Category: Youth Services Blog

Manheim Community Library Youth Services Blog



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Guest Review by Alexis: Winnie the Horse Gentler Series

Calling all horse lovers!


Dandi Daley Mackall will satisfy your heart for horses as she takes you along through the Winnie the Horse Gentler series. Starting with “Wild Thing” where Winnie, a 12 yr old girl who loves horses, faces tragedy as her mom dies in a car accident, and her dad moves her and her sister Lizzy all over the country. Never in one place long enough to settle down, now they are in Asheville, NC. When Winnie meets her dream horse she doesn’t want to leave. But the owner of the horse doesn’t want to give it up.

Dandi Daley Mackall describes things very well. She gives lots of details. There is suspense woven throughout this book.

Happy reading.


Hey, kids! Would you like us to post your book reviews on the MCL Youth Services Blog, just like Alexis? If you would like to contribute a review to introduce other kids to a book you love, just email Lindsay Bandy at

Book Review: Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief (Book #1) by Wendelin Van Draanen

Reviewed by Harriet Engle


Binoculars, beards and wigs, burglars, a punch in the nose, and a new seventh-grader with a lot a time on her hands and loads of curiosity – that is Sammy Keyes. Add to that, Sammy lives where she should not be living (in an apartment just for seniors – with her grandmother) and a habit of jay-walking. Anyway, with the binoculars and a lot of time, Sammy spots a thief in the act of burgling in a hotel across from her grandmother’s apartment.

It takes Sammy some time, of which she has a lot, and the help of her friend, Marissa, to figure out who is behind the recent thefts in her neighborhood. Of course, it could be this person or that person, but Sammy discovers the clues that lead to the crafty and sly man responsible for lifting money and jewelry from unsuspecting neighbors.

From the Publisher:

  • Reading age : 10 – 12 years
  • Lexile measure : 760L
  • Grade level : 5 – 6

Check out this book and the rest of the Sammy Keyes series at Manheim Community Library today!

Celebrate International Dark Sky Week with a Free Webinar for Parents and Educators

Did you know that April 5-12 is International Dark-Sky Week?

Keystone Canyon Press presents Building Next-Generation Environmental Activists with renowned author and dark-sky advocate Paul Bogard. Parents, educators, and anyone interested in engaging young children in environmental sciences are encouraged to join the FREE Zoom presentation* on April 8 at 5 P.M. PDT.
Paul Bogard’s children’s book, What if Night?, discusses the impact of light pollution in a simple yet engaging manner.
*Please not that this event is presented by Keystone Canyon Press and is not sponsored by Manheim Community Library.

About Paul Bogard: A native Minnesotan, Paul grew up exploring the forest and watching the stars near a lake in the northern part of the state. Today, Paul loves to read picture books with his two-year-old daughter, Amalie, in their south Minneapolis home, and to take her out under the moon and stars at their northern Minnesota lake cabin.

Paul Bogard is also the author of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light, shortlisted for the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, and The Ground Beneath Us: From the Oldest Cities to the Last Wilderness, What Dirt Tells Us About Who We Are. He is the editor of Let There Be Night: Testimony on Behalf of the Dark, a collection of essays by twenty-eight writers on the value of darkness and the costs of light pollution; author of numerous articles and essays; and a noted speaker about the importance of natural darkness. A graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, he is currently an associate professor of English at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
To learn more, visit his web site at Paul Bogard (



Attention Teens: PA READS YA Needs You!

The creators of Bookish in the ‘Burgh, Pittsburgh’s Teen Book Festival, are seeking teen applicants to build and lead the vision of PA Reads YA, a new project designed to support the development of virtual and in-person young adult literature programs created by teens and for teens across Pennsylvania. Applicants should be teen residing in Pennsylvania.

All meetings will be virtual and tasks will depend on the interests and capacity of teens involved including marketing, event planning, community engagement, writing for blogs and newsletters, and more. An interest in teen books is great but not required. Teens with diverse interests, skills, and backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Applications are due by March 29, 2021.

To apply, please fill out this google form:

Questions? Email Kelsey Ford at

March Take + Make: Free Kids’ Mindfulness Journals

It’s finally starting to feel like spring! As we continue to focus on the emotional and mental well-being of families this month, we hope you’ll stop by the library to pick up one of our FREE Kids Mindfulness Journals!

These journals feature a variety of activities from Head and Heart Mindfulness, including coloring pages, a daily feelings “check-in,”  breathing and gratitude activities, and drawing prompts. Grab one in the lobby today, and you’re good to go!

Kids in elementary school will be able to complete the journal independently, but there are lots of great conversation-starting prompts and activities to share with the whole family. Preschoolers can complete this journal with their caregivers’ help.


Enjoy being more mindful by talking about your feelings together!


Kids Book Review: The Nerviest Girl in the World by Melissa Wiley

Reviewed by Harriet Engle

This is a story about Pearl, a nine-year-old girl with three older brothers. With three older brothers, she had to be nervy. Pearl and her family live on a ranch in southern California where they raise cattle, sheep, and ostriches. Pearl takes care of the ostriches as her daily chore – feeding them, collecting their eggs, and cleaning out their pen.

This book was written about a time before automobiles became the common way to travel, early 1900s. It also was a time before smart phones, “You Tube,” instant entertainment, and, of course, two-car garages. In fact, if anyone wanted to get anywhere, they rode a horse. It is about silent movies, the entertainment of the time. The silent-movie producer comes to town to make movies, and he needs fast-riding cowboys. He hires Pearl’s brothers. An unexpected fast and nervy ride of her own puts Pearl in the sights of the camera and the producer, and before she knows it, she is in the movies.

