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by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Exploring Kansas Outdoors

Exploring Kansas Outdoors

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

Kansas isn’t really known for its outdoor splendor, but for those of us who have taken the time to slow down, go beyond the interstate, put on some bug spray, and explore, there are wonders to behold.

After hearing about a cave near his hometown that he never knew existed, George Frazier started a quest to find and share the few remaining bits of wilderness in our state, resulting in The Last Wild Places in Kansas. With one unexpected treasure after another, he draws us into the thrill of discovery, the history of the place, the characters in its past and present, and a bit of the science behind it. His engaging recounting takes us all over the state, sharing his adventures and misadventures along the way. I have loved Kansas for many years, but The Last Wild Places in Kansas exposed me to new wonders and allowed me to further explore my beloved state. The book would have benefited from more images and maps but had enough to keep me oriented. Whether you are new to the subtle marvels of the Kansas wild or a seasoned expert, Frazier’s book is sure to delight.

If you enjoy Kansas photography, you’ll want to pick up A Kansas Year by Kansas Wildlife and Parks photographer, Mike Blair. Blair uses photography and essays to share the wonder of the Kansas outdoors, season by season. His essays are more about reflecting on the natural world than on educating, but they are informative in a subtle way. His photography gave me a view into a Kansas that I have never been able to observe. With each month represented by ten short essays, A Kansas Year provided a peaceful pause in my days.

The Nature of Kansas Lands, edited by Beverley Worster, is also a collection of essays and photography, but is grouped by ecosystems. We explore waterways, woodlands, grasslands, farmlands, and high plains with expansive images, personal experience essays, and short, informative sidebars that tie it all together. This is an impressive book, but I have to say that my favorite aspect of it is the sidebars. It is rare to find such a concise summary of area natural history. This would be a great book for those who are new to Kansas or who are looking for an overview.

For those who want to do their own exploring, the best resource to get you started is Marci Penner’s The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.  Organized geographically, the guidebook has short descriptions for an impressive amount of attractions for everywhere in Kansas. The focus is on town-life, but there is still a good representation of the outdoors. Besides, it’s nice to have a recommendation for a good place to eat and a comfy bed & breakfast to aid in recovery from any strenuous outdoor adventures. A few years ago, this book led me to the International Forest of Friendship in Atchison, a great place for a peaceful walk among some beautiful trees. Since then, I don’t venture out in Kansas without it.

For those of you with particular outdoor interests, there are a few guides that must be mentioned. Kansas Trail Guide: The Best Hiking, Biking, and Riding in the Sunflower State by Jonathan Conrad is a thorough guide of the history, location, and wildlife of the many trails in Kansas. Paddling Kansas by Dave Murphy shares routes and guidance for taking on Kansas rivers. The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots by Bob Gress shares where to go and what to look for to find the wealth of birds that venture into our borders.

I also want to note that almost all of the books I’ve mentioned are Kansas Notable Books. The award website is a great place to start when you want to find the best sources for learning more about Kansas.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Biographies “On Demand!”

Biographies “On Demand!”

By Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

Thomas Carlyle wrote, “The history of the world is but the biography of great men”  and women.  This year, MPL has added more than 90 new biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs to our already stuffed-to-bursting collection. These new books describe a wide range of people: sports stars and soldiers, people who suffered crime and abuse, authors and musicians, well- known public and historical figures, and even ordinary people with intriguing life experiences. Biographies offer us all a chance to be the proverbial “fly on the wall” during the most critical and interesting moments of others’ lives.

Running is popular in Manhattan. Our city hosts many footraces every year. The following three stories can offer inspiration to weekend warriors and hardened marathoners alike.

In 1975, Robert ‘Raven’ Kraft made a New Year’s resolution to run eight miles on Miami’s South Beach each evening. Over 125,000 miles later, he has not missed one sunset. Running with Raven: The Amazing Story of One Man, His Passion, and the Community He Inspired, by Laura Lee Huttenbach, describes how Raven has changed the lives of thousands who have run with him. His daily commitment demonstrates how a person can rebuild their life, simply by always taking the next step.

