Today's Craft Closet Cleanout only had 5 attendees, but everyone went home with completed crafts. Among other projects, Shannon made a Pop-Tart cozy for her new iPod, Katie made two cute beaded flowers for her hair, and Genni added beading to a purse. People also made robot key chains, team spirit ponytail holders, magnets, Valentines, and more! We will do the CCC again in March, so check the schedule!


Books Selected by the TAB

The Teen Advisory Board helped me chose tons of new books for the teen area at the Barnes and Noble fundraiser on December 6. They are on the shelf and ready to be checked out! Here's what we bought:

  • Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Courtin' Jayd by L. Divine (Drama High #6)
  • Lady J by L. Divine (Drama High #5)
  • Troy by Adele Geras
  • The Devouring by Simon Holt
  • Burned by Ellen Hopkins
  • Identical by Ellen Hopkins
  • The Greek Who Stole Christmas by Anthony Horowitz (Diamond Brothers Mystery)
  • A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (replacement copy; read my review)
  • Girl at Sea by Marueen Johnson
  • Hot Girl by Dream Jordan
  • Heat by Mike Lupica
  • The Lost City of Faar by D. J. MacHale (Pendragon #2)
  • The Merchant of Death by D. J. MacHale (Pendragon #1)
  • The Never War by D. J. MacHale (Pendragon #3)
  • The Reality Bug by D. J. MacHale (Pendragon #4)
  • Cut by Patricia McCormick
  • Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy series)
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (additional copy)
  • Handbook for Boys: A Novel by Walter Dean Myers
  • Bliss by Lauren Myracle
  • Breathe My Name by R. A. Nelson
  • Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe) by Kimberly Pauley
  • Dead Is the New Black by Marlene Perez (read a review by Kaitlyn B.)
  • Skinned by Robin Wasserman
  • Generation Dead by Daniel Waters (read reviews by Meg and Caitlin C.)


  • Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances with stories by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
  • Love Is Hell with stories by Melissa Marr, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Gabrielle Zevin and Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • Guiness World Records 2009
  • Spore: Official Game Guide
  • The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series by Lois H. Gresh
  • Azumanga Daioh #1 by Kiyohiko Azuma
  • Azumanga Daioh #2 by Kiyohiko Azuma
  • Azumanga Daioh #3 by Kiyohiko Azuma
  • Azumanga Daioh #4 by Kiyohiko Azuma
  • Jim Henson's Return to the Labryinth #1 by Jake T. Forbes and Chris Lie


Urban and African American Teen Books

If you like urban and/or African American teen fiction, here are some recently released and upcoming books to look for:
  • Friends ’Til the End (2/09) by ReShonda Tate Billingsley shows how everything is working out for The Good Girlz, until an unexpected tragedy throws everyone for a loop.
  • Kendra (10/08) by Coe Booth creates the vivid voice of a teen trying to find her place in the world, even though nothing is what she thought it would be.
  • Beacon Hills High (9/08) by Mo’Nique Jackson offers a girl’s coming-of-age story, with 21st-century challenges.
  • If Only You Knew: A Hotlanta Novel (10/08) by Denene Millner and Mitzi Miller finds Sydney reeling from a breakup, while at the center of an unfolding murder mystery.
  • India (10/08) and Veronique (3/09) by Victoria Christopher Murray follow four African-American teen girls who form their own singing group.
  • Amiri and Odette: A Love Story (1/09) by Walter Dean Myers is part poem, part love story, part rap and rhapsody, and book celebrates two hearts that beat together on the mean streets.
  • Dope Sick (2/09) by Walter Dean Myers spins a harrowing urban tale of recreational drug use, violence, perceptions of reality, and second chances.
  • Chameleon (9/08) by Charles R. Smith Jr. evokes the bittersweet summer of transition for an inner-city Los Angeles teen.
  • Trouble in My Way (11/08) by Michelle Stimpson follows Keris, a good-but-grounded teen trying to bend the rules.
  • Hollywood & Maine (1/09) by Allison Whittenberg is about tenth-grader Charmaine experiencing both her first romance and the dream of becoming a Hollywood celebrity.
  • Jumped (3/09) by Rita Williams-Garcia is a gritty novel about bullying and its consequences.


Book Review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
(Click on the book cover to see which libraries own it.)

SUMMARY: On December 6, 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon was brutally murdered. From her perch in heaven (which looks a lot like her school playground), Susie watches over her family and friends as they pick up the pieces of their lives and move on. But when her father starts a risky quest to find her killer, everything changes.

OPINION: This is a book written for adults that has high teen appeal. The storytelling style is very unique because its gentle tone softens the true evilness of a child predator and murder. Grief and loss have never been so interesting, let alone miraculous. If you liked A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer or Elswhere by Gabrielle Zevin, this book may be a good choice for you. It's a tough read at times, so only pick it up if you are ready to have a good cry!


Book Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
(Click on the cover to see which libraries own it.)

SUMMARY: Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a year-long coma, and she's still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. Her parents show her home movies of her life, but she has no recollection. Is she really the same girl she sees on the screen? Little by little, Jenna begins to remember. Along with the memories come questions--questions no one wants to answer for her. What really happened after the accident? (from the inside flap)

OPINION: Most teen fiction takes place in a world where parents are uninvolved, unavailable, or maybe even dead. The Adoration of Jenna Fox is the exact opposite. Jenna was everything her parents hoped for, and their lives revolved around her. In America in the not-too-distant future, Jenna's family uses medical innovations to save their daughter's life. What starts like contemporary fiction quickly becomes dystopian as Jenna realizes that her parents may have gone too far to keep her alive. All good dystopian fiction has issues, and this book tackles tough questions of life and death, medical ethics, and parent-child relationships in ways that will keep you reading. I read this book in a day, and was only disappointed by the epilogue.

READ-ALIKE: If you liked this book, Eva by Peter Dickinson is a similar dystopian story that really impacted me when I read it.


Book Review: Before I Die

Before I Die by Jenny Downham
(Click on the cover to see which libraries own it.)

SUMMARY: Everyone has to die. We all know it. With only a few months of life left, sixteen-year-old Tessa knows it better than most. She's made a list, though, of things she wants to do before she dies. But getting what you want isn't easy. And getting what you want doesn't always give you what you need. And sometimes the most unexpected things become important. Uplifting, life-affirming, joyous--this extraordinary novel celebrates what it is to be alive by confronting what it's really like to die. (adapted from the inside flap)

OPINION: I was initially skeptical of this book because it came out at the same time as Chris Crutcher's book Deadline. Both books are about teens living out the last year of their lives with cancer. I thought, really, how many books like this do we need? But, as it turns out, we need both, because they are vastly different takes on the same subject. Deeply angry about her untreatable cancer, Tessa has quit school and dropped out of society, purposely alienating herself from friends and family. Only her list motivates her to get up and out of the house, and then it's usually for some illicit or illegal purpose. Tessa is not going to go meekly, and she wants the world to know. Sometimes. This book perfectly captures the ever-changing emotions that assault us when we are grieving. And, although you already know what happens at the end, it is well worth reading and crying your way through this story.


Black Friday at the Library

Yesterday afternoon, lots of teens ditched shopping in favor of hanging out at the library. First, six people showed up to make origami. Thank goodness for the animated instructions on Origami Club! We were able to figure out the directions when we had problems. After that, 18 people came to Anime Club. We ate noodles and watched several different shows. Tim and I also had prizes to give away, so a lot of people went home with something extra. This was our last Anime Club meeting of the year, but we will start back up at the end of January. Look for the winter schedule in mid-December!



I have found some great origami resources on the internet, so start folding! Or bring along an idea to our origami program this Friday. We will be making gift tags, boxes, or whatever, from 2:00 to 3:30.

