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