Public Library is affirming and welcoming to all members of our community. If you would like more “windows and mirrors” titles, check www.mhklibrary.org.

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