Traditional Origami
This is my favorite site because it has tons of easy-to-follow patterns. And if you're hardcore, here's the site in Japanese.

Origami and Crafts
Written for cub scouts, this guide shows you how to make origami and then turn it into something else.

Money Origami
Don't have much to spend for a gift? Make one out of the money! I still have a pair of origami cowboy boots I got as a waitressing tip years ago.

More Origami
Find out how to make nontraditional items like rings, envelopes, and even edible items from origami!


Book Review: Little Brother

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
(click on the cover to see which libraries own it.)

SUMMARY: Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems. But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days. When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself. (adapted from the inside cover)

OPINION: This book is the most scarily possible dystopian fantasy that I have ever read, and yet it is also incredibly hopeful. Taking place in the not-too-distant future, Little Brother describes a great loss of freedom and privacy in the name of safety. Addressing questions important to Americans, particularly since September 11, this book takes reality one step further and shows how technology can be used to both dominate and liberate people. This book takes inspiration from Orwell's classic, 1984. Instead of allowing Big Brother to watch and control everyone, though, Marcus creates rebellion by inspiring thousands of Little Brothers to watch the watchers and outsmart them. As a long-time reader of this genre, I can say that this book is dystopian fiction at its best.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cory Doctorow is a famous techno-geek that you've probably never heard of. Find out more about him on his blogs, Craphound and Boing Boing, and read more of his books!

AMAZING FACT: Cory Doctorow invented the Paranoid Linux operating system for the purposes of this novel. Now some coders are actually writing it!

Book Swap and Comedy

On Saturday, 14 people came to our Book Swap and Comedy program. Almost everyone stayed the whole time, and 55 books got swapped! We watched Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which is completely implausible and yet extremely hilarious. We also enjoyed Men in Black, which is more of an action comedy. We ate food, lounged around, and even got the newest edition of the library zine assembled (thanks to Katie, Genni, and me). Look for more book swap events on the winter and spring schedules! And pick up a copy of our zine, What If..., at the next event you attend.


New to You

New books continue to be added to our tiny teen room, so come by and check out a few!

  • Princess on the Brink by Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries series)
  • LBD: It's a Girl Thing by Grace Dent (replacement)
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Paper Towns by John Green
  • Jazmin's Notebook by Nikki Grimes (signed by the author)
  • Summer of Secrets by Paul Langan (Bluford High series)
  • Heaven Looks A Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass (signed by the author)
  • Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass (signed by the author)
  • Leap Day by Wendy Mass (signed by the author)
  • The Search for the Red Dragon by James A. Owen (Chronicles of the Imaginarium series)
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (replacement)


Katie's Creations

Check out the Nintendo characters that Katie crocheted! My favorites are the star and the mushroom, but they all turned out really well. Katie made them all without patterns, which takes a lot of thought and skill. She brought them to display at Nintendo Night last week. Thanks, Katie! Do you take orders??


Book Review: Inventing Elliot

Inventing Elliot by Graham Gardner

(Click on the book cover to find out which libraries own it.)

SUMMARY: Teased by bullies in his old school, Elliot is determined to reinvent himself at his new high school by donning a cool, unflappable exterior. Ironically, the 14-year-old's aloofness earns the interest of an elite group of bullies, known as the Guardians, whose members target school losers for punishment in cruel and ritualistic ways. In this psychological drama, the outwardly congenial Guardian leaders, who are never seen "in the company of actual violence," recruit Elliot using control tactics adopted from their favorite book, George Orwell's 1984. Not as a victim, though; they want Elliot to become a Guardian. (adapted from the SLJ review)

OPINION: At one time or another, probably everyone has wished for a chance to start over at something. And, some days, starting over at a new school really does sound like a good idea! Elliot decides to make the most of his chance, and completely changes his outward appearance and demeanor at his new school. But, he goes too far the other way, and becomes untrue to himself. The psychological story builds up to a dramatically realistic conclusion. This book is an interesting study of the "self" we present to the world versus the "self" we are on the inside. My only complaint is that Elliot never read 1984. If he had, he would see how the Guardians were completely misrepresenting its message!

RECOMMENDATIONS: If you liked this book, look for:
  • Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  • Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn
  • The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga
  • The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci


Shiny Newness

One thing I am against is incomplete books in series, particularly if they are popular! In an effort to keep up, we just got these latest installments:
  • The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima (Heir series)
  • City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments series)
  • Revelations by Melissa de la Cruz (Blue Bloods series)
  • The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau (Ember series)
  • Rumors by Anna Godbersen (Luxe series)
  • Doomwyte by Brian Jacques (Redwall series)
  • The Indigo King by James A. Owen (Chronicles of the Imaginarium series)
  • Stop in the Name of Pants by Louise Rennison (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series)
  • The Coffin Club by Ellen Schreiber (Vampire Kisses series)


Nintendo Night

Last Friday, 27 teens packed our programming room for our fall Nintendo Night event. Everyone entered the Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament on the Wii, and 11 people tried the Mario Kart DS tournament. We also had fun with my original NES, especially since John E. brought his gun for Duck Hunt! After five rounds, Maher emerged victorious in the Brawl tournament, winning a $15 gift card to GameStop. In the Mario Kart tournament, Connor S. won a $10 gift card to GameStop.

Big thanks to Katie E., who displayed her crocheted Nintendo characters on the mantel for everyone to see. She has been working on them all fall, and made them all without a pattern. My favorites are the mushroom and the star, but they all looked great! I will get a picture of them on here soon. Thanks also to David for providing controllers and the Brawl game for the tournament.

If you missed this program, we will do another Nintendo Night in the winter with a new structure, so stay tuned!


Princess for President?

In the weeks leading up to the election, teens could vote for an author for president at our special windowsill display, called Elect to Read. The authors had to meet the basic qualifications: be born a citizen, have lived here for at least 14 years, and be at least 35 years old. And the winner is...Meg Cabot! Author of the Princess Diaries, among many other things, Meg got seven votes. Jerry Spinelli and Barry Lyga also did well in the voting.

I had three prizes to give away, based on people's reasons why they voted for a certain author. They didn't have to pick the winner, just defend their choice. Saranjeet had the best answer, and she wins a $10 Borders gift card. Katie E. and Genni had good answers as well, and they each win a copy of First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover by Mitali Perkins.

Thanks to everyone who entered!


Vampire Party

Last Friday, 14 teens came out to our after-school vampire party! We made vampire lollipops and fake blood, played a crazy trivia race game, watched a video clip of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and, of course, ate food. Our best snack was sandwich cookies decorated with fanged smiley faces! Genni and Max won mini-vampire plushies as prizes for their costumes, and the team that won the trivia game got vampire-mouth lollipops. They were like ring pops, only on a fanged mouth instead of a ring. I wish I had pictures. I do have pictures of us making crafts, so here they are:

Making fake blood.

Making lollipop vampires.

They look awfully happy to be holding bags of blood!

More finished bags of fake blood.

Vampire Crafts

Whether you missed our vampire party on Friday or just can't wait for the Twilight movie, here are some vampire crafts you can make at home:

Coffee Filter Vampire Bats
Garbage Bag Vampire
Origami Dracula Face
Realistic Vampire Bite Wound
Vampire Bite Cookies
Vampire Blood
Vampire-Inspired Necklace
Vampire Lollipops


New Nonfiction

Here are the new titles on our teen nonfiction shelves:
  • The Book Book: A Journey into Bookmaking by Sophie Benini-Pietromarchi
  • L Is for Lollygag: Quirky Words for a Clever Tongue by Chronicle Books
  • The Softer Side of Hip-Hop: Poetic Reflections on Love, Family, and Relationships by Laura Haskins-Bookser
  • Amigurumi Animals: 15 Patterns and Dozens of Techniques for Creating Cute Crochet Creatures by Annie Obaachan
  • Meet the Dancers: From Ballet, Broadway, and Beyond by Amy Nathan
  • Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You by Deborah Reber


Vampire Book Discussion Questions

Today, we are having a vampire book discussion group from 3:30 to 5:00. Bring your favorite books to share with the group!

