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Young Adult Books from Queer Authors

Young Adult Books from Queer Authors

Alex Urbanek, Collections Librarian, They/them

Lakelore: 9781250624147: McLemore, Anna-Marie: Books -

Manhattan Public Library’s April ReadMHK prompt is to read titles written or starring LGBTQIA2S+ individuals. April is the perfect month to focus on these stories, as Manhattan, Kansas celebrates Little Apple Pride, one of my favorite celebrations. For this month, I’m focusing on books in the library’s young adult collection written by queer authors and featuring queer protagonists.

Anna-Marie McLemore (they/them) is one of my favorite queer writers. They tend to mix magical realism with gender and sexuality struggles, as well as young love. Their latest book “Lakelore” is a story of two non-binary, neurodivergent teenagers who are the only people to interact with the rumored world under the lake. Bastian has been exploring the world under the lake for most of their life, but has avoided it since they’ve begun releasing their alebrijes, brightly colored Mexican folk-art animal sculptures, into the world as a way to regulate their emotions. Lore moved into town after visiting several years ago and interacting with the world, which they thought was only a dream. As the world under Lakelore threatens to come to the surface, the teens find friendship and companionship with each other, working through their problems together instead of alone.

Magical Boy” by The Kao, also known as Vincent Kao (he/him), began as a webcomic and now has two volumes in print. Max is a transgender boy dealing with typical problems: coming out, dealing with parents and schoolmates dead-naming and mis-gendering him, and the family “blessing” of being a “magical girl.” With the help of his friend Piper, Max has to come to terms with his birthright and fight evil in the world. This comic does a great job of showing the highs and lows of transitioning, with a twist on the magical girl trope. If you’re interested in more of The Kao’s work, he also has a web series “Mondo Manga” that he updates regularly.

Meredith Russo (she/her) writes from her transgender femme experience in both her books, “If I Was Your Girl” and “Birthday.” In “Birthday,” we follow two friends from their thirteenth to sixteenth birthdays, switching character perspective in each chapter. Morgan is starting to come to terms with her trans female identity, while still struggling with her mother’s passing. She is terrified of ruining her friendship with Eric and her relationship with her very masculine father. Meanwhile, Eric is worried about his friendship with Morgan, while also worrying about the future and his changing sexuality.  Russo does a fantastic job of writing trans stories that aren’t as focused on the trauma aspect, instead focusing on the coming out narrative and young love in high school.

Magdalena “Maggie” Gonzalez has put any quest for love on hold. She’s decided just to focus on her photography career and her friends. However, with her sister’s quinceañera around the corner, Maggie needs to find a date. Picking from three different people proves difficult when she has to come to terms with the feelings she harbors for each of them. “Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster” by Andrea Mosqueda (she/her) is a fun love story that turns the love triangle trope on its head with the bisexual conundrum.

Bingo Love” by Tee Franklin (they/she), among others, is a quick graphic novel showcasing the love story between Hazel and Mari. They meet at church bingo in 1963 and quickly fall in love. Their families and social pressures push them apart, and they both end up marrying men and having families. Years later in their 60’s, Hazel and Mari run into each other at, yet again, church bingo. With full families and adult responsibilities, these sweet grandmothers have a big decision to make.

If sci-fi stories are more your thing, “The Sound of Stars” by Alechia Dow (she/her) follows the tale of human Janelle “Ellie” Baker and M0Rr1S, one of the invading Ilori. Dow utilizes her own experience being asexual to easily discuss Ellie’s asexuality without it being a big deal. When the Ilori first invaded, human kind responded with violence, making the Ilori believe that any form of emotional expression by humans should be outlawed, including books and music. When M0Rr1s finds Ellie’s illegal library, and gets introduced to music, an unlikely friendship develops.

If none of these titles called out to you, you can access one of our many resources to find some new titles. Our librarians are well versed in finding just the book for you. Happy Pride!

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Books for Women’s History Month

Books for Women’s History Month

By; Amber Hoskins

From the beginning of time, women have been contributing to the world’s history in various ways. Often times overlooked, more recent years have led to a surge in books that explore the achievements and struggles of women throughout the ages. Since it is Women’s History Month, this is a great time to explore some of what Manhattan Public Library has to offer. As I was looking through our catalog, I found that there is are myriad of books to choose from, but luckily, I somehow found a way to narrow it down to five books for this session.

