Mercury Column

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Books that Started as Podcasts

Books that Started as Podcasts

By Crystal Hicks, Adult Services Librarian

You may have heard of podcasts and how they’re taking the world by storm.  For the uninitiated, think of them like talk radio, but with myriad options that you can curate according to your tastes.  I’d dabbled in podcasts, but my own interest in them wasn’t sparked until I picked up the book Tiny Beautiful Things, a compendium of advice columns Cheryl Strayed wrote for the column “Dear Sugar.”  Soon afterward, I learned that Strayed was continuing her advice-giving tenure on the podcast Dear Sugars, and I promptly began listening to hours of podcasts.  Podcast interest piqued, I’ve now learned that, while podcasts come in all shapes and flavors, so do books related to those podcasts.  Allow me to take you on a brief tour of some of the many realms podcasts, and their associated books, explore.

In the world of podcasts, none is as famous as Serial, a podcast whose first season investigated the murder of Hae Min Lee.  Just about everyone I know who listens to podcasts was riveted by the slow unfurling of the story and the question of whether or not Adnan Syed is guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend.  For listeners who’d like to explore the story further, they can check out Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry.  Chaudry, a family friend of Adnan Syed, has long believed in his evidence and compiled this book as a definitive case for his innocence, partially driven by the need to expand on the story being told by Serial.

For those interested in the historical events that have inspired folklore or stuck with our cultural consciousness, give Lore a listen.  An engrossing nonfiction podcast, Lore’s episodes range from the potential origins of werewolves to more concrete events, like the murders committed by the Bloody Benders in Kansas.  The library has two books that supplement the stories told in the podcast: The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures and The World of Lore: Wicked Mortals.  If you’d like something to read that’ll give you goosebumps and make you afraid to go to bed, these are a great reading choice and include much content not covered in the podcast.

WTF with Marc Maron is an enthusiastically-praised podcast with a simple premise: just two people having a conversation.  In each episode, Marc Maron invites a comedian or celebrity into his garage (which serves as his studio) and they talk.  Just “having a conversation” may sound boring, but the podcast goes in many interesting, intensely personal directions.  If you, like me, are intimidated by the high episode count (over 875 and counting!), Maron’s book Waiting for the Punch may be for you.  This book collects the best of his conversations into chapters based on topics like growing up, relationships, addiction, and mental health.  Reading the snippets of interviews with the many, many people Maron has interviewed may give you a starting point for approaching his podcast, and, at the very least, it’ll give you some wonderful reading.

Tim Ferriss’s podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, is another all-rounder where he interviews highly successful individuals to figure out how average people can use these experiences to enhance their lives.  After years of working on his podcast, Ferriss sat down to compile the highlights of his interviews into the ultimate advice book, and Tools of Titans is the result.  The interviews are divided into sections (Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise) and presented as fragments, so you can browse through the book until you find something relatable to you.  Even though this book looks intimidating with 673 pages, its construction is simple and intuitive, making it a great resource for finding quick inspiration to pull you out of a rut or get you pointed in a new direction.

There are, of course, many other podcasts and related books out there, with subjects ranging all the way from esoteric nonfiction topics to telling original fiction narratives.  Even if your favorite podcast doesn’t have a book out, I’m sure we can find you a similar book you’d like, so please stop by the Reference Desk and tell us about what you’ve been listening to.

While you’re stopping in, make sure to celebrate Library Card Month with us!  We’re currently holding a bookmark contest, and submissions are due on September 28 by 5 PM.  Winners will have their bookmarks printed out and distributed throughout the library.  You can also make sure all your friends have a library card and share the gift of free books, movies, storytimes, and classes with everyone you know.

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Dialogic Reading

Dialogic Reading

By Jill Keegan, Library Assistant Children’s Services

Early literacy, what children know about reading and writing before they actually read or write, is of the utmost importance. The best activity to develop early literacy is to read aloud to children, especially during their preschool years, according to the study Becoming a Nation of Readers sponsored by the National Institute of Education. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children introduced to reading early on tend to read earlier and excel in school compared to children who are not exposed to language and books at a young age.

Early literacy is at the forefront of storytimes presented at the Manhattan Public Library. Dialogic reading, an early literacy tool, is utilized during these storytimes. Dialogic reading essentially uses questions around the pictures in books. Using questions when reading helps to develop children’s knowledge, comprehension, imagination, and enjoyment of books. Saroj Ghoting, an Early Childhood Literacy Consultant and national trainer, created the acronym PEER to use during dialogic reading. This offers a great way to remember the different steps.

