Book Review: Make Lemonade

Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff

SUMMARY: Jolly is seventeen. She can't really spell. She doesn't have much of a job. And she has two little kids from two different, absent fathers. Jolly knows she can't cope with Jilly and Jeremy all by herself. So she posts a notice on the school bulletin board: BABYSITTER NEEDED BAD. No one replies but Verna LaVaughn, who's only fourteen. How much help can she be? For a while, Jolly, Jilly, Jeremy, and LaVaughn are an extraordinary family. Then LaVaughn takes the first steps toward building her own future, and Jolly begins the long slow process of turning the lemons of her life into lemonade. (from the inside flap)

OPINION: This free verse novel has been around for a while (1993), but it is still worth your time. LaVaughn is wholly concerned with going to college and getting out of the ghetto. The babysitting job seems like an attractive way to regularly add money to her bank account. What she doesn't count on is actually liking Jolly and her kids, wanting to support them, and getting on the bad side of her own strong-willed mother in the process. This book breaks down a lot of stereotypes about teen mothers, poverty, and joblessness (interestingly, without ever assigning race to the characters). And LaVaughn proves that tough love isn't the only kind of love that can change the lives of others. This is a great "classic" YA book that I have never read before! I highly recommend it. Also, if you like it, look for the sequel, True Believer.


Book Review: Absolutely, Positively Not

Absolutely, Positively Not by David LaRochelle

SUMMARY: In a touching, sometime hilarious coming-out story, Steven DeNarski, 16, tries to deny he is gay. He covers his Superman posters with pictures of women in skimpy bikinis and lacy lingerie, and he follows the aversion therapy prescribed in a parents' handbook for getting over his "deviant" desires and awakening his sluggish interest in girls. He hangs out with the hockey players and tries to start dating (even kissing), to the delight of his fussy mom and macho dad. It doesn't work. When he reluctantly tells his friend Rachel that he is gay, he has to restrain her from celebrating it to the world and "empowering" him at school. (from the Booklist review)

OPINION: This book is a totally frivolous, funny read. So many books featuring gay teens are heavy-handed or take things very seriously, but this is not one of them. Steven is a typical teen who is trying to figure out what is going on with himself. He obsesses over getting his driver's license. He tries dating girls (if you call playing Scrabble and helping clean out garages "dating"). He even takes a dog to the school dance, after an outragous lie to his mother completely backfires! Pick up this book if you need a quick and fun read.


Retouched Pretties

Yesterday, Marissa posted a link to Scott Westerfeld's blog on our blog, which was totally cool. She mentioned reading about crazy photo editing that completely alters how people look. That post was called Retouched Pretties. It was really frightening to see how easily people's looks can be manipulated. The site he links to for the retouched photos is amazing. You can roll your mouse over the pictures and see how they have been changed. I resolve to never feel bad when looking at a fashion magazine again!!



For anyone who has read this book i just wanted to ask: Don't you desperately want a hoverboard and/or bungee jacket?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! for those of you who haven't read this book it's really good and you're missing out. Oh and if you haven't read this book you r probably wondering what a bungee jacket and hover board are. A bungee jacket is described in this book to be a jacket that can sense when you are a certain distance from the ground. When you reach this distance the jacket pulls you up and then u spring for a little bit. (I relly want to do this!!!!!!!!!!) A hover board is kind of like a skate board but it has no wheels and it hovers a certain distance above metal. In the book two of the characters, Tally and Shay used hover borders to ride a roller coaster. can you imagine riding a roller coaster without the car and bar that holds you in? oh and i forgot just for safty the hover board also has crash bracelets that suspend u over the board if you fall off. at one point in the story Tally has to ride without them. I would love to hover board but I think I'd keep my crash braclets on!

