by Alex Lund Alex Lund No Comments

Librarians love graphic novels!

Librarians love graphic novels!

By Jan Johnson, Teen Librarian

If you don’t get why graphic novels are so popular, you’re not alone. As a librarian, I see first-hand how fast these books fly off the shelf, and I know they are fantastic for getting reluctant readers, reading. But I never picked one up until last year. One book was all it took to get me hooked! I know that kids and teens love them, but they are increasingly becoming popular with adults. Graphic novels, or comics, are increasing in popularity daily, and librarians love them! Ok, we don’t necessarily like to shelve them (think lots of very thin paperbacks all falling over every time you try to put one away-arghhhhh).

But I digress. Why do we love them? Well, it’s pretty easy. They get kids reading, and they keep them reading! Of course, there are other great reasons we love them. They help kids decipher nonverbal and facial clues to interpret a character’s feelings or meaning. The use of illustration, text, color, and line movements, all force us to slow down and focus. The use of rich graphics and text also accesses different areas of the brain; in little kids, especially emerging readers, that right- and left-brain stimulation helps to solidify those early learning skills. They are a fabulous way to help struggling readers strengthen their vocabulary, increase their reading confidence, and understand the complexities of storytelling. Hearing “Mom, I just finished another Dog Man!” from my then-fourth-grader, struggling to reach the next reading level in class, is priceless!

With the popularity of graphic novels and comics on the rise, the breadth of their topics are increasing in both fiction and non-fiction form. Graphic novels can do more than just tell an entertaining story, they have the power to teach us something new. We can glimpse someone else’s life, and the power of words and pictures coming together creates a wonderful medium to give life to non-fiction stories and events that might be more accessible and powerful to readers. You can learn about the Civil Rights movement with John Lewis’s “March,” experience what moving from South Korea to Alabama is like in “Almost American Girl” by Robin Ha, or learn about Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, in Jim Ottaviani’s “Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier.” I know that my experience reading non-fiction graphic memoirs engages me to the heart of the story.

The first graphic novel I ever picked up was “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. With several people I know and love being non-binary, I went into it hoping to understand and empathize with them. The book did just that and so much more. Maia’s intensely personal memoir opens our eyes to eir (Maia uses e/em/eir pronouns) coming of age and trying to navigate the realm of eir self-identity. Maia tells us eir stories that take us on eir journey of self-discovery.

They Called Us Enemy” is written by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and illustrated by Harmony Becker. This book is Takei’s first-hand account of living in Japanese internment camps in the United States during WWII. From the early age of four years old, Takei takes us through his family’s four-year experience of life in the camps, with stories of happiness and heartbreak. The history is laid out and beautifully woven through the pages of this story, bringing to life the 120,000+ Japanese Americans who lived through this horror, and the trials they suffered for simply being Japanese.

One of my favorite middle grade graphic novels is “New Kid” by Jerry Craft. When new kid Jordan Banks starts at Riverdale Academy middle school, he’s worried he won’t make friends, be too different from everyone else, and not have any art classes (which is where he wants to focus). It takes a while, but eventually Jordan gets into the groove of his new middle school. We follow Jordan as he navigates microaggressions, pressure from his parents, and the need for friends and time for his sketches. This book brings a real-world focus on the differences that culture, finances, and race have on a very real, very timely school situation.

There are many ways to enjoy graphic novels. Of course, the good old-fashioned book is a tried-and-true favorite, but many are available digitally with your library card on Hoopla and Sunflower elibrary. ComicsPlus is a fantastic new resource available from the State Library of Kansas. Stop by the second floor reference desk to learn more.

by Alex Lund Alex Lund No Comments

Reign of Terror

Reign of Terror

By Audrey Schwartz, Adult Services Librarian II

Today’s story in crime history happens south of our border in Oklahoma—the Osage Indian murders, also known as the Osage Reign of Terror (1921-1926), lasted from 1918-1931 in Osage County, Oklahoma. But first some housekeeping. I am an Indigenous woman, so while this isn’t part of my personal history, it is part of the collective history and memories of Indigenous folk. I am Miami from the Banks of the Wabash River, and my people were removed to Miami, Oklahoma.