The first book, “Lady Killers” by Tori Telfer and with illustrations by Dame Darcy, caught my eye right off the bat. As a fan of true crime and psychology, this is probably the book that I found most entertaining of them all. Telfer challenges the stereotype of the male serial killer by showcasing the stories of women who have committed gruesome murders. The book examines the motivations and psychological makeup of these women, shedding light on a subject that is often sensationalized in popular culture. This book is a great reminder that all humans are equally capable when it comes to committing evil deeds.

Because I am also a fan of medical science, I wanted to make sure I got a book on this topic as well. In the past, women have faced exclusion when it comes to medicine and research. “Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine,” by Olivia Campbell, tells the stories of pioneering women in the medical field. This book explores the difficulties that were faced in a male-dominated field and celebrates the achievements of those who persevered. From Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in the United States, to Mary Edwards Walker, who became a surgeon during the Civil War, this book highlights the impact that these women had on the future of curative arts and society.

If you are a fan of graphic novels, “Wake, The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts” by Rebecca Hall with illustrations by Hugo Martínez, might be something of interest to you. Hall, who is a granddaughter of slaves, gives us insight on how black women were key players in the fight for freedom. From the journey of slave ships through the Middle Passage, to the revolts in colonial New York, these brave women are celebrated for their courage to fight back against those who constrained them. Hall’s research through historical court records and slave ship captains’ logs allows her to bring the story to vivid life alongside the images in the book.

Similarly, “The Light of Days” by Judy Batalion is another riveting account of defiance. This story revolves around the Jewish resistance in Poland during World War II, with a particular focus on the role that women played in the movement. This book came about through extensive research and interviews with surviving members of the resistance. Known as “Ghetto Girls,” some of them only teenagers, these heroines built underground bunkers, smuggled bread and guns, and ultimately saved countless lives.

Finally, in “History vs. Women: The Defiant Lives They Don’t Want You to Know” by Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams, with illustrations by T.S. Abe, we are presented with a collection of stories about women from different eras. Sarkeesian and Adams cover a broad range of fields, from science to politics, and from rebels to scholars. This book has good illustrations and includes short biographies. I really enjoyed this one for its entertaining way of presenting information. I also liked that it had several people that I knew of but had not found in a book before.

For me, these five books are essential reading for anyone interested in the stories of women who have made a significant impact in various fields. However, we do have a vast collection of books on the subject of women’s history that is sure to entertain anyone interested in learning more. If you are into history dating back to the Middle Ages, we recently added a couple of books that reevaluate how women were treated during this era. They are “Femina” by Janina Ramirez, and “The Once and Future Sex” by Eleanor Janega. This article is only covering a tiny fraction of what MPL has to offer on the subject of women, so I hope you feel encouraged to browse our collections for something you will enjoy.

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Books about Bicycling

Books about Bicycling

by Crystal Hicks, Collection Services Manager

As the weather slowly warms up, my thoughts turn inexorably towards biking. You might’ve seen my family biking around town—my husband’s bike looks like it was crossed with a wheelbarrow, and our toddler rides contentedly in front. We splurged on our electric bikes last spring, and they’ve brought us all the joy and none of the pain of bicycling. Now that I’m back into biking, it’s almost my favorite activity—second, of course, to reading books. Fortunately, the Manhattan Public Library has books about biking, so I can pursue both interests simultaneously.

It seems best to start with the books most useful for bicycling: repair manuals.  DK’s “The Complete Bike Owner’s Manual” uses DK’s signature image-heavy style to walk readers through basic maintenance and repair, like fixing a flat tire. For a more thorough look at bicycle maintenance, check out “The ‘Bicycling’ Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair for Road and Mountain Bikes” by Todd Downs. Downs goes beyond the basics, with tips for adjusting seat position, chain repair, and more. Both books cover a variety of bicycles, so most riders should find them useful.

Jody Rosen, who commutes by bike in New York City, combines bicycle history with memoir in “Two Wheels Good.” Bicycles are a revolutionary force, both loved and hated in equal measure. Rosen explores how the bicycle, which should be considered antiquated, endures through its simplicity and versatility and is currently enjoying its biggest boom yet. For a more specific look at the history of bicycles on American roads, check out James Longhurst’s “Bike Battles.

