Tarzan the Untamed from 1920 is the seventh Tarzan book written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Burroughs is most famous for his novels about Tarzan of the Apes—24 novels written and published between 1912 and 1936 in all. As all you readers likely know, Tarzan is a British lord, Lord Greystoke, whose parents died in Africa when he was a baby and he was raised by apes, hence his jungle title Tarmangani, “the Great White Ape.”

Most people also know of his encounter with Jane Porter in the first book, Tarzan of the Apes, and their eventual marriage. Even if you haven’t read any of the books (Which you should do, as they are well-written adventure novels. Burroughs has a very readable style.), you’ve likely seen Tarzan on the screen played by Johnny Weissmuller or Buster Crabbe or one of the many others. There’s even a 1918 silent film starring by Elmo Lincoln.

But, if you’ve only seen the films, you’ve only seen Tarzan as the “noble savage.” Tarzan’s vocabulary and grammar is pretty limited in those films; in the 1981 film version of the Tarzan story, Tarzan, the Ape Man, the title character, played by hunky Miles O’Keefe, has no lines at all. In the books, he is quite capable in the civilized world – in England, he can be seen in the best restaurants and clubs, even if he prefers the brutal honesty of the animal kingdom to the two-faced world of western civilization.

In this particular novel, Tarzan is away from his Kenyan estate, when the novel starts, having spent some time in England recently, even taking his place in the House of Lords – he is, after all, Lord Greystoke. When a British officer meets him in this novel, he is quite surprised at Lord Greystoke’s loin cloth, as he had last seen him in London at an event where his Lordship was dressed in the white tie and tails appropriate for dinner.

This novel is quite unique in the Tarzan canon as it is the only one that makes reference to the Great War. The novel, though written in 1919 and published in book form in 1920, is set in 1914. When the novel begins, Lady Jane and Tarzan’s household do not yet know that war has broken out between Germany and England, which ignorance a German strike force takes advantage of, when they come from Tanzania to Tarzan’s sprawling estate in Kenya. Lady Jane, unaware that a state of war exists between Britain and Germany, welcomes the German officer and his men into her house. When Tarzan arrives (is rushing home when we first see him, as he knows that war has been declared), he finds the servants dead, including Wasimbu, his warrior friend, who was serving as a bodyguard for Jane. And he finds a woman dead whom he takes to be Jane.

Convinced that the Germans have attacked and killed his wife, his friend, and his servants, and destroyed much of his estate, Tarzan returns to the jungle where he stalks the Germans he feels are responsible. His first victim, a German officer whom he throws to a lion Tarzan has trapped, was not involved in the attack – it was his brother who led the raid. One might expect Tarzan to feel some regret, seeing as he got the wrong man. Instead, Tarzan, in his distracted state, cares nothing about whether the Germans caught and killed had been part of the attack on his home, as he feels all Germans are responsible for the barbaric acts of any German. And though the German attack on Tarzan’s home was brutal, Tarzan’s own brutalities do not evoke any such condemnation from the author.

The book is full of the propaganda one would expect in a British novel written during the war. But the book was not written during the war. It wasn’t even started until after the war. And Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author, and America’s involvement in the war was relatively short – only the final year and a half of the war. At the war’s conclusion, the negative propaganda ceased. Even in England, the level of animosity had dropped quite a bit by 1920. So, what was Burrough’s point in writing and publishing this work? Besides, from a practical point of view, this novel made no sense. Burrough’s Tarzan books were very popular in Germany. In fact, their popularity in Germany was the highest in Europe. When this book came out, casting the whole German nation as the monstrous Hun, it did not play well in Germany. And the German readers who had thrilled to Tarzan’s adventures in the first six books stopped buying, and Burroughs lost a big market.

I must warn you that the violence in the book, which is never overly explicit, is still fairly shocking in what would have been books for pre-teens and teens, especially in the 1920s. In many ways, Tarzan in the book is more Wolverine than Lord Greystoke – following a strict ethical code, but not one that matches with the everyday morality of civilization. Also Burroughs was very much a man of his time, and so, while Wasimbu, a recurring character killed in this book, is a noble warrior whom Tarzan loves like a brother, most of the African tribesmen are presented in the stereotypes typical of the time. Those Africans who are allied to the Germans come in for the worst treatment.

Tarzan the Untamed is in the public domain in the United States, so eBook and digital Audiobook copies of the novel are available for download from Project Gutenberg, and also available for check out from Library resources such as hoopla and the EBSCOhost eBook Collection.

About the Author

Bernard Norcott-Mahany, a library technical assistant at the Lucile H. Bluford Branch, is our resident connoisseur of classic literature. He is also the leader of the Black Classics and In the Heat of the Night book groups.