P is for prompt. Prompt the child to tell you something about the book by asking a question. You may ask “What kind of animal is that?” when looking at a picture in a book. Or ask, when looking at the cover of a book, “What do you think this book is about?”

E is for evaluating the child’s response. “Yes, that’s right. It’s a horse.”

E is for expand. Expand the child’s response by repeating, rephrasing, and adding information. “It’s a baby horse, called a foal.”

R is for repeat. Repeat the new word or phrase and allow the child time to repeat it back to you; help guide them if needed. “It’s a foal. Can you say foal?”

One can always expand on the details of the picture, as well. “It’s a brown foal with white spots. What does a horse say?” The more words you speak to a child, the bigger their vocabulary knowledge will be, which will help them when learning to read.

Books that have pictures, are not too long, and that are of interest to your child are excellent choices for dialogic reading. Children often like to have the same book read to them over and over again. Dialogic reading assists in diversifying the reading of a story by simply asking different questions each time.

One of my favorite books to use dialogic reading with is Stuck by Oliver Jeffers.  This book is overflowing with items to discuss on each page and the story is hilarious. Seriously, if this is the book that you have to reread, like I did, you will be ever grateful for all of the different images to discuss together.

I also love encouraging children to guess what will happen next in every book that is read to them. This opportunity allows them to comprehend what has already happened in the book and also opens the door to expand their imagination. Little Red Riding Hood: A New Fangled Prairie Tale by Lisa Campbell Ernst is an amazing book to read aloud and discuss together.  You and your audience will enjoy the different take on this classic tale.

The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski is a magical book and perfect for dialogic reading. It is a wonderful story where a young girl starts trying to come up with her own stories.  Dipping her mind and imagination into something new and challenging brings great joy to her by the end of the book. We each can bring something different to the same story with use of dialogic reading.

September is also National Library Card Sign Up Month! This is a swell time to get your child a library card.  A Library Card Day party for kids will be from 10a.m.-6p.m. Friday, September 21, 2018. Visit the library for read-alouds, games, prizes, and an opportunity to meet Elephant and Piggie, two lovable characters from Mo Willems’ beginning reader series.

The library is a great place to expand on early literacy.  Nine storytimes are offered per week at the Manhattan Public Library, along with other programs for children that are free to the public. Please come join in the fun and the gathering of community while we work together to instill a lifelong love of reading to the children of this area!







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Young Adult Graphic Novels

Young Adult Graphic Novels

By Grace Benedick, Teen Services Librarian

With school in full swing, everyone’s “to-read” lists are getting filled with assigned texts so sometimes you need something short and fun for leisure reading. Graphic novels fit that bill perfectly and cover a variety of genres.

In Brave by Svetlana Chmakova, Jenson is just trying to get through middle school without drawing too much attention to himself. He doesn’t enjoy the kind that he usually gets from his classmates. Jenson wouldn’t mind getting the attention of the newspaper team, though. He really wants them to publish his article on sunspots–he just hasn’t written it yet. Speaking of sunspots, he really wants to work for NASA someday, but failing math doesn’t seem like a promising start to a career in the sciences. Meanwhile, the newspaper team is trying to interview him for an exposé on bullying. But Jenson isn’t being bullied…Sure, everyone is mean to him, but…they’re just joking, right? Chmakova writes strong characters with quirky personalities, and draws facial expressions that bring the conversations to life. If you like realistic fiction and school stories, you’ll enjoy this.

Set in an alternate Victorian Paris, The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang, is about a young prince with a secret passion for beautiful gowns. He manages to hire a talented seamstress, Frances, to create custom designs just for him. At night they go out on the town together, and it isn’t long before Lady Crystallia (Prince Sebastien’s other name) is the fashion icon of Paris. Frances and Sebastien are the best of friends, but as Lady Crystallia becomes increasingly famous, they reach a crisis point. In the end though, the decisions they’re forced to make will help them lead their best lives. If you like fairy tales and gender fluidity, you’ll love this.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff opens with Selim. Selim is a brilliant man who speaks multiple languages and loves to make—and drink—delicious tea. Unfortunately for him, those kind of skills aren’t worth much in his line of work–the Turkish army. So when a prisoner escapes and a misunderstanding leads to Selim taking the blame, he’s more than willing to escape with the prisoner, the danger-loving Delilah Dirk. Delilah is an Englishwoman who roams the world stealing things, rescuing people and generally getting into a lot of sword fights. Roped into her life of swashbuckling, Selim eventually finds that the excitement of travel and danger has ruined his taste for quiet and calm –but not tea. The art effectively conveys a sense of action and will make you want to travel, but the real highlight of the book is the snarky tone of the conversations. If you like adventure, be sure to read this.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll is a collection of horror stories. Girls stranded in a farmhouse during a snowstorm keep disappearing, one a day. A bride arrives at her new husband’s mansion to find the ghost of his first wife. A man murders his brother in the woods, but three days later, that brother reappears. Two best friends pretend to be clairvoyant until a real spirit gets involved. A girl visits her brother and his wife for summer vacation only to discover that her new sister-in-law is not human. The art adds a gruesome quality without being graphic, and the vague endings heighten the sense of suspense. If you’re into horror or suspense films, you’ll enjoy this.