Back to the Osage. In 1897, oil was discovered on Osage Reservation land, and the federal government allotted over 600 acres of mineral rights to each Osage who was on the 1907 tribal rolls. In the 21 years between discovery and the first murders, the oil market had grown considerably. This rapid growth brought substantial wealth to the Osage, who were deemed, according to Grann “the richest nation, clan or social group of any race on earth, including the whites, man for man.” The majority of the murders were connected to a scheme to inherit Osage land, the mineral rights, and thusly the wealth. Few of the crimes were prosecuted, but some were convicted and sentenced. William Hale was one of the few caught and tried for ordering the murder of his nephew’s wife and other family members. After 5 years of pinpointed killing and 13 total years of incidents, the U.S. Congress changed the law to exclude non-enrolled family from inheriting the land and rights.

In 1994, Dennis McAuliffe, Jr wrote “The Deaths of Sybil Bolton,” which is the true story of how his Osage grandmother died. McAuliffe had always been told his maternal grandmother died of kidney disease in 1925, at the age of 21. McAuliffe’s curiosity, as a reporter, got the best of him. In doing further research he discovered, 66 years later, that her death was recorded as suicide. He kept digging and began using the rarely-accessed FBI files on the “Osage Reign of Terror.”  As he continued to look into his grandmother’s death, he discovered the awful truth: she was shot and murdered. His grandmother had been targeted during the Osage murders for her land and mineral rights. Throughout the book, McAuliffe uses the FBI investigation files, family interviews, and help from the Osage to primarily focus his quest.

David Grann’s “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” was released in 2016. Grann’s book relies heavily on the FBI files and storytelling from tribal members to paint a story of devastating loss and betrayal. Grann’s book thoroughly follows the story, presenting evidence and explaining the connections and reasonings behind the murders. In doing this, readers are presented with this grand picture of the strategic and purposeful “phenomenon” of wealthy Osage with oil rights being murdered by their White “guardians” to take away their wealth. These “guardians” formed relationships with corrupt doctors and local politicians specifically to murder people for oil rights. In 2021, Grann released a young adult version of his award-winning tome. This version is trimmed down to be more approachable.

In 2021, Martin Scorsese began production of a movie based on Grann’s book, which is set to be released in 2023. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who also serves as producer is cast in the role of William Hale’s nephew alongside Robert De Niro as William Hale, Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone and Brendan Fraser. Scorsese traveled to the Osage Nation and spoke with Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear in order to determine how the Osage would be involved in the film. He tells this story on the land it occurred on and with people who were involved. Osage members make up a mixture of the actors in the film and were, of course, used as cultural advisors.

These books and the movie serve as a reminder of the generational trauma that just one tribe experienced. They are great and accurate resources of a tragic, forgotten, and purposely-buried story and how the Osage survived and thrived through the events.

by Alex Lund Alex Lund No Comments

Light Romance for Summer

Light Romance for Summer

By Rhonna Hargett, Associate Director of Learning and Information Services

Summer is a great time for a light read, so I’ve gathered up some of my favorite recent romance novels.

In “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” by Sophie Cousens, Laura is a writer for an online magazine. She heads off to Jersey Island to write her parents’ romantic story. Things don’t go as planned, though, starting with her grabbing the wrong suitcase at the airport, followed up with a grumpy taxi driver. It looks like the switched suitcase might be fate leading her to her true love when she looks through the contents and finds her favorite book, piano music by her favorite singer, and a sweater that fits her ideal of what the perfect man should wear. The grumpy taxi driver, Ted, helps her in her quest to find the owner of the suitcase, and he turns out to be more than he first appears. By the time she meets the suitcase owner, she’s starting to question if true love is about “destiny” or something else. This is a fun romantic comedy set in the beautiful scenery of the Channel Islands, a perfect summer escape.