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The Queen of the Tearling (2014) by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling is another addition to the extensive catalogue of fantasy novels. The book followed Kelsea Glynn, as she was taken from her home at eighteen by a cadre of soldiers and forced into the role of queen of the kingdom.

The book differed somewhat from your average fantasy novel. First of all, it was written by a woman. Additionally, the main character was a woman, and an unattractive one at that. Also, the setting wasn’t just some faraway land; instead, Johansen dropped tantalizing hints about the time period and location of the story – indicating the story might be set on Earth in the future.

These differences were welcome, although they didn’t raise the book above an average fantasy novel for me. Things that made the book different from other fantasy novels – a not pretty female protagonist, a futuristic setting – have all been extensively used in other genres and were, therefore, not that extraordinary.

Additionally, parts of the book were a little bizarre. Kelsea was always saying weird things at inopportune times and no one would react strangely to them. For example, Kelsea was injured while riding on her horse and her guard asked her if she could make it ten more miles to the stronghold. She replied:

“What sort of weak, housebound woman do you think I am, Lazarus? I’m bleeding that’s all. And I’ve never had such a fine time as on this journey.”

I thought Lazarus’s question was a reasonable one. And was Kelsea being sarcastic or was she really having an exciting time because she led a sheltered life? So either Kelsea made a sarcastic and overblown comment to a genuine question or she got easily excited and spouted off her feelings at a random time. Either option is bizarre. Additionally, people would react strangely to Kelsea at completely random times and she would allow it, even though she was queen and would seemingly want to squelch that kind of behavior. It seemed like sloppy writing to me, but it is possible Johansen was just crafting characters with somewhat strange thoughts and behaviors.

The writing was not all bad. The plot of the book was entertaining, with magic and political intrigue. Also, Johansen introduced several other characters besides Kelsea and she wove all their stories together compellingly.

For fans of the fantasy genre, The Queen of the Tearling is a welcome addition. For others, there are better fantasy books out there, and better books of any genre.

4/6: worth reading

About the Author

Jill Anderson

Jill Anderson has a business degree and JD from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She's lived in Kansas City for several years and has worked at the library since 2014. She loves to read anything and everything and you can find YA reviews and more on her book blog at www.thebookbabble.com.

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Join people from all over the state to Save MO Libraries!

The Governor is withholding $6 million dollars in funding from libraries all across the state and has almost completely eliminated state funding to libraries next year.

Two busloads of teenage library advocates will be leaving from Kansas City and heading to Jefferson City to explain to their legislators why libraries are so important in their communities...

Join the The Kansas City Public Library, KC Keepers: Kansas City Harry Potter Alliance and our statewide partners at 1:00 p.m. on the south steps of the State Capitol to demand that the Governor recognize how important libraries are to Missouri and release our funding! This event is open to people of all ages!

Join us on Facebook!

Want to join the teen buses leaving Kansas City? Fill out this permission slip and return it or Email wickthomas@kclibrary.org to secure your spot!

Can't make it to the rally but still want to help? Contact the Governor and your legislators and tell them to fully fund MO Libraries!

Contact Jay Nixon, Governor-
Phone: (573) 751-3222
Tweet @govjaynixon

Contact Jason Kander, Secretary of State-
(573) 751-4936
Tweet @jasonkander

Find/Contact Your State Senator-

Find/Contact Your State Representative

Like any media, the Internet can be used in wonderful or horrible ways. It can connect people across the globe. It can be a source of extremely helpful information. It can record memories and historic events. However, with the increased anonymity we experience online, it also provides a forum for people to say mean and hurtful things.

According to a Pew Research Study in 2013, one third of teens report being victims of cyber-bullying (Woda 32). That makes surfing online a dangerous activity. What can young people and the adults who care about them do? Luckily, the Kansas City Public Library carries books to help with that very topic.

One book we have is Cyberbullying by Lauri S. Freidman. School Library Journal outlines how it covers the seriousness and legal ramifications of cyberbullying. For students in sixth grade and up, it fosters conversations in addition to being useful in writing papers. Another book is Teen Cyberbullying Investigated: Where Do Your Rights End and Consequences Begin? by Thomas A. Jacobs. The School Library Journal recommends this to seventh graders and above. It uses real court cases to help teens discuss ethics with the adults in their lives. In addition, it suggests multiple resources for teens to learn more.

Sure, the world can be scary sometimes. That isn't a reason to avoid the Internet and the benefits that teens can derive from it. However, it is a reason to approach technology in a smart way. Brush up on how to stay safe. Then, you are ready for the digital wealth that is waiting for you.

Woda, Tim. "Cyberbullying: Children as Victims and Predators" USA Today Magazine. Jan 2015, Vol. 143 Issue 2836, p.32-33. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Accessed 6 Mar 2015.