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin begins when teenagers Hazel and Mari meet at a bingo game in the 1960’s and fall in love. When their parents realize that the girls are romantically involved with each other, they are quickly separated and Hazel is married off. Years later after raising families and having grandchildren, they meet again. The spark is still there. Once again, their families oppose their love but for different reasons this time around. This a sweet love story featuring queer women of color. If you like historical fiction and rainbow pride, you won’t want to miss this.

For more great graphic novels, check out the list “2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens” on the Young Adult Library Association’s website.

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The American Push for British Marriages

Image result for husband hunters anne de courcyThe American Push for British Marriages

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

Anne De Courcy’s latest book, entitled Husband Hunters, is the perfect read for the many devoted fans of Downton AbbeyThe book is a nonfiction account not of one individual, but of the many wealthy young ladies who married into British aristocracy during the 19th century.   Some have referred to those marriages as “Cash for coronets,” but the factors that played into those unions are more complex than the phrase suggests.  Here are a few insights to be gained from this fascinating account.

Most such marriages took place during a period that extended from 1870 to 1914.  For one thing, many British landowners had experienced an extensive agricultural depression in the late 19th century, brought on by repeated droughts and harsh winters.  Fortunes were depleted, and estates needed other sources of income if they were to remain intact.  For another thing, society in major urban cities, like New York City, was tightly controlled by the wealthiest of the citizenry who selected and rejected which families would be allowed into their social circles.  Such circles often rejected enthusiastic newcomers, who looked for other ways to attain status, hence the desirable interactions with the British.  Third, among the wealthiest of American families, it was often the mothers who dominated social interactions, and those same mothers felt a responsibility for arranging impressive marriages for their daughters, if not with other prominent Americans, then with British aristocrats.  As arranged marriages were quite acceptable at the time, such unions came as no surprise.   Thus, over 450 young American heiresses wed titled European men during that time period.

Of course, not all such unions were happy ones.  American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt, daughter of Alva and William Vanderbilt, may have been educated in French, German and English languages, but she was also very strictly supervised.  Her mother banned her from contact with the opposite sex and even kept her daughter imprisoned in her Newport estate,   Marble House.  Consuelo managed to evade her mother’s control and fell in love with a young admirer, but her mother ended that relationship and bartered a marriage with the Duke of Marlborough through a hefty dowry.  Neither member of the couple was ever happy, nor did the marriage survive.

Another such marriage led to certain fame.  Jennie Jerome, one of three well educated American sisters, traveled to Europe with her mother and was instantly attracted to Lord Randolph Churchill.  Despite opposition to the union by Randolph’s father, the Duke of Marlborough, the happy couple made plans to wed.  Married in 1874, they resided at Blenheim Palace where Jennie became a noted hostess, entertaining dignitaries while wearing one of her many fine Worth gowns.  A friend of the Prince of Wales, she also led social circles in London.  While her marriage failed, she was the mother of Winston Churchill, and she continued a very social public life, in addition to working for improved hospital care.

The end of the hunt for British spouses came suddenly.  While ostentatious social balls had been hosted in New York and in Newport for decades, an 1897 affair met with social outcry.  Cornelia Bradley-Martin arranged for a great affair at the Waldorf Hotel in New York.  Chosen guests, some 86 people clad in elaborate historical costumes, attended an event that would have cost 7 million in today’s terms.  But the lavish decorations and the exquisite food that the press used to fawningly compliment caused great protest.  There was much poverty and need during these times, and people were horrified by the excess of that single night.