In Taking My Life Back, Rebekah Gregory, a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, takes us through her journey. Shielding her son from the explosion, she lost her left leg. She proceeds through pain and mistakes to find solace in faith, a feel-good tale of resilience in the face of utterly undeserved misfortune.

Fighting Blind: a Green Beret’s Story of Extraordinary Courage by Ivan Castro, is tale of redemption despite misfortune. Blinded during the Iraq War, Castro chose to fight loss and despair by resolving to run and complete a marathon. Since then, he has run over two dozen. Today, still blind, he has returned to active duty to help soldiers prepare for combat.

Marianne Monson uncovers miniature historical dramas capable of inspiring women today in Frontier Grit: The Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women. In overlooked tales of forgotten heroines of the American West, she details the lives of twelve women who pushed west in search of land, gold, and freedom, while experiencing extreme sexism, racism, and classism. A black woman, Clara, watched helplessly as slavers sold her husband and children. Six decades later, they successfully reunited as free people.  A young girl, Charlotte, hid her gender to become the greatest stagecoach driver that ever lived. A Native American, Gertrude, fought outright hostility to give her people and her culture a voice.

Innocent, a 10-year-old in Uganda, was enslaved into Joseph Kony’s avowedly-Christian child army, where unspeakable brutality and violence became his everyday reality. Innocent: a Spirit of Resilience, by Kevin McLaughlin, uses Innocent’s own words to describe his struggle to heal from the trauma he experienced. Innocent experiences a growing desire to help others realize meaningful, positive change.

Coretta Scott King relates her own determination in My Life, My Love, My Legacy.  King recalls her time picking cotton as a child during the Great Depression, her education at Antioch College and the New England Conservatory of Music, her marriage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and her efforts to create nonviolent social change.

Enlightenment and occasional amusement awaits in Clyde Bellecourt’s The Thunder Before the Storm. He organized the American Movement, AIM, at Stillwater State Prison in the 1960s. Among other events, he describes AIM’s occupation of Wounded Knee giving credit for the support many indigenous women.

Never Caught, by Erica Armstrong Dunbar, offers yet another perspective on George Washington. As his second term came to a close, one of his household slaves escaped to freedom. Oney “Ona” Judge (1773-1848) was born into slavery, working as a dressmaker and attendant for First Lady Martha Washington. Her story is remarkable for its daring, success, and its inside perspective regarding the personal lives of our nation’s “First Family.”

Brief mentions:  Several new biographies of musicians have arrived. Being Elvis, a Lonely Life, by Ray Connolly, thoughtfully considers the challenges of King’s unparalleled fame. The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince, by Mayte Garcia, portrays the whirlwind relationship between Garcia and Prince. Otis Redding, an Unfinished Life, by Jonathan Gould, explores the life of the King of Soul in unmatched depth.

These are just a few of this year’s new biographies. The online library catalog contains many more, organized by name, occupation, subject, or historic event. Our Summer Reading program is also underway – join in for entertainment and prizes!

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Juneteenth, the Celebration of Freedom

Juneteenth, the Celebration of Freedom

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

On June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the war was over. One of Granger’s first orders of business was to proclaim General Order Number 3, which began: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had become official on January 1, 1863. On that date, the Executive Order stated that “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” The news only reached Texas two and half years later.

Before their official emancipation, tens of thousands of slaves made their bids for freedom by travelling north on the Underground Railroad. From the late 1700s to 1850, an estimated 100,000 slaves escaped bondage. The height of activity on the railroad began in 1850 with the compromise of that year and the passing of more stringent fugitive slave laws.

In “Beyond the River: the Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad,” author Ann Hagedorn details the role Ripley, Ohio played in the Underground Railroad. At the center of her story is Protestant minister John Rankin. Rankin helped organize the town as a stop on the railroad. This historical narrative reads like an adventure story, recounting the tribulations of abolitionists and slaves running towards freedom.

Using both archival and contemporary sources, Fergus M. Bordewich reveals the complicated and remarkable story of the Underground Railroad in “Bound for Canaan: the Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America.” As a secret network, the railroad integrated people across races. While supported by political theories, it was carried out by people of fervent religious beliefs. Bordewich tells the stories of individuals like David Ruggles, inventor of the black underground in New York City, Quakers Isaac Hooper and Levi Coffin, and Harriet Tubman.

Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2016. In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor. This railroad is operated by conductors and engineers driving real trains on a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.

The six months between July 12, 1862, when he first spoke of his intention to free the slaves, and January 1, 1863, when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, were the most tumultuous six months of Lincoln’s presidency. “Lincoln’s Gamble,” by Todd Brewster portrays Abraham Lincoln’s unshakable determination to save the nation. Mindful of battlefield and political realities, Lincoln first read a draft of the proclamation to his cabinet. He then waited for the right moment, after the bloody battle of Antietam, to make it public.

Emancipating Lincoln: The Proclamation in Text, Context, and Memory,” by Harold Holzer outlines Lincoln’s approach to drafting the document and creating a climate for its acceptance. For Holzer, the 1700 words of the proclamation are Lincoln’s most important piece of writing. It was responsible both for his legacy as the Great Emancipator and for his being attacked by those who believe his efforts at emancipation didn’t go far enough.

In “Lincoln’s Hundred Days: the Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union,” Louis P. Masur examines the hundred days from Lincoln’s public issuing of the proclamation on September 22, 1862 to the signing of the final decree on January 1, 1863. Masur counters the critics asserting that the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t really free anyone because it only applied to rebel-controlled areas. Masur makes the case that, if the proclamation didn’t immediately free all slaves, it did ultimately guarantee the end of slavery.

The mission of The Manhattan Juneteenth Community Council is to unite the community to remember a moment in history. Juneteenth in Manhattan will be celebrated on Saturday, June 17. Events for all ages are on the schedule. For more information, visit http://www.manhattanjuneteenth.org.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Dipping Your Toe into Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Dipping Your Toe into Sci-Fi/Fantasy

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

I have never thought that I would enjoy books from the science fiction or fantasy genre. I have always enjoyed the classics and romance and dabbled a bit in mystery. But then I watched Dr. Who and became addicted. When K-State chose Ready Player One by Ernest Cline as their common read, I read it unwillingly and ended up loving it. I probably won’t ever be a serious sci-fi/fantasy reader, but I have found that there are some amazing books that shouldn’t be missed.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is fantasy for bibliophiles. Clay Jannon has lost his job as a web designer and takes the only job he can find as a clerk in a 24-hour book store. Working the night shift, he quickly discovers that not many books are being sold, and the bulk of the business is the few customers who repeatedly come in to check out books from the mysterious stash that Clay isn’t supposed to touch. Along with his curious friends, Clay uses his programming skills (and long, boring, overnight hours with nothing to do) to do some investigating, leading them all into the world of a secret society and an ancient code.  Sloan’s first novel is an adventure through the evolution of technology from the 16th century to sometime in the near future, with the intrigue of the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and a passion for books that is impossible to resist.

In Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, teenager Wade Watts is fighting for survival in the grim devastation of our world in 2044. Nature is a thing of the past, and most people live in towers of trailers, stacked on top of each other. He mentally escapes by disappearing for hours at a time into OASIS, an immersive virtual reality created by a 1980’s-obsessed genius, James Halliday. When Halliday dies and leaves his fortune to whomever completes the quest within OASIS first, Wade dives in head-first, finding himself in conflict with the powerful corporation that wants to maintain the status quo. Ready Player One is an intrepidly great story, loaded with enough 80’s references to please any Gen Xer and a dry humor that caught me unaware. Library Journal summed it up with “an unapologetic romp with brains and style.”

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley begins with the mysterious line, “The body you are wearing used to be mine.” Myfanwy Thomas awakens in a London park with no idea who she is, surrounded by unconscious people wearing latex gloves. The letter in her pocket leads her to more clues and to a puzzling and dangerous adventure. As Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) researches the past of the body she inhabits and explores her newfound superhuman powers, she learns about secret government projects and conspiracies, trying to navigate alliances and divisions along the way. A paranormal thriller with a surprising sense of humor, The Rook is a great read-alike for fans of Dr. Who, Harry Potter, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

To Say Nothing of the Dog, or, How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis is the rollicking tale of time travelers who visit the past to assist in architectural restoration projects. It’s all rather tame and systematic until Verity Kindle accidentally carries something along with her when she returns to the future, possibly changing history. Her partner, Ned Henry, is forced to return to the Victorian Era to straighten it all out. Intrigue, mishaps, and hilarity ensue.

