by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Harry Potter…Still Going

Harry Potter…Still Going

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

Bloomsbury Publishing first published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in London in 1997.  In the U.S., we know the book as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, published by Scholastic in 1998. I caught Harry Potter fever when I started working in children’s library services in 1999. I remember pre-ordering Goblet of Fire, the fourth book, from Amazon which guaranteed I would receive it on the day it came out, while throngs of kids went to bookstores for midnight parties of the book release. No one could have predicted 20 years ago how this series would change publishing, affect reading patterns, and become a part of common knowledge around the globe.

And here we are, 20 years later, still crazy about J. K. Rowling’s wizarding world. At our library, you can join us to celebrate what Bloomsbury has dubbed Harry Potter Book Night on February 1st. All ages can join in the fun.

I remember the devastation some readers felt when Rowling announced there would be only seven books in the series. But of course, something this magical can’t just end. Harry Potter lovers have much to keep them occupied these days.

The Movies

The eight Harry Potter movies were extremely popular, and recently Fantastic Beasts opened up the wizard world, making it truly international. The main character, Newt Scamander, is mentioned in the original books as the author of an important textbook for Hogwarts students called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Rowling published a book with this title in 2001, but now it’s expanded into a world of its own. Newt traveled all over the globe researching his book, and while the first movie brought us to the United States, the second will be set mostly in Paris, and the following three movies will probably be in other cities, too. Offshoot books include a cinematic guide, character guide, new editions of Rowling’s original, and the screenplay of the movie.

The Play

In 2016, a play opened in London titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, written by Jack Thorne along with J. K. Rowling and John Tiffany. You can read the script in book form, and eventually see the play on Broadway, opening in April this year. The new story focuses on Harry and Ginny Potter’s middle child, Albus Severus Potter, who is troubled by inner feelings of failure and disappointment. When he enters Hogwarts, he is sorted into Slytherin, another devastating blow to his family’s name, and becomes best friends with Scorpius Malfoy, the surprisingly likeable son of Draco and Astoria. There’s plenty here to satisfy readers in need of some Hogwarts drama, if you can get used to reading the story as a script.

Fan Fiction

Many readers have kept the Harry Potter spirit alive by reading, and by writing, fan fiction that takes place in the same world and with the same or newly invented characters. A librarian colleague of mine notes that “Harry Potter is eternally popular for ‘fanfic’.  It’s not nearly the oldest fandom, but it definitely has staying power, staying strong from message boards to listservs, and from fansites to Tumblr.”

New Illustrated Books

Bloomsbury, and to a lesser extent, Scholastic have been releasing lots of new editions lately, with new illustrations, or special house color design covers, etc.  Popular book illustrator Brian Selznick is doing the artwork for new paperback editions that will be out for Harry’s birthday in July. Jim Kay, a UK illustrator and printmaker, was given the amazing job of creating fully illustrated versions of all the Harry Potter books. The first three are out and have been captivating readers with this skilled artist’s colorful imaginings of the well-known characters and events. These illustrations provide a nice contrast to the movie images, especially for kids who saw the movies before, or instead of, reading the books. (Never ask a librarian if the book was better. The book is always better.)


Harry Potter and Harry Potter Lego video games have been very popular for years. A couple of new games coming out include a mobile Hogwarts Mystery role-playing game set in the 80s, and an app game that will be similar to Pokemon Go.

Love for Harry Potter does not seem to be fading. At the library, we have incorporated it into our Kids Book Club, which meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursday each month. February’s meetings will feature Harry Potter books, as well as the Dragon Slayers’ Academy series, with snacks, games and crafts. Some activities include “poison ball” and “knock out the dragon’s teeth.”  The February 1st event from 6:00-8:00 will include quidditch (sort of) in the auditorium, Harry Potter trivia, Fantastic Beasts crafts and more. All muggles welcome!

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Understanding Mental and Developmental Disorders

Understanding Mental and Developmental Disorders

By Mary Wahlmeier, Adult Services Assistant

Mental illness has had its fair share of time in the limelight in recent years, but its accompanying stigma lurks in the shadows as well. The following titles include fascinating personal accounts, groundbreaking research, and professional viewpoints of just a few commonly misunderstood mental and developmental disorders. With the hope of greater understanding to come, read on.

