Book Review: The Bar Code Tattoo

The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn

SUMMARY: The bar code tattoo. Everybody's getting it. It will make your life easier, they say. It will hook you in. It will become your identity. But what if you say no? What if you don't want to become a code? For Kayla, this one choice changes everything. She becomes an outcast in her high school. Dangerous things happen to her family. There's no option but to run . . . for her life. (from the back cover)

OPINION: Sara A. recommended that I put this on the voting sheet for YA Book Discussion Group. But first I had to read it! It didn't take me long. I was totally hooked by the dystopian storyline. In the not-so-distant future, the bar code tattoo records important information about your life, but also contains a more sinister application. The author does a great job of incorporating how today's credit cards, Social Security numbers, and driver's licences could lead to tomorrow's global infomation corporation controlling our lives. Scary stuff! This book will be on our next voting sheet for sure!


Today's Get Real, Get Fit! Program

This afternoon, 19 teens and parents attended our Get Real, Get Fit! program, called "Small Changes for Big Health Results." Two staff members from the YMCA and myself ran the program. We had fun learning health and wellness info from our video, discussion, and hands-on activities. Everyone was surprised how much sugar is in a can of Coke and how small a serving of potato chips is! Adam was the winner of the $25 Modell's gift card, and everyone took home a dynaband for exercising. Each family also got a bag with lots of health and nutrition information to take home.

If you missed this GRGF event, there are two more coming up in October and November. Check at the library or YMCA for more information.

I have some great photos from this afternoon's program, but I won't be able to post them until I return from the state library conference on Wednesday evening. So check back later for photos!


Get Real, Get Fit!

GRGF is a program we are doing with the YMCA this Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00 at the library. It is part of a grant we got to do programs about health and wellness for teens and parents. You can come with a parent or by yourself...or you can send a parent over and stay home! We will watch a video, eat snacks, do some simple exercises, and explore portion sizes and calories. Everyone who comes can also enter to win a $25 gift card to Modell's sporting goods store. You don't even have to sign up. Just show up on Sunday!

PS--You know all the cool new books in the Teen Corner? A lot of them were purchased with GRGF $$$!

Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

SUMMARY: Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket. In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat. The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist. Because of envelope 4, Ginny and her artist, a playwright/thief/bloke-about-town called Keith, go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous--though utterly romantic--results. Ginny isn't sure she'll see Keith again, and definitely doesn't know what to think about him. Could the answer be in the envelopes? Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 Little Blue Envelopes. (adapted from the back cover)

OPINION: At the beginning of this book, I was a little skeptical. The envelope idea seemed too much like a writing device, and you know I hate that. But then the story started to take off, and by the end I was totally hooked. The envelopes affect the story in that not too much of the plot is revealed at once. The author definitely reserves some great surprises for the later envelopes, though. This story is a cross between chick-lit and a travelogue, with a healthy dose of the arts. Read it all at once...or one envelope at a time!


I Didn't Study This in Library School

You know, no amount of education can prepare you for some events. Like tonight, when some kids brought a CHICKEN into the library. They found it wandering around in the parking lot. I told them to take it outside and let it go. Then I had to call 911!

The conversation went like this:
"911. State your emergency."
"It's not really an emergency. There's a chicken in our parking lot."
"A what?"
"You know, a hen."
"A chicken!!!???"

So they sent out Animal Control to capture the chicken with a net and a cage! Apparently, one of the neighbors has some illegal chickens! Either that, or it escaped from KFC...


Book Review: Heir Apparent

Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

SUMMARY: For her 14th birthday, Giannine Bellisario receives a gift certificate for 1/2 hour of total immersion virtual reality gaming. Crossing a picket line formed by CPOC (Citizens to Protect Our Children) to enter, she decides to use her certificate for a game called Heir Apparent. But when the demonstrators damage the center while she is playing, Giannine must win the game in order to escape permanent brain injury. The problem is that her half brothers and the hostile queen have treacherous plans to keep the crown for themselves. And every time she dies, Giannine has to start the game all over again.

OPINION: This book takes place in the not-too-distant future, when virtual reality gaming is more sophisticated than it is now. In fact, it is so realistic that Giannine could die from the effects of damaged equipment, unless she manages to win the game by being crowned king! She eventually starts to learn from her mistakes, after being poisoned, stabbed, and beheaded so many times that she is running out of time to save her real life! This is a good book to pick up for Banned Books Week (September 25 to October 1, 2005), since it deals with a similar situation: CPOC parents protesting video games with signs like "Magic = Satanism" and "Inappropriate for Our Children."


Shake It, Don't Break It!

Last night, 11 teens came to our fall DDR event. Everyone had a great time dancing, no matter what their level was. We had everything from Beginner to Heavy going on. In our mini-tournament (only 8 participants), Paul came out on top and won a Devil Duckie. After that, we took a Karaoke break. People sang everything from "Walk Like an Egyptian" to "Amazing Grace" to Run DMC's "It's Tricky." It was so much fun that we decided to do a teen Karaoke/Donkey Konga event in the winter!! We finished off the evening with a few more rounds of DDR. Thanks to everyone who showed up! It was great!