If you miss the event, try these questions next time everyone is talking about the Twilight books or something:
  • Do you think vampires actually exist? How would they live in the modern world? Could they have existed more easily in the past? How?
  • Why do legends about creatures like vampires, werewolves, fairies, etc. get created and passed down?
  • Why do you think vampire books are so popular right now?
  • What characteristics does the author assign to vampires? Did this match your previous idea of what vampires are like?
  • How would you describe vampires, how they are created, and their lifestyles? Do you follow the traditional view, or has what you read changed your view of vampires?
  • Would you want to date a vampire in real life? Why or why not?
  • Are people inherently good or evil? What about vampires?
  • How do the vampires in this book compare to those in other books you’ve read?
  • What genre is this book? If you took out all the vampires, would it fit into another category?
  • Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why do you think you felt that way?
  • What themes did the author emphasize through the story? What do you think he or she is trying to teach the reader? Why did the author use vampires to help get across these themes?
  • Have you ever read a vampire book that you didn’t like? What did you not like about it? How could the author have improved it?
  • What kind of writing style do you prefer? Do you like more descriptive passages or more dialogue? Does the length of a book impact your interest in reading it? How about the viewpoint?


Allison Whittenberg

On Friday, 30 teens and 3 adults came out to meet author Allison Whittenberg! It was our first after-school author visit and our first visit by an African-American author. It was great to have such a big group! Allison talked a bit about her two current books, Sweet Thang and Life Is Fine. She also told us about Hollywood and Maine, a companion to Sweet Thang, which will be released in January 2009. We had a great question-and-answer period, and even talked about a few of my discussion questions for Sweet Thang. We finished up the program with snacks and a book signing.

One thing I learned is that Allison started her writing life with plays and poetry. Because of this, she uses a lot of dialogue and leaves space for the reader to fill in meaning in her novels. I really like her writing style because you can read it quickly, but still be actively engaged in the story. The humor in Sweet Thang reminded a lot of us of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. But Allison said that, although she has heard that comparison a lot, she has never read his book!

Thanks to everyone who showed up, especially the members of our Read & Rant Book Discussion Group. And big thanks to the Teen Advisory Board, whose active fundraising made this visit possible!!


Book Review: Everything Beautiful

Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell
(This book will be released on October 28, 2008.)

SUMMARY: Riley Rose, a nonreligious, self-proclaimed bad girl, has been tricked into attending Spirit Ranch, a Christian camp. There she meets Dylan Kier, an alumni camper and recent paraplegic, who arrives with a chip on his shoulder and a determination to perfect all of his bad habits. United in their personal suffering and in their irritation at their fellow campers, they turn the camp inside out as they question the meaning of belief systems, test their faith in each other, and ultimately settle a debate of the heart. (from the back cover)

OPINION: Having spent many weeks at Christian sleep-away camp, I can attest to the accuracy of the setting of this book. Anecdote: I once had a counselor whose given name was Heaven Lee Angel Baker. And I am totally not lying. Anyway, going to camp, even for a week, changes you in some way. And, just like this book, it's not always a religious experience that makes the difference. Something about getting outside of yourself, your friends, and your normal routines gives you the distance to think about things with more perspective. Riley is a tough female character who is comfortable with her large, shapely body, but not so comfortable with friendships and relationships. Living in close camp quarters definitely provides her with some food for thought! If you liked the challenging, strong, female main characters in Big Fat Manifesto, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, and Cupcake, this is a book for you.

AUTHOR INFO: Find out more about Simmone on her LJ, called post-teen trauma.


More Belt Crafts

If you missed our belt crafts event or have more outfits to match, why not try one of these projects at home?

Necktie Belt #2
This necktie belt can be made out of one tie. All you need are 2 D-rings for a belt buckle and some fabric glue.

Grosgrain Ribbon Belt
Two ribbons, two D-rings, and some iron-on bonding material make a cute contrasting belt.

Velvet Ribbon Belt
Similar to the above two belts, but much more dressy.

Funky Rounds Belt
Crochet your way to a cute multicolored belt.

Soda Tab Belt #2
Start drinking your soda...this one takes a lot of tabs!


Belt It!

Today, 5 teens showed up for our belt-making craft event. Everyone made three belts. First, we made a necktie belt from two contrasting ties. To wear it, you just tie it in a knot on the side so the two ties hang down the leg. Then, we did two projects from Dangles and Bangles by Sherri and Michelle Haab. One was made with soda tabs and safety pins, with beads added for cuteness. The other was a braided cloth belt that was very reminiscent of the 60s. It was great fun, and I hope everyone gets to wear all their new belts this week.

There are tons of things you can do with old neckties, by the way. Skirts, guitar straps, even s stuffed snake can be yours with some simple sewing. Check out this roundup of great necktie ideas! And if that's not enough, check out this blog!!


More New Items for You

I am going to start velcro-ing books to the ceiling if you don't come in and check them out! There is seriously no place for the new books to be shelved!!!

  • The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding (Cat Royal Adventure series)
  • Evernight by Claudia Gray
  • All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn
  • Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley
  • Sure Fire by Jack Higgins and Justin Richards
  • Maddigan's Fantasia by Margaret Mahy
  • Hotlanta by Denene Millner and Mitzi Millner
  • Game by Walter Dean Myers
  • First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover by Mitali Perkins (First Daughter series)
  • White House Rules by Mitali Perkins (First Daughter series)
  • Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt
  • Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Sherri L. Smith
  • Larry and the Meaning of Life by Janet Tashjian


Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
(Click on the cover to see which libraries own it.)

SUMMARY: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her younger sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before--and survival is second nature for her. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. (adapted from the inside flap)

OPINION: This dystopian novel is an incredible page-turner, with all kinds of mayhem and murder to keep you reading until the very end. And what a cliffhanger of an ending! Of course, this is a projected trilogy, but I don't think I can stand the wait!! The characters and events are very compelling, but I did find the dystopian aspects of the novel to be somewhat lacking. There is not much description of how the United States met its end, and very little discussion of issues beyond the brutality of the Capitol toward the districts. Typically, dystopian novels deal with social issues in a futuristic society, but this one was much more action-oriented. I hope that the series expands its scope and improves as it continues. However, I still recommend this book as "unputdownable"!!!

Read Beth's review of The Hunger Games from September.

DDR Rocked the Ceiling

When everyone is stomping with the same rhythm in the second floor programming room, we really rock the ceiling in the children's room! But the 13 teens who came to our Dance Dance Revolution program yesterday all had a great time. And, for the first time, everyone who was there was actually brave enough to dance! Rachel was the winner of our tournament, getting a $10 gift card to GameStop. And thanks to David, for bringing DDR Ultramix 3 and a spare dance pad. We'll definitely do DDR again soon...maybe even at gaming club!


Dragon Party Report

Last Friday, 12 teens came out to our Dragon Party. We did a dragon trivia quiz, made optical illusion dragons, and built dragons out of marshmallows and candy. Rachel, our resident dragon-obsessed former teen, gave everyone a dragon drawing lesson and brought some of her dragon collection to decorate the room. We also watched movie clips from Reign of Fire, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and Eragon. (We didn't even get to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Dragonheart.) Check out our pix:

Drawing dragons.

Hilarity with marshmallows.