A gripping graphic novel that I couldn’t put down, Lighter than My Shadow by Katie Green primarily chronicles the author’s struggles with anorexia, but also features her experiences with binge eating disorder and dissociative amnesia. Green’s story, which is both elegant and deeply personal, illuminates the internal struggles of living with mental illness. Another autobiographical work, Scared Selfless: My Journey from Abuse and Madness to Surviving and Thriving by Michelle Stevens, is captivating and ultimately triumphant, although the story is difficult to read. Stevens splits her narrative into two parts – the first is an account of the horrendous sexual abuse she suffered as a child, the second detailing her journey to recovery. Dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), depression, and anxiety are some of the ailments Michelle experienced during her recovery. All are interesting to read about, especially for those who wish to learn more about mental illness.

Drawing Autism by Jill Mullin illustrates the artistic talents of people with autism spectrum disorder and includes intriguing interviews with the artists. Whether or not you are intrigued by the art itself, you will learn something about the unique individuals who created it and the condition they share. The humanity inside the artwork and the words of the contributors are breathtaking. For those looking for a wordier look at autism, check out Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant and Tom Fields-Meyer. Prizant’s method discourages the long-accepted approach of preventing undesirable behaviors typical of people with autism, instead suggesting that the caregivers of people with autism do the changing. He claims that the characteristic behaviors of people with autism are coping strategies for facing an overstimulating world; therefore, they should not be inhibited. In this groundbreaking book, Prizant explains how people can change their attitudes, their behaviors, and the support they provide in order to encourage more desirable behaviors and to best help people with autism thrive.

Falling into the Fire: A Psychiatrist’s Encounters with the Mind in Crisis by Christine Montross explores the difficult questions which arose for the author throughout her budding career as a psychiatrist. She elaborates upon these questions by recounting stories of the patients who inspired them – patients who intentionally harm themselves or have distorted views of their bodies, patients who must be admitted or medicated against their will, patients who face the fear of misdiagnosis, and many more enigmatic and captivating accounts. Also written by a mental health professional, but with a familial narrative, Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness by Stephen P. Hinshaw aims to reduce the stigmatization of mental illness. An accomplished professor of psychology and psychiatry, Hinshaw here relays the story of his father’s severe mental illness, which he kept secret from his son for many years. Through family history and shocking statistics, Hinshaw discusses the reality that people with mental illness experience shame and discrimination and that the destigmatization of mental illness is imperative. Written with grace and understanding, Hinshaw’s book has been acclaimed by many.

If you long to learn more about mental and developmental disorders, Manhattan Public Library is a great place to start. Our collection houses resources appropriate for readers of all levels of understanding, from lighthearted memoirs to even a few professional reference titles. You can search our catalog at or ask for a recommendation at the Reference Desk.

by Maddy Ogle Maddy Ogle No Comments

Local Manhattan Student Takes First Place At Chess Tournament

MANHATTAN, KANSAS – The Manhattan Public Library hosted its first Kansas Scholastic Chess Association-rated Chess Tournament on Saturday, January 13. The tournament had 95 participants competing in K-5, K-8 or K-12 sections in the 6 Round Swiss Tournament.

Parijat Mondal, a student at Manhattan High School, took first place in the K-12 section with fellow student Jacob Grace who took 8th place. However, it was not just a day for individual wins for Manhattan High School.

The Manhattan High School Chess Team took 2nd place. The team included Parijat Mondal, Jacob Grace, Matthew Pickering, Gergely Chikan, and Austin Bender.

The tournament was organized by Tom Claman, a current marketing analyst at GTM Sportwear, and Charles Carlson, a PhD student in the Biomedical Computing and Devices Lab at Kansas State University.

Other local participants included Solon Xia, Ethan Xia and Harvey Anspaugh.

Congratulations to all who competed! Manhattan Public Library continues to connect the community to a world of ideas and information.