The library also has books on cycling history in our children’s collection. Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome’s “Major Taylor, Champion Cyclist” brings to life the story of Marshall Taylor, a Black cyclist who raced from 1896 to 1909. Warm oil paintings depict Taylor’s journey, from trick riding through his professional debut to his 1901 win against Edmond Jacquelin. Allan Drummond’s “Pedal Power” turns to Europe, showcasing how Amsterdam became the bicycle capital of the world following a grassroots push. In the early 1970s, Amsterdam teemed with both cars and bicycles, making the roads unsafe. After public outcry over the number of deaths from accidents, Amsterdam decided to prioritize bicycles over cars, creating a city where bicycling is the norm.

For children who prefer fiction, there are a few books that center on cycling. Christina Uss’s “The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle” follows Bicycle, a quiet girl who was taken in by the Mostly Silent Monastery and named after the bicycle shirt she was wearing. When Sister Wanda decides Bicycle needs to make friends, Bicycle pedals off across the United States instead, heading for the San Francisco Blessing of the Bicycles to meet her cycling idol. In “Sarai and the Around the World Fair,” by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown, Sarai comes to a crossroads when she outgrows her first bike. Her Tata offers to patch up an old bike for her, but will it turn out like the new bike she dreams of? In Haifaa Al Mansour’s “The Green Bicycle,” ten-year-old Wadjda longs to ride a bike like her friend Abdullah, but it’s frowned upon in Saudi Arabia. Despite the obstacles in her way, Wadjda enacts a plan to earn enough money to buy the bike for herself.

Picture books can also help generate excitement in kids new to biking or making the transition from a tricycle to a bicycle. Elizabeth Verdick and Brian Bigg’s “Bike and Trike” features a rivalry between trusty-old Trike and shiny-new Bike. When they race to determine the Winner on Wheels, they discover that they both have their purpose and do their best work together. In “Together We Ride,” by Valerie Bolling and Kaylani Juanita, a young girl learns how to ride a bicycle under her father’s careful guidance. Though she falls at first, slowly she gets the hang of it, and the book ends with a joyful bike ride with the whole family. “Biking with Grandma,” by Chris Santella and Vivienne To, follows Grandma Rose and Sam as they bike across the world, visiting national parks and more. Told via postcards to Sam’s parents and accompanying images, this book will make anyone itch to jump on a bike and get traveling.

Whatever your mode of conveyance, I hope you stop by Manhattan Public Library to check out some books, or visit us online at We’ve got plenty of books to satisfy every reader, whatever you may be looking for.

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Building Better Bridges and Communities

Building Better Bridges and Communities

by Allie Lousch, Community Engagement Lead

Most weeks I share a meal with some of my favorite people. We laugh, break bread, discuss life in depth, listen and talk smack about each other’s politics. I love these people. Over time and with some fits and starts, we have discovered how to vehemently disagree while committing to our cherished relationship. This is one reason why the audiobook “Conversations with People Who Hate Me: 12 things I learned from talking to internet strangers” caught my attention while scrolling through the Libby audiobook app available with a Manhattan Public Library (MPL) card.

In “Conversations,” Dylan Marron describes how he began his award-winning podcast, “Conversations with People Who Hate Me,” after reading noxious messages directed to his inbox. Marron invited several hate-mailers to join him for a conversation. He connected with high school seniors approaching graduation, senior citizens, folks identifying as conservative and liberal, straight, gay and representing a variety of experiences. The one thing all participants had in common was they had sent hateful messages through the internet to Marron. And many talked with him.

“This podcast is not a search for common ground,” Marron said in an interview with USA Today. “It’s an experiment to see what happens when two people with very different views on the world talk to each other.”

Marron asked, “Do you hate me?” during conversations. Most of the people responded “No.” One middle-aged man said, “I no longer hate you, Dylan … because you’re willing to listen. I’m listening to you. You’re listening to me and I no longer hate you.”

“Conversations” participants, including Marron, discovered the jerks on the other side of the screen were “just people.” I’ve been thinking on this audiobook since last year and how I can learn to listen and to discuss hard things. Listening to ideas other than our own appears to be the tipping point toward building healthy relationships and communities.

Another take on bridge- and community building comes in a powerful novella for young adults called “Seedfolks” by Newbery-winning author, Paul Fleischman. It begins in a trash-strewn vacant lot in wintry Cleveland. We first meet Kim, an elementary-aged immigrant girl, planting lima beans in the still-frozen soil to honor the father who died before she was born.

