Mercury Column

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by Rhonna Hargett, Associate Director

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts ...The past few months have been a time of stress, upheaval, and unpredictability for many of us. It can feel like we’re just trying to stay afloat in our work and home lives. It may help to pause and take the time to examine our practices and habits in order to prepare for the next change or opportunity that may be right around the corner.

There have been few times in our history when the need for courage in leadership was more clear than it is right now. We are all having to make decisions when there is no guidebook, and there may be new information tomorrow that forces us to steer in a different direction.  Fortunately, Brené Brown has some guidance to help us through this challenging time with her book “Dare to Lead.” Brown discovered in her research that what is needed most in future leadership is the courage to have tough conversations and tackle tough problems, so she and her team developed a method to develop courage in oneself and in others. The author’s name has been well-known since her TEDx talk on vulnerability went viral 10 years ago. Although her primary field of study is social work – she’s a research professor at the University of Houston – she has established a reputation in the business world for her teaching on building trust and improving work cultures. In “Dare to Lead,” she shows us how to be open to the ideas and perspectives of others while remaining grounded in our core values.

Atul Gawande, surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, shares his simple yet brilliant philosophy in “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get things Right.” As the world becomes more and more complex, it is more difficult for anyone to retain all of the information they need, even an expert. Human memory is faulty, and it is difficult to maintain attention when a process becomes routine. The solution may be as simple as an old-fashioned checklist. Experts in their field have a tendency to avoid such simple tools, believing their experience will help them to remember all of the steps that will lead to success, but studies have shown that simple checklists help us make sure the basics are covered, freeing up our brain power for creative solutions. Although targeted at the medical field, Gawande’s common sense approach shows how simple solutions can really make a difference for all of us.

So you’ve finally reached that position you’ve been working for. That’s great, but it’s not the time to sit back and rest on your laurels. We all have habits that keep us from reaching our full potential, whether in our paid work, community work, or home life. In “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful,” Marshall Goldsmith helps us to find what behaviors are getting in the way. He lists particular habits that can trip people up, but his most helpful advice is how to get honest and helpful feedback, and what to do with it once you get it. Filled with engaging anecdotes, Goldsmith’s book is a helpful tool for self-examination to improve leadership abilities in all areas of life.

The library has been challenged over the last few months to find ways to provide services to the community while keeping our patrons and staff safe. Currently, you can pick up items placed on hold and summer reading prizes in our atrium, and use our public computers by appointment. We have also expanded our online offerings for ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, business tutorials, craft ideas, and much more. You can find the above titles and more through our website at or by calling us at 785-776-4741.

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Secret Lives and Guarded Hearts

Secret Lives and Guarded Hearts

by Stephanie Wallace, LIS Library Assistant 2

In three very different places, bare feet skip down a silent, waterlogged tunnel beneath an ancient university of magic; steam pumps through pipes to power the spindly talons stomping over a rocky cliff; and the clamor of a thousand strangers’ wishes fills a clay woman’s mind. Each of these moments reveal a glimpse into the secret lives and guarded hearts found in “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” by Patrick Rothfuss, “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones, and “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker.

I’ve always been fond of stories about people who have mysterious homes, like “All the Crooked Saints” by Maggie Stiefvater, or who have special powers other people don’t understand, such as “Fire” by Kristin Cashore. The people in these kinds of tales usually feel alone or misunderstood, a feeling many of us are familiar with, and yet they always find hope somehow. Since hope and a safe place to escape is something we especially need right now, it seems apt to recommend stories that can help. The titles I’m featuring stand out in particular because of how their authors use outstanding world building to develop unique, memorable characters.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things” is a fantasy novella and a companion to Patrick Rothfuss’ “The Kingkiller Chronicle” series. It follows Auri, a wisp of a girl some think is more spirit than human, as she tries to find the rightful – if unconventional – places for the many strange and wonderful things she finds in her labyrinthine home underground. Auri’s story has the charm of a fairy tale, yet also a somber tone that is cathartic and soothing. It’s a must-read for anyone with anxiety or too many problems on their plate.