While visiting scott westerfeld's website i found out some interesting things that you might like to know. This year is my first year of computer graphics and so I thought this was very interesting.
http://www.scottwesterfeld.com/blog/ On this sight I found out that what you see in magazines and in movies can be edited beyond reality. Thhis means that your super model idol who you envy for having a perfect face could really be the ugliest thing in creation. I never thought about those little photoshop details before, but i guess they're important.
Have fun reading

Book Review: Pretties

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

SUMMARY: Gorgeous. Popular. Perfect. Perfectly wrong. Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she's completely popular. It's everything she's ever wanted. But beneath all the fun--the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom--is a nagging sense that something's wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally's ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what's wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold. Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life--because the authorities don't intend to let anyone with this information survive. (from the back cover)

OPINION: I just finished this late last night, and I couldn't have timed it better since Marissa put up a post about Uglies this morning! I thought Uglies ended with a cliffhanger, but the ending of Pretties is just plain evil. How dare Scott Westerfeld keep us in suspense like this??!! I can't wait for May 9, when Specials comes out! From the first book, I like hoverboards and bungee jackes too. From this book, I want a flash tattoo that moves in time with my heartbeat. Totally bubbly and very pretty-making! This book kept me interested from beginning to end with action, strange discoveries, and convoluted plot twists. Read it ASAP.


New Brent Hartinger Book!

Grand & Humble by Brent Hartinger
Release Date: February 1, 2006

Yesterday, I finished reading an ARC (advance reading copy) of Brent Hartinger's new book Grand & Humble. It is told in alternating chapeters by two high school boys, Harlan and Manny. Harlan is popular, athletic, and the son of a senator; Manny is a theater geek and son of a single father. They don't know each other, but they are having similar premonitions about accidents and death. Panic attacks and nightmares become commonplace for both boys, until they discover the solution at the downtown intersection of Grand and Humble. This book is a psycholgical thriller, but it is not scary. How is that possible? Visit Brent's website to find out more and to read the first chapter!


Printz Award Announced!

Today is the big day for the American Library Association to announce its yearly awards. You all know about the Newbery, the Caldecott, and the Coretta Scott King Awards, but, as teens, you all should know about the Printz too! The Michael L. Printz Award is given for excellence in young adult literature. For 2006, the awards went to:

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson
John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth by E. Partridge
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

The Newbery Award and Coretta Scott King Award also sometimes honor books of interest to teens or books that were published as YA. This year a YA book, Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins, won the Newbery Medal. Also, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale and Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti won Newbery Honors. Julius Lester won the Coretta Scott King Author Award for his YA book Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue. Author Honors went to A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson, Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes, and Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden. The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award went to the YA book Jimi & Me by Jamie Adoff.

The award books this year are a great mix of fiction, nonfiction, novels in verse, poetry, and short stories. There is something for everyone. Start reading!!


Purple and Gold

Most of you know that I graduated from Elkton High, proud home of the grammatically incorrect Elkton Elks. I have to say, though, at least our mascot isn't a tree! (Sorry, Upper Darby High. The only place there are fighting trees is in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.) Nonetheless, EHS and UDHS do have one thing in common...our school colors. Here is a quote from a teen book I read recently on that topic:

"Our school colors are actually purple and gold--colors which go together--but the athletic uniforms, the flag, and just about all other school memorabilia come in purple and yellow. Yellow is not the same color as gold, but whoever orders stuff for our school apparently thinks we won't notice the difference. This is probably the reason our teams always lose. I mean, how can you psych out the other team when you're dressed as if Barney the dinosaur and Big Bird got together to create your uniform?"

--From Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List by Jeanette Rallison


Book Review: Can't Get There from Here

Can't Get There from Here by Todd Strasser

SUMMARY: Her street name is Maybe. She lives with a tribe of homeless teens--runaways and throwaways, kids who have no place to go other than the cold city streets, and no family except for one another. Abused, abandoned, and forgotten, they struggle against the cold, hunger, and constant danger. With the frigid winds of January comes a new girl: Tears, a twelve-year-old whose mother doesn't believe her stepfather abuses her. As the other kids start to disappear--victims of violence, addiction, and exposure--Maybe tries to help Tears get off the streets...if it's not already too late. (from the inside flap)

OPINION: This book is a short and powerful discussion of teen homelessness. This is more of a problem than you might think. Many teens each year run away from foster care, abusive parents, and other negletful adults. Where do they end up? On the streets or in the underground economy of sex and drugs. Can't Get There from Here is not graphic in its discussion, but it does deal with these serious issues in a straigtforward manner. Running away from home may seem like a solution to family problems, but it creates a whole other set of troubles. I recommend this book for those of you who like their realistic fiction on the tough and gritty side.


Bubble Gum

I have never met a person who didn't like bubble gum. Having braces in middle school killed me because I couldn't have it. As soon as I got them off, I went to BJ's and bought the biggest container of gum I could find. I chewed it all myself! This idea for this list of links came from Gloria and Davida in the PEP Program.

