In the 1890′s, Nellie Bly was a reporter for the New York World. An ambitious reporter, Bly covered sensational news stories, even having herself admitted to a mental hospital in order to report on the conditions inside. Determined to find a story to capture the imagination of the city, Bly proposed a trip around the world, planned in order to beat the Eighty Days journey by the Jules Verne character Phileas Fogg. With the approval of her editor, Joseph Pulitzer, Bly set out from New York to England on November 14, 1889. The editor of the Cosmopolitan was not to be outdone and set their literary reporter Elizbeth Brisland off on her own journey around the world, but heading in the opposite direction, across the American west and the Pacific. This is a fascinating look into the journeys of the two women who are both defying gender stereotypes, the adventures they experienced and their reactions to their travels. Each woman’s travel was planned to exact hours and minutes in order for them to race around the globe, and the entire nation became riveted by their competition. They viewed the world very differently and the insights into their personalities are fascinating, as are the countries and cities that they travel through. Author Goodman has filled the book with extensive research about the women and the times they live in. This story provides an absorbing, in-depth and compelling view of two amazing women and of the world at the turn of the century
I know we’ve already reviewed this book, but I think it needs to be revisited. It’s that good. I’ve been told by several people to read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, but I put it off as I always do. I was finally forced to read it and from the first page I was completely absorbed. I have since forced several others to read it and everyone has loved it so far. On the surface it’s a book about a teenager in the future playing video games, but it’s also a coming-of-age story, action-adventure, a little bit romance, a novel about the human condition. This is just a great story, so I’m glad it’s been picked as the K-State Common Book for 2013. We’ll be partnering with them so look out for some opportunities to explore the book further in the fall. I can’t wait to hear what you think about it!
By Jennifer Adams, Children’s Services Manager
Everyone knows that libraries have storytimes so young children can hear good stories read aloud. People who have attended storytimes know that, in addition to stories, children will learn action rhymes, songs and even dance moves. It is all great fun and leads to enjoyment of books and the library. That alone may be reason enough to present ten storytimes or more each week at our library, but there is actually more to it than that.
Public libraries have a strong connection to early childhood education and “early literacy,” a term that does not mean learning to read early, but instead refers to the skills children master in preparation for learning to read when they are older. It begins with babies – hearing language spoken and sung, touching our mouths as we speak, and beginning to recognize shapes and images. Babies love books. They love to look at them, hear the words, chew on them, rip their pages. Books are full of wonderment! A father in the library recently told me he got a kick out of his daughter, who is just a few months old, because she is such a book critic. He can open the page of a new board book to her laughter or her cries – she shares her opinions openly. But we know we need to be reading to our young children, and talking to them and playing with them. How do these simple exercises translate into reading success?
The American Library Association (ALA) did extensive research into this topic several years ago and launched a nationwide program for librarians called “Every Child Ready to Read.” The research showed six early literacy skills that were key to children’s ability to learn to read when they got to school. Not surprisingly, many of these skills have been a part of storytimes for ages. Knowing the research, terminology and results associated with specific skills has helped us hone in on the activities that are best for early literacy. Additionally, we can easily pass this knowledge on to parents who attend our programs so their efforts at home are reinforced and encouraged.
Johnson County Public Library took ALA’s somewhat wordy program and transformed it into a fun, user-friendly version they called “6 By 6” – six skills kids need to know by the time they are ready to read around the age of six. The State Library of Kansas adopted the 6 By 6 program, making it accessible to every library in the state (http://6by6.mykansaslibrary.org).
The six skills are:
1. Have Fun with Books (print motivation)
2. Notice Print All Around You (print awareness)
3. Talk, Talk, Talk (vocabulary)
4. Look for Letters Everywhere (letter knowledge)
5. Tell Stories about Everything (narrative skills)
6. Take Time to Rhyme, Sing & Play Word Games (phonological awareness)
In addition to weekly storytimes, we have been incorporating early literacy skills into fun 6 By 6 activity stations available in the children’s room all the time. Our 6 By 6 stations include games, puzzles, felt boards and dress-up items that revolve around a picture book.