Many people may be more familiar with the animated adaptation of “Howl’s Moving Castle,” but the original young adult fantasy novel has just as much to offer, if not more. The headstrong main characters, Sophie and Howl, learn as much about themselves as they do about each other. Their bickering is both hilarious and heartfelt, and Sophie’s no-nonsense attitude carries the whole story. Howl’s magic, enchanted home, and lively companions all complement each other and showcases exactly why this novel has captivated readers for generations.

The titular characters of “The Golem and the Jinni” are unique in that their home is in the people they befriend when they both find themselves stranded in 1899’s New York City. The Golem, a woman born of clay on a ship bound for the New World, and the Jinni, an ancient fire demon released from a dented bottle of oil, are as different from each other as the elements they came from. The people who shelter them, a rabbi and a metalsmith respectively, and the rest of the characters in the well-developed Jewish and Syrian neighborhoods are all connected in brilliant, subtle ways. All of their lives intersect or run parallel with each other while they each try to keep their origins a secret, growing ever closer until the explosive moment everything comes together.

For the characters in each of these stories, the places they’ve built for themselves define who they are. Auri, the finder of lost things, finds the perfect place for herself amongst broken and beautiful relics. Howl, a self-made magician, built his own castle, and Sophie transforms it into a home. The Golem and the Jinni, both outcasts with overlooked gifts, join neighborhoods that accept even the strangest newcomers. Without the homes they made, their stories would be not have been complete.

Home may not always be an easy place to find, but it is always there, patiently waiting. I hope you can find a second home with the characters of these stories, too.

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Book & Media Bundles at the Library

Book & Media Bundles at the Library

by Mary Swabb, Learning & Information Services Supervisor

The Missing American: Quartey, Kwei: 9781641292122: BooksWe’re living in a time of incredible change. The COVID-19 pandemic, #Black Lives Matter Movement, census, and presidential election are making 2020 a year for the history books. All of these things have coalesced, forcing Americans to take stock of what’s important and how to move forward.

The library isn’t any different. It’s experiencing an unprecedented time of change. This year was the first time in my nine years at Manhattan Public Library when the library was forced to temporarily close its doors. This closure has not only disrupted services to our patrons, it’s affected our staff’s ability to do their jobs as they normally would. Rather than succumb to the frustration that can be found in change, the library chose to adapt our services to meet the needs of our patrons. We’ve created new services like our carryout service. We’ve digitized many of our services like our children’s storytimes, teen clubs, adult book talks, and library card registration. Other services that were already available digitally, like our digital library materials, personalized reading lists, NextReads newsletters, hold requests, and Summer Reading logs have been expanded. Over the next few weeks, the library will continue to expand integral services. On June 29th, we’ll be increasing the number of items patrons can check out, and patrons will no longer need an appointment to pick up their holds. We will also be offering book and media bundles geared toward children, teens, and adults. Book and media bundles will be a collection of three items connected by a unifying topic or theme. A selection list will be available in the library’s atrium, and the bundles can be requested at the checkout desk.

To kick off the library’s book and media bundles, we’re offering the following bundles:

The Culturally Diverse Mysteries book bundle features titles with characters from various countries with a variety of genders, sexual orientations, backgrounds, problems, and experiences. If you’re interested in protagonists solving enigmas in strange locals, then this bundle is for you. It features titles like Deepa Anappara’s “Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line,” that delves into a crowded Indian market to follow young Jai as he uncovers why his classmates are disappearing at an alarming rate. “The Missing American,” by Kwei Quartey, introduces Emma Djan, a Ghanaian private investigator on her first case, who is on the hunt for Gordon Tilson, a middle-aged American widower, who disappeared in West Africa after meeting a young Ghanaian widow in an online support group. “This Town Sleeps,” by Dennis E. Staples follows Marion Lafournier, a mid-twenties gay Ojibwe man, who struggles with being openly gay in a small town as he uncovers what happened to a murdered seventeen-year-old Ojibwe basketball star.