General Sites

Read the "tips from professionals" page to find out how to blow huge bubbles.

How was gum created? Who made it popular? Find out at this site. (Suggested by Jahne' and Vala)

Read this encyclopedia article to find out about the history of gum and how to blow huge bubbles. (Suggested by Gloria J.)

Brands of Bubble Gum

Find out how gum is made from the manufacturers of Hubba Bubba, Bubble Tape, and Big League Chew. You can also play some fun games at this site.

The Bubblicious website includes information on LeBron James, who they named a bubble gum flavor after! You can also download screensavers and create a Virtual Buddy. (suggested by Gloria Y.)

The homepage of Dubble Bubble lets you take a factory tour, find out the history of gum, share your gum stories, and play games.

Bazooka bubble gum's page has comics, trivia, and history. It also introduces Bazooka Joe's new gang.


Book Review: Pop Princess

Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn

SUMMARY: When fifteen-year-old Wonder Blake is plucked from her job at the Dairy Queen and given the chance to become a teen idol, it seems like a dream come true--even if it wasn't her dream, but her older sister Lucky's. Lucky was on her way to becoming a pop star when she died, and Wonder and her family are still trying to recover from their loss. Offered a recording contract, Wonder jumps at the chance to escape from a dead-end town, her fractured family, and worst of all, high school. Suddenly she has it all: a hot new look, a chart-busting hit single, a tour opening up for superstar Kayla. But stardom isn't all glamour--it's also lots of work. And maybe what Wonder really wants is as simple as a guy who likes her for herself.

OPINION: This is an appropriate title to review today because the fifth season of American Idol starts tonight! (Yes, I will be watching.) If you have ever dreamed of being the next big star, Rachel Cohn's book gives a realistic look at the lifestyle. Screaming fans? Check. Killer workouts? Check. Parties? Check. Hangovers afterwards? Check. It's all here: the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of being the princess of pop, even if it's just for a moment. This book is pure bubble gum pop, just like the song one-hit Wonder records. But it's a lot of fun to read!


Libba Bray Interview

For all of you loved A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels, here is an interview with Libba Bray from the Newsweek website! Unfortunately, she doesn't mention Kartik (*sigh*), but she does mention other interesting tidbits in a most amusing way. Enjoy!


Book Review: Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List

Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List by Janette Rallison
SUMMARY: Sixteen year-old Jessica dreams of Hollywood fame, and when Jordan moves into her small town, she dreams of him too. He’s a movie star’s son, and hey, he’s gorgeous to boot. Jordan has always wanted to get out from the shadow cast by his superstar father, but now that he and his mother have moved so far away from LA, how can he get his divorced parents back together? Jessica convinces Jordan the way to get his father to come for a long visit is to be a part of the school play. And if she’s “discovered” in the process, all the better. Things go wrong when she lets Jordan’s secret identity slip, and grow even more disastrous when the principal tries to change West Side Story into a gangfree, violence-free, politically correct production.

OPINION: Maybe it's just because I'm a theater geek, but this book made me laugh out loud! Their production of West Side Story is totally over-the-top, even before the principal steps in and completely (illegally) changes the script. Of course, this book is total chicklit, full of cute boys, spying younger sisters, backstabbing cheerleaders, and other typical characters. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it because there are not a lot of teen humor books written for female readers. And this book was legitimately funny all the way through. Pick it up when you need a laugh!


Huge Yu-Gi-Oh Tournament!

Tonight was our biggest Yu-Gi-Oh Tournament ever! We had 35 competitors and 3 judges all crammed into the upstairs program room. (I had to turn on the air conditioning!) The tournament went really well, with a lot of regular TCG club members in attendance, as well as some new faces.

One potentially bad decision was to let Troy compete, even though he had won a previous tournment, because he "wasn't a threat." Ha! He made it to the very last round, only to be beaten by Greg. Go Greg! It was a close call!

The top four finishers each won a candy bar. Greg and Troy both won packs of Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Greg also got a South Park magnetic dart board. Greg joins Tariq, Alan, and Troy on the library Yu-Gi-Oh tournament winners list. It was a great competition and I hope everyone had a good time. We will probably do it again in the summer.



OK, so it's wishful thinking considering that it is supposed to go up near 60 degrees today (!), but here are some fun sites about SNOW! This topic was suggested by Natanya in the PEP after-school program.