The launch of the “Would-Be Wallflowers” series, “How to Be a Wallflower” by Eloisa James, is a historical novel set in Regency London. Miss Cleopatra Lewis doesn’t fit the traditional mold of a debutante. She spent her childhood following theater troupes around England with her unconventional mother, and is the powerful owner of a manufacturing firm that specializes in the latest commode technology. When she meets unpolished American investor, Jacob Astor Addison, she is not impressed. As they both compete to purchase the most renowned costume emporium in England, they come to respect each other’s business acumen, along with other attributes, and are soon questioning the motivations that had them competing in the first place. James has delivered another delightful story that delivers love and laughs.

In “It Happened One Summer” by Tessa Bailey, influencer and socialite Piper Bellinger pushes her stepfather’s patience too far when she is arrested for an unauthorized rooftop party. She is sent off to rural Washington state to gain some self-control and attempt to run her late father’s run-down bar. Her kind (and more responsible) sister accompanies her, and they are greeted by a disaster of an apartment, and a group of local fishermen who have taken over the bar as their own. Through learning more about her father and his family, putting some elbow grease into the bar and apartment, and spending time with Brendan, the gruff fisherman who doesn’t want to get involved but can’t resist her charm and liveliness, Piper changes her perception of herself and where her gifts and passions lie. “It Happened One Summer” is a light-hearted romance with heart, a great read for fans of “Schitt’s Creek.”

Amanda Elliot’s “Sadie on a Plate” gives a glimpse into the wild world of cooking competition reality TV shows. When we meet Sadie, she’s still reeling from unjust accusations that seem to have destroyed her career as a chef. In a last-ditch attempt to save her future, she tries out for Chef Supreme, and makes it onto the show. While travelling on the plane to the show, she meets the perfect man for her, only to find out that he’s one of the judges for the show. While she tries to focus on showcasing her unique take on traditional Jewish cooking, and also hiding that one of the judges may hold a bias, she forms lifetime friendships with fellow contestants and learns a lot about herself along the way. Sadie has moments of being a difficult character to like, so it is very satisfying to watch her develop as a chef and as a human being at the same time.

Find a great mix of genre and formats (print, digital, and more!) at Manhattan Public Library or

by Alex Lund Alex Lund No Comments

That’s Too Funny! What Kids Read for Fun

That’s Too Funny! What Kids Read for Fun

By Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Services Manager

Look at some of the most popular books for kids and you will see recurring themes of comedy accompanied by humorous illustrations in the likes of Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants and Dog Man series. Even Garfield has stood the test of time. The NYT Bestseller list for children’s picture books last week features titles like “Not Quite Narwhal,” “The Day the Crayons Quit,” “Grumpy Monkey,” and “Dragons Love Tacos.” This is fun reading that will make grown-ups smile, too.

I believe kids are drawn to humor for some of the same reasons as adults. Life can be pretty heavy, and lots of things can go wrong. We all need a reason to smile and laugh, and we need a way to poke fun at life to lighten things up. However, the type of humor enjoyed by adults and kids can be quite different, and it may be hard to get excited about your child reading the Fart Quest series (yes, that really exists), but do not despair. This doesn’t mean your child will never enjoy classic literature. It just means that right now, your child is seeking a way to feel lighthearted and forget about their troubles, and bodily function jokes might just do the trick.

Here are a few series and titles on the LOL radar you may want to try:

The Planet Omar series by Zanib Mian with illustrations by Nasaya Mafaradik and Kyan Cheng – Omar’s big imagination can cause crazy nightmares, but it also helps him find solutions and get out of bad situations. As Omar makes friends in a new school, deals with a bully, and endures his annoying siblings, he finds humor in every day situations at home and school. Being Muslim is part of his daily life, which is both routine and different from most of his friends, bringing out themes of acceptance, understanding and celebrating diversity. Fans of “The Terrible Two” by Jory John and Mac Barnett will likely see eye to eye with Omar.

The Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton – Australian creators Griffiths and Denton go totally farcical with their ever-growing treehouse where anything crazy can, and does, happen. “The 13-Story Treehouse” is the starting point, and with each book it grows another 13 stories, so the latest release, book 11, is “The 143-Story Treehouse.” Readers “can expect the unexpected,” says Griffiths, such as the treehouse being abducted by a giant flying eyeball and flung through space. And it keeps getting better and better. Kids who enjoy “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” by Louis Sachar will love this wacky treehouse.

The Cranky Chicken series by Katherine Battersby – This hilarious graphic novel was recommended by a young reader who says Chicken is way high on the crank-o-meter, and the only one who can talk her down is Speedy the worm. First, they have to find something to eat that doesn’t upset Chicken. For example, food that is jiggly or food with holes. “Where has the food from the holes gone? Holes raise too many questions.” If you loved and laughed at “Narwhal and Jelly” by Ben Clanton, Cranky Chicken might be your next best thing.

Mister Fairy” by Morgane de Cadier – Many fairies live in the forest, illustrated here as tiny animals with wings, but “then, there’s Mister Fairy,” a scowling elephant fairy who cannot seem to make any magic.  Upset and disappointed, he leaves his home and discovers a gloomy city that sure could use some happiness. Perhaps Mister Fairy will also discover something new about himself.

Off Limits” by Helen Yoon – This picture book explores a kids very favorite place to be…a room that is off limits! When Dad leaves his office door open, the child finds amazing things like scotch tape, paperclips and sticky notes. What could be more fun?

Goldie’s Guide to Grandchilding” by Clint McElroy, illustrated by Eliza Kinkz – You may have never thought about the big responsibility of handling your grandparent, but Goldie knows all the rules. Keep toys simple, do not introduce video games, and do go out to eat together. Also, watch out for unannounced toots! In fact, Goldie and her grandpa are pretty perfect companions.

Enjoy some silly reading time together this summer with books that make you laugh out loud. And don’t forget to stop by the library to get your summer reading prizes this week.

by Jared Richards Jared Richards No Comments

Take a Trip and Embrace the Journey

Take a Trip and Embrace the Journey

by Jared Richards, Learning and Information Services Supervisor

When it comes to train travel, the most on-the-nose saying is that life is about the journey, not the destination. My family recently went on a train trip that started with a seven-hour delay, then we broke down in the desert, then we were overly-polite (or just a stickler for the rules) and let every freight train go by, and finally we arrived over twenty hours late. But I would still highly recommend the experience, assuming you don’t need to get somewhere in a timely manner. The actual journey consisted of hanging out with my family, eating good food, and taking in the scenery as it rolled by, all of which is much harder to do behind the wheel of a car.

Although I am a fan of trains, I must admit I don’t spend a lot of time reading about them, despite my dream of one day getting into model railroading. But there are plenty of good books not involving trains that focus on the journey.

One of the more literal ones is “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne. Professor Otto Lidenbrock and his nephew, find a coded note that tells them that the center of the earth can be reached via the volcanic tubes found beneath a volcano in Iceland. They enlist the support of an Icelandic guide to help them discover the wonders hidden beneath the earth’s crust. This includes a large ocean, giants, and prehistoric animals. As a kid I was enthralled by Jules Verne. His books featured epic journeys to the moon, under the ocean, into the earth, and around the globe. These stories were written in the 1800s, which makes them all the more interesting.

Also in the 1800s, we have “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome. Jerome intended to write a travel guide, which is why there are historical bits spread throughout the book, but it’s really just a funny book about the misadventures of three friends traveling on the Thames by boat. It’s one of the few books that has actually brought me to tears from laughter.

For a slightly-more-recent adventure, there is “An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green. Colin and his friend Hassan set off on a road trip after graduating high school, following Colin’s most recent breakup from a girl named Katherine. This is Colin’s nineteenth relationship with a girl named Katherine, hence the title. Starting in Chicago, they end up picking up a summer job in Tennessee interviewing the locals for an oral history project, while also maybe kindling a relationship with someone not named Katherine.