The Home Again Romance book bundle features titles whose characters have returned home and found love. If you’re a fan of gentle contemporary romances, then you’ll be sure to enjoy these books. In “Home With You,” by Liza Kendall, Julie Riggs, an aspiring ranch owner, grapples with an old flame, Rhett Braddock, as he returns home to mend fences and buy her family’s ranch to save them from financial ruin. Kristan Higgins’ newest title, “Always the Last to Know,” follows the Frosts sisters, Sadie and Juliet, as they return home to help tend to their ailing father. While both sisters are extremely successful in their careers, they struggle with relationships. Sadie, a New York City art teacher rekindles her first love; while Juliet struggles with feeling a failure as a mother and wife. In “The Billionaire in Boots,” by Julia London, Nick Prince returns to his family’s ranch to find office manager, Charlotte Bailey, who’s been tasked with helping him rescue the ranch. Nick wants to save the ranch and leave, but his attraction to Charlotte is giving him other ideas.

To request one of these bundles, please contact the library at or 785-776-4741 ext. 300. If none of these books caught your interest, we’ll have more available in the library atrium when you come to pick up your holds. If you are interested in personalized book recommendations based on your interests, consider filling out a personalized reading list request form, which can be found on our website at We’ll curate a booklist just for you.

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Enjoying the Classics in Graphic Novel Format

Enjoying the Classics in Graphic Novel Format

by Marcia Allen, Collections Manager

It’s a wonderful, old epic and one of too few examples of literature written in Old English.   Experts don’t know when it was composed or by whom, but they believe it to have been written around the year 1000.  It’s the tale of a Scandinavian hero who makes a sea journey to the hall of the Danes to fight a marauding monster called Grendel.  “Beowulf,” the name of the both the hero and the poem recording his adventures, is one of our oldest English classics.

Of course, the circumstances and customs are far removed from our own, but an outstanding graphic novel, illustrated and retold by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin, is an excellent depiction of the story which brings the tale to life. Filled with grisly images of battle, “Beowulf” is a thrilling and violent testimony to the nature of the poem.  The cursed hall, the mother’s revenge, and the final struggle are all here in colorful panels.

For another look at a treasured epic, try Homer’s poem, “The Odyssey,” retold and illustrated by Gareth Hinds.  This marvelous adventure follows the trials that Odysseus and his men suffered on the voyage home from the siege of Troy.  It opens with Odysseus’s son bemoaning the greed of his mother’s would-be suitors, who freely feast on the family’s bounty.  From there, we follow the treacherous voyage through perils like the hungry cyclops, whom Odysseus must blind in order to avoid becoming a meal.

What’s remarkable about this illustrated version is the lavish attention to characters and to action-filled scenes.  Many of the panels are truly beautiful, especially the ocean views, while others, like Odysseus’s encounter with his deceased parents, are shadowy representations of ghostly figures.

Hinds has also created a graphic novel adaptation of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s more familiar works.  Entitled “Poe:  Stories and Poems,” the book is a lavishly-illustrated tribute to the eerie literature we all love.  “The Tell-Tale Heart,” for example, has an unsettling depiction of the soon-to-be victim’s eye, and the stealth of the murderer is drawn in dark blue panels.  The final revelation conveys all the horror of the crime hidden beneath the floor.

Hinds’ illustrations of “The Raven” are also compelling.  This time, he uses full-page artwork to accompany lines of the poem.  In fact, his drawing of the raven subtly blends skulls and skeletal hands into the feathers of the bird, and the final page features Poe’s grave with raven atop the stonework.

Ready for another famous tale?  Try “The Complete Don Quixote,” originally by Miguel de Cervantes, but illustrated and adapted by Rob Davis.  We see the famous old gentleman reading books of the lost days of chivalry.  While he desires to write a book about chivalry, he suddenly discovers that he can become an adventurous knight, and off he goes to begin his hilarious adventures.  The dialogue of the book and the constantly changing facial expressions make this graphic novel a standout.

This last graphic novel is not dedicated to a single work of literature: it is a compilation of some 25 famous poems, each illustrated in a different fashion.  Artist Julian Peters created the exquisite “Poems to See By” as his own interpretation of each poem. The lines of “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou, for example, are written on panels that appear to be quilt blocks, so the lines dance across the page.  Peters’ drawings that accompany “Musee des Beaux Arts” by W.H. Auden are incredibly detailed, especially his depiction of Brueghel’s “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” which has the requisite bystanders missing the splash into the ocean.