A flying dragon.

A mutant bug dragon?

My favorite dragon creation!


New on the Shelves

We keep buying new stuff, even though we have no room for it, so come in and check things out!! (And click on the hotlinked titles to see teen book reviews on this blog.)

  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
  • The Red Necklace: A Story of the French Revolution by Sally Gardner
  • The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon
  • Newes from the Dead by Mary Hooper
  • My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger
  • Ever by Gail Carson Levine
  • The Declaration by Gemma Malley
  • Guinevere's Gift by Nancy McKenzie
  • All We Know of Heaven by Jacquelyn Mitchard
  • Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
  • Almost Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Alice series)
  • Brisingr by Christopher Paolini (third in the Inheritance Cycle)
  • The House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staples
  • Life Is Fine by Allison Whittenberg


  • 21: Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich


Complete Fall Schedule!

I finally got it all together! We have a bunch of amazing stuff going on this fall, so check out the whole list:


Allison Whittenberg
Friday, October 17, 3:30 to 5:00 pm

Celebrate Teen Read Week by meeting author Allison Whittenberg. She writes urban teen fiction and just happens to live near our library! Her books, Sweet Thang and Life Is Fine, will be available for sale and signing at the event, or your are welcome to bring your own copies. Sponsored by the Teen Advisory Board. Register now.


Dragon Party
Friday, October 3, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Celebrate the recent release of Christopher Paolini’s third Inheritance book, Brisingr, with dragon-themed games, activities, and food! Register now.

Dance Dance Revolution
Wednesday, October 8, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm

Show your moves at our Xbox DDR program! We will project the game onto the wall so four people can dance at a time. Dance for fun, or enter a dance contest. Permission slip required. Register now.

Belt It!
Wednesday, October 15, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm
Make a few creative belts to accent your favorite outfits! Registration begins September 29.

Vampire Book Discussion
Wednesday, October 22, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm

Bring your favorite vampire books to share with the group! We will spend plenty of time talking about the Twilight saga, but all kinds of vampire books are welcome. Registration begins September 29.

Vampire Party
Friday, October 31, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm

Get an early start to your Halloween celebration at our after-school vampire event! Join the Teen Advisory Board to celebrate these mythical creatures of the night with games, snacks, movie clips, and more. Prizes will be awarded for best the vampire costume. Registration begins September 29.

Nintendo Night
Friday, November 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Race head-to-head in a Mario Kart DS tournament, enter a Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament on the big screen, play games on an original NES, and more! Permission slip required. Registration begins September 29.

Book Swap & Comedy
Saturday, November 22, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm

Trade in your old books for new reads, enjoy Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (PG) and Men in Black (PG-13) on the big screen, and eat food! Registration begins October 20.

Origami Ornaments
Friday, November 28, from 2:00 to 3:30 pm

Turn ordinary origami into cute decorations! Learn to make basic shapes, then turn them into mobiles, boxes, gift tags, and more. Registration begins October 20.

Teen Movie: A Christmas Story (PG)
Friday, December 19, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Yes, it’s on TV constantly at this time of year, but it’s more fun to watch with a group! The antics of Ralphie and his crazy family never get old. Get out of your house and recite the lines to this hilarious holiday comedy along with everyone else. Registration begins November 3.

Craft Closet Cleanout
Wednesday, December 31, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm

After all the craft projects we’ve done, there are tons of leftovers. Stop by to make something you missed, or do something totally new. No registration, just drop in!


Authors for President!
October 6 to November 3

To be President of the United States, you have to be born a citizen, have lived here for at least 14 years, and be at least 35 years old. So, if our favorite authors meet those criteria, why shouldn’t they be President!? Drop by our windowsill display (where summer reading was located) to place your vote during the month before the U.S. Presidential election. The winner will be announced on November 4


Gaming Club
Mondays, September 15 to December 29, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm (no meeting November 10)
Bring your Yu-Gi-Oh! deck, DS, PSP, or any other game stuff you’re into. We'll also hook up the Wii or Xbox for multiplayer gaming. Hang out, relax, and play whatever you want! Players provide their own gaming materials. Permission slip required. Registration is ongoing.

Anime Club
Fourth Fridays from 3:30 to 5:00 pm
Sept. 26, Oct. 24, Nov. 28, no Dec. meeting

Join our anime club! We meet once per month to watch and discuss great shows, as well as do anime-related activities. If you like to watch or create Japanese-style animation, this club is for you! Permission slip required. Registration is ongoing.

Zine Workshop
Wednesdays, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, 12, and 19

3:30 to 5:00 pm
Are you a writer or artist? Join the underground magazine movement! Get creative with your work and get published in our library zine. Participants must attend all four sessions. Registration begins September 29.

Wednesdays, December 3, 10, and 17
4:30 to 6:00 pm

Learn how to create cartoons from scratch, then bring them to life with easy steps. Your characters will jump off the page with action and style! This class will be taught by David Kramer, a Disney-trained animator and cartoonist who comes to us from the Community Arts Center. Sketch pads and pencils provided. Class size is limited. Participants must attend all three sessions. Registration begins November 3.
(Funding for this program is by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Commonwealth Libraries and supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act through the Delaware County Library System.)

Get free books and free food! Every month, the group votes on a book, and the library buys them each a copy to discuss at the next meeting.

Read and Rant Book Group
Third Fridays from 3:30 to 5:00 pm
Sept. 19, Oct. 17*, Nov. 21, Dec. 19
Open to students in grades 7 to 9, this group is accepting a limited number of new members. Registration is ongoing until spaces are full. *We will host author Allison Whittenberg at our October 17th meeting, and the event will be open to students in grades 6 to 12.

Book Grub Book Group
First Fridays from 3:30 to 5:00 pm
Sept. 5, Oct. 3, Nov. 7, Dec. 5

Open to students in grades 10 to 12, this group is accepting a limited number of new members.
Registration is ongoing until spaces are full.

Primos Branch Book Group
Third Mondays from 7:00 to 8:00 pm
Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 17, Dec. 15

Open to students entering grades 6 to 12, this group meets at the Primos Library at 409 Ashland Ave. in Primos, PA, 19018. Call them to register: 610-622-8091.


Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

SUMMARY: 16-year-old Katniss lives with her mother and sister in the poorest district of Panem, in the ruins of a place once known as North America. The primary breadwinner for her family since the death of her father, Katniss is accustomed to hardship, hunger, and struggling to survive. But not even a life of barebones survival can prepare the children of Panem for the Hunger Games. Each year at the Reaping, a boy and a girl from each of Panem's districts are sent to the Capitol and forced to participate in a gladiator-like spectacle called the Hunger Games, a series of bloody challenges that pit the rich against the poor and the strong against the weak. The children must battle to the death in this kill-or-be-killed event, which serves both to entertain Panem's bored ruling class and keep the districts from rebelling against the Capitol. When Katniss' sister is chosen to participate in the games, Katniss volunteers to take her place. The Games require every ounce of cunning, intelligence, and strength that Katniss has. Will she be strong enough to survive, and can she escape the gruesome ordeal with her humanity intact?

OPINION: Normally I'm not a fan of books that are bloody or ├╝ber-violent, but The Hunger Games is worth it. Katniss is a fantastic heroine who uses her brain as well as her uncommon physical skills to undermine the powerful Capitol, even as it forces her and others like her to kill each other for sport. The author uses the book to make a powerful statement about how governments use violence to create fear, enforce laws (including unjust ones), keep the poor down, and entertain people all at the same time. There are some scary parallels to real-world conflicts (Iraq War, anyone?), which make the book all the more interesting. I would have liked to have known more about the history of Panem -- the author alludes to a war between the Capitol and the 13 districts that are ruled by it, as well as a disaster that destroyed the original United States -- and about the Capitol's reaction to Katniss after her performance in the Games. Hopefully these will be addressed in the sequel. For now, stay tuned for The Hunger Games, set to be released on October 1, 2008.