Another factor that brought about an end to the husband-hunting was the changing times.  Educational trends and the rise of women’s rights were major influences opposing arranged marriages.  The average person was no longer impressed with showy spending; such a show was regarded as vulgar.  In addition, the grand houses became more and more expensive to maintain and repair, something which not even American fortunes could sustain.  And finally, there was the fast approaching conflict of World War I which changed the face of Europe.  The rush for English connections was over.

This book is a riveting tale of various romances against a backdrop of Gilded Age wealth.  Downton Abbey aficionados won’t want to miss the stories of those who inspired the popular drama series.




















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Vacation Resolutions

Image result for Woodworking from the Scrap Pile derek jonesVacation Resolutions

By Jared Richards, Adult & Teen Services Assistant Supervisor

My theme for 2018 has been resolutions. To say my New Year’s resolution to write a short story each month never really took flight would be an understatement. It never even taxied to the runway, but that’s okay. Resolutions are a long-con, and sometimes you just need to throw a bunch at the wall and see which ones stick.

To that end, I am always looking for a good opportunity to resolve myself to something, and following a recent vacation, I was introduced to the idea of vacation resolutions. These are resolutions that you make while on vacation, for things you want to do after a vacation. When you find yourself on vacation, away from the stress of daily life, it is easier to put things in perspective, and vacation resolutions can help maintain that perspective, keeping you focused on the things that are important to you. Those things that have a tendency to be buried beneath bills, work, and just maintaining the illusion that you are an adult and know what’s going on (Spoiler: We’re all making it up as we go).

My first resolution is to make things out of wood. I have tools, the plans for a workbench that I will build someday, and access to a large selection of woodworking books at the Manhattan Public Library. We have books about small projects, like “How to Build Birdhouses and Feeders” by Stephen Moss or “Woodworking from the Scrap Pile” by Derek Jones, and bigger projects, like “Illustrated Cabinetmaking” by Bill Hylton or “Shaker Furniture Projects” by Glen Huey. We even have “Dream Treehouses” by Alain Laurens, for those of us who aspire to the level of housing featured in the Disney classic “Swiss Family Robinson” but maybe don’t need all of the pirates.

My second resolution is to ride my bicycle more. After a twenty year hiatus, it turns out that riding a bike is just like riding a bike, although it’s a bit more wobbly than I remember. To help build my confidence, I’ve been doing a lot of research, which includes reading library books, because I’m a librarian. The two standouts so far have been “The Ultimate Bicycle Owner’s Manual” by Eben Weiss and “Just Ride” by Grant Petersen. Both are quick reads that cover a broad range of information with humor and plain language. “The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance & Repair” is a good start for those interested in performing their own repairs, and if you’re interested in the history of bicycles, there is the aptly titled “Bicycle: The History.”

My final resolution is to get better at meal prep, the practice of preparing most of your meals for the week at one time and then storing them in the freezer or fridge until you need them. According to Google Trends, “meal prep” had a surge in popularity at the end of 2017, so I’m a little late to the party, but it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon. The library has hundreds of cookbooks that can be useful for achieving my meal prep dreams. “The Casserole Queens Cookbook” has several good recipes, and they note which ones are good for freezing, and tell you to freeze them right before the baking step in the recipe.

I’m always a bit wary of bringing a cookbook into the kitchen, however, especially a borrowed one, because cooking can be a messy endeavor. Flour can find all the nooks and crannies, and I have yet to sauté something without oil going everywhere. One solution to this is to use an ebook instead. Pull up an ebook on your smartphone or tablet, open a cabinet, and prop your device up against your dishes. This will free up some counter space and keep the book at eye level so you won’t spend half your time in the kitchen bent over a book. I recently used Hoopla, one of the library’s free online resources for digital books, movies, music, and comics, to check out “Fix, Freeze, Feast,” which is filled with great recipes and instructions on how to freeze each one.

The best part of picking a resolution, is all of the potential that a resolution holds. The hardest part, is sticking to it. And the worst part, is writing about it in a public forum, and then not following through. So this time, I’ll enjoy the potential of my resolutions, revel in the challenge of sticking to my resolve, and then I’ll definitely follow through.

by Luke Wahlmeier Luke Wahlmeier No Comments

Romance for the End of Summer

Image result for the kissing quotientRomance for the End of Summer

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult and Teen Services Manager

Summer is fading quickly, so grasp what little is left by settling in on the screen porch, dipping your feet in the pool, or stretching out on the hammock to enjoy a delicious romance.