Each of the books mentioned above is beautifully executed, but they are mere samples of the many talented offerings available for you.  In you have not already done so, please explore the graphic novel selections the library offers.

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Dive into Summer Reading with Great Teen Reads

Dive into Summer Reading with Great Teen Reads

by Crystal Hicks, Collections Librarian Camp (9780316537759): Rosen, L. C.: Books            School’s out, temperatures are soaring, and summer’s now in full swing.  Though this may be a summer unlike any other, there are still some constants, including teens with a lot of free time.  With so many regular summer pastimes unavailable, this is a great time to explore all the great YA books available, from new titles by favorite authors to escapism and more.  All of these titles are readily available, either digitally on Sunflower eLibrary or physically through our Library Carryout service.

The most popular teen title of the summer already seems to be The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, a prequel to her mega-popular Hunger Games trilogy.  In this book, a young Coriolanus Snow mentors Lucy Gray Baird, the female tribute from District 12, during the 10th annual Hunger Games.  If you would rather listen to the audiobook, you can check it out immediately via Hoopla Digital.

Kiera Cass has built up a loyal following with her books that combine strong-willed heroines, courtly intrigue, and beautiful dresses.  Her newest book, The Betrothed, is sure to appease her fans.  After winning the affection of the king, Lady Hollis Brite thinks she has everything she needs to be happy, but a meeting with a commoner causes her to question what it is she really wants.

Teens missing out on summer camp can still get that summer-camp feel with L.C. Rosen’s Camp.  Though Randy’s always enjoyed being himself during summers at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens, he’s reinvented himself this year for a chance at love.  As Randy gives up everything from flashy nail polish to the summer musical in order to catch the eye of hyper-masculine Hudson Aaronson-Lim, he comes to question the nature of love if you aren’t accepted for who you really are.

Abigail Hing Wen’s Loveboat, Taipei allows teens to imagine an escape from a summer stuck at home firmly under their parents’ eyes.  When Chinese-American Ever Wong’s signed up for a summer study program in Taipei, she’s expecting the worst, but she discovers it’s nicknamed “Loveboat” for a reason.  When she arrives, Ever is thrown into an exhilarating summer of scant adult supervision, love triangles, and self-discovery that teens will devour.  Best yet, this book’s already been optioned to become a movie by the same team behind the fantastic To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

On the more fantastical side, teens who enjoyed Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone can find another great Afrofuturist book in Amanda Joy’s A River of Royal Blood.  In the Queendom of Myre, potential heirs must fight to the death for the right to the throne.  As her battle with her sister approaches, Eva desperately looks for a teacher for her rare form of magick and for a way to challenge her country’s bloody and prejudiced traditions.

With racial tensions currently at a flashpoint, some teens may want to learn more about racism and anti-racism in America.  Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped is a good starting point, as it provides a thorough and teen-friendly exploration of the topic.  Beginning with the origins of racism over 500 years ago, the book continues through the present day to cover influential figures and different trends in the fight against racism.  Reynolds punctuates this history with moments to pause and reflect, making for an enlightening, but not overwhelming, read.

For more teen book suggestions, check out the Teens’ Top Ten nominees at  Every year, 25 books are selected by teens as nominees for the best books of the year, and teens across the country have the summer to read these titles before voting for their favorites in the fall.  Every title on this list is available both digitally and physically, so teens can pick their favorite format to read them in before voting in the fall.

I hope it goes without saying that all of the above titles count for summer reading, even if read digitally or via audiobook.  What else counts for summer reading?  Any form of reading, including blogs, fanfiction, and webcomics.  I hope that you and yours are all signed up for summer reading, which continues this summer for children, teens, and adults through the end of July.  We’ll be offering programming online, as well, including live Zoom programs for teens.  Prizes can be picked up at the library during select hours, on the west side of the building.  You can sign up for summer reading and learn all about it at

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Digital Pursuits from Home

Digital Pursuits from Home

by Jared Richards, Technology Supervisor

From No-knead to SourdoughFor the last couple of months, I have been working from home. It took me a week or two to realize I would need to take a more active role in establishing a new work-life balance. In normal times, this balance can be difficult enough, but is largely determined just by the physical separation of your home and your workplace. When those two places merge, however, more of an effort is required to make the distinction between when you’re at work, and when you’re not.

