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Teen Scene

Feb 25 2013

On Book Recommendations

by Jnai W

I realize that I’m at least a few years late to the party but I’ve just recently finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (loved, loved, loved it!) and am now tucking into book two of the trilogy, Catching Fire. I’ve been aware of The Hunger Games for the past few years because…well, it’s hard not to be when you work in a library. But for whatever reason I’d never gotten around to reading it. Recently, however, it became quite inexcusable for me to not read this book. In the case of The Hunger Games I ran out of excuses not to read it based on the recommendation of one of DCPL’s adorable teen patrons (yes, Readers, teens can be quite adorable!). Our circulation desk conversation had somehow turned to the Hunger Games series. I’d mentioned to the young patron that I hadn’t read the book yet but “I’ve heard good things”.

“Oh my gosh,” said the youngster. “You’ll love it! You’ll really love it!”

Her enthusiasm for this book was honest, overflowing and contagious, so much so that I’d decided that I would be reading this book at my earliest convenience. “Earliest convenience” is still slightly non-committal but at least now reading Suzanne Collins’ acclaimed trilogy was officially on my to-do list.  After talking for a while longer, I checked out the patron and wished her happy reading with the items she’d borrowed.  Perhaps half an hour later, the young lady and her mother returned to the library and presented me with their copy of The Hunger Games, suggesting that when I was finished reading it I could pass it along to someone else to read or donate it to the library. Ecstatic and touched by the gift, reading this book graduated from being a to-do list item to My Plans For The Evening. It took me three days to read it but only because I had to break for things like going to work and sleeping.

As a library worker, book recommendations from patrons are always welcome and appreciated. But nothing compares to when a teenager who’s normally too-cool-for-school cracks a smile at the mention of a book he likes.  Or when an adorable, gap-toothed kiddie-grin widens with the mention of each of Victoria Kann’s -Licious books (“Did you like Pinkalicious? Have you read Purplicious? How about Silverlicious?”).  So if there’s one recommendation from today’s post it is that it pays to pick your nearest youngster’s brain for an excellent book. May the odds of a great read be ever in your favor!

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Jan 7 2013

Young Adult Literature …too fluffy?

by Amanda L

As a librarian who serves teens, I am always reading other blogs to find good reads, ideas for programming, etc. The organization, Young Adult Library Association (YALSA), has a blog called the Hub about Young Adult literature that I love to read.  Last month, Maria Kramer posted about a statement made in an article in England’s The Independent about the changes with the Common Core Standards and reading in America. The exact quote from The Independent which created a lot of discussion was “Tackling rich literature is the best way to prepare students for careers and college, said [Sandra] Stotsky, who blames mediocre national reading scores on weak young adult literature popular since the 1960s.”

The Jungle by Upton SinclairWhile reading both the Hub post and the article in The Independent, two thoughts immediately came to me. First, I read nonfiction books in social studies and science classes instead of English classes. I remember reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America in my high school freshman class in addition to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. These books helped make history come alive to me and gave context to what we were studying. The second thought is that while I do read literary works, they are not what I enjoy reading. I would rather read a plot driven book over a literary work any day. That having been said, I think reading a variety of books stretches one’s knowledge and taste. Ms. Kramer also cites a research study written by the National Literacy Trust which reveals that reading for pleasure is linked to a variety of literacy benefits including vocabulary building and self-confidence as a reader. The study also shows that those teens who read for pleasure perform at a higher level on reading comprehension portions of standardized tests. Finally, readers who can choose what they read enjoy reading more and are more motivated to read.

We've Got a JobEven as the core standards are rolled out over the next few years, more nonfiction for young adults will be written in the narrative form. I recently read all of the nominees for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. I especially enjoyed two of the  nominees because they made a period of history come alive.  Titanic: voices from the disaster by Deborah Hopkins was told through a variety of people and their written or oral accounts of their experience on the Titanic. She also included photographs and documents from the Titanic. The second nominee that I enjoyed was We’ve Got a Job: the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson. Similar to the Titanic book, We’ve Got a Job tackles the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March through the voices of several of the teen participants of this march. Their first hand accounts brought the civil rights movement to life for me.