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by Maddy Ogle Maddy Ogle No Comments



MANHATTAN, KS – The public is invited to attend the second Talk20MHK event on Thursday, January 25, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM in the Manhattan Public Library auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Six local speakers will each give a dynamic, seven-minute presentation featuring 20 PowerPoint slides. Topics at this event will range from beekeeping with Nikki Bowman to community building with Josh Hicks. The audience will have a chance to ask questions and visit with the speakers after the presentations.

Talk20MHK is a collaborative project of UFM Community Learning Center and Manhattan Public Library. The goal of Talk20MHK is to build strong community connections by giving individuals a platform to share their knowledge, stories, and skills with others in the community. Two events will take place each year, one in June and one in January.

Talk20MHK January 2018 presenters include:

Nikki Bowman– Beekeeping

Jessica Canfield – Hidden Beauty of Landscapes

Jeffrey Hicks—Math, Science and Where They Meet

Josh Hicks – Community Building

Palma Holden – Finding Beauty in Everyday Objects

Carmen Schober – Storytelling and Goal-Setting Through Film

For more information about the presenters and the event, visit Manhattan Public Library is located at 629 Poyntz Avenue in Manhattan, Kansas, (785) 776-4741.


by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

A World War II Hero of the French Resistance

A World War II Hero of the French Resistance

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

Among the many true tales of courage exhibited during World War II, Paul Kix’s The Saboteur is a standout.  It’s a resistance story of a young Frenchman’s unwillingness to accept Nazi domination.  While the young man’s adventures seem to stretch the limits of credibility, his experiences are documented in historical accounts.  Let me tell you what makes this book so special.

Robert de La Rochefoucauld was born into wealth.  His family had a long history of interactions with the royalty of France, and his parents owned a beautiful chateau.  He attended the best of schools, including a Catholic boarding school located near Salzburg, Austria.  During the 1930’s, he had a chance meeting with Adolph Hitler when a group of schoolboys hiked up to Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest) to see what it was like.

The Nazi invasion of France changed Robert’s world.  The chateau was occupied by Nazi officers, and Robert’s father was imprisoned.  The young man had a burning desire to help the French cause.  He wasn’t quite sure how to go about it, but he began making plans.  He was only 19.

He felt his best chance for resistance would be a meeting with Charles de Gaulle.  So, Robert snuck through Spain and went to England where de Gaulle held offices.  Sine he wasn’t quite sure what to do with the young volunteer, de Gaulle decided to put Robert in touch with the Special Operations Executive under Winston Churchill.  Thus, Robert began a tortuous regimen of training that included skills like parachuting behind enemy lines, killing in hand-to-hand combat, and placing and detonating explosives, and even using a newspaper as a lethal weapon. Robert excelled at those skills and soon began training other recruits and going on secret missions himself.

His main goal being to disrupt Nazi operations, Robert sought out German officers to assassinate.  He also disguised himself as a factory worker so that over time he could plant an elaborate network of explosives that razed the factory.  Even he was surprised by the amazing success of that operation.

Of course those experiences took a terrible toll.  Robert was captured twice during the war and was tortured for long periods of time.  His first imprisonment was to end with execution by a rifleman, but he managed to escape from the truck that was transporting him to his execution.  His second escape was even more miraculous, but he had the aid of loyal French citizens to spirit him away from dangerous territory.

In later years long after the war, Robert was invited to a formal presentation in his honor.  For his service during the war, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor, one of the most noteworthy awards given to very few veterans.  His wife and children began to learn the details of his wartime efforts, about which he had rarely spoken over the years.

What makes this book worth reading?  First, it’s tale of incredibly bold courage on the part of a very young patriot.  Robert was terrified of parachute jumps, but he realized that such feats had to be done.  He also clearly knew what would happen should he be captured, as his first imprisonment was an excruciating experience that nearly broke him.  Second, there’s the nature of the book.  The story reads like the best fictional spy thrillers, but its lengthy bibliography of primary sources convinces the reader that this all really occurred.  Third, there is a rich appeal to a variety of readers.  The book is a personal family story, a historical account of war, and a revelation about the workings of resistance networks.  You won’t want to miss this captivating biography.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Books to Help You Make 2018 the Best Year Yet

Books to Help You Make 2018 the Best Year Yet

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

Oprah Winfrey said, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Even if you aren’t a resolution-maker, the beginning of the year is still an excellent opportunity to evaluate how things are going and to determine if changes need to be made. There were some excellent books published in 2017 that can provide a good start for a life reset.