It’s good to step outside your reading comfort zone occasionally, or you might miss an amazing read. We’re always glad you help you explore new genres at Manhattan Public Library.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

The World in Translation

The World in Translation

By Grace Benedick, Youth Services Library Assistant

June 1st marks the beginning of the Summer Reading Program at Manhattan Public Library. Every year the program has a different theme, and this year the theme is “Build a Better World.” When it comes to making changes for a better world, it’s only reasonable to first be familiar with the world we live in today. Translated literature is a wonderful way to gain a more global perspective. It is estimated that only approximately 3% of books published in the English language are translations. Hopefully, that number will continue to rise, but in the meantime we can start by reading the translations that are available.

In our own children’s collection, the picture book section is home to the largest supply of translations. For toddler listeners, Satoshi Iriyama’s Happy Spring, Chirp! translated from Japanese, follows a baby chick on a quest to find a gift for its aunt and meets other animals, as the reader lifts flaps. Little ones will laugh at Andrée Poulin’s Going for a Sea Bathoriginally written in French, as a father attempts to make bath time more appealing for his daughter by bringing creatures from the ocean for her to play with in the tub—eventually they just have to have bath time in the ocean. Also translated from French, Blanche Hates the Nightby Sibylle Delacroix, is a silly story about not wanting to go to sleep, and Hannah’s Night by Komako Sakai is a translation from Japanese about those early morning play sessions, when the youngest wakes up before the rest of the family. Today and Today by Kobayashi Issa is a collection of classic Haiku poetry with lovely atmospheric illustrations by G. Brian Karas. A Little Bitty Man: and Other Poems for the Very Young by Halfdan Rasmussen is a translation of playful Danish poetry.

For listeners with longer attention spans, more delightful translated picture books include Beatrice Alemagna’s The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy, originally written in French, which is a silly romp that details a child’s search through all the neighborhood shops for the perfect birthday gift for her mom. On My Way to Buy Eggsby Chen Chih-yuan, first published in Mandarin Chinese, is about all the small adventures you can have between home and the local corner store. Red by Jan De Kinder was originally published in Dutch in Belgium. Red is a sensitive narrative about teasing that goes too far, and tells how to speak up and be kind. First written in Hebrew, Just Like I Wanted by Elinoar Keller illuminates the trial and error of making art, and the fun of adapting, as a girl’s drawing morphs into something new each time she thinks she’s made a mistake.

Nonfiction translations are less common than picture books in our collection, but we have a few: In the Forbidden City by Chiu Kwong-chiu is a translation from Mandarin Chinese. A thorough journey through the Forbidden City in Beijing, it has illustrations of the entire grounds, and it has a small magnifying glass to aid the reader’s inspection of the meticulous drawings. Originally published in German, Best Foot Forward: Exploring Feet, Flippers, and Claws by Ingo Arndt is a photographic exploration of the many types of feet that animals have. Traveling Butterflies by Susumu Shingu is a bright and simple chronicle of the life and migration of monarch butterflies which was first written in Japanese.

Some of the great children’s classics were translations. Starting with the Grimm’s Fairy Tales from German, Hans Christian Andersen from Danish and Charles Perrault from French. Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstockingwas translated from Swedish, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince from French, and Carlo Collodi’s Adventures of Pinocchio was originally printed in Italian. Modern chapter book translations include the popular fantasy Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke, who wrote them in German, and many would be surprised to know that the Geronimo Stilton books, so voraciously consumed by elementary students, were written in Italian. Fans of the Warriors series will love The Cat Who Came in off the Roof written by Annie G. Schmidt in Dutch. It tells the story of a reporter, on the verge of being fired for writing too much about cats, who starts getting juicy news from the cats, themselves.