Shelter by Harlan CobenEvery year YALSA has a variety of book awards and lists. The awards are announced during the Mid Winter Conference towards the end of January. This year the awards will be announced on January 28, 2013 and will be webcast. The book awards are for high quality literature broken into a variety of categories from first time author (Morris Award) to adult books with teen appeal (Alex Award). The only nominees that will be announced prior to the awards are the Excellence in Nonfiction and Morris Awards. I can’t wait to see which books will win and which will be nominated. Looking back at the young adult books that I have read this year that were released in 2012, my favorites so far are I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, BZRK by Michael Grant and Shelter by Harlan Coben. As with anything there will always be debates. Do you think young adult literature is too fluffy? What young  adult book or books have you read that were published this year that you would recommend?

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Mar 21 2012

Feeding your hunger

by Dea Anne M

Regular readers of this blog probably already know that my posts often involve food and you might assume from the title of this post that this one is more of the same. Well…surprise—it’s not! By “hunger” I’m referring to this coming weekend’s release of the eagerly awaited film version of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. The book is, of course, the first in Collins’ wonderful dystopian trilogy (which includes Catching Fire and Mockingjay) in which ruling powers demand a yearly “tribute”—a girl and a boy selected by lottery from each of twelve districts. The twenty-four tributes are expected to fight each other to the death in a televised (required viewing, no less) gladiatorial-style contest until only one is left standing. The trilogy’s primary character is Katniss Everdeen – a brave and emotionally complicated young woman who is sometimes infuriating but always (in my opinion) remarkable. I’ve heard some equate the success of the Hunger Games series with that of Stephanie Meyers’  Twilight books. Both series have been hugely popular but they are, I think, really nothing alike. Certainly there’s a strong romantic sub-plot in the books but it definitely takes a back seat to the rest of the action. Needless to say, I’m eager to see the film which features Jennifer  Lawrence (as Katniss), Woody Harrelson, and  Stanley Tucci among many others.

To celebrate the release of the film, the Stonecrest branch of DCPL will be hosting a Hunger Games Release Party on Saturday, March 24 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The party will feature “training stations” where teens can test their skills in archery, plant identification, and trivia; crafts; refreshments; and a prize drawing. Remember, attendance is limited to the first 25 teens so do keep that in mind if you plan to celebrate with us at Stonecrest. The Decatur branch will also be celebrating the film release with a Hunger Games Trivia event featuring  pizza and prizes this Thursday, March 22, from 4:30-5:30. The event will be held in the Decatur Meeting Room and attendance is limited to the first 25 participants.

Are you going to celebrate the release of the Hunger Games film and, if so, how?

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Sep 21 2011

Spine-tingling fiction…then and now

by Dea Anne M

September 21st is the birthday of Stephen King, arguably the world’s most widely recognized author of horror fiction. Since the publication of Carrie in 1974, King has published many horror novels, novellas, and short stories as well as fantasy and non-fiction. His work overall is characterized by “everyman” type characters and is particularly sympathetic toward children and adolescents. I haven’t read a Stephen King book in quite awhile, but I was a big fan at one time. I think The Shining is one of the most effectively frightening tales that I have ever experienced and I have a particular weird fondness for King’s epic, almost painfully  earnest, story of good versus evil The Stand ( I’ll even occasionally sit down and re-watch the 1994 television mini-series based on the book starring such 90’s luminaries as Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald…a  little over the top, but fun!).

Are you a fan of the horror genre looking for something new? Here are some fresh voices you might consider:

Allison Hewitt Is Trapped: a zombie novel by Madeline Roux features a bookstore clerk/graduate student heroine who, while trapped by zombies at her place of work, begins a blog to try and connect with the outside world.