Watching her is Ana, an older Romanian woman who is among the dozen accented voices you’ll encounter in this book. What begins as a futile gesture of memory among discarded tires becomes a vibrant garden where “many grew plants from their native land – huge Chinese melons, ginger, cilantro, a green the Jamaicans call ‘callaloo’, and many more.”

The growth from the first six lima beans to a rich community garden is not an easy one. There are misunderstandings, assumptions and failure in the garden’s and community’s growth. As the garden takes root and branches out, so does a vibrant community once seen as blighted as the buildings it inhabits.

Why “Seedfolks”? Florence, a teacher who joins the garden, describes the first generations of gardeners-who-rooted-a-community as her father described their descendants, as “‘our seedfolks’, because they were the first of our family there.”

You’ll find “Seedfolks” available at MPL in print and on audiobook.

Originally, I had planned to finish with another book but discovered “Them: Why we hate each other and how to heal” by former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, Ben Sasse. In “Them,” he writes of loneliness and isolation as a loss of essential “social infrastructure” and the root of society’s disconnection.

Published in 2018, “Them” attempts to explain the anxiety, distraction and rootlessness Sasse sees in today’s America. Instead of connecting with one another, Sasse explains Americans isolate from potentially meaningful relationships. In this isolation grows anger and fear, which affects how people see themselves and the world they’re in. “We need to be needed … to have roots and belong,” Sasse writes. “Them” is a research-rich encouragement to emerge from isolation and into community for our individual and collective wellbeing.

What do you think? Has American culture fractured? Is it rooted in loneliness and isolation? MPL hosts events for neighbors of every age and many interests, in a warm and welcoming place regardless of their bank statements, pronouns or political leanings.

Visit MPL online at to preview our events calendar and look through our catalog of available resources. We hope to see you in person among MHK’s growing library community.

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Why National Disability Awareness Month Matters

Why National Disability Awareness Month Matters

by Eric Norris, Library Director

President Ronald Reagan established March as National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month February 26, 1987. The proclamation was a call to recognize and celebrate people with disabilities and to encourage expanding opportunities for all people to reach their full potential.

Persons with disabilities have long been disregarded by employers, overlooked and ignored as customers and patrons. President Reagan’s proclamation signaled “significant changes in the public perception of young people and adults with developmental disabilities, opening new doors to independent and productive lives” by design and decree. Visit Ronald Reagan’s presidential online library to read the entire proclamation,

President Reagan’s 1987 proclamation helped Congress move the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, ADA, forward. The ADA is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination and harassment, and was foundational to secure persons with disabilities as a protected class founded on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Disability Pride: Dispatches for a Post-ADA World,” by Ben Mattlin, a journalist, essayist and editor, explores the vibrant diversity of the ADA Generation, the generation having grown up with wheelchair ramps, Braille wayfinding signs, closed captioning and disability rights as a cultural norm. This book is not a history of the movement that led to the establishment of the ADA, but an exploration of disability rights activism since. Mattlin acknowledges the strides made to develop access and remove the physical limitations prior to ADA — he was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a congenital muscle weakness, and uses a wheelchair — but this book dives deeper.

Mattlin explores disability culture from the politics of beauty in fashion and pop culture to how the neurodiversity movement and autistic self-advocacy are changing assumptions of what it means to live along a continuum of abilities. He closes “Disability Pride” with a chapter titled “Trending or Truly Empowering?” and asks if what has been gained can be sustained and what the future holds. There are many new approaches in the fight for equity and parity, and this is an “inclusive reexamination of society’s treatment of those it deems different.”

For teen readers of the ADA Generation who might be looking for a role model or mentor, meet Alice Wong. Wong is a disabled activist, writer, editor, media maker, consultant and the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project, “an online community dedicated to creating, sharing and amplifying disability media and culture,” In 2021, Wong updated a collection of essays and edited the release of “Disability Visibility (Adapted for Young Adults): 17 First-Person Stories for Today,” featuring reflections of 17 disabled individuals on the topics of being, becoming, doing and connecting.

Though many of the featured authors share distressing stories about what they’ve endured as people with disabilities, there is a strong current of humor and a determined sense of self throughout this anthology that will make readers challenge their own thoughts about disability, accessibility and ableism. Ableism is a social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that archetypical abilities are superior.