While you’re reading books from all over the world, come by the children’s room to sign up for summer reading. We will have a come-and-go kick-off party on June 3rd from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. with crafts, performances and lots of balloons. Then, our weekly summer clubs and storytimes will begin on June 5th.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Summer Reading for Adults

Summer Reading for Adults

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

Last week was the annual North Central Kansas Libraries System Book Fair.  Many librarians from around the region attended, and all had the opportunity to learn more about marketing, cost-cutting measures and recently released books.  The following are a few of the newer book titles we discussed.

  • The River of Kings is the latest from Taylor Brown, author of the historical romance, Fallen LandInterwoven throughout this new fictional adventure are three distinct stories: the exploration of the Altamaha River in Georgia by the French in 1564, the misadventures of one Hiram Loggins in the latter part of the 20th century, and the efforts of Hiram’s sons, Hunter and Lawton, to take their now-deceased father’s ashes to the sea.  This is a violent tale, with all parties the victims of some treachery or other while traveling this rugged river.
  • A Single Spy by William Christie is all that a good spy novel should be. Sixteen-year-old Alexsi is captured while running guns in Azerbaijan in 1936.  Given the choice of death or spying on Nazis, he chooses to travel to Germany to spy in behalf of the Russians.  Soon, his skills are noticed by high-ranking Nazis, and he is recruited by them to spy on the Russians.  Alexsi, who speaks fluent Russian and German, also possesses other traits, like lock-picking and combat skills, so he finds himself in a precarious situation.  This one has lots of betrayals and violence.
  • Setting Free the Kites by Alex George is a nicely done coming-of-age novel. Middle school student Robert Carter is routinely bullied, until a new student, Nathan Till, assaults the tormenter.  Soon Robert and Nathan become fast friends, and as they grow older, they rely on each other when family tragedies strike.  Nathan is usually the daring leader of the exploits the two discover, and at some point old secrets will come into play.  This is a great story about maturity and about love.
  • The Great Outdoors by Brendan Leonard is a terrific selection for nature-lovers. This nonfiction book is full of excellent advice about trekking, camping, skiing and just about any outdoor adventure.  Selections like “In the Water” present loads of good sense tips, as well as warnings about dangerous behavior.  Outdoor expert Leonard has an excellent sense of humor, and his cautionary advice about bison behavior and selfies is outstanding.  Leonard’s book is clad in a nice hard plastic cover, so it’s meant to be well-used.
  • Himself by Jess Kidd is a novel/mystery heavily dependent on Irish folklore. Young Irishman Mahoney has just learned that he grew up in an orphanage, not because his single mother had abandoned him, but because something caused her to disappear.  To learn more about her, Mahoney travels to the little village of Mulderrig and meets some unusual local characters.  He also encounters deceased folks who died violently in the village, and they seem to be trying to tell him something.  It seems Mahoney possesses some of the same supernatural skills that may have led to his mother’s disappearance.
  • Will It Skillet? By Daniel Shumski is an astounding collection of no-hassle recipes that can easily be created in a cast iron skillet. Chocolate chip cookies turn out beautifully, and there’s a 30-minute recipe for macaroni and cheese that skips the boiling water completely.  This is the kind of book that could easily lead to all kinds of variations. Simple steps, appealing photographs and the promise of some delectable dishes.
  • Her Secret by noted inspirational author Shelley Shepard Gray gives us the story of Hannah Hilty who lives contentedly with her siblings and parents until a young man’s attentions turn into stalking. Hannah’s parents, who do not trust law enforcement, decide the only solution is to relocate the family far away.  And so they all move where Hannah and family have to make new friends.  The attentions of a young man named Isaac frighten Hannah at first, but she gradually learns to trust him.  And then the stalker from before comes back into her life.

It’s always fun to talk about books with other readers, and this year’s Book Fair was no exception.  It was special day we all enjoyed.

by Vivienne Uccello Vivienne Uccello No Comments

Summer Reading 2017

People of all ages can join the Manhattan Public Library’s summer reading program for free. After signing up online or at the library, participants simply keep track of the time they spend reading or listening to books from June 1 to July 31. Different prizes are awarded based on age group, and can be picked up at the library until August 7. Last year, a total of 2,423 kids, 474 teens, and 465 adults joined in the fun.