About the Author

Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas. She has worked in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri for a decade. Currently, Anna Francesca is Kansas City Public Library’s Education Librarian.

The Chinese New Year, with a cycle based on the moon, began on the 4th of February, 2015 and will continue through February 3, 2016. Among other personality traits, people born during this year are said to be selfless.

The folktale in The Sheep Beauty by Li Jian emphasizes the self-sacrificing nature of sheep. When a horrid monster threatens a village, the sheep transforms into a beautiful girl and uses cunning to lead the beast away from the townspeople. When danger reappears, the sheep turns into a rock to again save the community. This explains why the name of the place is “Sheep Horn Village.”

This lovely book includes muted watercolor illustrations. In addition, it is entirely bilingual with both English and Chinese versions of the story. It would make a fantastic book for elementary students to read with the adults in their lives, both as an introduction to Chinese culture and as demonstration of the beauty of benevolence.

About the Author

Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas. She has worked in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri for a decade. Currently, Anna Francesca is Kansas City Public Library’s Education Librarian.

The Kansas City Public Library has been selected as the Missouri stop for the Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2016 national tour First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Only 233 copies exist of the First Folio—the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623—and we’re beyond excited to have the opportunity to exhibit one at our Central Library in downtown Kansas City.

Eighteen First Folio copies will circulate among the exhibit locations. They're among 233 copies of the book known to exist today, less than a third of the 750 thought to have been printed originally in 1623. A single exhibit location was selected in each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Kansas State University was named in Kansas.

Published seven years after Shakespeare's death, the First Folio was the first compilation of his plays. Eighteen of the works, including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It, had never appeared previously in print and otherwise would have been lost.

When the First Folio arrives in Kansas City, its pages will be opened to the most quoted line in the world: "to be or not to be" from Hamlet. Accompanying the 900-page book will be a multi-panel exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional digital content and interactive activities.

The Kansas City Public Library will make the four-week exhibit the centerpiece of a months-long celebration of Shakespeare, partnering with local and national scholars and an array of area institutions and organizations in offering speaking presentations, stage productions, film screenings and discussions, workshops, and other activities for children and adults.

The Kansas City Public Library will be displaying the First Folio June 6 - June 28, 2016. Other dates and locations for the 2016 exhibit are available here. More information on the exhibit available in our press release.


This exhibit has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor and by the generous support of Google.org and Vinton and Sigrid Cerf.

Partnering with the Kansas City Public Library in bringing First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare to Kansas City are the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Department of Theatre and Department of English Language and Literature, the Kansas City branch of the English-Speaking Union, the Missouri Humanities Council, and KCUR-FM.

I honestly don't know what to think about Data, A Love Story by Amy Webb. I'm a geek; I love math and data and statistics. The idea of tackling online dating using statistical analysis and profile optimization is intriguing.

I saw Webb's TED talk on this subject before I read her book. Her presentation is all about the numbers, the data crunching, and what she learned about how to game online dating systems. In her talk, she comes across as warm, funny, and approachable.

The book is less about data and math, and more a memoir of her romantic life. She also doesn't come across as quite so likable in her book and that occasionally put me off. She seems, by turns, neurotic, judgmental, and distant. Some of her dating horror stories are quite amusing, but I must confess: I don't care that much about her love life. I wanted more "data" and less "love story."

Want to make up your own mind about Data, A Love Story?

Read it and share your thoughts at our FYI Book Group meeting on February 24, 2015.

And don't forget to count your reading for our Adult Winter Reading Program: Love on the Rocks for which this is a suggested book!

Read any five books by March 20, 2015, and earn your limited edition tumbler glass and be entered in a drawing for a NOOK GlowLight eReader.

I admire Webb's commitment to finding a solution to her dating woes, her dedication to "out-think the problem." She's clearly very self-aware and willing to own up to her mistakes and shortcomings. For example, at the beginning of one chapter, she's insultingly judgmental toward other women on JDate, but by the end of it she's perfectly willing to admit that she's being unfair to them. I admire her honest self-criticism. But I can't bring myself to go all the way on this journey with her. As successful as her endeavor was for her, I'm not sure how well her approach will work for other people.

It makes sense for Webb to seek solutions to the failures of online dating by using data and math, as online dating sites are data-driven, algorithmically-determined services. Workable solutions can only be found in manipulable data.

I can't agree with one of the fundamental premises of her experiment, however. Everything starts with her "Mary Poppins" list, the 72 data points she creates to define her perfect husband. This list is what she uses to establish her methodology. The ultimate success of her experiment depends on the accuracy of that list and the relative values she assigns to each point.

Webb's fundamental premise is a belief that she can reliably define exactly who her perfect match should be. In the "Appendix" of the book, where she lays out specific guidelines for users of dating sites to follow, she starts by emphasizing the need for each user to define exactly what sort of person they're looking for. This is a necessary first step before anyone can begin to customize their profile appropriately. Without a "Mary Poppins" list, her strategy doesn't apply.