Disability Visibility” challenges readers to avoid viewing disabled persons as broken, or faulty and in need of being fixed. Readers are encouraged to view people with disabilities as members of a thriving community with its own history, culture and social importance. Wong also offers reassurance for young disabled people. “You are enough,” Wong writes. “Don’t let anyone ever make you feel less than or unworthy of love, access, attention and care. You deserve everything.”

Will you take a moment to reflect on your own experiences with disabilities? If you are interested in challenging your own thinking about what equality and parity mean in a world of diverse abilities and bodies, your Manhattan Public Library can help.

Visit the library for resources to discover stories and essays of the lived experience of past and present people with disabilities. Join the March Storywalk, which explores “We’re All Wonders.” Participate in our March 23 ReadMHK Disability Awareness book conversation. That’s why your public library is here, to create access to information and exploration so every person in our community can live as learners and know they belong. Visit to learn more.

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New Picture Books Kids Will Love

New Picture Books Kids Will Love

by Laura Ransom, Children’s Program Coordinator

I love discovering new picture books at our Manhattan Public Library. Here are a few notable newcomers that captured my attention.

Little Hearts,” written by Charles Ghigna and illustrated by Jacqueline East, features friendly animals strolling through nature. A rabbit, bear, fox and wild boar discover heart-shaped tree branches, clouds and even butterflies! Kids of all ages can spot the hearts on every page. The endpapers of “Little Hearts” also include a map of the friends’ travels, which might inspire readers to go on their own nature walk to look for hearts.

Roxie Munro’s “ABCity” is a fabulous choice for kids who love “Where’s Waldo?” or Richard Scarry’s “Busytown” books. The illustrated buildings and sidewalks are all shaped like letters of the alphabet. Each page has a list of items to find such as balloons and books hidden on the “B” page. You’ll find even more unlisted items hiding in the pictures. There are many tiny details for kids to discover.

Need a new bedtime story? Check out “Tiptoe Tiger” by Jane Clarke with illustrations by Britta Teckentrup. Tara the tiger does not want to go to bed. She looks around the jungle for a friend to play with, but her loud roars scare away the owls, butterflies and other animals who want to be quiet. Kids can help with the story by telling Tara she needs to tiptoe! Each illustration also gives the reader a clue to which animal she will meet next. Teckentrup’s illustrations are eye-catching, especially Tara’s neon orange fur.

I loved “Yes You Can, Cow!” by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Rikin Parekh, inspired by the nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle.” The characters from the rhyme are about to put on a show, but Cow is feeling extremely nervous. She’s supposed to jump over the moon, but what if she crashes? What if the audience laughs at her? The animals let her know they believe she can do it, and Cow finally decides to practice jumping. Cow’s friends inspire her to have courage instead of hiding and giving up. It is such a sweet book about overcoming fear and helping one another.

Super Pizza and Kid Kale” by Phaea Crede and illustrator Zach Smith is a goofy story about a super friendship formed after a freak accident in the school cafeteria transforms kale and pizza into superheroes. Their mighty strength helps kids lift heavy stacks of books and rescues the children when they fall on the playground. Super Pizza starts to get more attention, and Kid Kale feels left out of the fun. When the superheroes remember how awesome their teamwork can be, their friendship is saved. I love the quirky artwork and puns in this book, including the last line of the story, “Best foods forever!”

Kids who are fans of “Arnie the Doughnut” will love “Wake Me Up in 20 Coconuts!” by the same creator, Laurie Keller. In this new book, an apartment building is filled with friendly neighbors who love to chat and visit each other every day. One lady asks her neighbor to “Wake me up in 20 coconuts,” and he is completely puzzled. How long do 20 coconuts last and how could you possibly count time that way? This neighbor is known throughout the building as the know-it-all, so he starts to panic when others ask him to explain what “20 coconuts” means. All of Mr. Know-It-All’s neighbors rally around him and let him know that it’s okay not to know something. Not knowing can turn into an opportunity to learn and receive help from the people around you. This is a light-hearted story that teaches a meaningful lesson in humility and cooperation!

For more great children’s book recommendations, stop by the library and ask a librarian in the Children’s Room. Call us at 785-776-4741 ext. 400 or email You can also find book recommendations on our website at

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Graphic Novels for Lovers Young and Old

Graphic Novels for Lovers Young and Old

by Stephanie Wallace, Library Assistant

Pink and red hearts have dominated stores’ holiday aisles, my friends have invited me to an elementary school-themed party, and I’ve purchased squeaky stuffed truffles for my puppy. That’s right, Valentine’s Day is upon us. As part of your holiday celebration, consider dropping by the Manhattan Public Library to pick up a few romance graphic novels — my current favorite kind of book.