This month features “The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. In the rhyming text, we follow a brave mouse who outsmarts all the animals in the forest who would like to eat him by telling them he is off to have dinner with his friend, the gruffalo, a terrifying monster the mouse makes up as he goes. Much to his surprise, the mouse does indeed meet a strange beast that matches all his frightening descriptions. But once again, the tiny mouse is able to outwit the gruffalo and all the other critters. Although this book is more than 10 years old, it has remained popular with a sequel, “The Gruffalo’s Child,” and a short, award-winning animated film.
Now you can visit the library with your child or grandchild to have some fun with this entertaining story. Read the book together on one of our cozy chairs, then use the stuffed gruffalo and other puppets to retell it to each other. Put together a funny Mr. Potato Head monster version with extra eyes, horns and other silly body parts. Use a big magnet board to match words and letters, and pretend to mix up some interesting recipes.
These engaging activities will be available in the children’s room through May. Librarians change the book and activities every two months, coming up with new and creative ways for children to explore language and stories.
Lifelong family secrets are revealed through a series of letters which arrive along with condolence notes in this novel written by French novelist Helene Gremillon. Camille, a single woman in her thirties has just lost her mother and has recently found herself to be pregnant. She begins receiving long, unsigned letters telling a story that she knows nothing about. As they continue to arrive she learns of a previous war time love triangle. Wealthy Monsieur and Madame M cannot conceive a child. Madame M is deperate to have a baby, and the wartime efforts are pushing all women to have children. She befriends a teenage girl of lower class and helps provide the necessary art supplies that Annie needs to encourage her creativity. Annie becomes so close to Madame M that she empathizes with her to the point of offering to have her child.
This dark tale of love gone wrong jumps between the present and the past with many twists and involved secrets. Camille begins to guess that these letters may involve her much more deeply than she wants to know in The Confidant.
If you are a parent-to-be trying to think up unique baby names and fall into any of the titular categories, Hello, My Name is Pabst is worth checking out. It offers a treasure trove of names, mostly off-the-wall ideas, interlaced with a few gems. Authors Bruno and Sparks have divided the book into chapters highlighting categories of names. Themes range from Craft beers to IKEA furniture to Architects, Nihilists, Tattoos, Mad scientists, Dreadlocks and beyond. The book’s casual writing style makes it a quick read with names featured in cartoon bubbles so you can skip the rest if you’re really in a hurry. “Tipster” sections give additional ideas to create your own baby names. Read it and decide if the authors are pulling your leg, or if you really want to brand your baby with one of these names.
Molly Hagan is a 40 year old mother with a 6 year old son and a husband–soon to be ex-husband, who dumped her for a younger woman. He has lost his job and has fallen behind in his child support payments, forcing Molly to look for work after being a stay-at-home Mom for several years. Feeling insecure about her abilities, her age, her skills and her body, Megan takes a job offered by a friend as a copy writer, designing the menu and name for a new bakery near the New York Public Library. The owners want a tie in with books, and Molly uses her ability to create puns as a source for the name of the bakery–Vanity Fare. Molly is a wonderfully written character and we see her change and grow through the book, becoming more confident in who she is and what she wants out of life. Molly’s circle of friends and supporters are likeable characters and are well-drawn. There is romance and humor, and the names for the baked goods at the bakery–”Tart of Darkness”, “Of Mousse and Men” for example, are tied to literary references. This is a delightful story, filled with fun, descriptions of wonderful desserts and starring a woman who struggles to turn into the person she aspires to be.
Manhattan Public Library
What are the ten best Western films of all time? Well, that depends on who you ask. You can find many lists of top Western films on the Web, but Classic Western Films no two lists will include the same films. Gayot.com, Reelz.com, Amctv.com, IGN.com, the American Film Institute, the Internet Movie Database, Rotten Tomatoes, and many other websites have their own opinions on which are the best Westerns. Since there doesn’t seem to be any consensus among the experts, I’ve come up with my own list of favorite Westerns. My own top ten, in no particular order, are:
“The Magnificent Seven,” 1960, directed by John Sturges. In this western remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai,” seven American gunmen take on the job of defending a Mexican village against marauding bandits. Elmer Bernstein composed the film’s iconic theme music, later used in commercials for Marlboro cigarettes. The film stars Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Eli Wallach to name a few.