Another zombie story, Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory is the tale of how the title character, an undead infant, is rescued and reared by a human family and finally comes of age to explore and embrace his heritage.

Hater by David Moody is, according to the Publishers Weekly starred review, a “nail-biter” of a debut novel and concerns a regular working guy attempting to keep his family safe in a world gone mad with a violence-inducing virus. A film version is currently in the works and is supposed to be directed by Guillermo del Toro of  Pan’s Labyrinth fame.

On the YA front, White Crow by Marcus Sedgewick tells the story of sixteen- year-old Rebecca, her new friend Ferelith, and their exploration of a remote village’s sinister history. According to Booklist “This book is one thing very few YA novels are: genuinely scary.”

Finally, my own favorite horror offering of the past few years has got to be Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Emotionally nuanced (Cronin has previously published literary fiction) and told in an epic style reminiscent to me in some ways of The Stand, the story concerns the human survivors of a man-made plague attempting to survive in a world populated by “virals” or “dracs.” These vampires are not the the brooding teenagers of Twilight or the alluring undead of the Sookie Stackhouse series. This novel is, in my mind, completely original and highly recommended.

 

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Jul 15 2011

ShareReads: Guilty Pleasures

by ShareReads

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

After reading Amanda’s ShareReads post last week about the disturbing plots of some teen novels, as well as traveling a good bit on MARTA recently, I have come to the conclusion that I am ashamed of my reading habits.  Yes, I read some books only in the privacy of my home where there are no witnesses.  Yes, I have been known to take a book jacket off, so as to not be judged by the cover art and title.  And, yes, I have even been known to rejacket the book with the cover from the hip, literary sensation that everyone is buzzing about.  I am guilty of reading books that cause feelings of embarrassment and that I don’t want to be seen reading; but, I just can’t resist these books and secretly love to read them.  What exactly are my guilty reading pleasures?  Teen books, including ones with disturbing plots, but my true loves are cheesy, romances where the biggest sources of angst are “Does he like me?” and “Am I going to flunk bio?”  Ah, the simpler, halcyon days of being a teen; these books are my true escapist pleasure!

One such book I recently finished is The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler.  An enticingly covered (how can you resist cupcakes with pink frosting and sprinkles?) story with the basic plot of new girl (Penny Lane) in a small town (Hog’s Hollow) who butts heads with the most popular girl in school and who longs to return home to the big city and her old friends.  It was a cute, fun read to get lost in, and I thoroughly enjoyed Penny’s rediscovering herself and her family in a new setting, as well as her adventures with new friends who challenge the popular clique in creative ways that I only wished I had thought of (and had the courage to do) when I was in high school.   But, I didn’t really want to be seen on the train reading a book with cupcakes on the cover that was written for a 15 year old, so I happily devoured this one sans jacket and with minor guilt.

OK, fair and tender readers, what are your reading guilty pleasures?  What books can you not resist, but don’t necessarily want to admit to reading?  I promise this is a judge free posting.  And, if you’re still not ready for a public declaration, you can post anonymously!

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ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

I just finished reading the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. My husband and I listened to the first in the series, Hunger Games last month. If you are not familiar with the series, it is set in the future. The main characters, Katniss, Peeta, and Gayle, all hail from district 12 of the country Panem. Panem is located where currently North America is located. The basic premise of the series is that the government would like to punish and control people, to prevent them from rebelling. Each district selects a boy and girl randomly to participate in the hunger games. During the hunger games, the players fight until the death until the remaining survivor wins the games.

While we were listening to the Hunger Games, both my husband and I kept thinking that this was a horrible premise of a book, whether teen or adult. I mean, what is good about teens fighting each other to the death? In any case, we couldn’t stop listening to the book. It is captivating. The author writes the characters  in such a way that you care whether they live or die. The story moves fast, and you begin to find yourself rooting for a specific character. Are you team Gayle, Peeta or Katniss?