The summer program begins with a kickoff party celebrating the theme “Build a Better World” on Saturday, June 3 from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Participants can explore different cultures with hands-on activities, interesting artifacts, and cultural representatives from the Manhattan community. Teens are invited to decorate the library windows with images inspired by this year’s theme. This is also a great time to sign up for the program and pick up the first reward.

Other exciting activities such as storytimes, summer clubs, gardening workshops, and more, will be offered throughout the summer. All library programs and activities are free and open to the public, although some programs have limited space and require registration. For more information, check the event schedule or pick up a calendar at one of the library’s service desks.

The nationwide summer reading program has an important mission: to motivate kids, teens, and adults to read for fun and help prevent learning loss while school is out. To accomplish this mission in Manhattan, the Manhattan Public Library has enlisted the help of local partners to give rewards and prizes to readers. Prizes include free books, gift certificates to local restaurants, and passes to local attractions.

Prizes have been purchased by the Manhattan Library Association, Manhattan Library Foundation, or donated by local businesses and organizations.

The library would like to thank the following generous sponsors: Applebee’s, Chick-fil-A, Confucius Center, Cool Care Club, Flint Hills Discovery Center, Goblin Games, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Manhattan Arts Center, Manhattan Kiwanis, Manhattan Library Association, Manhattan Library Foundation, Manhattan Town Center, Noodles & Co., Olson’s Birkenstock, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N Bake Pizza, Pediatric Associates, Sunset Zoo, Varsity Donuts, and Vista Drive In.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Graduating to the Next Level

Graduating to the Next Level

By Vivienne Uccello, Public Relations Coordinator

This spring, if you find yourself on the cusp of a new chapter in life – or yearning for one – you might also find yourself completely terrified! Not to worry, once again books are here to help. You can find a mountain of good advice in books, but sometimes that mountain of advice can be a little frustrating to climb. To save you some time, here are a few of my favorite authors. They give coaching that is based on both personal experience and academic research. Their advice is packaged in good humor and relatable experiences, which makes their books even more enjoyable.

Brené Brown, Ph.D., is an inspiring TED Talk speaker and a research professor at the University of Houston. Her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead debunks myths about perfection and vulnerability – which she believes often cause us to resist new challenges and opportunities. She suggests that being vulnerable is the most courageous thing a person can do. Her book walks us through ways to embrace vulnerability so we can open our lives to an entire world of possibilities.

Brown shares her academic research as well as personal experiences as a wife and mother. “For me, vulnerability led to anxiety, which led to shame, which led to disconnection, which led to Bud Light,” writes Brown. This book isn’t about becoming perfect; it’s about finding the courage to be yourself and allow others to do the same. I consider Daring Greatly a road map to the idea of authentic living and recommend Brown’s work very highly.

Starting a new chapter in life can also mean shouldering new financial responsibilities. Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover is a National Bestseller and is chock full of useful financial advice. He goes through practical steps to change your approach to wealth and break bad habits. “Winning at money is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge. What to do isn’t the problem, doing it is,” says Ramsey. His “Baby Step” plan is focused on getting you out of debt completely, which may sound like a fairy tale at the moment. After reading the book, you will have the tools to make debt-free living a reality.

Speaking of changing our habits, David Allen is a bestselling author and professional productivity consultant who can help you figure out how to establish new behaviors. His book Getting Things Done: the art of stress-free productivity also includes tactics for breaking larger tasks into smaller action steps, putting all notes and papers in one place, and focusing on one thing at a time. His advice can help take some of the “overwhelm” out of your life.

Many of Allen’s ideas sound like common sense but I was surprised how much I needed to read them. Simple solutions often escape us when we’re in the throes of a modern, scattered, and overbooked life. His advice is refreshing and original, and addresses the root of several universal problems such as clutter, multi-tasking, and planning ahead. Allen will calmly walk you through simple steps to begin gaining control of your time and space.

David Allen also has a lynda.com video course entitled “Getting Things Done” in which he talks you through the steps to change your patterns. The courses on lynda.com are accessible for free through the library’s website at www.MHKLibrary.org. A library card is required, so stop by the library if you don’t yet have one or if you would like advice about accessing the service online.

While exploring lynda.com, you will find other courses such as “Overcoming Procrastination,” and “Managing Stress” along with video tutorials for interview skills and computer programs. These expert-taught courses can help you take on new challenges with grace and forethought.