Webb evinces no awareness of the fact that people don't always know what they want. Too often, we convince ourselves that we want things when we really don't.

People frequently don't know what will make them happy. Sometimes, the things we're certain will make us happy end up disappointing. Sometimes, we find happiness in things we never anticipated. Moreover, what we want in our lives isn't always what we need. If many of us don't always know what we want, we know what we need even less.

Throughout the book, Webb makes no bones about the fact that she's a very unique woman—she knows that she's not typical. Somehow, though, it never seems to occur to her that her ability to create a "Mary Poppins" list in the first place might be something that other people can't do. I don't assume that any of us are objective enough to know with absolute certainty who our perfect partner should be before we meet them.

To her credit, this approach worked for her. She's sufficiently self-aware and capable of being brutally honest with herself. She has an ability to be objective about her emotions in a way that many people can't. I don't believe that her approach to online dating would work for me. I don't know how many people it would work for.

In the years following World War I, much of the literature on both sides of the Atlantic was strongly anti-war in sentiment. The enthusiasm and idealism that people felt when war was declared and when they signed up and rallied for war soon soured in the trenches, with both sides crying out “never again.” Of course, that universal desire to avoid conflict died with the rise of the Nazis in Germany, having lasted less than 20 years. But in 1928, when All Quiet on the Western Front was published in Germany, the anti-war sentiment was still strong.

The war the German leaders promised (and expected) a war that was supposed to last only months. The expectation of all the generals and the rulers was that the war would be over by the end of 1914 – Germany’s clearest road to victory was a defeat of France within six weeks, followed by a war on the Eastern Front against a weak opponent, Russia. German war efforts, to be successful, required a short war.

Read more of Bernard Norcott-Mahany's 2015 reviews of books about the First World War:

January 12, 2015
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

When the German efforts were stopped at the Marne in September 1914 and the paralysis of trench warfare set in, the destruction of a generation of young men was the result. Brutal peace terms were exacted on Germany at the war’s conclusion, as Germany was seen as the chief aggressor in the conflict and the party most responsible for the war.

The bitter disappointment that followed the high hopes resulted in a great bitterness and cynicism towards the rhetoric of war together with a call that war as a solution to a country’s differences with another country come to an end. Erich Maria Remarque’s novel follows Paul Bremer, a young man in the German infantry on the Western Front. The novel, told in first person, opens at a point where Paul has been at the front for a little more than a year, having joined in those first few months.

No longer the idealistic high schooler, who enlisted together with his entire class in a burst of patriotism at his teacher’s insistence, Paul, in his time in the ranks, has learned to see through the slogans of war. As a student, he puffed up with pride and patriotism at his teacher’s referring to his generation as “the Iron Youth;” now, as a soldier, he is much tougher and worthy of that appellation, but his toughness is aimed at staying alive and keeping his sanity, all the while feeling disdain for the slogans of war and the people who utter them in ignorance.

A coworker of mine told me that the English translation by A. W. Wheen, though adequately translating the German, does not capture the tone of the original. Paul is a teenager, a gymnasium (equivalent in the US would be college prep) student, who entered the war at the age of 17, and by the book’s conclusion, is just shy of 20. According to my colleague, Remarque has Paul deliver the narrative in the first person in language and tone appropriate for a youngster. And so, the more standard English of the translation misses the slangy teen language of young Bremer, though capturing the literal meaning of the words. The translation does better, though, in those places when Paul gets more intellectual or philosophical or even poetic (as young people are wont to do).

If you have not read this book already, you should. All Quiet on the Western Front was one of the key books of its generation. In the late 20s and early 30s there were very few in the US or Europe who hadn’t read the book, or seen the justly famous film version, directed by Lewis Milestone, which starred Lew Ayres as Paul. If you’ve not seen the Milestone film, put that on your must-watch list.

The book and film were both very influential in their time, though ironically, the idealism of the book and film (that such war should never happen again, and now that the clarion call against war rang out, would never recur) which countered the jingoistic idealism that got Europe into the great war, proved just as illusory and helped to blind Europe to the possibility of a second great war. Britain and France were quite willing to believe that Hitler would not risk war. That blindness led to the very martial horror the idealists and pragmatists hoped to avoid.

About the Author

Bernard Norcott-Mahany, a library technical assistant at the Lucile H. Bluford Branch, is our resident connoisseur of classic literature. He is also the leader of the Black Classics and In the Heat of the Night book groups.