Book Review: Dead Is the New Black

Dead Is the New Black by Marlene Perez
Review by Kaitlyn B.

This book was amazing! Marlene Perez incorporated fantasy, romance, mystery, adventure, and even some comedy into this novel. Dead is the New Black had awesome characters that kept the story interesting and fresh. It’s not just another book about magic and vampires. Perez created a completely original novel that anyone would enjoy. So if you enjoy books about psychics, psychotic vampires, teen romance, and mysterious illnesses that leave cheerleaders in the hospital, you would definitely love to read Dead is the New Black.


Book Review: Sovay

Sovay by Celia Rees

SUMMARY: England, 1783. When the rich and beautiful Sovay isn't sitting for portraits, she's donning a man's cloak and robbing horse-drawn carriages in broad daylight. But what started as a mere distraction quickly turns serious when Sovay lifts a wallet full of documents from one of England's most powerful and dangerous men. Finding items meant to incriminate her father for treason, Sovay realizes that her family's support of the French Revolution is known far beyond the confines of their country estate. Riding as a man, Sovay sets out for London to save her father and her family's reputation. The roles of thieves and gentry, good and bad, and men and women are interchanged to riviting effect in Celia Rees' newest and most dazzling historical saga yet. (adapted from the back cover)

OPINION: I am a huge fan of Celia Rees' book Pirates!, which is a swashbuckling tale of female pirates set against the backdrop of the colonial slave trade. This book is in the same vein, with a courageous female main character who defies traditional roles is a very unconventional way. I liked that a traditional ballad provided the inspiration for the main character and her initial robbery of her betrothed. But I didn't find it at all believable that someone so distinctive looking could successfully rob multiple coaches so close to her home without being caught, or at least accused, in a way that would have ruined her. As the story progressed, I felt like the author was trying to cram too many subplots and events into too few pages. I also grew frustrated with the amount of historical information that had to be conveyed for the reader to understand the relationship among Sovay's family, English politics, and the French Revolution. Nonetheless, the character of Sovay was very compelling, and her personality alone kept me reading the book. I do love a strong female heroine! Overall, I would recommend this book only to dedicated readers of historical fiction.


And the Gold Goes to...

...David for his performance in yesterday's Dance Dance Revolution Tournament! The silver medal went to Genni, while Imade and Katie tied for bronze. A total of 18 teens competed yesterday for fame, fortune, and love of the game -- ok, so the fame only goes as far as this blog and the fortune is more like a Gamestop gift certificate, but really, we play for the love. Besides, who needs the Olympics when there's a dance-off at your local library? We had a great time with our three tournaments, though I got knocked out during the first round of each one! Maybe I should have stuck to Monopoly or cards, which our non-competing teens enjoyed on the side...


Book Review: The Resistance

The Resistance by Gemma Malley
This book will be released on September 2, 2008.

When I read The Declaration last year, I said that I could forgive some of its shortcomings if they were addressed in a sequel. And so it has arrived. The Resistance follows Peter and Anna as they start their lives together. Even though they are Legal, they have to navigate a very tricky path because they are teens in a world of old people. They have not signed the Declaration or started taking Longevity drugs, and this makes them suspect. Not to mention that they are members of the Underground movement to get rid of Longevity! Even as Peter infiltrates his grandfather's pharmaceutical company, his grandfather is manipulating both Peter and Anna to his own ends. To understand this book, it is necessary to have read the first one. Additionally, I am hoping for a third one that will wrap up some of the loose ends. That said, this book has an exciting and fast-paced plot that picks up soon after the end of The Declaration. The more Peter finds out about the new Longevity+, the more frightening this story becomes. It raises a lot of questions about scientific ethics in areas like pharmaceuticals, stem-cell research, and reproductive rights. Nonetheless, sometimes the discussion of ethics takes over the narrative, which makes the book lack the subtlety of the best dystopian novels. For better treatment of similar subjects, I would recommend Double Helix by Nancy Werlin and Unwind by Neal Schusterman.


Book Review: Ghostgirl

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley
Review by Kaitlyn B.

Personally, I couldn’t get through this book. It was really frustrating for me. The main character was obsessed with being popular even though she was dead. I thought that the fact that she was dead would make it more interesting, but it didn’t for me. She annoyed me to the point where I just couldn’t keep reading it. So, if you like the type of books where the main character is striving to be popular than you would really enjoy Ghostgirl, otherwise, I would suggest reading another book.


Book Review: Hurricane Song

Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi
Click on the book to see which libraries own it.

SUMMARY: Hurricane Katrina is raging and you are inside the Superdome! Miles has only lived in New Orleans with his dad, a musician, for a few months when Hurricane Katrina hits. Father and son haven’t exactly been getting along. Miles is obsessed with football; his dad’s passion is jazz. But when the storm strikes, they’re forced to work through their differences to survive a torturous few days in the Superdome. (adapted from the back cover)

OPINION: I am a big fan of Paul Volponi's book Black and White, which deals with how two boys, one black and one white, are treated in the justice system after commiting a crime. And I have to give Paul Volponi credit for addressing challenging race issues in Hurricane Song as well. However, he is a NYC guy, and it shows. This book seemed very generic to me in its treatment of New Orleans culture, Hurricane Katrina, and life in the Superdome. Maybe I just take in a lot of news, but I didn't really feel like he explored much new territory. However, the father-son relationship was really a driving force in this book, and the way they built a relationship through music added a layer of complexity to this straightforward story. This is a quick read that is a good introduction to the realities of Hurricane Katrina. Check it out if you enjoy contemporary fiction with an urban edge.


Living Like Larry

I recently read a Time article about people who have stripped down their lifestyles, just like Larry in The Gospel According to Larry. One guy invented the "100 Thing Challenge" and is blogging about his purge of stuff. Other people have vowed to only have items they use daily in their homes.

Reading the article definitely made me feel like I have too much stuff! BTW, if you feel the same, box up your old books and items to donate to the library book sale and yard sale. I have three boxes in my garage already! Just ask Mrs. Heise (the secretary) before you decide to bring a carload of stuff over to our garage.


Book Review: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

SUMMARY: The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school--that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE, the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes computer class. Cammie Morgan is a second generation Gallagher Girl, and by her sophomore year shes already fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways with her bare hands. But the one thing the Gallagher Academy hasn't prepared her for is what to do when she falls for an ordinary boy who thinks shes an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without him knowing, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, she's beginning her most dangerous mission: falling in love. (adapted from the back cover)

OPINION: This book combines James-Bond style spy training with ordinary high school romance in an entertaining and humorous summer read. Despite the extraordinary intelligence and training of the Gallagher Girls, this story definitely qualifies as chic-lit! I really enjoyed the scheming it took for Cammie to evade her school's high-level security to meet Josh in town. (I have a thing for secret passages and bookcases that turn around.) Cammie's lack of knowledge about real boys and relationships creates some hilarious situations as she tries to keep her cover story straight. And Josh is a great guy who is totally worth it. Eventually, though, there arrives the moment of truth...during Cammie's CovertOps exam, no less! Pick this one up if you need a quick and fun read. But if you like more gadgets, action, and bad guys in your spy books, try the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz.

MORE INFORMATION: There is already a sequel to this book, called Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, as well as a third book to be released next summer. And if you can't get enough of the Gallagher Girls, visit Ally Carter's website!