The first title I’m recommending isn’t a conventional romance, but I love how “I Want to Be a Wall” by Honami Shirono plays with rom-com tropes. It is a manga about a marriage of convenience between an asexual woman and a closeted gay man. Shenanigans ensue as the newlyweds navigate their new life together and develop their platonic partnerhood.

For another fresh take on marriage, check out “That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story” by Huda Fahmy. This autobiographical graphic novel tells the story of how Fahmy met and fell in love with her husband. It’s not always easy to find a spouse as an observant Muslim, but she recounts her experience with equal parts candor and humor.

If you want a more serious sort of love story, try “Blankets” by Craig Thompson, an award-winning graphic memoir beginning during a winter in Wisconsin. The meditative style softly pulls readers into Craig and Raina’s lives when they meet each other at a church camp. As they grow together, dream of the future, and fall apart under tragedy, every moment lingers long after each page turn.

To enjoy a sweeter side of young love, “Bloom” by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau is a delightful young adult graphic novel about two boys. The son of a family of bakers, Ari wants nothing more than to leave their small town. While interviewing people to find his replacement for his family’s bakery, however, he meets Hector, a laid-back newcomer whose love for baking is irresistible. They grow closer together little by little, but it’s another question entirely if Ari can make it all work.

Want another young adult graphic novel, but with a fantasy flair? “The Girl from the Sea” by Molly Knox Ostertag is a coming-of-age story about two girls who live on different sides of the water. Morgan is desperate to escape her stifling family and the picture-perfect facade she’s created to hide all of her secrets from even her closest friends. But when she’s saved from drowning by a strange girl named Keltie, her secrets become harder to keep under the surface, and she has to decide what matters most.

Need even more magic in your romance? “Life of Melody” by Mari Costa is an adorable and hilarious slow burn between a fairy named Razzmatazz and a beast named Bon. Razzmatazz has been assigned to be the Fairy Godparent of an orphan baby girl destined to be the protagonist of a future fairy tale. Deciding that the easiest way to fulfill his role is to raise this girl, he ends up meeting Bon, who has also already decided to raise the girl himself. Though fairies and beasts are natural enemies, the two of them work together and find love along the way.

Do you prefer historical fiction? “The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang might be your style. Frances is a young woman used to living in the shadows, resigned that her beautiful dress designs will never make it into the world. That all changes when a mysterious client turns out to be Lady Crystallia, Prince Sebastian’s secret alter ego. With Frances’s fashion skills propelling Lady Crystallia into the spotlight, Frances and Sebastian’s relationship is put to the test. Both of them must answer the question, can they pursue their dreams without leaving behind the people who make it possible?

Whatever kind of book you might be dreaming about reading, I hope at least one of these titles will lead to a happily ever after for you.

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Build New Habits, One Step at a Time

Build New Habits, One Step at a Time

by Jared Richards, Public Services Manager

One of my favorite pastimes is picking up a new habit – only good ones, of course. Not the bad habits like procrastinating or overthinking or buying Pringles whenever I see them in the grocery store. Habits are the building blocks of any good routine, and I like routines because I do not like making monotonous decisions. The more things in my life I can automate with routines, the fewer decisions I will have to make.

For me, the hardest part of starting something new, especially when it comes to habits, is taking the first step. The end goal for that habit may seem unrealistic. The idea of becoming fluent in another language or running a marathon can feel overwhelming, and if I can’t reach that end goal, then not only have I not become fluent or run a marathon, I have also failed at something. And the easiest way not to fail at something is to never try. But a slight shift in perspective might be all that’s needed to get started.

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer focuses on the kaizen approach of continuous improvement. According to Maurer, kaizen formed from the Training Within Industries courses developed by the U.S. government in the 1940s, with the goal of improving manufacturing processes for goods needed for the war effort. Engineers didn’t have the resources to make major changes, so they were encouraged to focus on the smaller changes that would add up over time.

Following the war, this concept was introduced in Japan to help rebuild their economy. People were having to start over and didn’t have the capacity to go for innovation, so the concept of making small improvements was a big hit. This concept slowly lost favor in the U.S. after the war and did not really return until the 1980s, when it was brought back from Japan and referred to as kaizen.