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How to know if an audiobook is having an impact on you:

1. You start talking with an accent that mirrors the characters.
2. You start thinking in an accent that mirrors the characters.
3. You feel sad to know that the book will end.
4. Even though you know the book will end, you keep listening at odd times just to learn what will happen next.
4. You recommend the book to all of your friends who are real people.
5. After the story, not having the characters in your life feels like losing friends.
6. You write fan fiction as you imagine what else might happen.

When I listened to I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, this year’s winner of the American Library Association’s Prinz Award, I experienced all of these things except for the last one. I haven’t written a fan fiction story… yet.

About the Author

Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas. She has worked in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri for a decade. Currently, Anna Francesca is Kansas City Public Library’s Education Librarian.

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We could all use a little help preparing our income taxes, and there are two organizations coming to the Library to assist you for free.

AARP Tax-Aid provides free tax preparation and assistance services to low- and middle-income taxpayers, with special attention given to those ages 60 and older. And VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) provides assistance to those with an income of $53,000 or less.

Representatives from both organizations will be on hand to assist patrons with your federal and state (Missouri and Kansas) income tax returns at many of our locations. No appointment is necessary.

Please bring all necessary documents with you, such as your W-2s, 1099s, and previous year’s return. A full list of recommended documents is located here.

The days and times volunteers from VITA and AARP will be available are listed below. Please call the individual Library locations you plan to visit if you have any questions.


Central Library
14 W. 10th St. - 816.701.3433

Mondays and Tuesdays: 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
In the Multipurpose Room on the Vault Level
Saturdays: 10 a.m. - 4:30 p .m.
In Meeting Room 312 on the 3rd Floor

North-East Branch
6000 Wilson Rd. - 816.701.3485

Mondays, Tuesdays,
and Wednesdays: 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Thursdays: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturdays: 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Plaza Branch
4801 Main St. - 816.701.3481

Mondays, Tuesdays,
and Wednesdays: 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Saturdays: 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Trails West Branch
11401 E. 23rd St. - 816.701.3483

Saturdays, February 7, 14, 21,
and April 4: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Waldo Branch
201 E. 75th St. - 816.701.3486

Mondays & Thursdays: 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Assistance is provided on a first come, first served basis. There are 25 slots available per day.

Southeast Branch
6242 Swope Pkwy - 816.701.3484

Wednesdays through April 1: 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Assistance is provided on a first come, first served basis. There are 20 slots available per day.

At the Library we also provide access to state and federal income tax forms, links to free online filing services, 2015 Tax Guides that are available for check out, and more. Take a look!

With all the kids books out there filled with amazing illustrations, it only seems fitting that some of the topics be specifically about art and art creation. All young people draw in some shape or form. The freedom to draw or create is something everyone should continually experience. Creating empowers problem solving and encourages out of the box thinking, especially at such a young age. Below are a few books about art that are all about enforcing creativity and inspiring ingenuity.

Louise Loves Art
By Kelly Light

Louise loves art more than anything! There are so many things in her imagination that she wants to get out on paper. So little time, so much to draw! Louise prepares for the unveiling of her in-house show at the prestigious and appropriately titled Gallery Du Fridge. Louise's brother really wants to help out with her show. He's got some fun ideas of his own! Maybe there is enough space at the gallery for a collaborative piece? Louise Loves Art is a great story about loving and feeding your imagination. Showing that when you take the time to share what you love with the ones you love, you might learn something new and great about each other! I am also a very big fan of the drawing style and character design.

Andrew Draws
By David McPhail

Andrew Draws is about that, Andrew drawing. The eponymous hero of our story loves drawing, and it all begins when he discovers a crayon hidden under his home couch. Andrew draws everywhere, even on the floor. When Andrew’s grandmother gives him a sheet of paper to draw on, Andrew draws more stuff. He draws in the tub, when he brushes his teeth, even on the toilet! Andrew practices and practices. One day his drawings were so good they just jumped off the page, literally! Even the president himself asked Andrew to draw. Andrew Draws is a fun story about a young inspiring artist and the magic that is found within his artwork. Andrew also inspires good from his drawings - from his family to the world - and that early on could speak volumes for your child, asking what they would do with such a power?

By Peter H. Reynolds

Ramon loved to draw, anything, anytime, and anywhere. Ramon is drawing a vase of flowers when his older brother Leon burst out laughing at Ramon’s drawing saying, “What is that?” Ramon felt crushed and his brother’s laughter haunted him for months. Ramon felt like he never got his drawings to look right after that. Ramon was fed up, but then his younger sister steals one of his drawings and races away. Ramon chases after her to learn that his sister has been secretly collecting his crumpled drawings and hanging them in her room. Ramon falls silent, but he is still down because his drawings don’t looks exactly like a vase. His sister then tells him, it looks vase-ish and she loves it. Ramon begins to think differently about his drawings, and the potential hidden in all of his work. This is great story for any young creator, which are probably most young people. A majority of youth draw and create, but unfortunately moments like Ramon and his older brother kill creative ambition. This leaves adults wondering when was the last time they drew anything. Most youth aren’t drawing like Da Vinci, not even the prodigies. That talent can be nurtured, so I hope the –ish way of drawing catches on and I hope the –ish way of fostering creativity is more embraced.