“The Searchers,” 1956, directed by John Ford. Based on the novel by Alan Le May, the film stars John Wayne as a middle-aged Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his niece (Natalie Wood), who has been abducted by Comanches. Major themes running through the film are the issues of racism and genocide towards Native Americans.
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” 1969, directed by George Roy Hill. Loosely based on actual events, the film tells the story of outlaws Robert Leroy Parker, aka Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman), and the Henry Longabaugh, the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford).
“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” 1966, directed by Sergio Leone. One of the “Spaghetti Westerns,” filmed in Italy and Spain, the plot revolves around three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in buried Confederate gold: Blondie, The Good (Clint Eastwood); Angel Eyes, The Bad (Lee Van Cleef); and Tuco, The Ugly (Eli Wallach). Ennio Morricone composed the recognizable and haunting film score.
“The Oxbow Incident,” 1943, directed by William Wellman, and starring Henry Fonda. Based on the novel of the same name by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, the film explores the theme of mob justice and vigilante law as two drifters are drawn into a lynch mob to find and hang three men presumed to be rustlers and the killers of a local man.
“Shane,” 1953, directed by George Stevens. Based on the novel by Jack Shaefer, with a screenplay by Western author A.B. Guthrie, the film tells the story of Shane, a drifter and reluctant gunslinger. Shane (Alan Ladd) stumbles into an isolated valley in Wyoming and becomes embroiled in a land conflict between a homesteader and a ruthless cattle boss.
“True Grit,” 2010, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. A remake of another classic Western from 1969, “True Grit” directed by Henry Hathaway, and based on the novel by Charles Portis. Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross hires Deputy U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne in the original; Jeff Bridges in the remake) to bring her father’s murderer to justice.
“Unforgiven,”1992, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. A dark Western that deals frankly with the uglier aspects of violence and the myth of the Old West. The film tells the story of William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had hung up his guns and turned to farming.
“Little Big Man,” 1970, directed by Arthur Penn, and based on the novel by Thomas Berger. At age 121, Jack Crabb (played by Dustin Hoffman) recounts the story of his life, including capture by the Cheyennes and participation in the Little Bighorn fight against George Armstrong Custer.
And last but not least, “Blazing Saddles,” 1974, directed by Mel Brooks, because it’s always fun to spoof the things you love. The campfire scene alone qualifies this film as “classic.” This film satirizes the racism obscured by myth-making Hollywood accounts of the American West, with the hero being a black sheriff in an all-white town.
All of my top ten appear on one or more lists of best Westerns. Most of these titles are available in DVD format at Manhattan Public Library.
Murder, conspiracies, infidelity and scandals start this 6-part mini-series off to a fast-pace. Superbly acted with an intelligent story line filled with suspense and an unpredictable plot, this BBC production of State of Play is television at it’s best. Stephen Collins is a Member of Parliament whose researcher for his energy committee is killed on her way to her job. A young man is shot at around the same time, dismissed as a drug killing by the police. Are these events connected? Soon it becomes public that the MP was having an affair, and reporters Cal McCaffrey and Della Smith begin an investigation, which reveals that Sonia’s death was not an accident. A web of lies unfolds and it remains the job of the investigative reporters to uncover the truth. Twists and turns in the plot will keep you guessing until the end and the ensemble of excellent British actors make the story lines believable–a must-see thriller!