Maurer explains kaizen with these steps: Ask small questions, think small thoughts, take small actions, solve small problems, bestow small rewards and identify small moments. So, if your goal is to learn how to swim, even before you go near the water, you might ask yourself what color your swimsuit will be. Visualize yourself swimming across the pool, and drive by the pool to see what it’s like. The goal is to take such small steps so you sneak around the fear often associated with change. You’ll be in the pool before your brain even knows what’s happening.

BJ Fogg founded the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, created the Tiny Habits Academy, and is the author of “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything.” Through his study of human behavior, Fogg has developed his tiny habit method that includes an anchor moment, a new tiny behavior and an instant celebration.

The anchor moment can be an existing routine, like making coffee in the morning. While waiting for the water to heat up, you can introduce a tiny version of the new habit you want, like doing two push-ups. As soon as you finish those push-ups, celebrate your small victory to create positive emotions.

The core of the book covers the Fogg Behavior Model, which states that motivation, ability and a prompt combine to create a new behavior. Without one of those things, a behavior isn’t going to happen. Knowing this will not only help create new habits and behaviors, it can also be useful for removing a habit from your life. For example, if you have a bowl of candy sitting on your desk and you want to eat less candy, remove the prompt by placing the bowl out of sight – off the desk.

One of my favorite parts about “Tiny Habits” is the appendix. It creates a quick reference with prompts to help work to develop new habits, including a list of one hundred ways to celebrate your successes, like bowing gracefully or blowing kisses like a movie star. There are also specific recipes to help people develop tiny habits, whether they are trying to reduce stress or be more productive or even trying to stop a habit. These give readers a jumping-off point and help get the ball of change rolling.

Along with these two books, Manhattan Public Library has a large selection of books and online resources to help develop your new habit, whether it’s cooking, a new craft, or professional development. Stop by the library or visit us online at

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YA Books about Civil Rights

YA Books about Civil Rights

by Savannah Winkler, Public Services Supervisor

A new month means a new topic for Manhattan Public Library’s ReadMHK program. Our reading program is over halfway through its second year, and our community has gathered to discuss fourteen topics since the fall of 2021. February’s topic is civil rights. Civil rights are an integral part of history in the United States and across the world. No matter what decade or century you look to, there have always been people fighting to make their voices heard and enact change. My personal favorite section in the library, the Young Adult collection, has many books that recount civil rights issues and movements in U.S. history.

The civil rights movement monumentally changed the United States and the rights of Black Americans and other people of color. “And We Rise: The Civil Rights Movement in Poems” by Erica Martin guides readers through key events, starting in the late 1800s with Jim Crow laws. “And We Rise” incorporates poems, historical photographs and quotes from civil rights leaders. The civil rights movement comes alive through Martin’s powerful poetry and the real-life images of those who fought for their freedoms.

Movements are successful because of the work done by large groups of people, but their leaders are also important. Civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks sparked change and motivated others to act. Malcolm X was another key leader during the 1950-1960s. Malcolm was assassinated in 1965, and his daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, has continued to tell his story. Shabazz recounts the time her father spent in a Charlestown prison in her novel “The Awakening of Malcolm X,” co-written with Tiffany D. Jackson. Still in his adolescence, Malcolm struggles with the uncertainty of his future and the injustices around him. But through books, his debate team and religion, Malcolm soon transforms into an influential leader.

The 1950-1960s civil rights movement was not the only effort occurring during those years. “Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets” by Gayle Pitman explores the history behind the LGBTQ+ rights movement. This book focuses on the Stonewall Riots, which occurred as a result of a police raid and subsequent violence at the Stonewall Inn. Pitman also details the events leading up to Stonewall and what it was like to be a gay American in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Photographs, objects and witness testimonies are included throughout the book, including an interview with a woman who was ten at the time.

The young readers’ edition of “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Life in Native America” by David Treuer and Sheila Keenan explores the resilience of Native Americans. Truer, who is Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation, chronicles many historical events that impacted the indigenous people of America, such as the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee Creek. Treuer also recounts recent movements, including the 2016 Dakota Access pipeline protests. Readers will discover that Native American cultures and people have always persisted and still exist today despite relentless discrimination.