With all of the technology tools at our fingertips, it can be difficult to learn how to utilize those tools without letting them take over our lives. In “Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self,” popular radio host Manoush Zomorodi led her listeners through an experiment to help with this. Zomorodi provides a week-long series of challenges to help readers unplug from their devices, freeing their minds for problem-solving and creativity. The thing I appreciated most about this book is that she isn’t a tech snob. She recognizes that Americans have busy lives and technology can be useful in making our lives easier and keeping us connected to loved ones. She shares her own experiences with being overly attached to her smartphone and gives practical solutions to give our minds space to perform their best work.

If you’ve avoided the self-help genre because you just don’t have time, “The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo is the book for you. Kondo manages to cover the main points of her decluttering philosophy in a concise and entertaining way. Manga are comics that were developed in Japan, and the format turns out to be an effective medium for sharing her ideas along with a likable story about a young woman trying to create some order in her apartment. Not all of her ideas will work for everyone, but most are common sense advice that will get you started on the journey to a much tidier home.

Sheryl Sandberg is probably best known for her 2013 New York Times bestseller “Lean In.” After the wild of success of her book, her life took a tragic turn when her husband died suddenly at the age of 48. For “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy,” she partnered with Wharton professor of psychology Adam Grant to share the wisdom she’s gained about how to make it through the times in life that seem impossible and how to best help loved ones facing tragedy. A combination of an openly heartbreaking recounting of her personal experience and researched advice from Grant combine to create a compelling book to provide hope for those recovering from trauma or misfortune.

In “Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do,” Yale psychology professor John Bargh combines research and anecdotes to reveal how much of what we do is determined without our own awareness. The decisions we make can be influenced by everything from our cultural past to what beverage our supervisor is drinking. Bargh believes that the more we are aware of these unconscious influences, the more we can use them to make better decisions and change our behavior.

Admiral William McRaven addressed the 2014 graduating class of the University of Texas in Austin with ten life lessons that he had learned over his career as a Navy SEAL. Afterwards, he was asked about the speech repeatedly, which inspired him to flesh it out into the book “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life . . . and Maybe the World.” Most of us will never go through the trials that Navy SEALs experience in their training (and I’m really okay with that), but we can benefit from the way that this intense challenge forces individuals to quickly distill life down to the essentials in order to make it through. In just a little over 100 pages, he’s able to teach not just about how to be tougher in the face of challenges, but also about how to be a better person.

Sometimes a book is just the nudge needed to set our lives on the right course. Check out our “Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise” newsletter at for more titles to help you get started.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Women Around the World

Women Around the World

By Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

This year’s Kansas Humanities Council BookTalk theme, Women Around the World, explores both familiar and exotic challenges faced by women in South America and Africa. Join us at the library February through April,  2018, for three of BookTalk discussions sponsored by Manhattan Library Association and the KHC. Ground-breaking writers like Senegal’s Mariama Ba have evoked aspects of their respective national histories to relate women’s narratives.  Though the settings may be foreign, the books touch on issues familiar to women everywhere: coming-of-age struggles, marital challenges and triumphs, and the ordeals faced by mothers and daughters to gain respect and establish identity.  The search for community and individuality remains universal; stories of that sort are here for everyone to read, enjoy, and share.

Our first selection, Nadine Gordimer’s None to Accompany Me, reflects the chaotic racial politics of South Africa right after the fall of apartheid.  The intermingled hopes and hazards of the post-apartheid area are illustrated in the evolving relationships of two couples, one black, one white.  Vera Stark, a middle-aged woman who has spent her life helping blacks reclaim land taken from them by whites, comes to feel increasingly distant from her husband.  The white couple’s disintegration leads them into conflict with a black couple, Mpho and Sibongile Mazoma.  The meeting of these two households shows the lives of real human beings struggling against personal limitations and moments of selfishness to experience sacrifice and touching insight.