Kristan Higgins has established a sterling reputation as a writer of humorous contemporary romance. Her last few novels have dug a bit deeper into other aspects of women’s lives without losing her reliable ability to deliver a memorable story. In Now That You Mention It, Dr. Nora Stuart is starting to question her life in Boston as a successful gastroenterologist and her relationship with her boyfriend, when an accident clarifies that she needs to do something different. She heads home to small-town Maine even though she knows that she will not be welcomed by everyone. Coming to terms with her past and finding connections in unexpected places open up new possibilities for a fresh start on life.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang tells the story of Stella Lane, an autistic statistician who doesn’t appreciate many aspects of dating, especially kissing. Bowing to pressure from her mother’s nagging, Stella decides to take a practical approach and hires a male escort to teach her how to date. She soon realizes that there’s more to the gorgeous Michael than a pretty face and patience with her awkward ways.  The author is autistic herself and enjoyed the opportunity to add some authenticity to depictions of autism in fiction. This sweet and spicy romance is a delightful read.

In An Extraordinary Union, Alyssa Cole takes readers back to the Civil War. Freed slave Elle Burns risks her freedom by spying for the Union Army in the South. Disguised as a mute slave in a Southern senator’s home, she discovers that her contact from the Pinkerton Agency is a dashing Confederate officer paying court to the spoiled daughter of the house. Working together in secret to serve the Union cause, they develop mutual respect and trust. Cole has a talent for developing rich characters and doesn’t shy away from the complications of an interracial romance in Civil War South. An Extraordinary Union will keep readers captivated while also educating about a critical point in our history.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory starts off with the classic meet-cute of getting stuck in an elevator. Drew is dreading the wedding of his former girlfriend and his best friend when he is trapped with Alexa. In desperation, he asks her to fake a relationship with him and be his date for the wedding. The farce becomes real when they realize they can’t stop thinking about each other. Alexa is smart and resourceful woman dealing with a difficult family history. Drew is a pediatrician avoiding the ghosts from his past. Guillory infuses their story with humor and heart to create a truly enjoyable story.

Across the Blue by Carrie Turansky is an inspirational story of Isabella Grayson, an aspiring news writer whose father just wants her to marry well, and James Drake, a pilot working to be the first man to fly across the English Channel. When James crashes on the Grayson estate, he is enraptured by Isabella and the status of her family. Disaster brings them closer to each other and strengthens their faith. Packed with adventure and gentle allure, this thoroughly-researched Edwardian Christian romance is a good read-alike for fans of Downton Abbey.

It wouldn’t be a proper romance fiction list without at least one Regency title. Tessa Duke provides an enchanting and humorous twist on Beauty and the Beast entitled The Duchess Deal. When seamstress Emma Gladstone goes calling on the Duke of Ashbury, wearing the bridal gown that his former fiancé refuses to pay for, little does she know that she will receive an offer of marriage. The duke needs an heir and any bride will do. Her ability to stand up to him and his hidden honorable kindness transform a marriage of convenience into a love match. Strong characters and Dare’s trademark wit make for a vibrant novel.

You can find out about all the latest and greatest fiction by subscribing to email newsletters from our website, Choose from your favorite genres or bestsellers to find your next great read.


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How My Books Spent Their Summer Vacation

Image result for genius files mission unstoppableHow My Books Spent Their Summer Vacation

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

My summer vacation included taking advantage of my fourth grader’s access to National Parks. The U.S. National Park Service program “Every Kid in a Park” is a fabulous opportunity for families. If you have a fourth grader this year, just go to and have your child complete their simple adventure diary game online. Print out their free pass, which allows the whole family a full year to see national lands and waters. With Wyatt’s help, we planned a trip that included two national parks and some other interesting sites along the way.

Our first stop was Cawker City, Kansas. You know the spot – the legendary home of The World’s Largest Ball of Twine. How did I live in Kansas this long without making this pilgrimage? My youngest son Owen even got to add one “round” of twine, about 43 feet, with the help of a local twine volunteer.  The ball of twine is famous enough to make it into movie scenes, cartoons, pop culture references, and even a few books at the library. Using Hoopla, you can download a free documentary about Cawker City’s number one tourist attraction. For fun, pick up the first book in Dan Gutman’s middle grade series, “The Genius Files: Unstoppable Mission.” As twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald try to solve a mystery while being chased by “murderous lunatics,” they stop in Kansas at Lebanon (the geographic center of the U. S.) and Cawker City. In fact, Gutman’s book is practically a catalog of weirdest tourist attractions in the states, so your kids might get some quirky ideas of where to visit next.