There has been much discussion lately about the dark themes currently appearing in Young Adult (teen) literature. Two articles, both pro and con,  have been written about this. The first, Darkness to Visible, was published in the Wall Street Journal. The author of this article believes Young Adult literature is running rapid with violence, depravity and abuse. The second, written in response, was called, Has young adult fiction become too dark?, and was published in Salon magazine.

Whether you believe Young Adult literature is too dark or tackles some deep subjects, the teens are reading. I came across an article from Entertainment Weekly about the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  Thirteen Reasons Why is about suicide. Hannah Baker has already committed suicide before the book begins. She has made thirteen cassette tapes to send to the thirteen people she believes contributed to her death.

The article points out how a book can open a person’s perspective and create empathy for others. The author, Jay Asher, stated that he has received several e-mails from teens who were contemplating suicide. He also has received e-mails from teens who realized after reading the book  that what they say or don’t say, and the way they act towards others can have a lasting impact on someone’s decisions or outlook on life.

Have you read any teen books lately? What do you think about this topic?

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Apr 10 2011

Let’s Create Our Own Story!

by Jimmy L

It’s National Library Week (April 10—16, 2011)!  First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country. It’s a time to celebrate libraries and librarians.

Libraries are places for new beginnings.  Whether you are getting your first library card, learning new computer skills or planning a trip, the library is the place where your story begins. So, this National Library Week the theme is Create your own story @ your library.

The Library has a lot of programs planned for you during this week.  Click here to see the full schedule.

But that’s not it! We at DCPL thought it would be fun to create our own story by writing one together. Here is the first line to get you started:

One day at the library, Rory was flipping through a book when out fell a tiny folded note.

Please continue the story by replying to this post!  Make sure you read the the comments first so you can continue the story where it last left off.

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Have you read a young adult (YA) novel recently? Have you heard about Mockingjay or Twilight? While these are the most recognized titles, there are so many more well written and fun story lines. The Library’s Teen page offers a look at a variety of books for teens and adults looking for a good read. There are even readalike lists for those who have read Mockingjay or Twilight.

So you say you haven’t read a YA novel and never would? Your favorite author may be writing his or her next book at as a YA novel. One of the fastest growing markets in the publishing world is the market for young adults. There are genres that match all of the adult offerings and adult authors are taking notice.

Below are a few popular adult authors who have already begun writing books for teens.  So the next time you put a hold on a John Grisham or James Patterson, do not be surprised if it is a YA book that you just ordered. (To limit the list to young adult titles, use the drop down menu to limit the list and select “Young Adult materials” or “Juvenile materials”. This is located on the right-hand side of the screen). Need additional help finding great reads? Ask a staff member.

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Jul 8 2010

Magical Wizardry Tour

by Fran W

The Decatur Library auditorium will be host to five touring wizard rock bands on Monday, July 19th.  The free concert starts at 5:30pm and is appropriate for ages 13 and up.  Click here for the event listing in the library’s online calendar.

What is wizard rock?  Wizard rock, or “wrock,” is music based on or inspired by the Harry Potter books, and there’s more of it than you might think.  Wizrocklopedia, a site devoted to all things related to wizard rock, lists hundreds of Potter-themed bands.  Nearly every character (as well as many inanimate objects) in the Harry Potter universe has a band named in their honor, and many bands sing their songs from the perspective of their chosen character.

Wizard rock bands demonstrate their passion for reading through their songs, and they inspire others to think about books  in new and exciting ways.

We love what wizard rock has done to promote reading and literacy, and we’re proud to host the ROFLCOPTOUR, featuring  5 of the wrockingest bands in the movement:

ALL CAPS

Kristina Horner and Luke Conard met each other through their respective wizard rock bands three years ago. After a while, they decided to take one step outside the Harry Potter genre and expanded their music repertoire to include a myriad of other nerdy topics.  They have released two full length albums and a handful of successful music videos on YouTube.

