Staff Pick: The Seventh Wish

Our librarian Kristen read and reviewed the middle-grade fiction novel The Seventh Wish, by Kate Messner. It interweaves fantasy and real life, and focuses on magic, empathy, overcoming obstacles, and family/friend relationships. 

Kristen writes, "Charlie Brennan, twelve-years-old, is ice fishing when she catches her first fish.  The fish offers her a wish in trade for its freedom. 

Charlie takes up ice fishing to pay for the perfect solo dress for her upcoming Irish dancing competition.  She desperately wants to move up in the next class and needs to do well.  Not only that, but she is also working on a science project for school.  She’s a busy girl!  With all that going on, she thought a few wishes would solve some of the problems her family and friends are facing.  Her family faces a major crisis when they realize that Abby, Charlie’s older sister, has become addicted to drugs while she’s been away at college. Charlie can’t make a wish to make this situation right.   Mrs. McNeill, her neighbor, says “You know the thing about magic Charlie?  We can wish on clovers and shooting stars and ice flowers all we want.  But in the end, the only real magic is what’s inside of us and the people we love.  Some things are beyond even magic.”

She learns through hard work, and family/friend love and support you can accomplish your goals. 

This book could serve as a foundation for impactful conversations around addiction and empathy."

This Week at the Library

Library OnDemand – Available anytime you like. 

Pollinator Series – Tuesday, April 11, 4 – 5 p.m.

Bees, butterflies and bats . . . oh my! Spring is here and our regional pollinators are in full flight. Join us at the Corinth Library with Johnson County Master Gardeners for this workshop to learn from the experts exactly what is happening when these animals and insects are flying about. Each participant will receive seeds to help grow more places for pollinators to explore.

Tabletop Games – Tuesday, April 11, 6 – 7:45 p.m.

Join us for a fun-filled evening at the Gardner Library with family members and friends, old and new, and become a part of the Johnson County tabletop gaming community. Kids, teens and adults can enjoy a variety of games together, including collaborating to escape the Forbidden Island, getting creative with a round of Dixit, or strategizing their way to victory as King of Tokyo! Discover and learn new games from our collection or bring your personal favorite to share. Come and go as you please. Refreshments are provided. Each month, our gaming librarians will feature a family-friendly game and teach you how to play it! Gardner's featured game in April is Forbidden Island

Tween Book Club – Wednesday, April 12, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

If you’re age 9-13 and enjoy reading, this program is for you! Let’s get together at the Monticello Library to read new books, discuss ideas and characters, and meet other book lovers. We read a different book each session, and staff will lead the group in a discussion about the book. Participants will get a free book while supplies last. Stop by the Youth Services desk to pick up your book for April is Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson. 

Family Storytime at Lenexa Public Market – Wednesday, April 12, 6 – 6:30 p.m.

The whole family will enjoy this flexible Storytime at the Lenexa Public Market. Hearing stories is a great way to spend time with your kids and help them foster a love of reading. Stories, songs, fingerplays and movement activities foster pre-reading skills. Fun for the whole family.

Teen Book Swap Café – Sunday, April 16, 2 – 3 p.m.

Tired of being stuck at home with your old books? Ready for a spring refresh? Bring a stack of books, audiobooks and other media to swap at the Lenexa City Center Library! Get to know other members of the book community as you grab a snack, chat and trade new or lightly used books. Teens 12-19 welcome. This program is trade only – so no selling will be allowed. Limit of 10 books per person to trade. Registration is required. Registrants will get a free tote to carry all your new books.

And much more happening this week … 

left, copies of The Guncle in a clear backpack. right, Gregg Winsor stands in front of a shelf of books

Left: a Book Club in a Bag; Right: Readers Advisory Librarian Gregg Winsor

Johnson County Bolstering its Book Club Outreach

The book discussion groups that Johnson County Library hosts monthly in its branches and online are thriving, by offering patrons a wonderful way to meet and share insights about thought-provoking books.

But the Library recognizes there are many other Johnson County book clubs that could also benefit from access to a convenient set of 12-15 books ready for borrowing. So Readers Advisory Librarian Gregg Winsor is taking his stockpile of official book club selections and preparing to offer these “Book Clubs in a Bag” to external book groups eager to check out and discuss popular titles, such as The Guncle by Steven Rowley or The Topeka School by Ben Lerner.

About 15 books of the same title will be placed in clear plastic backpacks that have handles and wheels and are easily transportable. These kits should be available in early summer to browse at Central Resource Library. Patrons will also be able to find and reserve them through the Library's web catalog

“I want them to be used by patrons,” Winsor explained. “This is the foundation for moving from an internal-only circulating system to the public. We bought them for internal use, and after they’ve made the rounds once or twice, then we can move them out to the patrons."

Winsor believes this outreach will be welcomed by Johnson County’s many ad hoc book clubs. “I really want to make sure the public has access to these titles that have already been vetted and are highly discussable,” he said. “So people can check them out for their own book groups.” 

Initially, about 20 different kits will be available. That selection should grow as the internal book club collection turns over. The patron checking out the kits would be responsible for their return.

While Johnson County Library plans this new outreach, it continues to offer its own popular internal book clubs that meet regularly, each with its own Library facilitator. ​​​​​​​

One club meets via Zoom, for people who feel most comfortable gathering virtually. Others meet in person at Corinth, Gardner, Leawood, Lenexa, Monticello and Shawnee. A new book group launched in January and gathers every other month at Lenexa, focusing on science and technology.