Marilyn Klaus, who teaches Religious Studies and African and African-American Studies at KU, will present None to Accompany Me at the Manhattan Public Library on February 22, 2018, at 7:00 PM.

The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende, follows three generations of a family though loss, sorrow, and love. Justice calls for forgiveness, even during the rise and fall of Chilean democracy. The Trueba and del Valle families, united through the marriage of the gentle, clairvoyant Clara and the tyrannical, greedy Esteban, embody Chile’s fall from democracy and the rise of a turbulent new dictatorship.  The House of the Spirits may be intended as a metaphor for Chile, itself, but the “spirits” within manifest in the courage and compassion of women like Clara, her daughter, Blanca, and granddaughter, Alba.  Their whimsy, magic, and, ultimately, redemption through love enable them to transcend the chaos of warfare, torture, and tyranny.

Nicolas Shump, instructor of Western history, political science, and the humanities at KU and the Barstow School in Kansas City, will lead a discussion on The House of the Spirits at the Library on March 29, 2018, at 7:00 PM.

So Long a Letter, by Mariama Ba, is a shorter narrative written as an extended letter by recently widowed Ramatoulaye to her lifelong friend, Aissatou.  Set in Senegal, where non-Arabic Islamic polygamy and female illiteracy remained common, it is a record of Ramatoulaye’s emotional struggle with her husband’s decision to take a second wife, his sudden death, and how she rebuilds her life and regains serenity.  This, Ba’s first novel, has been translated into 16 languages in order to share its powerful portrayal of African women’s lives.  Ba, one of the few educated Senegalese women of her generation, creates a moving account of a life so familiar in its emotions and struggles that it speaks to women on every continent. “My heart rejoices each time a woman emerges from the shadows,” says Mariama Ba’s main character in So Long a Letter.

Dr. Michaeline Chance-Reay, instructor in women’s studies and education at KSU, will lead the discussion of So Long a Letter in the Library on April 26, 2018, at 7:00 PM.

Captivating books, ready to enliven and enlighten, await your attention.  You are invited to check out these titles at the 2nd floor Reference Desk at the Manhattan Public Library!

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Children’s Books Celebrating Females

Children’s Books Celebrating Females

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

The current New York Times Best Sellers list for children’s books includes four titles celebrating women throughout history. The popularity of these books is indicative of a movement that includes raising our young girls to be confident, to demand respect from others, and to follow career paths without allowing obstructions to keep them away, particularly because of gender bias. All these titles are available at the library:

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky – 48 weeks on NYT Best Seller list

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton – 28 weeks

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo – 24 weeks

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison – new last week

Check out the best sellers for teens and you will find Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman’s book Fierce.  Additionally, Andrea Beaty’s fiction picture books Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist, have been on the list for 119 weeks and 43 weeks respectively. They are positively fun and entertaining, showing girls who cannot stop their passion to figure things out. If you are seeking more amazing children’s literature on this topic to share with all genders, here are a few titles that are not on the best seller lists (yet).

Brad Meltzer’s adult thrillers have earned spots on the NYT Best Seller lists frequently over the years, and now his series of children’s biographies have been found there as well, including I am Amelia Earhart in 2014. Inspired by his desire to make sure his own daughter and son were exposed to amazing heroes from the past, he created the “Ordinary People Change the World” series that also includes Jane Goodall, Sacagawea, Lucille Ball, Harriet Tubman and more. These treasures are short enough to share with the youngest listeners, with engaging illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos. A child of a co-worker was so moved by the Rosa Parks story that, at age 5, she memorized the entire book and recited it one year at the Manhattan community Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration.

Isabel Sanchez Vegara has four titles in her picture book biography series “Little People, Big Dreams”: Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie and Audrey Hepburn. Similar to Meltzer, the famous women’s stories are told as short read-alouds with colorful and energetic illustrations. The focus is not only on achievements, but also on the challenges they overcame and their important qualities like determination and perseverance.