Snow Crystals
This great page was created by a Caltech physics professor. It has tons of info. about natural and man-made snow, the physics of snow, even snow tourism!
All About Snow
Read their Q & A, or check out links about snow events like blizzars and avalanches. This website is from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Find out snow basics, as well as random facts, from this encyclopedia article.
2006 Winter Olympics
The Winter Olympics will be held in Torino, Italy, beginning on February 10. Get ready for all those great winter events, like the Biathalon! (That's the one where they cross-country ski and then shoot guns at targets. I'm not lying.)

Online Games:
Snow Game Show
Take this true and false quiz to see how much you know about snow.
Interactive Backcountry Tour
Go on a ski tour through the backcountry, and try to avoid bad weather and avalanches!
Snowball Fight
Try to beat this other team in this Shockwave snowball fight game.
Snow Blitz
Choose your character and battle other kids in the town to get points.

Local Weather:
When will it snow here? I have no idea, but you could always check the 10-day forecast for Upper Darby. And if you like to ski or snowboard, check out the Pennsylvania Snow Report for the latest info on all the slopes in our state!


Chris Crutcher Comic!

This past Sunday's Unshelved cartoon featured Chris Crutcher's autobiography King of the Mild Frontier! Go read it! Unshelved is a daily cartoon about library issues. And if you haven't read Chris Crutcher's autobiography yet, we have the paperback and the audiobook.

Book Review: Drowning Anna

Drowning Anna by Sue Mayfield

SUMMARY: When Anna Goldsmith moves from her posh city school to a small town, everyone's gossiping. Her accent makes her stick out a mile away, while her near-perfect grades set her apart as a teacher's pet. But when the most popular girl in school, captivating and witty Hayley Parkin, befriends Anna, she couldn't be more thrilled. Then Hayley begins her cruel games. What starts as innocent teasing leads to mean remarks, and even violence, toward frightened Anna. But Hayley's cunning leaves a deeper impression on Anna than anyone, even her best friend Melanie, could have ever anticipated. (from the inside flap)

OPINION: There are a lot of books for teens that deal with themes of bullying. Many of them are extreme and do not reflect the day-to-day truths of school life. This book, however, is disturbingly close to reality. Hayley does not beat Anna up or steal her lunch money or engage in other bullying behaviors often seen in books. Instead, she calls Anna names, passes nasty notes, writes things on the board, and turns the other students against Anna. This may not seem like much, but it affects Anna in a devistating way. The worst part is that Hayley never gets caught, or even suspected of this behavior, by teachers or parents. If you have seen a school bully in action, you will recognize Hayley as the real thing. (PS--Amy from book group recommended this book to me.)


Gangsta Website Translator!

Man, This is so funny! Man, It completely changed this entire blog! Here's the blog translated: http://sites.gizoogle.com/?url=http://sellerslibraryteens.blogspot.com. WARNING: I have no idea if you want to see this but there is EXPLICIT CONTENT on this, If you're offended by EXPLICIT CONTENT, DONT CLICK! YOU WILL BE SORRY!!!

Book Reviews: The Face on the Milk Carton series

Books in the Series by Caroline B. Cooney:
  • The Face on the Milk Carton
  • Whatever Happened to Janie?
  • The Voice on the Radio
  • What Janie Found

Summary: The story begins when Janie sees a picture of a missing child on a milk carton...and realizes it is herself at age 3. Memories of an earlier life start to resurface, and she realizes that she was kidnapped! But how? And by whom? In the four books, Janie tries to put back together the pieces of her fragmented life.

Opinion: Some of you may have read The Face on the Milk Carton for summer reading a few years ago. I remember reading it for fun as a teen (yes, it's been around for a while). I picked it up again last Monday, and ended up reading all four of the books in the series in one week. They are not hard reading, but the plot is very gripping. I had to read all four, just to find out how the story developed. These books have it all: hate, fear, kidnapping, romance, travel...you name it! If you are looking for a suspenseful read, I suggest checking out this series.



One of the teens at last week's beauty product event asked for recipes to try some things at home. Below are some we used at the event, plus a few extras for you to try! If you want to find more recepies, look at these sites:

Kitchen, Crafts & More
Make Your Cosmetics
Natural Beauty

Bath Soaking Salts
* 2 1/2 cups Epsom salts (available at drug stores)
* 1/2 cup Kosher salt (available at grocery stores)
* 1 cup baking soda
* Up to 5 drops of food coloring and 3 drops of food flavoring (for scent)
Mix Epsom salts, Kosher salt, and baking soda in bowl. Put small amount of mixture in another bowl and stir in food coloring and flavoring, mixing well. Combine all ingredients and stir well. Pour mixture into a container for storage. Use a few tablespoons in your bathwater.