What does a perfect life look like? Libby, Justin and their beautiful teenage daughter, a gorgeous townhouse in Boston, a multmillion dollar construction business–What more could one want? But, after 16 years, their marriage is falling apart. On a “date” to discuss their personal problems, Justin and Libby arrive home, find the door open, the alarm off –and three menacing men waiting for them. Just as they hear their daughter scream, a touch of a taser changes their lives.Waking from a drug-induced sleep, all three are caged in a small cell in a now-abandoned prison built by non-other than Justin himself. The dark secrets they each harbor threaten everything they hold dear. Tessa Leone, a private investigator and Wyatt Foster, the local sheriff along with the FBI are trying to recover the kidnapped family alive. Why were all three taken? Why are there no calls, no ransom notes? Their lives hang in the balance in Touch and Go.
Julie Kibler has written a debut novel that won my heart. I could not put this tragic love story down without continuing to dwell on the power of love and the tragedy of racial discrimination. In the south during the 1930′s, a wealthy white doctor’s daughter, Isabelle, falls in love with the handsome black son of their family maid. This story combines two time periods as years later now ninty year old Isabelle, asks her young black hairdresser, Dorrie, to drive her to a funeral 1000 miles from their homes. The two women share their troubled family stories with Isabelles secrets unfolding at the same time Dorrie’s teenage son calls with his own life changing problems. Calling Me Home kept me mesmerized till the very end. I hope for more by Julie Kibler!
Something just didn’t add up as I read this story, I knew there was a mystery lurking in the background, but I wasn’t sure what it was or why. Secrets were behind every turn. Willa Jackson had just moved back to Walls of Water, North Carolina. Her grandmother, Georgie Jackson, was in the nursing home there and seemed to be worried about peaches.
Paxton Osgood, now lived in The Blueridge Madam mansion, which at one time had belonged to the Jackson family. Paxton’s grandmother, Agatha Osgood, was Georgie’s best friend. Paxton decided to have a grand party to celebrate the social woman’s group that Agatha and Georgie had started years ago. Willa wasn’t interested in the event to honor both grandmothers, but when the peach tree was taken out and a skeleton was found, the secrets come out. Then we find out about the traveling salesman, Tucker Devlin, who had worked his charms on the town when Agatha and Georgie were young women. By the end of the book, both Willa and Paxton fall in love, secrets are unraveled, and everyone lives happily ever after.
The Joys of Gift Books
By Marcia Allen
Technical Services & Collections Manager
Manhattan Public Library
Throughout the year, Manhattan Public Library is the recipient of a great many gifts. Often, donors will designate a determined amount to be spent and allow staff to make selections. Other times, the donors have specific titles in mind and provide lists of materials they wish to be purchased. Either way, staff members at the library are happy to accept those new materials, and gift plates are added to inside covers of books to indicate the donor or nature of the gift.
I bring this up because the library has recently received a lovely gift that arrived at the perfect time of year. Town and Country Garden Club has once again presented a very generous gift which allowed for the purchase of ten beautiful gardening books that many folks throughout the area will truly enjoy. If you are one of the many novice or accomplished gardeners dying to get back outside to dig and to plant, you’ll want to peruse the following:
“American Horticultural Society of Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers” edited by Christopher Brickell is an exquisite sourcebook. This is an updated classic produced by Dorling Kindersley that offers design plans, hundreds of photographs of varieties, and detailed advice on care and planting. In fact, I don’t think there’s much in the gardening world that is not included in these 744 pages. You might want to consult this excellent reference before even getting started!
“Gardening Projects for Kids” by Jenny Hendy is a parent’s delight. This kid-friendly book has just the right layout and interest to get children outside and enthused about their own plantings and arrangement. None of the tasks are labor-intensive, and all are lovely to view. Some even encourage the building of simple little walls and color-coordinated designs. There’s enough here to alleviate summer’s boredom and offer kids projects to please.
“Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie” by Sylvan T. Runkel and Dean M. Roosa is a reprint of an older book, with a fresh, new layout and full-page color photographs of each plant. Common and Latin names are included, and the origins of those names are explained. And you’ll be surprised at all the unique uses that Native American and pioneer folks found for these plants. This is a perfect companion for a long walk in the country.