Bad Day at Riverbend
Written and Illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg

Bad Day at Riverbend is an amazing Twilight Zone-esque take on a children’s book. Riverbend is your everyday, old western, untouched coloring book town. Everything seems fine, until their sheriff Ned Hardy notices something strange out in the coaches. The horses were covered in some weird, red, greasy, shiny stripes of crayons! Sheriff Ned tries to pull off the slime but it doesn’t work, it’s stuck to the horses like flesh! Sheriff Ned Hardy and his troop of cowboys set off to find the culprits and bring them to justice. As they ride, they find more and more things covered in this colorful slime. Mountains, trees, and even other people are covered in these wavy lines! It looks like it’s up to Sheriff Ned Hardy to save the day and discover the truth about this mysterious colorful slime. Bad Day at Riverbend is a great book, and I am a huge fan of the coloring book idea. The breaking of the fourth wall, seen through chaos and discovery for the people of Riverbend, is sure to make you laugh and can easily become a young artist's favorite book.

About the Author

Shaun Teamer

Shaun Teamer is a creator and storyteller. He LOVES drawing, reading, writing, and almost anything art related.

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As some of you may remember, The Guns of August was part of the Great War | Great Read celebration held this past summer and fall, in time for the 100th anniversary of the events described in Barbara Tuchman’s award-winning book.

There are still celebrations and events going on at the Kansas City Public Library, the National World War I Museum, and elsewhere in Kansas City throughout the 100 year anniversary of the Great War. And so, over the course of this year I’ll be looking at 12 books (well, 11 books and a graphic novel collection) of items either written during World War I, or about that terrible war.

The war itself was a terrible revelation. It was unlike any war that had preceded it, in that advances in technology allowed for much greater damage and tremendous casualties, while at the same time improved medical technology and practice allowed many who, in previous wars, would have died from their injuries or infections, to continue living as a bitter indictment of that terrible conflict.

Unlike previous wars, WWI was an unraveling of the social contract and the expectations of civilized behavior, an erosion of the ideas of what combatants may do in war. At the outbreak of the war, Europe had been at peace, at least within its boundaries, for more than 40 years, and the thought of a European War seemed incredible.

The end of the 19th and start of the 20th c. was a time of increased prosperity and comfort and culture. The bourgeois world of material well-being and manners was everywhere in evidence throughout Europe. In addition, many of the noble families in Europe were related through marriage to one another. So the idea of civilized man going to war against civilized man was doubly negated by the idea of cousin going to war against cousin. Economic considerations made the idea of any continued war unfeasible because a long war would be too costly; besides, most thought that the balance of power in place would keep everyone secure and desirous of maintaining that balance. All of those illusions were crushed by the realities of the Great War.

Tuchman herself witnessed a part of the war, the escape of the German battleship Goeben into Turkish territorial waters (which action helped to bring Turkey into the war). She was a toddler at the time, and her maternal grandfather, Henry Morgenthau, was Woodrow Wilson’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. This brush with the great conflict, which no doubt became a family story told and retold through the years, inspired Tuchman to set her sights on World War I. She had already written a couple of books about WWI – Bible and Sword, a book about British involvement in the Middle East, and the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and The Zimmerman Telegram, about the German telegram to Mexico, aimed at starting a war between Mexico and the United States, one of the justifications for US entry into WWI.

After Guns, she would write The Proud Tower that looked at Europe in the decade prior to WWI. She chose, for this work, to focus sharply on the conditions that allowed the war to break out, and perhaps even forced its outbreak. Her account begins at the funeral of King Edward VII of Great Britain on 20 May 1910, a funeral attended by those who later would be involved in the Great War. She ends with the decision by the French, British and German forces to fight at the Marne in September of 1914. That great battle brought to a halt Germany’s juggernaut, which had barreled through Belgium and into France and came very close to taking Paris. In choosing to engage the French and British forces at the Marne, in order to wipe out any real opposition to its advance, the Germans made a fatal error. In sidestepping Paris, the Germans gave the French forces and their British allies a brief respite, and a chance to flank the German forces. Neither side really won the Battle of the Marne, but in stopping German forces there, the French and British ensured that Germany would not win a quick victory (a key part of Germany’s Schlieffen plan), but be forced into a war of attrition, which did not favor. The German forces advanced no further into France, but their advances in the first weeks of the war gave Germany access to sufficient material resources to continue the fight for some time.