The final book on my list has been plastered all over social media lately. I Hope I Screw This Up by Kyle Cease sounded like a very exciting read. Cease describes himself by saying “If Eckhart Tolle and Jim Carey had a baby, that baby would be Kyle Cease.” His promotional videos on Facebook show a dynamic speaker who is able to change lives, but his best work might be saved for the stage. I’ve only just started, but so far, the book has mostly been about his anxiety over writing the book. I’m holding out hope for meaty content, but have found only mild entertainment value in the title so far.

We all need guidance from time to time, that’s no secret. The world’s experts are available to help you along your journey with tender advice, tough love, and age-old wisdom. All of these treasures are available to you for free at the local library. Good luck on your journey!

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Time for a Hike

Time for a Hike

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

It is time to get out and go for a hike! The library recently hosted a book reading and signing on Earth Day for Jill Haukos’ The Autumn Calf, which tells the story of a baby bison born on the Konza Prairie. Illustrator Joyce Mirhan Turley was also present to talk about the artwork for the picture book. Haukos has offered to give away free copies of The Autumn Calf to any teachers, libraries or schools who contact her; just e-mail konzaed@ksu.edu.

The story includes some information on the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, and it is the perfect introduction for kids to start learning more about the Konza, even visiting it to hike the trail. Lately, articles and facebook posts have highlighted how the Konza Prairie Biological Station’s trail is sometimes misused. Luckily, Haukos, who is the director of education there, says they are keeping the trail available for hikers, and they continue to educate the public about their rules and explain why it is so important to follow them.

We can all help by following any posted rules at outdoor sites, and by instilling those values in our kids or students, no matter where they are encountering nature. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics website, LNT.org, includes resources for promoting good habits when exploring nature, camping or hiking.

A number of new titles at the library will inspire children who seek to understand the world around them, to treat our environment with respect, and to learn from nature.

The New Ocean: The Fate of Life in a Changing Sea by Bryn Barnard describes the current state of the Earth’s waters, and how the changes in pollutants, climate, and people’s eating habits and use of technology within the ocean are affecting ocean life. The book’s succinct and understandable format covers six “sea dwellers,” and shows how they have changed and what consequences may come in the future. While jellyfish and blue-green algae thrive, some of the “losers” in this scenario are orcas, sea turtles, tuna and coral reefs…and ultimately, us.

Booklist Reviews notes that “Despite the unsettling statistics, including ocean acidification and dead zones, the evolutionary wonders on display will hopefully inspire readers to help protect this vulnerable, vital Earth system.” Rather than protecting our children from learning the disturbing facts, Barnard informs young readers and then calls on them to study science and nature to find new solutions.

In Wonderful Nature, Wonderful You, author Karin Ireland and illustrator Christopher Canyon, use each double page spread to feature two or more animals or parts of nature, and relate them to a child’s emotions or attitudes. In one set, Ireland focuses on the lion not always catching its dinner, and zebras moving until they find grass to graze on. She adds, “Life isn’t always fair. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you want them to. Don’t blame someone else, and don’t blame yourself, either. Just try again.” Children will gain some understanding by comparing their own experiences to those of animals and nature, knowing these shared experiences are a part of living and learning.

This book provides a great entry into exploring nature with kids in a thought-provoking way. An appendix adds activities for home or the classroom. A simple one is to release a child into a natural area and have them choose one object to study, and then complete these sentences about it: “I notice,” “I wonder,” and “It reminds me.” Every child’s story will be unique and meaningful to them.

For a truly harrowing adventure, both children and adults will appreciate Samantha Seiple’s Death on the River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Amazon Adventure. In 1913, Roosevelt was offered the high-risk opportunity to travel with the explorer Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon down an uncharted river in the Amazon, the River of Doubt. He jumped at the chance, and brought along his son Kermit as well.