“Seed to Seed” by Suzanne Ashworth is a vegetable-grower’s delight. This handy book encourages the thrifty practice of saving seeds for next year’s planting. Ashworth’s book offers detailed information about 160 different vegetables, along with instructions on collecting, storing and planting. All of the detailed steps have been tested and refined by the author and a wide network of experienced gardeners.
“Fresh Flower Arranging” by Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks goes far beyond simply gathering a handful of flowers and placing them in a favorite vase. The authors open the book with basic guidelines for the best containers, explain the accepted theory of flower colors, and discuss the shaping involved in an arrangement. From there, they devote chapters to numbered sets of directions and breathtakingly gorgeous photos of completed arrangements. It may sound odd, but one striking arrangement is an arresting mix of dahlias, sedum, broccoli florets and spring onions!
“Designing and Creating a Cottager Garden” by Gail Harland is a gardener’s dream. Besides the expected layout design and construction tips, the book offers different seasonal views of well-planned growing spaces that offer year-long beauty. In addition, the suggested plant varieties are grouped by tendencies to climb, cluster, or adorn borders of a growing space. And the plant directory at the back of the book is stellar.
“Flowers” by Carolyne Roehm is a tribute to the beauty of flowers. Missing from this book are the guidelines and suggestions of so many other gardening books. This one is just plain pretty. Full-page photographs of incredible flowers and the accompanying text by professional photographer Roehm make this a volume that transfixes the eye. Nature’s colors at their best.
This is not a complete listing of Town and Country Garden Club’s latest generous gift,
but it gives readers an idea of excellent new resources for those who must be planting. For these gardening books and hundreds of others in the library’s collections, come by and check us out. Your garden awaits.
C. J. Box’s complex and likeable character Joe Pickett returns in this latest novel by Box, Breaking Point. Pickett is a Wyoming Game warden, responsible for a huge area in the state, a job which regularly takes him away from his family and places him in danger often, but is a job that he loves as well. In this latest addition to the series, Pickett becomes involved in a dispute between a landowner and the EPA, which escalates into a manhunt, wild fire and government interference in local responsibilities. Box has written another fast-paced thriller, with perfect character development and a sense of place and community in and around the small town of Saddlestring, Wyoming. Joe Pickett is a character we come to care about in this series–an honest family man trying to do a responsible and fair job for his family, for his community and as a game warden and often finding himself in the middle of situations that he neither wants to be involved in or that he has created. Start this award-winning mystery series at the beginning with Open Season.
Manhattan had the privilege of a visit by Kent Haruf in 2006 for our first One Book/ One Community Read. His novel Plainsong was a finalist for the National Book Award and was adapted into a Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie in 2004. Many in Manhattan delighted in meeting the author and reveled in his engaging talks. Fast forward to this year and find Kent’s newest novel destined for a prestigious award. Benediction is set once again on the eastern high plains of Colorado in the small town of Holt. Dad Lewis has just been given the death sentence of a cancer diagnosis. His daughter comes home to help her mother, Mary, care for him, but his distant son is no longer a part of their lives. The secondary characters in the story all have issues and lives that are familiar to all of us. I found his latest book to be captivating and poignant as it drew me into a story that came so close to my personal experiences with my mother’s recent death. We all can feel the pathos of loss as none of us escape life’s sad transitions. Read Benediction also for the love shown to a small girl being raised by her grandmother and the hilarious skinny dipping scene.
In a compelling memoir, Bouton, a former senior editor of the New York Times, chronicles her twenty-two year struggle with hearing loss. It started when she had difficulty hearing what her colleagues were saying and it was getting worse. She became profoundly deaf in one ear, and the other had a severe loss. She says hearing loss follows the traditional stages of grief: denial, anger, depression and finally a grudging acceptance. She speaks with doctors, audiologists and a variety of people struggling to cope with hearing loss. She concludes on an encouraging note about ongoing research for a biological cure. Shouting Won’t Help is a deeply felt look at a widespread and misunderstood phenomenon. At present, some 50 million Americans suffer some degree of hearing loss.