One key for me, to make this distinction, was to make a schedule for when I would work each day, and stick to it. Mostly. When I wasn’t working, I would chase down all the random ideas and activities that I could partake in from the safety of my home. These adventures were largely aided by the library’s digital resources.

A seemingly big trend, throughout the global quarantine, has been making sourdough bread. I jumped on that bandwagon pretty quickly, because bread is amazing, and slowly building a sourdough starter over the course of a week gave me something to do. Not long after that, I was eating sourdough bread, pizza with sourdough crust, and sourdough pancakes. If you’ve never had the latter, they’re worth the time commitment.

I like to thoroughly research a topic before I dive in, and one book I found on Hoopla, “From No-knead to Sourdough” by Victoria Redhed Miller, was particularly useful. She takes the time to explain the various ingredients and the process, and then breaks down the types of breads that can be made into different comfort zones. She moves from simple no-knead breads up to low- and no-gluten breads. If you’re already a pro, you can go right to the recipe index at the back of the book and start wherever you want, maybe with lemon-currant scones or Montreal-style bagels.

While waiting for my starter to take off, I had some time on my hands. Throughout my life, I have dabbled in various computer programming languages, and recently I’ve become interested in Python. I’ve picked up a book here and there, but have never really taken the time to dig into them. Much like sourdough, however, I haven’t been able to throw a stick online without hitting a reference to Python, so I took it as a sign.

The Manhattan Public Library recently brought back and that resource has a wealth of Python and general programming courses, good for beginners on up to advanced users. I started with the course “Learning Python” with Joe Marini. It’s only two hours long but gives a good overview of what you can do with Python, without being overwhelming. It starts with how to install Python on your computer and goes through multiple examples of working with Python, like editing text files and automatically grabbing information from a website.

Near the end of my time working from home, I began to feel nostalgic for my more creative pursuits, most of which have been on hiatus, for one reason or another, for a while now. I’m not entirely sure what I want to do yet – maybe take a class on Creativebug, one of our newest online resources. In the meantime, I read “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon through Sunflower eLibrary, for inspiration. It is a quick read, packed with valuable tidbits, both from the author and quoted from other creative people. You are encouraged not to wait for creativity to strike, but to jump in and start making stuff. Kleon also admits that nothing is original and everything is built on what came before it, noting, “The writer Jonathan Lethem has said that when people call something ‘original,’ nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved.” After finishing this book, I’ve started collecting art with the elements I would like to try out, and the writing that has the voice I want to achieve.

Like many of our patrons, I’ve been thankful for the digital resources I have been able to access through the library while at home. I have been able to read and listen to books, take classes, watch movies, and read magazines, all without leaving the house. On the other hand, I’m very excited that we’re once again able to access physical materials. Patrons can now place up to five items on hold, and schedule a time to pick them up once they’re ready, through our carryout service.

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Mindfulness and Resilience Books for Children

Mindfulness and Resilience Books for Children

by Arielle Vaverka, Children’s Librarian The Dot (9780763619619): Peter H Reynolds: BooksThis summer will be very different for all of us, especially for our children. Unlike years past, we are not marking the end of a season with graduations, summer parties, and vacations. Our usual camps, clubs, and programs have been canceled. All of this uncertainty is leading many families, especially the kiddos, to feel unfamiliar stress and anxiety. Children manifest stress in ways that can look different than adults. Mood swings, bedwetting, thumb sucking, acting defiant, and bullying are all expressions of stress in children.

While we cannot change the current situation, we can empower children to manage their emotions and actions. You’ve likely heard about mindfulness and building up our resilience during these chaotic times. What’s great is that there are tools we can teach and encourage our children to practice to create a sense of calm and control.

Mindfulness is simply acknowledging the present and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness can be part of yoga, a guided meditation practice, or as simple as taking a few focused breaths. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from hardship. It involves checking in with your emotions and thoughts and choosing a positive reaction. This sounds easy but it is much harder in practice! Here are some great stories that bring these concepts to life for kids.