What I've Been Reading

Well, I have just been sitting around waiting for the baby to be born. And the midwives told me that I have to rest a lot to keep my blood pressure down. So this means I have gotten a lot of reading done! Today, I read two books and tried a third. Here's the rundown:
(Click on the book covers to see which libraries own these books.)

Life Is Fine by Allison Whittenberg
Since Allison Whittenberg is coming to our library this fall (!!!), I thought I'd better read her newest book! The irony of the title was apparent as soon as I opened Life Is Fine. Samara's father was never part of her life, her mother is completely uncaring, her mother's boyfriend has taken over the house, and she has no friends except a chimp at the Philadelphia Zoo. A chance encounter with a substitute English teacher and his random poetry reading gives Samara a glimpse of actual learning, and an actual friend. But this is not one of those feel-good life-changing student-teacher books. Grounded in the realities of urban life, Samara learns to take small steps toward creating and controlling her own future.

Tim: Defender of the Earth by Sam Enthoven
This action-packed sci-fi thriller reads like a summer blockbuster movie: two top-secret experiements backed by the British government rampage through London in an epic battle! One is TIM, a genetically improved clone of the tyrannosaurus. The other is Professor Edward Mallahide, who has mastered the science of nanotechnology by giving himself over to be part of his nanotech swarm. Brawn meets brains, and only one can survive! This is a great summer read that will keep you turning the pages. If you like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Alex Rider series, another action and adventure books, this one's for you.

The Sky Village (Kaimira, book one) by Monk Ashland and Nigel Ashland
I love stories about future societies, and this book's post-apocolyptic scenario sounded promising. Plus, my interest was piqued by the mysterious connection between Mei, living in a sky village in China and, Rom, living in the ruins of Las Vegas. But this book, first in a projected five-book series, ultimately failed to capture my imagination. Supposedly, Mei and Rom each carry a gene that makes them part human, part animal, and part machine. However, the descriptions of this future society were not deep or subtle enough to make me care. I didn't even get halfway through before I stopped reading.


Book Review: Talent

Talent by Zoey Dean
Reviewed by Alexa

Writer Zoey Dean brings readers a story about a middle school girl, Mac, who sets out to find her niche. Her best friend Becks is already an awesome surfer and her other best friend Coco has been training with a famous dancer over the summer. So Mac, feeling out of place, decides to pursue what she already knows, talent scouting. She discovers Emily while Emily is vacationing in L.A. with her mom and best friend. Mac knows Emily's her one big shot, but as everyone else in Hollywood knows, acting is a hard gig to play, and Mac takes you on quite a ride as she wows the directors with Emily! It's hard to imagine that these girls are only twelve and doing what they're doing! But in today's world, things move fast and everyone starts young. Zoey Dean has captured it to a T, and Talent will capture you.


Book Review: Night Road

Night Road by A. M. Jenkins
Reviewed by Alexa

Night Road is a unique take on civilized vampires. Cole, the main character, is a nomadic vampire who is called to New York by his old friend Johnny. Johnny needs a favor and Cole is the best guy for the job. Unfortunately for Cole, the favor turns out to be an out-of-control newborn vampire named Gordon. Johnny knows Cole can give Gordon the best vampire education around. Reluctantly, Cole agrees, and he, Gordon, and Sandor, the newborn's creator, set out to begin training. Author A. M. Jenkins writes from a clean, determined, and fresh perspective. Night Road is an interesting and insightful novel that is a gift to all of us vampire fiction junkies!


Book Review: Gone

Gone by Michael Grant
Review by Meg

Click on the cover to see which libraries own this book.

SUMMARY: It is just a normal day at school. That is, until everyone over the age of 14 mysteriously disappears. All of the sudden, dozens of children are left without families, without supervision, and with new, inexplicable powers that they can't quite control. Chaos ensues as everyone tries to come to terms with their sudden ability to start fires, or suspend gravity, or move from one place to another in the blink of an eye. The arrival of new children from a school for ill-behaved rich kids throws everything further into insanity, as does the strange barrier that has appeared around town, keeping them from knowing what is happening on the outside. And of course, the threat of their 14th birthday looms over everyone's heads...

OPINION: While the plot is intriguing and will keep you hooked until the last page, this book did have some problems. The one thing that kept distracting me was that the 13-year-olds act more like adults than the children they are. The budding romances seem far too adult for a group of kids, as does the sheer evil nature of some of the antogonists. Are eigth-graders really capable of blackmaing adults or attempting virtual genocide? Additionally, there is an inexplicable "dark force" that is neither properly explained nor entirely logical, once the explanation for the state of the world is given. Overall, this book is a good read, but could have used some additional answers to make it truly excellent.


Book Review: The Loser's Guide to Live and Love

The Loser's Guide to Life and Love by A. E. Cannon
Review by Koumudi

Overall this book was okay, not the best and not the worst. The plot was one large cliche, and cheesy doesn't even begin to describe the ending. Yet, the characters were dynamic and the writing was good. In fact, sporadic portions of the book were pretty funny. This is definitely a feel good book. It's an excellent choice for a light read, but it is not something that I would pursue over and over.


Teen Summer Reading Club

If you haven't turned in a slip for teen summer reading yet, why not?! It's easier than ever, with no registration and no requirement to read library materials. That's right...read whatever you've got already and still get credit! Win a prize every time you read five books, enter to win weekly prizes, and automatically get invited to our end-of-summer prize party! You can't lose!!

Visit the teen summer reading display in the
children's room to pick up your materials!


Big Bad Bug Report

Yesterday, 24 people came out to our teen summer reading kick-off event, Big Bad Bug Movies! Our screening of the 1954 cult horror classic Them! went really well. You can't beat giant mutated killer ants for hilarity. But when we got to Men in Black, the library's copy of the DVD was in terrible shape and wouldn't play. Luckily, Beth ran downstairs and got another movie. But it wasn't what we had planned! We will definitely show MIB another time. Anyway, we had air conditioning, food, and prizes, so it wasn't all bad. And everyone was very patient, so thanks for that!


Book Review: The Otherworldlies

The Otherworldlies by Jennifer Anne Kogler
Review by Meg

Fern has never been a normal kid. She's got colorless eyes, burns in the slightest bit of sunlight, has awful stomachaches for no real reason, and can get her dog to do anything (even climb a tree). But when she closes her eyes in English class and opens them on the beach, it becomes apparent that there's more to her than meets the eye. As it turns out, she's an Otherworldly--or, to use the more common term--a vampire. And not just any vampire, either. She's one of eleven extremely powerful vampires with abilities previously unheard of in vampire kind. This has made her a target for the singlemost feared vampire in the world, Vlad, aka Dracula. This was a good book with an intriguing plot, but it had its share of problems. First, the constant use of vampire slang occasionally made coversations difficult to follow. Also, there were points at which the plot seemed to drag on and on without ever really going anywhere. The ending also seemed rather abrupt, although that could be easily fixed by a sequel. On the whole, though, the plot's twists and turns kept me intrigued even through the slower bits. A solid book overall, especially from a fairly new author.


New New New

Yup, the books keep coming in! We have been getting a lot of extra copies of the summer reading books for UD schools, as well as new teen fic and nonfic:

  • Cherry Heaven by L. J. Adlington
  • The Diary of Pelly D by L. J. Adlington
  • I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
  • Airman by Eoin Colfer
  • Night Road by A. M. Jenkins
  • Cheater: A Novel by Michael Laser
  • The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
  • At the Sign of the Star by Katherine Sturtevant
  • The Last of the High Kings by Kate Thompson
  • Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen
  • The Empty Kingdom by Elizabeth E. Wein (Mark of Solomon series)


  • Race: A History Beyond Black and White by Marc Aronson


Book Review: I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert
This book will be published on July 8, 2008.