As we continued, we were impressed when the giant heads of Mount Rushmore National Memorial first came into view. We had checked out books on places we planned to visit, including “Mount Rushmore” by Joanne Mattern, so we knew a few things about it when we arrived. In the Children’s Geography Neighborhood, you can find great nonfiction to stir your child’s curiosity, like this series, “Symbols of Freedom,” which also includes “The White House,” “Statue of Liberty,” “St. Louis Gateway Arch” and more.

Maybe your family went to one of these other national hot spots. If you didn’t visit the library before you left, it is still fun afterwards to bring home a pile of books based on the places you’ve visited. “Discover America State by State” is a popular series that goes through a state or region with large, colorful illustrations on each page. It can be read aloud to younger kids using the larger text, or read in detail with 1-2 paragraphs of facts in each sidebar. In “M is for Mount Rushmore: A South Dakota Alphabet,” the book explores a variety of topics from native peoples, to specific towns and lakes, to Wall Drug, the world’s largest drug store.

We were finally able to use Wyatt’s cool park pass at our next two destinations and saved more than $100. We traveled first through Grand Teton National Park, where we discovered a beautiful landscape with namesakes for me and Owen – Lake Jenny and Mount Owen. It was as serene a moment as one could share with two lively boys. They were amazed by the clear, pure water of the lake. We had been looking at titles from the “Visitor Guides” series – “Welcome to Grand Teton National Park,” and “Welcome to Yellowstone National Park.” The books showed my kids what to be on the lookout for and gave some history, geology and wildlife background about the area. A section about the 1988 Yellowstone fire helped us understand what we were looking at when we came across hillsides of black and gray trees. Nothing quite prepared us for the stench of Mud Volcano, but now we know about hydrogen sulfide, which will lead us to another library trip to learn more about that.

As we left town through Cody, Wyoming, we checked out the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and found even more to pique our curiosity about the animals of the area, Buffalo Bill and the Wild West Show, and the Plains Indians.  And yes, that meant more books again. The History Neighborhood is full of tie-ins to all the places we visited where famous and infamous events took place and people made their mark. I’m just finishing Andrea Warren’s “The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing up Bill Cody in Bleeding Kansas.” Our final stop was the Buffalo Bill statue in Oakley, Kansas, which was beautiful and impressive, and also meant we were close to home. One more trip to the library meant getting final summer reading prizes, and a few more days of lazy reading before school begins.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Just About Time to Hit the Books Again

Just About Time to Hit the Books Again

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Summer vacation is melting quickly away. The new school year is looming ahead. Are the kids prepared? Are the parents prepared? The library has the resources budding students need to excel at school.

Eighteen video files always available for free download from Hoopla shows your child “How to Become a Superstar Student.”  These videos are packed with information about skills vital to carry your student through high school and into college. The advice, tips, tricks, and resources will transform your student’s education.

In “Painless Study Techniques,” Michael Greenberg provides helpful information on topics including time management, homework organization, note taking, creating outlines, studying for tests, and writing a research paper. Every chapter features “Brain Ticklers,” activities to help students practice their new skills. The book is intended for secondary school students, but the information could be useful to students of any age and to their parents and teachers.

Cal Newport reveals the proven study secrets of real straight-A students in “How to Become a Straight A Student.” Combined into a practical system, he shares secrets on maximizing study time, conquering procrastination, absorbing material quickly and effectively, and discerning which reading assignments are critical and which are not.  This is a study guide written by students for students.

Available as a free downloadable audio from Hoopla, “The Student Success System: How to Get an A on your Test!,” by Howard Berg teaches students how to study more effectively. He offers techniques to master getting the most out of reading assignments, maximizing reading comprehension and speed, learn and comprehend complex principles of science, physics, and math, and even how to compute math problems in your head.

How to Study Program,” by Ronald Fry is another downloadable audio from Hoopla. Some of the topics covered in this audio include organizing your studying, reading comprehension, organizing your time, efficient use of the library, writing better papers, and studying for tests.

If your student is struggling with math, you’ll want to show them “A Mind for Numbers,” by Barbara Oakley. This book equips students with the tools to excel at math and science. In this short book, the author discusses how to toggle between creative and analytical thinking, both of which are required to learn math. She utilizes exercises, photographs, and diagrams to teach students to redirect their brains for more effective learning.