Children’s Books about Resilience 

Pete the Cat is a very groovy character who shows a lot of resilience in the storytime favorite, “Pete the Cat’s Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin and James Dean. Pete’s favorite shirt starts losing its buttons but Pete is not worried. The story is simple, colorful, and thoroughly enjoyable when sung out loud.

Beatrice Bottomwell is “The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes” by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein. Beatrice is proud of her reputation for always doing things the right way but sometimes her perfectionism keeps her from enjoying her friends, little brother, and daily routine. This book is a fun reminder for all of us not taking ourselves too seriously.

Peter H. Reynolds writes and illustrates wonderful stories about personal growth and perspective through art. His books “The Dot” and “Ish” are both great examples of resilience and growth.

Andrea Beaty is another fantastic children’s book writer with strong characters that model perseverance and growth. Beaty and illustrator David Roberts created a delightful story about a shy aspiring inventor, “Rosie Revere Engineer”. Rosie loves to create machines to solve problems but is scared to show her inventions to the world. In the story, Rosie discovers that mistakes are really victories when you learn from them. It’s hard to miss the references to the historical icon Rosie the Riveter and the can-do spirit she inspires.

Parent Resource:

To learn more about resilience practices, check out the short film, “Rest, Restore, and Recover your Resilience” created by the Great Course available on the Kanopy app.

Children’s Books about Mindfulness

I am Peace: A book of Mindfulness” by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds is a wonderful introduction to mindfulness as it describes the process from stressed to calm in a colorful story format.

Breathe like a Bear” by Kira Willey illustrated by Anni Betts contains thirty different breathing exercises meant to be enjoyed at your own pace. The book is full of vivid drawings and the exercises are really engaging for children describing breathing with simple explanations and everyday objects. I believe this book can work as a resource that your child can refer back to again and again to practice their favorite breath.

Nature lovers and poetry admirers will really appreciate “Breathe and Be: A book of Mindfulness Poems” by Kate Coombs and Anna Emilia Laitinen. The poems are thoughtful and simple and the illustrations highlight the beauty of the natural world to remind kids to remain present and aware.

Parent Resource:

A great audiobook to start practicing mindfulness as a family is “Mindful Parent, Mindful Child: Simple Mindfulness Practices for Busy Parents” by Susan Greenland. Greenland lays a foundation of why mindfulness is important and provides simple examples to practice.

All of the books are available in a digital format through the Hoopla or Libby apps. If you are having trouble accessing your account information, need help navigating the digital resources, or if you have a reference question, please reach out to us at


Childhood Stress. Kids Health.February 2015 reviewed by Steve Dowshen

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Start Your Summer Reading with Fun Books

Start Your Summer Reading with Fun Books

by Laura Ransom, Children’s Programming Coordinator

Title details for Tomorrow I'll Be Kind by Jessica Hische - AvailableAlthough the joy of school letting out might not feel the same for kids this year, it is still an important accomplishment that leads into a time of letting loose a little bit. Kids will be ready for some fun reading time of whatever books they like the most. The library is still hosting the annual Summer Reading program, with online registration starting Monday to earn prizes by reading, and with some online programs for all ages starting in June.

There are a number of excellent books for children available from the library’s digital book platforms.  Here are some picture books that caught my eye to share with my own little one.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” I’ll let you in on a secret: even librarians do this! That’s what I did with Linda Elovitz Marshall’s “Have You Ever Zeen a Ziz?” A gigantic bird with a neck like a giraffe decorates this book’s cover. Inspired by Jewish folklore, this story plays with fun nonsense language that reminds me of Dr. Seuss. You can check out the “zinging ziz” book on Hoopla, one of our library’s digital book platforms.

Another book with an eye-catching cover is “Vamos! Let’s Go Eat” by Raúl the Third. Delicious Mexican food is ready to be discovered at a variety of food trucks, and the reader can spy little details included throughout the pages. Kids can learn simple Spanish phrases and look up unfamiliar words in the book’s glossary. This is also available on Hoopla.