Tuchman does not address the Turkish campaign, in which the Allied forces would suffer a tremendous defeat at Gallipoli, or the war in the Middle East, where T.E. Lawrence would win fame as Lawrence of Arabia. Nor does she address the United States’ entry into the war, still a few years away, nor the campaigns that took place among the colonial holdings in Africa.

Her goal is to look at the start of the war, at the conditions that made that war largely inevitable (the concern of the centrally located Germany about its being encircled, a concern furthered by the unlikely alliance between democratic France and autocratic Russia, and the tight system of alliances which had been aimed at maintaining a balance of power in Europe in order to prevent war, but which turned out, instead, to be a house of cards built on a powder keg, so that the political assassination of one leader led to a rush to war by much of Europe).

Tuchman spends quite a bit of time on Germany’s plan of action in the event of war – the Schlieffen plan, developed by Count Alfred von Schlieffen in 1905. This plan, assuming a war on two fronts called for an immediate and all-out attack on France, seen as the greater and more immediate threat, with only six weeks allotted to defeat France, Germany’s most immediate and biggest threat.

Following France’s expected defeat, Germany could turn her attention to Russia, a weaker but larger power needing much more time to mobilize. To make the Schlieffen plan feasible, Germany had to attack France through the north, which involved going through neutral Belgium. Belgian refusal to allow the German army safe passage to France’s border prompted Germany to invade and to employ harsh measures to force Belgian compliance. The brutal march through Belgium, with incredibly harsh reprisals against any resistance, and a willingness to destroy the city of Louvain, renowned for its University, resulted in a general condemnation of German brutality. It was the attack on “poor little Belgium” by the Hun that spurred Britain into the fight, and made it more likely that the Schlieffen plan timetable would not be met.

As Tuchman tells the story, though, poor relations between the British commander and his French allies served to help German advances, but impromptu military decisions by the French leaders in the field, and political pressure in Britain and a change in British military leadership in France made it possible to halt the German advance at the Marne. Without a quick end to the war, Germany’s hopes for victory would fade over time, though they had the equipment and personnel to keep the fight going.

Tuchman is a masterful storyteller, and a fine prose stylist. The work is scholarly, but accessible for a general audience. I must say that some of her snarky remarks about the Germans (e.g. the German “need” to comply and follow the leader) bothered me. Such comments perhaps reveal more of Tuchman’s prejudice than she intended to show. There is also a documentary film called The Guns of August which has great archival footage, but which lacks Tuchman’s intelligent presentation and analysis of the data.

About the Author

Bernard Norcott-Mahany, a library technical assistant at the Lucile H. Bluford Branch, is our resident connoisseur of classic literature. He is also the leader of the Black Classics and In the Heat of the Night book groups.

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As the year comes to a close, our librarians wanted to share their favorite books, movies, television series, and music that either came out in the past year, or that we just discovered in 2014.

Every one of these items is available in the Kansas City Public Library collection.

Take a look; maybe you'll find a new favorite that's outside of your comfort zone!


Smoke gets in your Eyes
by Caitlin Doughty

Multiple staff members recommended Doughty’s memoir, about her time working in a crematorium and subsequent life’s work to take the fear and stigma out of end of life discussions. It’s a really fascinating, and not at all morbid, read.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
by Cary Elwes

If you loved the movie The Princess Bride, (And who didn’t) you’ll love this whimsical memoir of the making of this film. A book filled with true love, dangerous sword fights, giants and rodents of unusual size (not to mention Billy Crystal) this book will make you want to watch the film again and view it in a whole new light.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
by Ann Patchett

The author uses essays and articles from the early stages of her writing career to understand her current stage. If you can, check out the audiobook. Patchett’s own narration of her words adds sincerity and warmth to the works.

The Weight of Blood
by Laura McHugh

An Ozark noir story of a young woman searching for answers to her friend’s death and turning up clues to her own mother’s disappearance.

Dear Committee Members
by Julia Schumacher

A curmudgeonly professor laments the hilariously sorry state of academia in letters of recommendation to colleagues, administration, students, potential bosses, and his ex-wife.

The Serpent of Venice
by Christopher Moore

A bawdy Shakespearean parody delivered with all the panache of a Monty Python skit.

The $11 Billion Year
by Anne Thompson

The curtain rises on Hollywood’s misguided, greedy, and surprising notions of how to run show business.

The Cure for Dreaming
by Cat Winters

In Winters second Young Adult novel, she mixes historical fiction with just a touch of supernatural suspense, set in 1900s Oregon.

The Monogram Murders: the New Hercule Poirot Mystery
by Sophie Hannah

Revisit Agatha Christie's iconic Belgian detective, with this first-ever approved continuation of the Hercule Poirot series.

by Danielle Steel

If you are a Danielle Steel fan, her new book, Pegasus is a must read. It's a multigenerational tale of an aristocratic German family of secret Jewish descent, finding refuge in America during and after World War II.