The Whomping Willows

The Whomping Willows is the solo project of singer/songwriter Matt Maggiacomo. Combining an offbeat sense of humor with light political commentary and catchy melodies, Matt has written five full-length albums and two EPs (loosely) from the perspective of the violent tree at Hogwarts.

The Moaning Myrtles

Lauren Fairweather and Nina Jankowicz, also known as The Moaning Myrtles, have been having the time of their afterlives writing and performing music from everyone’s favorite whiny bathroom ghost’s perspective since 2005. They are known for their piano-heavy songs with catchy harmonies, but the Myrtles occasionally take the form of a solo guitarist.

Justin Finch-Fletchley

Justin Finch-Fletchley performs music from the perspective of a classmate who witnessed most of the events Harry, Ron, and Hermione experienced. Justin combines wit and insight along with an unbridled amount of passion and energy to bring eager wizard rock fans their dose of catchy sing-along acoustic rock music.

The Parselmouths

Kristina Horner and Eia Waltzer are The Parselmouths, a wizard rock band that take the Hogwarts
experience from the perspective of spoiled, popular rich girls. Their girlband has been writing and performing folky, upbeat, slightly ‘evil’ songs since 2004 and have played shows in a plethora of venues all over the country.

For more about the history and creation of Harry Potter fandom, check out Melissa Anelli’s Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon.  You’ll find a few of the touring bands mentioned in the “Rocking at Hogwarts” chapter!

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Jun 21 2010

You Have Such A Pretty Face

by Veronica W

If I had a nickel for every time I heard that “compliment” while growing up, I would be, at the very least, upper middle class.The well-intentioned (I think) speakers did not understand exactly what they were saying…or not saying. “You have such a pretty face but the rest of you is a mess!” I grew up with parents who would not let you leave the table until you had “cleaned” your plate. It didn’t matter if that plate held enough food to feed a longshoreman who was coming off a fast. “Waste not ,want not” was my mother’s mealtime mantra, along with the admonition to remember the starving children all over the world. (I couldn’t believe that even they wanted my Lima beans.)  My parents had lived through the Great Depression and there was a visceral satisfaction in being able to feed a family of nine. Consequently my six sisters and I have battled with weight for most of our lives, with varying degrees of success. Since society, explicitly or implicitly, condemns physical “abundance,” we have also battled with self image, once again with varying degrees of success.

While everyone wants to look good, young women are especially vulnerable to criticism of their appearance. They respond in different ways and their efforts to cope are chronicled in numerous books, both fiction and non-fiction. Some adopt a “take me or leave me” attitude, while others embark on a lose and gain and lose and gain and lose and gain cycle of frustration. Check out some of these books which deal, sometimes humorously, with the struggle. In the Young Adult fiction section, there’s Artichoke’s Heart by Suzanne Supplee, Accidental Love by Gary Soto and Vintage Veronica by Erica Perl, among many others. Positive image advice can be found in books such as You’d Be So Pretty Ifby Dara Chadwick and You Have to Say I’m Pretty, You’re My Mother by Stephanie Pierson. If you want to find fashion tips for those who are amply endowed and want to hide or embellish it, check out Does This Make me Look Fat by Leah Feldon or Pretty Plus by Babe Hope. For pudgy preschoolers, there’s I Get So Hungry by Bebe Moore Campbell at one end and I Like Me by Nancy Carlson at the other end.

The campaign against obesity, especially in children, is necessary and laudable, as long as it’s about health and not appearance. “You’ve lost weight!! You look wonderful!! (now that you don’t have to walk sideways to get through the door) could be replaced by “I see that you’ve lost some weight. How do you feel?”  I know, I know. Reality check. However if some misguided person now dares to say “pretty face” to me, I smile politely and say “Thank you. And the rest of me is very nice too.” By the way, Miss Manners does not approve of  making personal comments. Oh, but that’s the January 25th blog.

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