Sometimes parents will request books that teach kids big concepts like kindness and gratitude. Thankfully, we have books like “Tomorrow I’ll Be Kind” by Jessica Hische to demonstrate what it means to put these virtues into practice every day. A little rabbit helps her friend who’s fallen down, and later she paints a picture for her family. The book beautifully displays this quote from its back cover, “The smallest spark of kindness shines through the darkest night.” Read this ebook on Sunflower E-Library.

This year’s summer reading theme is “Imagine Your Story” with ties to fantastical creatures and imaginary worlds where anything can happen. Grandparents seem to be magical in ways we can’t understand! The grandchildren in the story “Hey Grandude!” by Paul McCartney call their grandpa Grandude, and they are known as his Chillers. On a rainy day, he shows them his magic compass that whisks them away on exciting adventures, like swimming at the beach and horseback riding through the desert. I’m not surprised that Paul McCartney wrote such a creative and whimsical story, and I could imagine him singing the words to his own grandchildren. Find it on Sunflower E-Library.

On Monday, look for Summer Reading information at Babies through adults can participate. Just create a username and password to log in to our online Wandoo Reader program and track your reading time. This year, readers get to set their own reading goal for how many minutes they want to challenge themselves to read over the summer, from May 18-July 31.

We will have prizes, including free books, for readers when they reach halfway to their goal and when they complete their goal. The prizes will be available at a prize table at the library that will be in a separate entrance of the library, beginning in June. Online programs will include videos of MPL librarians presenting storytimes and clubs for PreK-6th grade, a few Teen Zone Online Zoom sessions, and some adult Book Chats on Zoom. We will be doing our best to keep imagination and wonder alive this summer.

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Books to Help Through a Tumultuous Time

Books to Help Through a Tumultuous Time

by Rhonna Hargett, Associate Director

Title details for The Joy of Missing Out by Tonya Dalton - Wait listIt is a time of transition. We just found out about a week ago that the library could open again soon, giving managers the go-ahead to make schedules and refine our plans to restore services in a way that is as safe as possible for staff and patrons. While some in our community are planning for reopening, some are recovering from illness, others are looking for jobs, and all of us continue to adjust to the new normal of regularly wearing masks, attending Zoom gatherings, and increased hand-washing. No matter what changes we face in the next few months, we can all use a little help to navigate them.

We’ve all heard the common phrase “put on your own oxygen mask first.” Before we can navigate the challenges ahead, we have to take care of ourselves. ”The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” by Meik Wiking teaches us how to be more mindful of what we need to feel safe and comfortable. The Danes have been shown to be the happiest people in the world and Wiking proposes that it is due to the Danish concept of hygge. Hygge is about being mindful of the small treasures in life: a good bowl of soup, coffee with friends, or a candle burning in the midst of a family dinner. The long months of long nights in Denmark have forced the people to become experts on how to keep themselves content, a lesson particularly helpful to us now as we learn to work with limitations in our social environment.

This has been an especially stressful time for many parents, adjusting to working from home, while helping kids that are learning in an entirely new way. In “The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less,” Tonya Dalton helps parents to clarify priorities and identify what can be set aside. Named a “Top 10 Business Book of the Year” in 2019 by Fortune magazine, Dalton’s book has strategies and tools to help readers incorporate her ideas into their own lives.

One thing that has become abundantly clear during the shut-down is that working or learning at home requires a new level of self-motivation. In “Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones,” James Clear gives simple, easy-to-follow advice to help us shift our habits in a more effective direction. He tells us that our failure to achieve success is often not because of lack of will, but instead due to an inadequate system. He shares steps to create systems and design an environment that leads to fulfilled goals.

The virus has affected different people in different ways, and there isn’t one right way to respond. We are all having to make it up as we go along. Kristen Neff helps to process some of the negative feelings we may be experiencing with her book “Self Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.” By sharing experiences from her own life to illustrate Buddhist principals, Neff shows readers how being as kind to ourselves as we are to others can lead to a happier and more productive life.