Bill Bryson is known for his humorous travel books. My favorite Bryson book is “A Walk in the Woods,” which features his attempt, with a friend, to hike the Appalachian Trail. I’ve had enough experience hiking that this book is very relatable. With modern forms of transport, it is rarely necessary to walk long distances anymore (speaking for myself, obviously). This means that long hikes are purely for the sake of the journey. It allows you to slow down, focus on your steps, listen to the world around you, and hopefully ignore the annoying traits of your hiking companions, like their inability to maintain an even pace, or not securing their gear so it’s banging and clanging all over the place.

To be fair to my initial anecdote, I feel compelled to at least mention a couple train books that are now in my queue because spending over fifty hours on a train has piqued my interest into other experiences. The first is “Off the Rails” by Beppe Severgnini, in which he talks about various train trips he has taken in his life around Europe, Asia, Australia, and the United States.

And lastly, we have Paul Theroux’s “The Great Railway Bazaar.” This book, first published in 1975, recounts his journey from the UK to Japan and back, over the course of four months. I am intrigued to find out if my experience was unique or relatively commonplace when it comes to train travel.

It would be hard for you to throw a rock and not hit a book that was all about the journey and not the destination. I know this. You know this. It’s a cliché for a reason. But also, don’t throw stones. If you need help finding a new book and going on a journey, just ask a librarian. We’re all over the place at the library, and we’re here to help.


by Jared Richards Jared Richards No Comments

Young Adult Manga for Summer

Young Adult Manga for Summer

by Alex Urbanek, Collection Services Librarian

Laid-Back Camp Vol. 1 eBook : Afro, Afro: Books -

Since I was little, summertime was a time to go to the public library, and fully immerse myself in  manga. My school library never really had a selection of graphic novels or manga, so the public library was my haven. Even now as an adult I always get the itch to read new manga as soon as the weather turns warm. As a collection development librarian, I get the honor to supply our children’s and young adult collections with many books, and I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to purchase and read much of the manga we have on the shelves, including some that is less well known than say, Black Butler or Spy X Family.

Starting off with a very relaxed manga is, “Laid-Back Camp” by Afro. This series follows Rin Shima, Nadeshiko Kagamihara, and their camping club as they travel Japan to different camp sites. The manga focuses on friendships, camping, and camp cooking. Detailing the recipes they prepare and the different tools needed to make them while camping. The art of the backgrounds, both camp sights and mountainous views is gorgeous. This series is not high stakes at any point, just cozy camping fun.

What happens to an adventuring party when the adventuring ends? “Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End” by Kanehito Yamada gives us a glimpse of life from the perspective of an elf mage Frieren, after her and her party defeat the demon king. Frieren decides to travel on her own after the adventure and comes back to visit her friends after 50 years. As an elf, 50 years is nothing to Frieren, but her old friends have continued to age and one is on his deathbed when she finally sees him. He insists she take on his charge as an apprentice while she continues to adventure, and Frieren begrudgingly accepts. It was really great to read a story about life after the adventure, especially from the point of view of a magical being who ages achingly slowly, while the rest of the world continues on.

Love Me for Who I Am” by Kata Konayama is an extremely cute manga set in an unconventional maid café. Non-binary student Mogumo can’t find a place where they feel like they belong and dress in the very soft and cute way they like. When one of their classmates, Iwaoka Tetsu, mentions his sibling’s maid café, where men dress up as cute maids, Mogumo is immediately interested. While working at the café Mogumo may finally find a place to belong with the other staff, some of who are transgender or gay.

When an adventuring party is defeated by a dragon, losing all of their food, money, and a party member, they have to find a way to survive while going back to save their friend. “Delicious in Dungeon” by Ryoko Kui is a story about adventurers figuring out how to eat the monsters in the dungeon so they can make their way back without needing to sell their gear. With help from a dwarf who himself knows quite a bit about monster cooking, they show the recipes they make and how to prepare all variety of monster. This is a very fun take on dungeon crawling, focusing on the usefulness of the monsters they find instead of blindly killing.

