The State Library of Kansas announces the 11th annual selection of Kansas Notable Books. The 15 books feature quality titles with wide public appeal, either written by Kansans or about a Kansas-related topic. The Kansas Notable Book List highlights our lively contemporary writing community and encourages readers to enjoy some of the best writing of the authors among us. “The Kansas Notable Books Committee considered the eligible books published in 2015. I was delighted to receive the recommended list and make the final decision,” said State Librarian Jo Budler. “Our list is intended to showcase Kansas’ unique talent and history while encouraging residents to visit their library and check out the celebrated titles.” An awards ceremony will be held at the Kansas Book Festival, on Sept. 10, at the State Capitol, to recognize the talented Notable Book authors. Kansas Notable Books is a project of the Kansas Center for the Book, a program of the State Library. Throughout the award year, the State Library promotes and encourages promotion of all the titles on that year’s list at literary events, and among librarians and booksellers. For more information about Kansas Notable Books, call 785-296-3296, visit www.kslib.info/notablebooks or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2016 Kansas Notable Books at Ellinwood School/Community Library
by Stephen T. Johnson
Explore the ins and outs of A to Z in an educational setting in this innovative picture book from the Caldecott Honor–winning creator of Alphabet City and A Is for Art. Imagine a school. Any school. Be it your school, one from memory, or even a dream school. Then enter and embark on a journey of wonder and delight. Look closely. There’s a letter C in the curve of a globe, a little L in the handle of a pencil sharpener, or at recess, a vibrant yellow V in a geodesic climbing dome. Can you find the letters on every page?
A Bitter Magic
by Roderick Townley
A deliciously quirky tale of secrets, magic, and illusions. Everything is in place: the packed theater, the Amazing Thummel, and, center stage, the magician’s mysterious assistant. Some have called her the most beautiful woman in Europe. Then, in a swirl of light, she vanishes! An astounding illusion, but she never reappears. All that remains are a bloodstained white scarf and her daughter, Cisley, who lives in a glass castle and walks her pet lobster each morning by the sea. Enter Cole, a rambunctious boy from town and Cisley’s first true friend. Together they hunt for clues to her mother’s disappearance. They puzzle over broken mirrors, ever-shifting labyrinths, a closet full of whispering ball gowns, and a fatal quest for a pure black rose.
Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery
by Dana Bowman
An unflinching and hilarious memoir about recovery as a mother of young kids, Bottled explains the perils moms face with drinking and chronicles the author’s path to recovery, from hitting bottom to the months of early sobriety—a blur of pain and chaos—to her now (in)frequent moments of peace. Punctuated by potent, laugh-out-loud sarcasm, Bottled offers practical suggestions on how to be a sober, present-in-the-moment mom, one day at a time, and provides much needed levity on an issue too often treated with deadly seriousness. Dana Bowman is a long-time English teacher and part-time professor in the department of English at Bethany College, Kansas. Author of the popular momsieblog.com, she leads and presents workshops on both writing and addiction, with a special emphasis on being a woman in recovery while parenting young children.
The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas
by Andrea Warren
The greatest entertainer of his era, Buffalo Bill was the founder and star of the legendary show that featured cowboys, Indians, trick riding, and sharpshooters. But long before stardom, Buffalo Bill—born Billy Cody—had to grow up fast. While homesteading in Kansas just before the Civil War, his family was caught up in the conflict with neighboring Missouri over whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state. To support his family after a pro-slaver killed his father, Billy — then 11 — herded cattle, worked on wagon trains, and rode the Pony Express. As the violence in Bleeding Kansas escalated, he joined the infamous Jayhawkers, seeking revenge on Missourians, and then became a soldier, scout, and spy in the Civil War—all by age 17.
Diary of a Waitress: The Not-So-Glamorous Life of a Harvey Girl
by Carolyn Meyer
In 1926, droves of Americans traveled by train across the United States to visit the West. They ate at Harvey Houses, where thousands of well–trained waitresses provided first–class service. The Waitresses: The Journal of a Harvey Girl tells the first–person story of one spunky girl, Kitty Evans, as she faces the often funny and painful experiences she and fellow waitresses Cordelia and Emmy endure. As Kitty writes about her escapades, a loveable teenager emerges; she embraces adventure, independence, her position as a Harvey Girl, and a freelance writing career. In this fast-paced novel, best–selling author Carolyn Meyer, who has visited and researched several Harvey Hotels, brings together an unforgettable heroine with the universal themes of friendship, identity, and young love.