The above titles are all available as digital titles from Manhattan Public Library, but hopefully, if all goes well, you’ll be able to get print books from us again in the coming weeks. If you would like to receive an email newsletter with the latest developments and more book recommendations, call us at 785-776-4741 or go to our website,
www. The newsletter link is located at the bottom of the page, along with other ways to connect with the library.

by MHK Library staff MHK Library staff No Comments

Love in the time of Corona – Reconnecting with Comfort Reads

Love in the time of Corona – Reconnecting with Comfort Reads

By Jan Johnson, LIS Librarian

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®Reconnecting. When deciding what to write for this week’s column, I wanted to choose a topic that was light and easy; to write about what has been a comfort to me in an otherwise uncomfortable time. Many of us have had a hard time switching gears, slowing down and focusing on quieting our minds from the chaos going on all around us. Now more than ever, reading has been such a comfort and escape for many. I started sheltering at home by attempting to read a new book I found at the library.

I couldn’t focus. I kept getting lost. My mind drifted and I couldn’t follow the story. Next, I tried a “self-help” type book. Nope. I desperately wanted to get lost in a book; to find comfort and quiet in the pages of a beautifully written story. Like many of us, I wanted to reconnect to a feeling I had in the past of security, bliss, delight, and peace of mind. I decided to go back to an old favorite that I know I love, that I can get lost in, and will help transport me to the rolling meadows of the French countryside.

“Blackberry Wine” by Joanne Harris is the book I chose. It is the second food novel in her Chocolat series, and we are transported back to the village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, where writer Jay Mackintosh is suffering from writer’s block. With the discovery of six long lost bottles of wine brewed by his childhood friend “Jackapple Joe,” memories from his youthful summers in a small Yorkshire village haunt and inspire him. Reconnecting his past with his present inability to find inspiration in his writing, Jay finds more of what he lost and how to get back to that sense of security and wonder.

Then I picked up a new title for me, but a story I knew from one of my favorite movies. “Brooklyn” by Colm Tóibín. Eilis Lacey leaves her small Irish village and her mother and sister for a new life in Brooklyn. Eilis struggles with leaving her family and adapting to life in America. When she meets Tony, an Italian American boy, her life changes and she begins to thrive in her new life. Eventually, a tragedy occurs in Ireland and forces her to make a decision about whether to stay in her new home or return to her old country. This is a beautifully written story that will invite you on a journey from mid-century Ireland to Brooklyn.

“A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson was my next adventure in the time of corona. We may not be able to get on the Appalachian Trail right now, but we can vicariously travel there with the wit of this famous midwestern-born expat. Joining him on the trail is his gloriously out-of-shape buddy, Stephen Katz, and together they set out on the 2100 famous “AT.” History, natural wonders, and a few rather interesting characters they meet on the trail, will entertain you, give you laughs and connect you to the trail.

“Plainsong” by Kent Haruf invites us into the lives of several families in the high plains east of Denver, Colorado. From these separate stories of life in Holt, connections emerge of lives intertwined and beautifully wrapped around each other. Community and the land that cohears them together is the element that endures this story to our own relationships to our friends, our family, and to the land. This classic American novel will give you something to care about, believe in, and learn from.

For me, reconnecting to my idyllic childhood seems to be the ultimate comfort when things get a little chaotic. “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis transports me back to a time when my biggest fantasy was finding a magic wardrobe of my own (why did we only have boring closets and not wardrobes?), where I could meet Mr. Tumnus coming around the bend with his packages. I was probably 10 or so when I first discovered Narnia and how amazing it was to get completely lost in another world. I can still see my 10-year-old version of Narnia, Mr. Tumnus, Aslan, and the Stone Table.

Reconnecting with a time in your life when things were more comfortable for you, more secure, and less uncertain, can bring comfort in an uncomfortable time. Many are rediscovering how important it is to reconnect with long lost friends, family, nature, whatever gives comfort. Whether or not you get lost in a new novel or one that you grab when you need to block out the distractions of the world, keep at it. If one story doesn’t take you on an adventure, move on. It’s better to have read and loved than never to have read at all!

Several of the titles mentioned and thousands more are available on Hoopla, Sunflower Library ebooks, and Libby. If you don’t yet have a library card, go to and access our selection of online resources.


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