The Skin Game
by Jim Butcher (Book 15 of The Dresden Files)

Harry Dresden is the only professional wizard in the Chicagoland phone book. In this book we join him after he has been ‘promoted’ to the Winter Knight champion for Mab, the Fairy Queen of Air and Darkness. Once more, Dresden heads into the breach, this time trying to balance the safety of his friends and his new “won” responsibilities to faerie. The book is a fantastic, superlative continuation of one man's determination to save all of the paranormal. Seriously good fun.


Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson

A beautifully story written in verse by National Book Award Winner Jacqueline Woodson, about her childhood in South Carolina and New York. Eloquent and moving, this book will touch readers of all ages.

by John Rocco

The wonderfully-illustrated tale of a boy named John, who embarks on a mini-adventure to help his family and neighbors during a blizzard.


Inside Lleweyn Davis
Rated R. 104 minutes.

The Coen brothers chronicle an irascible folk singer trying to make it in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s. Starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, and John Goodman.

Rated PG-13. 82 minutes.

In this Polish film, a young novice nun in the 1960s discovers a deep & dark family secret dating back to the Nazi occupation. Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski and starring Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, and Dawid Ogrodnik.

Rated R. 126 minutes.

A train in perpetual motion in a frozen post-apocalyptic world is the setting for a story about class warfare and survival. Directed by Joon-ho Bong. Starring Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, and Tilda Swinton.

The Way, Way Back
Rated PG-13. 103 minutes.

Steve Carell and Toni Collette star in this brilliant, heartfelt coming of age story about a teenage boy and his mom, spending the summer with her abrasive boyfriend at his beach house. The boy matures as he finds friendship and a makeshift family (of sorts) while working at a local water park. Funny and heartbreaking with a surprisingly strong performance from Carell.


The First World War
Unrated. 10 episodes.

This BBC series is based on Hew Strachan’s enlightening and accessible history of The War to End All Wars. While not from 2014 (the series originally aired in 2003), it was especially meaningful as this year marked the centennial of the start of World War I.

TV-MA. 10 episodes.

The FX series starring Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolmon, and Colin Hanks managed to recreate much of the atmosphere and tone of the original Coen brothers film, while building a story uniquely its own. A cold-blooded killer comes to a frozen, snow-covered town to wreak havoc amongst its citizens while two earnest police officers try to solve a murder that may have been committed by the least likely suspect in town. Easily the best, most nail-biting TV viewing experience of the year. Billy Bob Thornton’s Devilish Hit man, Lorne Malvo, may be one of the greatest small-screen characters ever created for television.


St. Vincent
St. Vincent

Best Rock Album Grammy Nominee St. Vincent has created an unapologetically hard-rocking album from an unapologetically hard-rocking lady about living in the digital age.

The Voyager
Jenny Lewis

The third album by American singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis, The Voyager presents a nostalgic, wry, and nuanced take on indie rock.

A huge thank you to our library staff who helped contribute to this list, including Kaite in Readers' Services, Cindy at Trails West, Michael in our Missouri Valley Special Collections, Melissa in Library Systems, David in Interlibrary Loan, Denise at Plaza, Kate in Customer Service, and Kristan at Trails West.

Parties are fun year-round, and kids can enjoy the delightful craft and recipe given below whenever they choose. What inspired me, though, were celebrations for the New Year.

New Year’s Eve was a special time at my house when I was a kid. It was the time of year when I could have a friend for a sleepover. We made our own festive hats. One of my favorite memories is drinking mint milkshakes—a homemade treat that Mom only made for this occasion.

I found directions to make an awesome-looking, yet incredibly simple, see-through crown in Crafts for Kids by Gill Dickinson. Using thick tape, scissors, paper pieces and sequins, kids can be their own holiday haberdashers. If they have extra tape, they can create cuffs, too, as you see that I did in the photo. The book recommends this craft for kids 2-6-years-old and estimates that it will take ten to twenty minutes. (A grown-up may want to help with the second piece of tape since matching up the two pieces can be tricky).

I found a recipe for mint chocolate milkshakes on The Kansas City Public Library’s Primary Search Elite database.1 You can get to it from the EBSCOhost database link via our "Research Resources: Database" page (alphabetical letter E) or just click the link above.

Mom used vanilla ice cream with mint flavoring. This recipe uses mint chocolate-chip ice cream and melts chocolate-mint candy to drizzle over the glass. While a bit fancier than what I had growing up, it still sounds delicious.

1.TAYLOR, BRITTANY. "Shake it up!." Girls' Life June 2012: 92. Primary Search. Web. 24 Dec. 2014

About the Author

Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas. She has worked in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri for a decade. Currently, Anna Francesca is Kansas City Public Library’s Education Librarian.