Harvey Houses of Kansas:: Historic Hospitality from Topeka to Syracuse
by Rosa Walston Latimer
Starting in Kansas, Fred Harvey’s iconic Harvey House was the first to set the standard for fine dining and hospitality across the rugged Southwest. In 1876, the first of Harvey’s depot restaurants opened in Topeka, followed just a few years later by the first combination hotel and restaurant in Florence. Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls introduced good food and manners to the land of Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp and raucous cattle drives. In her third book on the Harvey House legacy, author Rosa Walston Latimer goes back to where it all began in this history of hospitality from the Sunflower State.
Kansas Trail Guide: The Best Hiking, Biking, and Riding in the Sunflower State
by Jonathan Conard, Kristin Conard
From the windswept plains to the majestic Flint Hills, the subtle beauty of the Sunflower State is best appreciated from its myriad wide-ranging trails. And whether you are an avid hiker or desultory explorer, a bicyclist or horseback rider, this book makes a most congenial guide. An invaluable companion for exploring new trails or learning about accustomed routes, this comprehensive guide will tell you all you need to know (as well as what it might surprise you to learn) about the trails that crisscross Kansas history and geography, wildlife and scenery, park locations and cultural possibilities, and, now and then, even a bit of geology and botany.
The illustrated guide includes detailed full-color maps, GPS coordinates, and, of course, extensive route descriptions through historic sights and prairies and state parks, to lakes and rivers and wildlife refuges. The authors identify the best trails for families or going solo; for running or hiking, biking or horseback riding; for hunting wildflowers, encountering wildlife, enjoying scenic vistas, or exploring Kansas history. They also include helpful descriptions of flora and fauna, and historical highlights for each area. Concise, complete, and engaging, this is the guide anyone journeying the trails of Kansas, seasoned hiker and armchair traveler alike, should not be without.”
Kansas Wildflowers & Weeds
by Michael John Haddock, Craig C. Freeman, Janet E. Bare
In the 35 years since the publication of Janet E. Bare’s popular Wildflowers and Weeds of Kansas, our understanding of flowering plants has undergone dramatic changes. This transformation is reflected in the pages of Kansas Wildflowers and Weeds.
A reference and a guidebook for a new generation of plant enthusiasts, this volume includes up-to-date nomenclature, keys, and descriptions, as well as habitat, distribution, and ecological information. In addition to herbaceous plants, the book profiles several woody species generally perceived to be either “showy wildflowers” or “weedy” species such as Amorpha fruticosa (false indigo bush), Campsis radicans (trumpet vine), Ceanothus herbaceus (Jersey tea), Cephalanthus occidentalis(buttonbush), Rhus glabra (smooth sumac), Rosa Arkansana (prairie rose), and Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy).
Designed for the professional botanist and passionate amateur alike, Kansas Wildflowers and Weeds brings names and taxonomic information into line with recent revolutions in studies of DNA, macro- and micromorphology, cytology, ecology, and phenology. It expands upon Bare’s earlier book’s 831 entries with descriptions of 1,163 species representing about 56 percent of the native and naturalized species currently known in Kansas as well as 742 color photographs. For purposes of identification, conservation, study, or the simple pleasure of thumbing through, it is a resource without parallel.”
The Madman and the Assassin: The Strange Life of Boston Corbett, the Man Who Killed John Wilkes Booth
by Scott Martelle
Union cavalryman Boston Corbett became a national celebrity after killing John Wilkes Booth, but as details of his odd personality became known, he also became the object of derision. Over time, he was largely forgotten to history, a minor character in the final act of Booth’s tumultuous life. And yet Corbett led a fascinating life of his own, a tragic saga that weaved through the monumental events of nineteenth-century America. Corbett was an English immigrant and devout Christian who long struggled not only with poverty but also with mental illness, which was likely caused by the mercury he used in his job as a silk hat finisher. He was one of the first volunteers to join the US Army at the outbreak of the Civil War, a path that would in time land him in the notorious Andersonville prison camp. Eventually released, he ended up in the squadron that cornered Lincoln’s assassin in a Virginia barn. After the war, he headed west as a homesteader to the plains of Kansas, where his shaky mental health led to his undoing. The Madman and the Assassin is the first full-length biography of Boston Corbett, a man thrust into the spotlight during a national news event and into an unwelcome transformation from anonymity to fame, and back to obscurity.