The Library works hard to choose worthwhile titles.

​​​​​​​“We pick out selections with an eye toward modernity/currency,” Winsor said, adding that they also pick titles that are diverse, engaging and likely to prompt lively discussions.

​​​​​​​As Readers Advisory Librarian, Winsor helps oversee the book discussion groups. He also works closely with a committee of about a dozen staffers devoted to helping patrons find books that will captivate them.

“What we want to do is make the Library collection more accessible to people, bring it out, highlighting things,” he said. “So the book groups are one important part of that. I also do online presentations called Book Parties, where I talk about books that are coming out soon that people may not know about.”

Winsor realizes the world is constantly flooded with new books, so recommendations and reviews on the Library website are useful when patrons feel overwhelmed. Winsor has a passion to help patrons expand their horizons and discover new titles and genres that will enrich their lives.

“People are getting their recommendations from a lot of different places, but the Library wants to be part of that,” he said. “We’re not trying to sell you anything. We’re just trying to connect you with books you will like.”

Olathe Oldies

It’s another grand Throwback Thursday where we encourage you to time travel through Johnson County's history. JoCoHistory is a collaborative presentation of the history from the Johnson County Museum, Johnson County Library and many JoCoHistory partners. Explore historical photographs and documents about the people, places and organizations of Johnson County, Kansas, from the 19th century to the present.

Collection spotlight: Olathe Public Library

About this collection: A number of images from the Olathe Daily Mirror (published 1861 - 1959) and other local sources. The photographs date from the mid-twentieth century and depict scenes of daily life, including weddings, award ceremonies and include a number of studio portraits of individuals.

5 Star Staff Pick: Land of the Dead

"Endlessly fascinating and insightful!" Says our librarian Chris. 

"I was, I think, 18 years old when I saw the movie Flatliners; just the right age for it to make a vivid impression on me even though it has never been thought of as a particularly good film. The characters are medical students who agree to take turns temporarily dying ("flatlining") before being revived by the others. They hope to experience a moment of the afterlife to gain insight and wisdom. They wanted, in the parlance of this book, to learn from a visit to the land of the dead.

McDonald writes that we don't have to actually die to gain that wisdom, though, as stories of visits to the land of the dead are all around us. He takes a wide-ranging tour through stories from different times, cultures, and media, drawing parallels and showing how they include different elements of the underworld. Sometimes characters travel literally or metaphorically to that land; sometimes elements of that land visit us."

Read more of Chris' review and find the book in our catalog »

This Week at the Library

This week at the Library, you can join us at:

Library OnDemand – Available anytime you like. 

READ to a Dog with Pets for Life  – April 3 – April 6, 3:30 – 5 p.m., In person event at different locations. Join us at Leawood Pioneer Library on April 3, Antioch Library on April 4, Central Resource Library on April 5, or Monticello Library on April 6. 

The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a registered therapy dog or cat! These animals volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team. Please note: space is limited for this program; kids will get a ticket at arrival and wait their turn to read to one of several dogs.

Pollinator Series – Tuesday, April 4, 2 – 3 p.m.

Bees, butterflies and bats . . . oh my! Spring is here at the Lenexa City Center Library and our regional pollinators are in full flight. Join Johnson County Master Gardeners for this workshop to learn from the experts exactly what is happening when these animals and insects are flying about. Each participant will receive seeds to help grow more places for pollinators to explore.

Meet the Cartoonist: Josh Neufeld – Tuesday, April 4, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Bestselling comics journalist Josh Neufeld says, "I am a nonfiction storyteller and my medium is comics.” He is the writer/artist of the nonfiction graphic novel "A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge" (Pantheon), which was nominated for the Eisner and Harvey awards, and many other true-life graphic narratives. Josh is also the illustrator of the graphic nonfiction book "The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media" (W.W. Norton), and is the co-editor of "FLASHed: Sudden Stories in Comics and Prose." Josh's illustrations have appeared in such publications as The New York Times and The Washington Post. In this one-hour reading, Josh will share an overview of his career, complete with extended readings of selected pieces and leaving ample time for Q&A. This program will be hosted on Library OnDemand. You do not need to download any software or create an account.

The Past is Prologue: The Orphan Train Movement – Tuesday, April 4, 7 – 8 p.m.

The Past is Prologue is a bimonthly program that highlights topics often left out, glossed over, or misrepresented in our history books. For our April topic, National Orphan Train Complex curator Kaily Carson will detail the history of the Orphan Train Movement that served as a precursor to our modern day foster care system. The program will take place virtually via Library OnDemand, and the recording will be available following the program on the Library’s website. You do not need to download any software or create an account.

Caregiver Workshop: Ask the Early Childhood Experts – Wednesday, April 5, 7– 8 p.m., Online event

Whether it's finding activities to keep them busy or understanding what's going on inside their heads, being a caregiver of young children can be challenging. Each month's caregiver workshop explores a different topic to support and enrich relationships between kids age birth to 6 and their caregivers. In April, get your most pressing questions answered by local early childhood experts. This program will be hosted using the meeting software Zoom. A Johnson County Library staff member will contact registrants via email the day before the meeting with instructions on how to access the Zoom meeting. You do not need to download any software or create an account.

And much more happening this week …