Strong is the New Pretty by Kate Parker is the perfect coffee table book for every home with girls. Parker’s powerful photographs show girls doing every kind of activity, from the mundane to the amazing, along with their own inspirational quotes. Booklist reviews calls it “positively moving and totally glorious,” a book that you can look through again and again, “invit[ing] browsers to linger and contemplate the girl-positive messages.” Readers are sure to find at least one or two that particularly inspire them.

In The Little Book of Little Activists, parents get a superb resource for helping young children understand political marches they see or participate in. Inspired by the Women’s March on January 21, the small book features photographs of children holding signs or marching, with simple definitions of words like activism, feminism, democracy and freedom. Quotes from children fill in the rest of the text, which will help young listeners see that they can be a part of changing the world to make it a better place for all.

Two new picture books were published this year about Malala Yousafzai. Malala herself wrote Malala’s Magic Pencil to describe how she grew from hoping for a magic way to rid the world of problems to her determination to find real ways to solve problems using her own voice. Raphaele Frier’s Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education is another informative picture book that provides some details of Malala’s life and highlights her accomplishments with beautiful illustrations by Aurelia Fronty. Malala Yousagzai is also featured in Rad Women Worldwide, a compilation of one to two page biographies of lesser known females (for the most part) representing 30 countries and a very broad range of time. This is a great book to turn to after finishing Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

If you were a fan of Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess and want to pass on those confident, wise, strong values to all the girls you know, there’s no shortage of great literature out there, with more to come.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Thank Charles Dickens for Christmas

Thank Charles Dickens for Christmas

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Mention Christmas and “A Christmas Carol” is sure to come to mind. Charles Dickens published his classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and a trio of spirits, for Christmas 1843. “A Christmas Carol” has been adapted for both the large and small screen dozens of times over the years, and is as familiar as Christmas cookies. But what some people may not know is that Dickens wrote several Christmas stories.

For Christmas 1844, Dickens wrote “The Chimes.” This is the story of Toby Veck, a poor working class man who has lost his faith in humanity, believing that his poverty is the result of his unworthiness. On New Year’s Eve he is visited by spirits to help restore his faith and convince him that nobody is born evil, but rather that crime and poverty are things created by man.

Dickens wrote “The Cricket on the Hearth” for Christmas 1845. The cricket of the title acts as a barometer of life at the home of John Peerybingle and his much younger wife Dot. The cricket chirps when things go well, but falls silent when there is sorrow. After Tackleton, a jealous old man, poisons John’s mind about Dot, arousing his jealousy, the cricket restores John’s confidence in his wife.

Dickens wrote “The Battle of Life” for Christmas 1846. The setting is a village on the site of an historic battlefield. The characters are two sisters in love with the same man. Dickens’ message is that in every person’s live there is a battle being fought. The battle can be won either peacefully or by hurting others. This is a choice each of us has to make.

Dickens’ final Christmas book was “The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain,” written in 1848. Professor Redlaw is a teacher of chemistry dwelling on his past sorrows and mistakes. A spirit haunts him and proposes a way to escape his painful recollections of the past by erasing his memory. Instead of easing his mind, the absence of memory makes Redlaw an empty man devoid of emotions. At the story’s end, Redlaw regains his memories, and is a changed and better man.

In addition to these book length stories, Dickens produced Christmas-themed issues of his two penny journal, “Household Words,” between 1850 and 1858, collaborating with writers such as Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell.

To learn more about Charles Dickens and his connection to Christmas, read “The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits,” by Les Standiford. Standiford tells the story of how and why Dickens, whose career was on a downward track in 1843, wrote the classic Christmas story. Its publication didn’t solve Dickens’ financial woes, but it did jumpstart his flailing career, and continues to give the world joy every season.

You might also enjoy “Inventing Scrooge: the Incredible Story Behind Dickens’ Legendary A Christmas Carol,” by Carlo DeVito.  DeVito uncovers the real-life inspirations from Dickens’ own world that led to his creation of “A Christmas Carol.” By understanding how much of his own past and present Dickens wove into the characters and themes of his story, we may gain a deeper appreciation of this holiday classic.