Book Review: The Last Chance Texaco

The Last Chance Texaco by Brett Hartinger (NEW!)

SUMMARY: Lucy Pitt is 15 when she is sent to Kindle Home, a group home and her last chance at a semi-normal life. If she makes any errors, she'll be sent to the high-security facility known as Eat-Their-Young Island. Kindle Home is different from the other places she's lived: it's a decaying mansion staffed by counselors who actually seem to care. Lucy realizes that she wants to stay there, and although she manages to weather the consequences of her own impulsive tendencies, she can't control the lack of funding that threatens the Home or the arson that is causing the neighbors to become even more leery of having such an establishment nearby. (adapted from the School Library Journal review)

OPINION: This book is small, short, and tells a unique story. Teens in foster care usually get the short end of the stick. They are older than the kids who typically get adopted and a lot of them have been in the system for a while. Lucy has to deal with typical teen concerns, while having no parents, living in a house full of messed-up kids, and going to a school where people hate her. It's no wonder she punches out a guy who picks on her...and that's only the beginning! This book is a realistic look at teens in foster care, and it's an engaging story as well. (PS--You might recognize the name of the author because he also wrote Geography Club. )


Get Real, Get Fit!

How much fruit juice is actually in your fruit drink?
How can you fit exercise into your busy schedule?
How big is one serving of potato chips?
Why should you care?

Join us at one of three locations for a health and wellness program for teens and parents! Enjoy a video, hands-on activities, simple exercises, and food (of course).

Sunday, September 25 from 2:00 to 4:00
Sellers Library (76 S. State Rd. in Upper Darby)

Tuesday, October 11, from 6:30 to 8:30
Upper Darby Welcome Center (7000 Walnut St. in Upper Darby)

Tuesday, November 8 from 6:30 to 8:30
Primos Library (409 Ashland Ave. in Primos)

Registration for all three programs is going on now! You may register by calling Sellers Library (610-789-4440), Primos Library (610-622-8091), or the Lansdowne YMCA (610-259-1661).


More ARC Opinions

Advance Reading Copies of books come from publishers to try to get people excited about new books. All of these have already come out, but I am a little behind in my reading!

NASTYbook by Barry Yourgrau
On Sale: April 26, 2005
This collection of very short vignettes relies on gross-outs, creepy characters, and just-desserts endings to keep the reader's interest. But it got old really fast. There's no plot, just a bunch of disconnected 3-page stories. It would be so much better if the stories contributed to a whole, or if some common thread ran through them. Go watch old Twilight Zone episodes to get the same effect in a much more interesting way. Or, better yet, borrow some Edgar Allan Poe or Alfred Hitchcock short stories from the library!

Fake ID by Walter Sorrells
On Sale: June 2, 2005
16-year-old Chass knows that she and her mother are on the run, always moving to new towns and creating new identities. But when her mother goes missing, Chass has only a few days to find out WHY. There are not very many worthwhile teen mysteries out there, but this is one of the few and the proud! It has great suspense and many creepy elements...from a skull in the basement to a chase scene in an abandoned mill. Fake ID is a must read! This gripping mystery is from the same imprint as Double Helix by Nancy Werlin, which our YA book group read recently and really liked.

The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne by Barry Jonsberg
On Sale: June 14, 2005
Classmates Calma and Kiffo are sure that their evil new English teacher, the aptly-named Miss Payne, is involved in illegal activities. But the harder they try to find out her secrets, the more innocent she seems. Is Miss Payne a criminal, or just a harsh teacher? This story seems like it should be funny and exciting, but it's not. I didn't even finish reading it. It is a great concept, but a not a good read!

The Lambkins by Eve Bunting
On Sale: August 1, 2005
Crazy Mrs. Shepherd thinks she is a patron of the arts because she snatches talented kids, shrinks them, and lets them work on their talents while living in her dollhouse. This is a quick read, and is really horrifying in concept. My complaints: the writing is unteresting at times and the ending is really lame--totally deux-ex-machina. Still, if you are a fantasy horror reader, pick this book up...and don't help anyone (even nice middle-aged ladies) change their flat tires!


Books about Starting High School

If you are a freshman this year, you might want to read about other people's experiences. Believe me, some of these books will make you feel a lot better about your life!!!

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Conditions of Love by Ruth Pennebaker
Contents Under Pressure by Lara Zeises
If It Doesn't Kill You by Margaret Bechard
Inventing Elliot by Graham Gardner
Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws by Janette Rallison
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Rhymes with Witches by Lauren Myracle
Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won the Girl by Debra Garfinkle
The True Meaning of Cleavage by Mariah Fredericks

High School, the Real Deal by Colleen Rush