SUMMARY: Emily Black's parents blew out of their rural hometown in 1974 on a motorcycle with no thoughts of coming back. But when her mother hit the road to follow the exploding music scene, Emily's father was left to raise an infant alone. And the only place he knew how to do it was in his hometown of Carlisle, Wisconsin. It wasn't exactly the punk rock lifestyle he had intended, but he still raised Emily differently than her peers. And it showed. At first directionless and chafing against small town gossip, Emily channels her passion for music and longing for her mother into a punk band named She Laughs. If anything will bring Louisa back into Emily's life, it will be the music. With moderate local success, the band moves to Chicago hoping to hit it big. Instead, they hit personal and professional roadblocks that almost derail their dreams. Abusive relationships, drugs, poor management, alcohol, and other bad decisions bring She Laughs to the breaking point. This is a story about living hard core and living to tell about it.

OPINION: I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone is a saga of pain, loss, and music. It spans decades, telling the stories of both Emily and her mother as they each seek out a solution to their personal pain. At times, this book read like a punk chronology rather than a narrative, but the strong central characters always emerged to take back their story. The characters are flawed in such realistic ways that I cared about their struggles through problems with no easy answers. While I found many parts of this book moving, what drew me in most was the complex relationship between Emily and her father. It is rare to see such a devoted father in a teen book, especially one as alternative as Michael. He is more of a peer to Emily in some ways, yet cares for her throught challenging times as only a parent can. And I loved him for it.

MUSIC NOTE: Joey Ramone lent his name to the title, via a Sleater-Kinney quote, but the Ramones are not a real presence in this novel. It's a nice tribute to a very recognizable punk band, but doesn't contribute to the plot other than as a metaphore. Nevertheless, this book will make you want to go make a kick@$$ playlist of acts like The Clash, Dead Kennedys, Social Distortion, and Patti Smith. Or check out Stephanie's playlist on the book's MySpace page.

PERSONAL NOTE: As I was reading this book, the 90s cultural references really rang true to me. And then I realized that I am about the same age as Emily Black. That was strange...my youth as historical fiction!! Of course, I was more neo-hippie than punk back then. But I wasn't totally out of touch!


Nintendo Night

Last night, 28 teens came out for our quarterly Nintendo Night. It was crazy, so I was really glad that Beth and I were there together!!

We did two new things at this event. First, we switched our big-screen tournament from Super Smash Bros. Melee to Brawl, and we did a team battle. We randomly assigned pairs for the battle, and, as luck would have it, David and Maher were teamed up. Everyone fought valiantly, especially Martha and Mike P. in the final battle, but David and Maher were victorious. They each got a $15 gift card to GameStop. All four of the top finishers also got candy.

The other new thing we did was replace the Pokemon DS tournament with a Mario Kart DS tournament. 16 people entered the DS tournament this time, so I think the change was helpful. Connor S. beat Mike P. in the final to win a $10 GameStop gift card. The top four finishers, which included Mike R. and David, also got candy.

As usual, my old NES was popular. Everyone tried the Mario games, but for some reason people always end up playing Jeopardy. Go figure!

We will do this again in the fall, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, join our Monday afternoon Gaming Club. Summer membership is open until June 16.


Book Review: Gem X

Gem X by Nicky Singer

SUMMARY: 16-year-old Maxo is accustomed to perfection. He is a GemX genotype--preposterously intelligent and physically exquisite. He and his parents have an ultracomfortable apartment in the Polis, where only flawless, enhanced humans are allowed to live. But something goes very wrong. A small but noticable indentation appears on Maxo's perfect face. He knows he must find a cure immediately. As his search takes him into the violent and ugly world of the Dreggies--unenhanced humans who are not allowed to live in the Polis--he meets Gala and Stretch. Although he should be repulsed, Maxo is powerfully drawn to Gala. On a quest of their own, the siblings believe Maxo could be useful. What none of the teens understand is that they are pawns in a much bigger game--one that could have dire consequences for them all.

OPINION: This story follows a typical dystopian structure. On one side, enhanced humans with beauty, brains, and power. On the other, oppressed average humans who struggle for their day-to-day existence. While this story had some potentially interesting elements, such as its exploration of genetic enhancement and parent-child relationships, it ultimately failed to capture my attention. Singer's imagining of the future was fairly uninspired and involved a lot of capital letters. Better examples of this genre include The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick and the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.


Brawl Battle Results

For the past eight Saturdays, David has been running a Super Smash Bros. Brawl Tournament at the library for his senior project. It was a lot of gaming, but yesterday the winners were announced! Maher came in first with a KO to KO'd ratio of 2.138, and won a $50 GameStop gift card. So, he is officially our Ultimate Brawl Battler! Connor and Mike virtually tied, with ratios of 1.570 and 1.569 respectively. But, Connor was officially second and got a $25 gift card, while Mike had to settle for third with a $10 gift card. Other people with great KO to KO'd ratios included Rachel (1.472), John (1.302), and Evan (1.299). Thanks to everyone who stuck with it and attended throughout April and May, including Kevin, Tyler, Martha, Avis, Katie, Mohammed, Andrew, and Sarah. See you all at Gaming Club this summer!


Cleaning the Craft Closet

Last night, 9 teens came to our first-ever Craft Closet Cleanout program. There were a lot of leftovers from previous DIY craft programs, including this year's Toolbox Jewelry, Pimp My Phone, and Crafts for Your Hair events. I even managed to help one guy make a duct tape holder for his DS without any actual directions. He didn't even have the DS with him, but the case turned out really well! Everyone went home with several new crafts and I got rid of leftover stuff. So everybody got something out of this event!! We will do this again at the end of July.


Anime Club

Today, 9 members of the Anime Club showed up for our May meeting. It was a small group, but we had a great time. Tim planned a special Azu Manga Daioh event, complete with voting for favorite characters, copies of the manga, and prizes from Japan. Tim is seriously dedicated to anime, and we are really lucky to have him!

The Anime Club will continue to meet this summer on the final Fridays of June and July. We will also have two manga drawing classes in July, run by artistic library grads. Check out the summer schedule for more details!

I made fake chicken stirfry for our snack. It's really just pineapple
chunks, cashews, and colored fruit roll ups!

Checking out Tim's display

Looking at artwork

Eating with chopsticks


Book Review: The Last of the High Kings

The Last of the High Kings by Kate Thompson
Click on the book cover to see which libraries own it.

SUMMARY: A generation after The New Policeman, J.J. Liddy's daughter Jenny is running wild. She disappears into the countryside for hours on end, constantly inconveniencing her family and refusing to go to school. Jenny's mental stability is also questionable, as she claims to converse with a ghost and a goat. But as J.J. discovers that Jenny is speaking the truth, and that she is involved in something potentially sinster, he is forced to reveal family secrets that have long been hidden.

OPINION: Despite being labeled as a sequel to The New Policeman, this book stands alone as a wonderfully atmospheric tale of fairy and other legendary folk. The infusion of Irish lore into a contemporary setting made it feel entirely possible for the fairy realm to actually exist alongside our own. It started out slowly, but all the parts of the story came together into an exciting climax. I began it while eating a plate of nachos, kept reading after they were gone, and ended up finishing the entire book while sitting at my table! Even if you usually prefer your fairies to be more urban punk than Irish pranksters, you will not be disappointed by The Last of the High Kings.


Book Review: The Dead and the Gone

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Reviews by Gretchen, Meg, and Debbie (Meg's mom!)

Click on the book cover to see which libraries own it.