Ms. Wiley lived in this part of the country for more than ten years, and to write this piece of historical fiction, she thoroughly researched the silent movie industry. She catches the attention of the reader with some tricky stunts that only a nervy little farm girl with three older brothers can do.


From the publisher:

  • Reading age : 8 – 12 years
  • Lexile measure : 900L
  • Grade level : 3 – 7

Caught Between JF and YA (The Tween Problem) by Lindsay Bandy

Tweens have it rough! When it comes to searching for  books, eleven or twelve-year-olds find themselves at the tail end of  the 8-12 Juvenile Fiction category, but their reading comprehension and understanding of the world has grown exponentially since their 8th birthday. Plus, they often feel like the whole world is shining a spotlight on just how little they still are -so anything that makes them seem young becomes embarrassing. This can include everything from hugging their parents goodbye to walking into the juvenile fiction section of the library. But does that mean they’re ready to conquer the YA shelves? There’s not always an easy answer, but here are some tips and resources to help you decide what’s right for your growing kids.

  1. Read & Discuss Together. This is the obvious one, right? Even if your tween decides she or he is too old for a read-aloud, you can both read the same book. You’ll have the opportunity to talk about any issues that come up, as well as what you both really loved (or hated) about the story. Taking the time to read a book your child loves shows them that you care about their interests and feelings, even if it’s not what you would select for yourself. Think of it as a shared experience, which can bring you closer together! Did you know you can also borrow audiobooks on your phone or computer through Overdrive? Try one out while you’re prepping dinner or driving to sports practice!
  2. Consult lists.
    1. Web sites like Brightly offer reading lists for different age groups, including kids 9-12 and 13+. There are also special interest lists, like this one, for Harry Potter fans who are looking for their next great read: 10 Series to Read After Harry Potter.
    2. Sites geared toward teachers can also be a great starting point for you and your child. Try this list from We Are Teachers: Best Middle School Books
    3. Check out Goodreads. People make all kinds of bookish lists on Goodreads! For example, if you have a tween who is eager to read a little romance but you don’t want them reading anything too sexy, there’s a list for that. I tried typing in “Books for kids with romance but no sex” and this list popped up right away: 
  3. Consult media review sites. Unlike movies, books don’t come with ratings. And let’s be real…parents don’t have time to pre-read every book their child is interested in. Sites like Common Sense Media provide reviews of books and movies FOR parents and kids BY parents and kids, as well as curated lists for special interests. These reviews will give you the rundown on the presence of topics like drug/alcohol use, smoking, violence, sexy stuff, and mature language in popular books so you can decide what is appropriate for your child.
  4. Keep the lines of communication open. Knowing your child’s changing interests, emotions, and abilities can be a big job, but with a little time and effort, you can stay close through the changes and navigate them together. Sharing a great story can pave the way for meaningful conversations and relationship growth, even if you don’t always agree. For more ideas about staying close to your changing kids, check out this article from Child Mind: 10 Tips for Parenting Tweens.

Conversation Sparks: A Directory of Books on Tough Topics

This month at MCL, we’ll be highlighting some resources to promote families’ emotional and mental well-being. Today, we’d like to introduce you to our new, easy-to-use directory of Conversation Sparks books. These books deal with various topics that can be hard to talk about with children – topics like divorce, grief, hospitalization, moving, and so much more.

In Manheim Community Library’s Parenting Section, you may have already noticed a shelf labeled “Conversation Sparks.” To go along with this collection, we’ve added a laminated topical directory which includes some books from the Parenting Collection, as well as some books that can be found in the EZ Readers and Picture Book bins. We hope this directory will be a valuable, easy-to-use resource for families!


Adoption                                        Financial Difficulties  

Anger                                              Gender Identity  

Anxiety/Worry/Fears             Hospitalization/Serious Illness  

Bullies                                            Moving 

Death and Grief                         New Baby 

Divorce/ Separation                Avoiding Sexual Predators 

Disabilities/Differences        Trauma  



When young children are going through a new or difficult experience, books help them to identify and name their emotions, to see their own experience and feelings reflected on the page, and to know they are not alone. These books will also pave the way for conversations you can have with your child about how you are both feeling as you work through a challenging experience, and many come with discussion questions, prompts, and further resources.

If you need further resources or assistance, we’ll be happy to help!


New February Collage Fun Take-And-Make Kits Are Here!

The snow may have slowed us down a little, but new Take-And-Make kits are finally ready to go!

This month, we’re offering collage supplies and idea sheets to boost creativity, literacy, and math skills for kids of all ages.  Several other libraries in the county have sent us discarded magazines, so we’ve got a great selection – everything from Highlights to Glamour to Sports Illustrated.

Stop by the lobby today to pick up a magazine or two and an idea packet for your child’s age group, which includes several sheets of paper and some starter items. Packets are available in four categories (see below). If you are in need of child-safe scissors or a glue stick, come on upstairs and one of our desk staff will be happy to provide you with them. Here’s a preview of what you can do….

Preschoolers can go on a letter hunt, make silly faces, boost critical thinking skills by sorting images, and practice counting by using the included numeral sheets.

Early Elementary kids can hunt for sight words, create rebus sentences, sort more complex categories of images, and practice spelling words.

Big Kids (Upper elementary/independent readers) can create unique collages with images and adjectives that represent the things they enjoy, create freestyle poems (no rhyming necessary!), or piece together a surrealist piece of artwork.

Tweens and Teens can use print and images together to represent their personalities, write freestyle poetry, or create visual art that makes a statement about an issue that’s important to them. Teen and tween packets come with poetry starter baggies.


Check out our bulletin board in the hallway outside the library for inspiration! If you would like your collage to appear on our bulletin board, please drop it off at the front desk.

Or, if you’d like a photo of your work to appear on our social media, just email us!