The library has a collect of study guides in book format covering the entire alphabetic array of test abbreviations. You’ll find everything from the GED to the GRE, from the ACT to the SAT. Additional study guides are available as free downloadable eBooks from Hoopla and the Sunflower eLibrary.

The library is much more than books when it comes to helping you with your education. “Learning Express,” for example, is a one-stop online shop for a variety of resources. You’ll find test prep guides for the ACT, SAT, and others, along with tutorials, and downloadable eBooks. There are also skill building resources for elementary, middle, and high school students in match, social studies, and English language arts. If you’re already in college, take advantage of skill building resources in math, reading, and science. You’ll also find materials on study skills, skills to help you succeed in the classroom, information literacy and research techniques, and computer skills. If you setup a free account with “Learning Express,” you’ll to keep track of the resources you’ve used, and where you left off.

If you’re interested in getting a head start on learning another language, or you just need a refresher, try “Mango Languages.” This free online resources features lessons in 71 languages. Learn French, Spanish, Italian, or Russian with ease. There are even specialty language courses, such as Spanish for those in business or in the medical field.

Students needing help with Word, Excel, and a host of other software, can view thousands of instructional videos through the library’s subscription to Each video tutorial is divided into short segments for easy viewing.

Your library card is your entry ticket to thousands of resources, from books and audios to downloadable eBooks to databases and more. Let the library help you prepare for a stellar school year.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Humanities Kansas: TALK About Literature in Kansas

Humanities Kansas: TALK About Literature in Kansas

By Linda Henderson, Adult and Teen Services Librarian

This fall, come spend a few Thursday evenings at the Manhattan Public Library to join in lively discussions of three timeless children’s classics!  The Manhattan Library Association is partnering with Humanities Kansas to host three TALK About Literature in Kansas events.  Humanities Kansas, formerly the Kansas Humanities Council, connects communities with history, traditions, and ideas to strengthen civic life.  Last year it supported 610 events in 119 Kansas communities, reaching nearly one in six Kansans.

Do you remember your early childhood reading experiences?  Curling up sideways in a chair, perching in a relative’s lap, or stretching out on the floor to become thoroughly engrossed in some unforgettable tale?  Those stories entertained us; more than that, they educated us about friendship, human nature, adventure, and imagination.  It’s worth revisiting those childhood tales from time to time as adults, reflecting on courage and faith, on growth and love, overcoming the insurmountable.  These tales reflect our society’s hopes, our ideas of family, and the values and traditions we wish to pass forward.

The first book TALK will explore Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White.  The gentle story of Wilbur the pig and his loyal friend, Charlotte the spider, unfolds in a rustic barnyard; there, the changing of the seasons reflects the pain and sweetness of growing up.  The affection and humor of the story, brought forth by the memorably roguish Templeton the rat and the gently supportive Charlotte, can’t fail to evoke deep sentiment.

Nicholas Shump will lead discussion of Charlotte’s Web on September 20 at 7:00 PM in Manhattan Public Library’s Groesbeck Room.  Shump currently teaches Humanities, History, and Political Science for the Barstow School and the Hybrid Learning Consortium in Kansas City, has taught Humanities and American Studies at KU, and has coordinated volunteers in Lawrence’s adult education program.

October’s selection is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis.  Strong moral themes underpin the tale of four siblings stumbling through a wardrobe to discover a magical land called Narnia.  Lucy, the youngest and first through the portal, brings back unbelievable tales of a snowy land and mystical creatures; her siblings each react differently, acting in both worthy and despicable ways.  Even as bravery and wickedness collide, the narrative firmly evokes forgiveness and redemption.

William Brown will open the discussion of the first Narnia book on October 25 at 7:00 PM in the Groesbeck Room at Manhattan Public Library.  Dr. Brown earned his Ph.D. in Literature and Religion at the University of Chicago and is professor emeritus of English and Humanities at Kansas Wesleyan University. He has participated in the TALK book discussions since the early 1980s.

The last presentation this fall delves into Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor.  Cassie Logan, growing up in Depression-era Mississippi as a black girl, learns why the land matters so much to her family.  The events of one turbulent year – night riders and burnings, public humiliation by a white girl, and public struggles for basic recognition – starkly highlight the experiences of American people struggling to survive a horribly intolerant and unsympathetic culture.