GRETCHEN SAYS: The Dead and the Gone is a companion to Life As We Knew It, and it is even more chilling. It made me change my Facebook status to "Gretchen just finished The Dead and the Gone and feels the urge to stock up on canned goods." In this book, the disaster and survival scenario is replayed in New York City rather than rural Pennsylvania. On the day of the disaster, siblings Alex, Brianna, and Julie find out their parents are among the gone. As they try to survive on their own, they face all kinds of struggles in their once-familiar neighborhood. Although the references to their Puerto Rican heritage sometimes feel like a plot device, the reactions and interactions among the three siblings are totally believable. Despite echoes of 9-11, the author thoroughly portrays the new horrors that tidal waves and tsunamis bring to this city of islands. The urban enviornment also adds new levels of chaos with food shortages, death in the streets, an active black market for all kinds of goods, and major illness epidemics. If you have not read these books before, start with Life As We Knew It. Even though The Dead and the Gone an incredible page-turner, I still want to know what happens next! There is a sequel in the works, known as P3B (for Possible Third Book), which you can read about on Susan Beth Pfeffer's blog.

MEG SAYS: What would happen to the world if an asteroid pushed the moon closer in orbit to the earth? Like Susan Beth Pfeffer's earlier novel Life as We Knew It, this is the question that is explored in The Dead and the Gone. Rather than continuing the story of a rural Pennsylvania family from Life, the author instead focuses on the same events from a different perspective. This book is about 17-year-old Luis, who lives with his sisters in New York City. The book follows his struggles to survive after his parents die in the initial distruction the asteroid causes, and later as the city descends further and further into chaos. I loved Life as We Knew It, and this companion piece lived up to my expectations. I enjoy fairly realistic sci-fi novels, and this was no exception. The book remains realistic in its portrayals of a world gone crazy, from stampedes in food lines to Luis' increasingly desperate search for a way to get his sisters out of the city. I also liked that, while Luis and his family were devoutly religious, the various priests and nuns were characters rather than stereotypes, and the book rarely got preachy. I would highly recommend both his book and the original to anyone looking for a fast-paced, realistic dystopian novel.

DEBBIE SAYS: The Dead and the Gone retells the story of Life as We Knew It, detailing the impact to life on Earth when an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it closer to Earth. The perspective of this version is of a teenage boy whose parents die in the initial impact, and who now must care for his two younger sisters. This family lives in an apartment building in NYC. The original version is about a teenage girl living with her mother and brother in rural Pennsylvania. The author paints a vivid, realistic picture of life in the post-impact world with none of the utilities and resouces that we take for granted today. My only disappointment was with the depth of the character description. I felt I knew and understood the characters in the original version much more and found them to be more believable.


Summer Teen Schedule!

Even though I won't be here for a lot of the summer, we are still having programs! Beth Hallowell will be "me" for the summer, and she is awesome. Check out the list of great events below. (I didn't include our two book groups because they are not accepting new members. But they will meet all summer as well!)

June 9 through August 15
Read for school, read for fun, read whatever! Fill out a sheet for every five age-appropriate fiction or nonfiction books, magazines, audiobooks, or graphic novels you read. They can be from the library or from your own collection. Turn in the sheet at the children’s desk, get a small prize, and be automatically entered to win our weekly book prizes, including some signed by the author. Big end-of-summer prizes can also be yours at our Prize Party!


Nintendo Night
Friday, June 6, from 6:30 to 8:30

Race head-to-head in a Mario Kart DS tournament, enter a Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament on the big screen, play games on an original NES, and more! Permission slip required. Registration begins May 19.

Big Bad Bug Movies
Tuesday, June 17, from 1:00 to 4:00

Come enjoy two great bug movies at our teen summer reading kick-off event! First, we’ll watch the cheesy horror movie Them (NR). Giant mutant killer ants run rampant in this 1954 classic! Then, we’ll enjoy Men in Black (PG-13), a 1997 sci-fi action thriller starring Will Smith. Creepy snacks will be provided. Registration begins May 19.

Book Swap & Disney
Saturday, June 28, from 1:00 to 4:00

Trade in your old books for new reads, enjoy Enchanted (PG) and Disney Scene It? on the big screen, and eat food! Sponsored by the Teen Advisory Board. Registration begins May 19.

Breaking Dawn Bridal Shower
Friday, August 1, from 6:30 to 8:30

Get ready for the August 2 release of Breaking Dawn at our bridal shower. We hope that Bella and Edward tie the knot, but who knows what Jacob will do! Celebrate Stephenie Meyer’s popular vampire series at this event sponsored by the Teen Advisory Board. Registration begins July 7.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Celebration
Tuesday, August 5, from 1:00 to 4:00

Get ready for the release of the movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 on August 8! We will watch the first Sisterhood movie (PG), make denim crafts, eat snacks, and enjoy activities related to the movies and books. Registration begins July 7.

Dance Dance Revolution
Tuesday, August 12, 2:00 to 4:00

Show your moves at our Xbox DDR program! We will project the game onto the wall so four people can dance at a time. Dance for fun, or enter our dance contest! Permission slip required. Registration begins July 7.

Teen Summer Reading Prize Party
Friday, August 15, from 7:00 to 8:30

If you participated in the teen summer reading club, you are invited to this event! (Not sure? Ask a librarian.) Every slip turned in over the summer will be put in a drawing for great prizes. The more you read, the more you can win! Everyone will go home with something. Can’t make it? If your name is drawn, you will still get the prize. No registration.


Manga Drawing Classes
Fridays, July 11 and July 25, 6:30 to 8:30

Library grads Marissa, Kara, and Caitlin will teach you skills to improve your manga drawing. Basic materials will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own supplies and artwork. Sign up for one program or both! Registration begins June 16.

Summer Knits
Thursdays, June 19 to August 14 (No meeting June 26)
2:30 to 4:30

Join our summer knitting group open ages 10 to adult at any experience level! If you are a beginner, Meg will teach you the basics and get you started on your first project. If you are an experienced knitter, bring your own project or work on a charity project with the group. Some materials provided. Drop in anytime and stay as long as you would like! No registration.

Come by the library between 2:00 and 4:00 any Tuesday in July to make a craft! No registration. The projects will be available until supplies run out.

Flower Power
Tuesday, July 1, 2:00 to 4:00

Make a vase of colorful paper flowers to keep or give away.

Robot Uprising
Tuesday, July 8, 2:00 to 4:00

Make a funky robot or two to hang on your key chain, zipper, phone, or anywhere!

Beaded Bracelets
Tuesday, July 15, 2:00 to 4:00

Make a cute beaded bracelet on memory wire.

Dog Days of Summer
Tuesday, July 22, 2:00 to 4:00

Make a toy and a treat for your favorite dog.

Craft Closet Cleanout
Tuesday, July 29, 2:00 to 4:00

Materials and instructions for a variety of projects will be available. Surprise yourself with a random craft!


Gaming Club
Mondays, June 2 to August 11 (no meeting June 23)
3:30 to 5:00

Bring your Yu-Gi-Oh! deck, Game Boy, Magic: The Gathering deck, PSP, or any other game stuff you’re into. We'll also hook up the Wii or Xbox for multiplayer gaming. Hang out, relax, and play whatever you want! Players provide their own gaming materials. Permission slip required. Must register by June 16 to participate for the summer.

Anime Club
Fourth Fridays from 3:30 to 5:00 pm
June 27, July 25, no August meeting

Join our anime club! We meet once per month to watch and discuss great shows, as well as do anime-related activities. If you like to watch or create Japanese-style animation, this club is for you! Permission slip required. Registration is ongoing.

Primos Branch Young Adult Book Group
Third Mondays, 7:00 to 8:00
June 16, July 21, August 18

Open to students entering grades 6 to 12, this group meets at the Primos Library at 409 Ashland Ave. in Primos, PA, 19018. Call them to register: 610-622-8091.