Month: January 2018

by MHKLibrary Staff MHKLibrary Staff No Comments

Harry Potter…Still Going

Harry Potter…Still Going

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

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

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

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

The Movies

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

The Play

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

Fan Fiction

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

New Illustrated Books

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


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

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

by MHKLibrary Staff MHKLibrary Staff No Comments

Understanding Mental and Developmental Disorders

Understanding Mental and Developmental Disorders

By Mary Wahlmeier, Adult Services Assistant

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

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

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

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

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

by Manhattan Public Library Manhattan Public Library No Comments

Local Manhattan Student Takes First Place At Chess Tournament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk20MHK January 2018 presenters include:

Nikki Bowman– Beekeeping

Jessica Canfield – Hidden Beauty of Landscapes

Jeffrey Hicks—Math, Science and Where They Meet

Josh Hicks – Community Building

Palma Holden – Finding Beauty in Everyday Objects

Carmen Schober – Storytelling and Goal-Setting Through Film

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


by MHKLibrary Staff MHKLibrary Staff No Comments

A World War II Hero of the French Resistance

A World War II Hero of the French Resistance

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by MHKLibrary Staff MHKLibrary Staff No Comments

Books to Help You Make 2018 the Best Year Yet

Books to Help You Make 2018 the Best Year Yet

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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