Body Glitter
* 3 tablespoons of aloe vera gel (clear, blue, or green)
* 1/8 teaspoon of cosmetic grade glitter (available at craft stores)
Mix gel and glitter in a bowl. Store in a small container. Use on your arms, neck, face, and even your hair!

Body Scrub
* washcloth
* rubber band
* 1 cup oatmeal
Place oatmeal in center of washcloth. Gather edges and fasten with rubber band. Use in the shower or tub for a facial, or for an all-over body scrub. Oatmeal is great for dry or sensitive skin. After use, undo rubber band and throw the oatmeal away.

Hand Treatment
* 4 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon sugar
Mix olive oil and sugar. Gently rub mixture into your hands and nails. Leave on for 5-10 minutes, then rinse off. (For really soft hands, cover with cotton gloves and leave on overnight.) Discard remaining mixture.

Microwave Lip Gloss
* 2 tablespoons petroleum jelly (Vaseline)
* 1/4 teaspoon lipstick (any color)
* 4 drops cinnamon oil (or any flavor candy oil)
Place petroleum jelly in small microwave container. Top with lipstick. Microwave for 20-30 seconds on high power, or until mixture has softened (not melted). Blend well. Mix in cinnamon oil. Store in small container.


Book Group...Live and Uncensored!

Today, the YA book group met to discuss Fahrenheit 451. I have to say that the conversation was great, especially for a classic book that I wasn't sure would work for our group! I wish we had more time for discussion, even though we talked for 45 minutes as it was.

At the end of the book, people memorized works of literature so they wouldn't be lost. In our group, people said they would choose to memorize everything from Harry Potter book 7 (!) to Anthem to The Odyssey. Someone even chose to memorize Fahrenheit 451 itself, which I thought was very clever.

Next month, we will be reading Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I can't wait!

Books on Censorship

Since Fahrenheit 451 deals with topics of censorship, here are some YA books with censorship themes that you might want to look for:
  • The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher
  • The Trouble with Mothers by Margery Facklam
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  • The Year They Burned the Books by Nancy Garden
  • The Day They Came to Arrest the Book by Nat Hentoff
  • Phoebe by Marilyn Kaye
  • Memoirs of a Bookbat by Kathryn Lasky
  • Maudie and Me and the Dirty Book by Betty Miles
  • A Small Civil War by John Neufeld
  • The Last Safe Place on Earth by Richard Peck
  • The Trials of Molly Sheldon by Julian F. Thompson


Best Books for Young Adults

We recently got a pamphlet from YALSA that contains a list of 100 great fiction and nonfiction books for teens. There are some familiar novels in the bunch, such as Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson or Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman. But there are a lot of books you may not have read yet, such as Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going, or Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos. Browse the display by the teen corner and pick up your copy of the pamphlet today!


New Year, New You

Are you looking for a fresh start this year? Check out our teen nonfiction section! Here are some titles you might be interested in looking for:

  • The Code: The Five Secrets of Teen Success by Mawi Asgedom
  • Teen Dream Jobs: How to Find the Job You Really Want Now! by Nora E. Coon
  • Um, Like...Om: A Girl Goddess's Guide to Yoga by Evan Cooper
  • Life Lists for Teens: Tips, Steps, Hints, and How-Tos for Growing UP, Getting Along, Learning, and Having Fun by Pamela Espeland
  • The Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating: Real-World Advice on Guys, Girls, Growing Up, and Getting Along by Annie Fox
  • The Ultimate Weight Solution for Teens: The Seven Keys to Weight Freedom by Jay McGraw
  • The Crafty Diva's DIY Stylebook by Kathy Cano Murillo
    The African American Student's Guide to Excellence in College by Brian Peterson
  • Vegetables Rock! A Complete Guide for Teenage Vegetarians by Stephanie Pierson
  • Get Strong! Body by Jake's Guide to Building Confidence, Muscles, and a Great Future for Teenage Guys by Jake Steinfeld
  • Style Trix for Cool Chix: Your One-Stop Guide to Finding the Perfect Look by Leanne Warrick