Kush Sharma (at left) and Sophia Hoffman (right)

After 95 rounds and nearly six hours of competition, Kush Sharma emerged Saturday as champion of the Jackson County Spelling Bee at the Kansas City Public Library.

Bernie Norcott-Mahany (at right) at the Jackson County Spelling Bee

Saturday may not be quite what Bernie Norcott-Mahany imagined when he said yes three years ago to serving as the pronouncer for the Jackson County Spelling Bee.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I figured the cover of a book couldn't be so deceiving. Laura and Carrie seem to be having a grand time in the snow. The publisher obviously didn't want to give a sense of how hard the long winter of 1880-1881 really was.

The Glass Key

From what I hear, The Glass Key was Dashiell Hammett’s personal favorite among the books he wrote. That said, it is something of an outlier.

An extraordinary Jackson County Spelling Bee — down to two students who’ve survived 66 championship rounds — will resume Saturday, March 8, at the Library.

hoopla digital

The Kansas City Public Library is offering a new, refreshingly quick — and free — way to get music, television shows, movies, and audiobooks.

Library patrons can now use Hoopla Digital to access an array of audio and video materials via Netflix-style streaming on their computers, tablets and smart phones. It's the latest addition to the Library's extensive menu of electronic resources.

All Hoopla content is available on demand. No holds necessary. No waiting. Users can watch or listen to their selections via online streaming or by temporarily downloading selections to a mobile device for viewing without an internet connection.

Hoopla's digital collection counts tens of thousands of titles - some 100,000 CDs; 10,000 audiobooks; 3,000 movies; and 500 TV series - and continues to expand. The Holland, Ohio-based service struck new streaming deals late in 2013 with NBCUniversal, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, National Geographic, and BBC America. It already had agreements with Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and eOne Music.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Many Germans accepted the rise of National Socialism — Nazism — and Adolf Hitler. Other individuals worked against him, and many paid with their lives. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of them.

Eric Metaxas in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy examines the life of this German theologian who tried to influence Christians during the Third Reich. Bonhoeffer, one of eight children, grew up in Berlin, where his father worked as a university professor. Early in his life, Bonhoeffer knew he wanted to become a theologian even though his family had different plans for him. After receiving his degree, he decided to become a pastor instead of remaining in academia. He spent a year in Barcelona, Spain before coming to the United States for additional study.

Bad Monkey

What do you get when you combine a Florida health inspector, an unidentified hairy left arm, a crazy Bahamian voodoo witch, and a formerly famous primate with serious behavioral issues? You get Carl Hiaasen’s quirky mystery novel, Bad Monkey.

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm

Shortly after we brought our daughter home, a friend recommended Mei-Ling Hopgood’s How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm. I wasn’t prepared for what a fun and wild ride I was embarking on with this book.

Due to the snow this event has been rescheduled for March 4th!

This is an all day trip where you will tour the capitol and meet with your representatives to make REAL CHANGE!

Librarians, library trustees and friends from across Missouri come together for the Missouri Library Association's Advocacy Day to meet with State Representatives and Senators to discuss the importance of all libraries and their contributions to the lives of Missourians.

Food will be provided and we are happy to verify the trip with your school administration.

A completed permission slip is required to attend.

For more information, please email wickthomas@kclibrary.org.

What holiday coming up is filled with dragon dances, fire-crackers, long-noodles, and gifts of red envelopes filled with money? Chinese New Year! There multiple choices for those who want to celebrate this holiday via the power of books. Here are a few festive options:

According to Chase’s Calendar of Events, 2014 edition, the Year of the Horse begins on January 31st and the New Year's celebration lasts for fifteen days.

The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine and illustrated by Sebastia Serra. This is a tale of a young boy named Ming and his magical wok. This cooking pan looks rusty and lacks a handle, but it is definitely special. The story has elements that mimic the tales of The Gingerbread Man, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Robin Hood. While the moral obviously warns against greed, the overall tone of the book is joyous. At the end of the book, Compestine writes that people celebrate this holiday, also known as The Spring Festival, in the ways described in the first paragraph of this blog. The author also includes a recipe for stir-fried rice.

March: Book One

A personal memoir carries a glance into American history. Illustrate this story as a graphic novel. When these elements blend, it takes readers back in time. Here, we travel sixty years. We join those central to the Civil Rights movement, watch the sit-ins, and ask ourselves, “Do I have the courage that they did?”

Graphic Novel + Civil Rights History= March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

In this book, Congressman John Lewis tells about his youth, from a rural childhood preaching to chickens to leading a large anti-violence movement against segregation as a young college student. There are also flashes forward to the Million Man March in 2009 when Lewis, now a senior citizen and prominent congressman, prepares to march in the snow. It demonstrates both his role as a community leader and his perseverance. Nothing is going to keep him from acting on his beliefs, including frigid temperatures and snow.

A Study in Scarlet

Doyle did not invent the detective story or the mystery novel, but he did establish something of a template in his stories of the brilliant, but quirky, Sherlock Holmes.

My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams

I still find myself fascinated with the correspondence between John Adams and his lady. While My Dearest Friend is not the first collection of their correspondence, the collection, covering the entirety of the relationship between John and Abigail, is one of the most complete selections.

Multiculturalism is a complex concept, and a seven-syllable word, to boot. Little kids might not be able to say it, let alone understand it. How does a kid in preschool wrap his or her head around it? Luckily, there are a few books that take this abstract idea and make it really accessible. Here are three that I like.

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