Dr. Michaeline Chance-Reay will lead discussion of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry on November 29 at 7:00 PM in the Manhattan Public Library’s Groesbeck Room.  Michaeline has taught classes in Education and Women’s Studies at Kansas State University.  Her research led to an exhibition at the Riley County Historical Museum and an accompanying book, Land Grant Ladies: Kansas State University Presidential Wives.  Her current research focuses on the Harvey Girls, women who, as waitresses in the Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe Railroad, brought friendly, familiar service to rail travelers and workers from the 1880s to the 1960s and beyond.

Let these children’s classics return us, for just a moment, to those thrilling days of yesteryear; through them, let our history ride again.  The TALK discussions are free and open to all.  Additional copies of the discussion books will be available at the Reference Desk for check-out in August.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

2018 Eisner Award Nominees for Children and Teens

2018 Eisner Award Nominees for Children and Teens

By Latrice Ferguson, Youth Services Library Assistant

Later this month fangirls and fanboys from all over the world will make their annual pilgrimage to comic and graphic novel heaven, the San Diego Comic Con.  Every year the event draws large crowds of superhero, manga, and fantasy enthusiasts to celebrate the art and creativity of the industry’s best graphic fiction and nonfiction.  The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, considered the Oscar’s of the comic and graphic book industry, was named for the renowned cartoonist and established in 1988.  The awards committee does not neglect young readers, and you’ll find some great selections for kids and teens among the 2018 nominees.  Be sure to check the Eisner website for the rest of the nominees, and later this month, the winners.

For the youngest readers, up to age 8, there are some great titles among the nominees, including one from bestselling author and illustrator Kevin Henkes.  His clever picture book Egg is nominated this year.  Told in pastels and bold lines, each page shows the progression of four eggs.  “Egg, Egg, Egg, Egg….Crack, Crack, Crack, Egg.”  From three eggs, three birds emerge, but what about the fourth egg?  Henkes expertly crafts a tale of friendship and acceptance with few words and simple imagery.  Young readers and pre-readers will enjoy this tale as the vivid illustrations are easily interpreted.  Also nominated in the category for young readers is Arthur and the Golden Rope by Joseph Todd-Stanton.  This adventure story is the first in the new “Brownstone Mythical Collection” series.  Arthur is a small, but curious boy who loves exploring the magical forest beyond his home.  One day, during one of his explorations the town is attacked by monsters who extinguish the ever burning fire at its center.  The villagers need the fire’s continuous burn to keep the town warm.  Someone must go ask for the help of Thor, the Norse god of Thunder, but everyone is too injured for the journey.  Everyone, that is, except for little Arthur.  It’s a funny story about a clever boy whom everyone underestimates, but he manages to overcome great odds to become the town’s hero and a legend.

Among the nominees for best publication for readers aged 9-12 is Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez.  This captivating and creepy tale follows artistic young Sandy.  In her notebook, she brings to life vividly imaginative creatures represented in vibrant colorful spreads throughout the graphic novel.  The strict nuns at her school attempt to draw her attention, but Sandy’s focus cannot be corralled.  She struggles to make friends, but soon meets the lavender haired Morfie.  The ghostlike girl sees the magic that Sandy creates in her drawings, and wants to control and dictate Sandy’s creations.  The beautiful and bold, yet eerie illustrations will draw readers in immediately, but the plot and theme leave much to consider well after you close the book.  In addition to Nightlights, a nominee worth checking out from the library is Bolivar by Sean Rubin.  Like Elvis and Tupac, it has long been disputed whether or not dinosaurs still live among us.  Ok, maybe that’s not quite true, but in this tale there is for sure a dinosaur living next door to Sybil.  The problem is that everyone is so busy with their day to day lives they don’t notice him.  After the students laugh at her for saying she has a dinosaur for a neighbor, and the teacher admonishes her fibbing, Sybil grabs her camera determined to catch a picture of Bolivar the dinosaur.  This graphic novel is beautifully rendered, and incredibly funny.

For teens there are a couple of great titles available for checkout at the Manhattan Public Library.  One is written by author Marjorie Liu.  Monstress vol. 1, with art by Sana Takeda, is set in the aftermath of a great war between humans and animal hybrids.  Sold into slavery, Maika, seeks revenge and her quest begins in volume one of this graphic novel.  This is a great choice for lovers of Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen.  Also being considered is a modern day retelling of Jane Eyre by Aline Brosh McKenna.  In this updated tale, Jane a sheltered college freshman learns all about the Rochester New York elite while working as a nanny for the daughter of a mysterious business man.  Fans of the original will love this update.