If you prefer historical fiction rather than nonfiction, then you may be interested in “We Are Not Free” by Traci Chee. Chee’s novel takes place in World War II-era San Francisco and follows fourteen young Nisei, or second-generation Japanese American citizens. The teens’ lives are forever changed when the U.S. government relocates over 100,000 Japanese citizens to incarceration camps. The interconnected stories depict the harsh realities of relocation and the camps. In order to overcome these injustices, the group of friends must remember the bonds that hold them together.

If this topic interests you, consider joining us for our Read-In: Black Authors event on February 23, 7-8 p.m. in the library’s auditorium. Listeners and participants are welcome. Anyone can participate and bring an excerpt to read aloud or perform a favorite book, poem, song, dance, art, recorded music or video. Presented works must be by Black authors and artists. If you’re interested in presenting, please contact the library or register at

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Unique Picture Books for Kansas Day

Unique Picture Books for Kansas Day

by Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Services Manager

Kansas Day is January 29 and recognizes the day Kansas achieved statehood in 1861. It’s a fun time to talk about state symbols like sunflowers and honeybees, and to make Kansas-shaped cakes. You’ll find picture books in the History Neighborhood in our Children’s section that provide opportunities to dive into unique stories and achievements of famous Kansans.

No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas” by Tonya Bolden, illustrated by Don Tate, is a must-read for Kansas fans. Junius was born into slavery in Kentucky around 1859. In 1879, he traveled on foot to Kansas where Junius and his wife worked and saved to purchase 80 acres near Edwardsville. They grew so many potatoes that eventually Junius became known as the “Potato King of the World.” In 1909, Junius was able to build a 22-room mansion overlooking their farm. Charles, their oldest son, graduated from Kansas State Agricultural College — now K-State — in 1904, and Edwardsville still celebrates Junius’s life. “No Small Potatoes” will spark curiosity about Junius and how he made an impact on Black lives in this area of Kansas.

In “Sharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman” by Sharice Davids, illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley, kids learn about a Kansan making history now, as she is one of the first Native American women elected to Congress. As the child of a military mom, Sharice grew up moving often, but she was good at making friends. Sharice loved to hear other peoples’ stories and ideas, and she became fascinated with martial arts. Sharice, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, attended law school though she did not know any other Native Americans who were lawyers. She worked to represent Native people and eventually worked in the White House. There, Sharice discovered she wanted to use her big voice in Congress to speak for people who were not well represented in government. A section of the book provides a short history of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Did you know the first U.S. female mayor ever elected was a Kansan? Karen M. Greenwald and Sian James’s “A Vote for Susanna: The First Woman Mayor” is a fun book for Kansas Day and women’s history. When Kansas became the first state allowing women to vote and run for local office in 1887, many men were opposed to the change. In the small town of Argonia, some men were annoyed by women taking an active interest in the mayoral election. They decided to put Susanna Madora Salter on the ballot as a joke, hoping to humiliate her and discourage women from their political interest. In “A Vote for Susanna,” Grandma Dora retells Susanna’s story to her grandson, Ed, as they bake a cake. Ed thinks the men were mean, but then Grandma happily tells him how Susanna won the election in a landslide with votes from both women and men. She became the first woman mayor in U.S. history. As the family enjoys their angel food cake, Grandma reveals that she is Susanna Madora “Dora” Salter.

Salter was another Kansas State Agricultural College graduate. I first learned about her in “Coloring the Past: Twenty Riley County Women Who Made History,” a reproduceable coloring book published by the Riley County Genealogical Society and the Riley County Historical Society. You can find it at

The Greatest Thing: A Story about Buck O’Neil” by Kristy Nerstheimer, illustrated by Christian Paniagua, tells a very brief history of Buck’s life, but it’s really all about the pictures. Paniagua’s art is full of action and movement. You can feel the energy coming off the pages! Kids will enjoy learning how Buck played baseball first with a rock that was wrapped in a sock. He practiced hard and pursued his dreams, playing for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. The last section is about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum that Buck helped found. If young baseball fans haven’t yet heard about Buck O’Neil’s place in history, logon to to reserve this book!

Families are invited to Zoofari Tails Storytime on Friday, January 27, 10 a.m., to hear stories about Kansas animals and examine animal artifacts from Sunset Zoo. We’ll read “Hark! I Hear a Meadowlark!” by Roy Bird and “Prairie Chicken Little” by Jackie Hopkins, two more fun books for you as you celebrate Kansas’s birthday.