Among the many derivations and variations of “A Christmas Carol,” are several available at the library. For example, “The Annotated Christmas Carol,” with notes by Michael Patrick Hearn.  Hearn begins with a history of the story, including background information about Dickens’ life. He includes quotes from contemporary reviewers, authors, friends, and other sources.  He also provides photographs and illustrations, many from the several illustrators who worked with Dickens.

A Christmas Carol and Other Stories,” includes “The Chimes,” and “The Haunted Man,” in addition to “A Christmas Carol.” “The Complete Christmas Books of Charles Dickens,” is available for free download from Hoopla.

Dickens’ classic Christmas tale on the silver screen is available in several versions at the library.  “Greatest Classic Films Collection. Holiday,” includes “A Christmas Carol” from 1938, starring Reginald Owen. Other versions include “A Christmas Carol,” starring Alastair Sim, 1951; the musical “Scrooge” from 1970; George C. Scott as Scrooge in the 1984 “A Christmas Carol;” “The Muppets Christmas Carol” of 1992; “Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” featuring the voice of Jim Carrey as Scrooge from 2009; and even “The Smurfs. A Christmas Carol” from 2013.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Heartwarming Reads from Local Authors

Heartwarming Reads from Local Authors

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

I know it’s the season to be jolly, but sometimes that’s difficult. Sometimes the world is overwhelming and it seems like hope is futile. I have found that often a good story can change my outlook and help me to believe in the good in the world. Luckily I have found two local authors who have shared their stories of community and family connections guaranteed to warm the heart.

It’s probably not a surprise that is nearly impossible for me to resist a book about Carnegie libraries, let alone one that has a picture of the original Manhattan Public Library on the inside cover, but I enjoyed “To the Stars Through Difficulties” by Manhattanite Romalyn Tilghman even more than I expected to. This delight of a novel is centered around the old Carnegie library in fictional New Hope, Kansas. The building was repurposed as an arts center when the library moved into a newer building, but it still acts as the heart of the community. The story focuses on a collection of women who meet there for the “No Guilt Quilters Guild.” Angelina comes to town to finish her dissertation on Carnegie libraries and to connect to memories of her beloved grandmother who had lived in the town. Traci escapes an overwhelming situation back east to take a job providing educational opportunities at the arts center, even though she really isn’t qualified. Gayle comes to the quilting group for something to force her to get out while she recovers from the destruction of her home in a nearby town. These women, along with a host of other engaging characters, work through challenges and kindle a spirit of community that spreads far beyond the limestone walls of the center.

Tilghman’s story contains history and a bit of romance, but is really the story of women getting things done. From the women in the early 1900’s working to get a Carnegie library in their community to the current day women saving their community centers, the characters use their strength and talents to accomplish what seems to be impossible. They are very different from each other, and don’t always get along, but they work together and support each other along the way. This is a good selection for those who have enjoyed Jan Karon’s Mitford series or for anyone with a passion for Kansas communities and history. Or if you love libraries, obviously.

In “My Little Valentine: The Story of a Mother and Daughter’s Lost Love,” local author KelLee Parr tells the true story of his search for his mother’s birth mother. Although she had lived a happy life in a loving family, Wanda June always wondered about the woman who gave birth to her. When Parr visits the Kansas State Historical Society to do some research for his 3rd grade class, he had the spark of idea for another angle to help with his mother’s search and started a meandering journey toward answers that changed the lives of his entire family.

The account of his search warms the heart, but when he flashes back to his newfound grandmother’s tale, I was not able to put the book down. The struggles she faced in her life and the agonizing decision she had to make add a complexity to the book that causes it to linger long after the last page is turned. Sprinkled with colorful characters and stories of small-town life, this touching narrative gives reason for optimism in the midst of situations that seem hopeless.

If your spirits need a bit of a boost this holiday season, some authors with strong connections to our very own community have provided just the right medicine – stories of community and family working through life’s challenges together.