In 190 pages, Seiple details the many challenges, dangers and life-threatening encounters with piranhas, malaria, poisoned arrows, and river rapids to name a few. Roosevelt’s charisma, loyalty and persistence add much to the tale, which includes quotes and stories from the diaries, letters, articles and lectures of T. R. and his son, as well as others from the Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition. Before his death in 1919, Roosevelt wrote to a friend, “I am an old man now, and I did have a murderous trip down South, but it was mighty interesting.” Teddy Roosevelt will never look the same to these kids when they study the 26th president.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Folklore beyond Grimm & Mythology beyond the Greeks

Folklore beyond Grimm & Mythology beyond the Greeks

By Crystal Hicks, Adult Services Librarian

I love books that tie in folklore, so it’s no surprise that I recently read Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, a veritable love letter to Russian folklore.  What I wasn’t expecting was to be completely caught in its thrall—Arden weaves a brilliant, impeccably-detailed tapestry in her debut novel, and it absolutely captivated me.  Not only is Arden a wonderful storyteller, but the vast Russian folklore she draws from felt like a fresh breeze after so many books that call on the same stories.  You know the ones: Beauty and the Beast, or Sleeping Beauty, or even Zeus and Odysseus and Achilles.  Arden’s book whet my appetite for alternative folklore and mythology, so I went looking, and I’ve found plenty to feast upon.

Helene Wecker delves into both Jewish folklore and Arabian mythology with her book The Golem and the Jinni.  A Golem is created aboard a ship, and then her master suddenly dies; a Jinni is awoken, hundreds of miles from the Syrian Desert.  Unexpectedly, both magical creatures find themselves in New York City in 1899, unmoored and struggling to find their way in the modern world.  Wecker’s fish-out-of-water narrative is delightful and unusual, bringing together many different worlds in a satisfying, oddly plausible manner.

If you’d like to dive further into Arabian mythology, look no further than One Thousand and One Nights.  Hanan al-Shaykh helpfully retells these classic tales for a modern audience, focusing on just nineteen stories from the original collection.  Al-Shaykh’s straightforward, almost blunt prose reminds me of reading fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm, but she smartly interlinks these stories so that each feeds back into the previous one, creating an endless chain of storytelling.  For a young adult spin on these same tales, check out Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath & the Dawn, which develops the relationship between the quick-witted Shahrzad and Khalid, the murderous Caliph of Khorasan.  Though Shahrzad is determined to stay her death in order to exact revenge on Khalid, there’s more to his story than there first seems.

Like Wecker’s novel, M.H. Boroson’s The Girl with Ghost Eyes takes place in turn-of-the-century America, though this time it’s 1898 in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and Li-lin can see spirits.  As a young widow with yin eyes, Li-lin is considered doubly unlucky; as a ghost hunter from the Maoshan tradition of Daoism, Li-lin is also the only person who can save Chinatown.  Li-lin narrates with a simple voice, concretely describing every fantastical thing in her world, and the story flies along, propelled by Li-lin’s kung fu expertise and deft touch with her peachwood sword.  To top all this off, Boroson provides an author’s note indicating where he blended facts and mythologies in order to create a cohesive story, and he encourages readers to continue the story by doing their own research and searching out local legends.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things roots itself in Aztec mythology, but from there it spreads to include mythological beings from across the globe.  Domingo is a lonely nobody, collecting trash in Mexico City, so he’s surprised when the confident and beautiful Atl takes an interest in him.  Even more surprisingly, Atl is a Tlahuihpochtli, a Mexican variety of vampire, and she’s snuck into one of the few havens left from vampires.  Moreno-Garcia combines Latin American mythology with a noir sensibility for a darkly sensuous urban fantasy book that’s delightfully conscious of all the vampire lore around the world.  For those curious, she ends with a glossary fully outlining the different species of vampires and the rules she created for their world.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the book I’m currently reading, Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch.  Okorafor’s narrative takes place in Nigeria, effortlessly swirling together local lore and magic.  Sunny, an albino girl born to Igbo parents while they lived in New York, has never fit in since they moved back to Nigeria.  Then, Sunny learns that juju is real and there’s a reason she’s so different.  Akata Witch is already a captivating read, and I can’t wait to see where Okorafor’s imagination will lead me.

If you’re interested in finding more retellings of folklore or on any topic, feel free to stop by the Reference Desk and strike up a conversation.  You can also request a personalized reading list and receive a list of books picked specially for you by one of our librarians.

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