To Leave a Shadow
by Michael D. Graves
A 2016 Kansas Notable Book Award Winner: Pete Stone hadn’t always been a private eye. He’d lost his dairy business at the toss of a coin when the depression hit. His children grew up, as children do, and his wife left him for a chinchilla farmer. He had learned to like his solitude. When Mrs. Lucille Hamilton walked through his door searching for her missing husband, Pete was the only one who believed her husband’s death hadn’t been a suicide. “With a clean, detailed, vigorous style, Graves introduces us to Detective Pete Stone, his worldly and lovable gumshoe. Set in 1930’s Wichita, Midwesterners will take particular joy in Graves’s depiction of the city and the jazz age in this compelling mystery.”
Twenty-Five Years Among the Indians and Buffalo: A Frontier Memoir
by William D. Street
Nearing 60, William D. Street (1851-1911) sat down to write his memoir of frontier life. Street’s early years on the plains of western Kansas were both ordinary and extraordinary; ordinary in what they reveal about the everyday life of so many who went out to the western frontier, extraordinary in their breadth and depth of historical event and impact. His tales of life as a teamster, cavalryman, town developer, trapper, buffalo hunter, military scout, and cowboy put us squarely in the middle of such storied events as Sheridan’s 1868-1869 winter campaign on the southern Plains and the Cheyenne Exodus of 1878. They take us trapping beaver and hunting buffalo for hides and meat, and driving cattle on the Great Western Cattle Trail. They give us insight into his evolving understanding of his multi-decade relationship with the Lakota. And they give us a front-row seat at the founding and development of Jewell and Gaylord, Kansas, and a firsthand look at the formation of Jewell’s “Buffalo Militia.” In later life Street rose to prominence as a newspaper publisher, state legislator, and regent of the Kansas State Agricultural College. At the time of his death noted in the “New York Times” he was still at work on his memoir. Handed down through his family over the past century and faithfully transcribed here, Street’s story of frontier life is as rich in history as it is in character, giving us a sense of what it was to be not just a witness to, but a player in, the drama of the plains as it unfolded in the late nineteenth century. Edited by Street’s great-grandson, with an introduction by Richard Etulain, a leading scholar of the West, this memoir is history as it was lived, recalled in sharp detail and recounted in engaging prose, for the ages.”
While the Kettle’s On
by Melissa Fite Johnson Laura Lee Washburn(Introduction)
While the Kettle’s On, published by Little Balkans Press, is Melissa Fite Johnson’s first book of poetry. “While the Kettle’s On openly, whimsically and originally explores homecoming, whirling its journey through past generations, the present body, making home, unmaking the self, and everyday love. This strong first collection lands on what is, and what is behind what is, from the tree in the present that will one day be gone, to the grandmother once young, choosing “this future, this little life.” Melissa Fite Johnson helps us see the large world encapsulated in the gestures and glances of even the smallest moments of this little or big life, including what losses damage even fresh air and what graces give us back all we are. In essence, the whole collection is about love, and how to recognize it when it shines through the moments that matter.”
Two 2016 Kansas Notable Books have been ordered, but have not yet arrived:
Notorious Kansas Bank Heists:: Gunslingers to Gangsters
by Rod Beemer
Bank robbers wreaked havoc in the Sunflower State. After robbing the Chautauqua State Bank in 1911, outlaw Elmer McCurdy was killed by lawmen but wasn’t buried for sixty-six years. His afterlife can be described only as bizarre. Belle Starr’s nephew Henry Starr claimed to have robbed twenty-one banks. The Dalton gang failed in their attempt to rob two banks simultaneously, but others accomplished this in Waterville in 1911. Nearly four thousand known vigilantes patrolled the Sunflower State during the 1920s and 1930s to combat the criminal menace. One group even had an airplane with a .50-caliber machine gun. Join author Rod Beemer for a wild ride into Kansas’s tumultuous bank heist history.
Sun and Moon
by Lindsey Yankey
Sun and Moon have always held their own places in the sky, but after a lifetime of darkness Moon wants to trade. Sun agrees, but only if first Moon takes a careful look at his night, before making his final decision. Follow Moon as he travels through the dark discovering enchanting animals and scenes unique to the nighttime, foxes hunting, children dreaming, lamplighters, and fireflies. Will Moon still wish to change places in the sky? Or will he realize the beauty of what he already has? Fine details amidst bright bold mixed-media illustrations will capture readers of all ages in this story of discovery and appreciation.
Sheri Holmes, Director of Library/Media Services Ellinwood School/Community Libraries