Mika was a regular human heading home from Comiket, but the next thing she knew she woke up reincarnated in a magical world. “A Witch’s Printing Office” by Mochinchi has Mika trying to find a spell to get home. The best way she can think of is to create her own Convention style event “Magic Market”. The convention gets much more traffic than Mika thought it would and ends up turning into a staple for the magical world. This book is pure fun. Seeing Mika struggle to contain the crowds, even with the help of royal guards who severely underestimated the excitement of the crowd, rings true to the struggle of an overexcited and overpacked comic convention.

These titles and other amazing manga can be found in our graphic novel sections of the Manhattan Public Library. They are a great way to get your reading time up for summer reading and get some fun and exciting prizes!

by Jared Richards Jared Richards No Comments

Explore a Variety of Food and Drink Recipe Books

Explore a Variety of Food and Drink Recipe Books

by Amber Hoskins, Adult Services Librarian

Anyone who has been tasked with writing a paper or an article knows that the hardest part can be coming up with a topic. Luckily, the month of July left me plenty to choose from. It is National Grilling Month, National Ice Cream Month, and the day calendar is full of celebrations dedicated to food and drink as well: Macaroni day, Hot Dog Day, Daquiri Day, and Mojito Day, only name a few. In honor of this month, dedicated to food and drink, I have gone through our catalog and found some books that are great for celebrating all of the days of July.

Being a fan of true crime and puns, the first book that caught my eye was “Serial Griller” by Matt Moore.  This book is focused on making all things by way of the outdoor grill from meat, to side dishes, to veggies. However, you do not necessarily need to have a grill to make all of the recipes featured. From this book, I made the ‘redneck potatoes’ recipe. It is easy to put together and was finished in less than 40 minutes. It instructs you to put your cast iron on coals, but since I do not have a grill, I put it in the oven at 400 degrees instead. Turns out, this worked just as well and this side dish was excellent. I would definitely make this again and found many other recipes that I would like to try in the future.

With the knowledge that many people do not eat meat, I wanted to include a book that focused solely on vegan and vegetarian barbeque. I found this in Nadine Horn’s “VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan Barbeque Cookbook.” This compendium has everything one would could imagine to host a vegan meal and it details all of the equipment you might need as well. I made the grilled corn on the cob with lime and cilantro butter. Getting this recipe accomplished required me to visit a friend who had a grill, which is always a great excuse to have a get together. Luckily it was a hit and nobody was disappointed, or had to wait too long, as the corn was done in 15 minutes.

For the dessert portion, I checked out the “Salt and Straw Ice Cream Cookbook” by Tyler Malek. This Portland-based ice cream shop has some of the world’s most innovative flavors. Their main idea for making ice cream was to create a base recipe that can be used to make a substantial number of different flavors. Think of it like stock and how it is used to flavor different soups. Depending on how adventurous you are feeling, you can create almost any flavor you want, from strawberry to mashed potatoes and gravy. Malek even consulted with brewers if you are interested in beer ice cream. With the help of my sister, we made the snickerdoodle flavor. The base was very easy to create and the ice cream was amazing. If you have an ice cream maker, I would highly recommend this book as a good way to be creative on days that may be too hot to run around outdoors.

Finally, I wanted to highlight “The World’s Best Drinks: Where to Find Them and How to Make Them” by Victoria Moore. This Lonely Planet publication has drink recipes from all around the world and is a good fit for anyone looking to try a new beverage, or an old favorite. It includes cocktails (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), as well as coffees, teas, floats and other signature drinks from various countries. I like that this book gives a history of where many drinks originated from, and also includes what kinds of foods go well with them. I wanted to try a drink I had never had before, so I made the Singapore Sling. There are quite a few ingredients involved, but it was a refreshing beverage to sit down to after being out on a hot day.

These are just a sample of what you can find in the food and drink section of the library. Choosing the books I wanted to use most was a tough decision, as there are so many good ones. If you are looking to experience something different this summer when it comes to meals and beverages, feel free to stop by and check out some cookbooks from your local library!

by Jared Richards Jared Richards No Comments

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.