12.31.2009

Book Swap & Jane Austen Redux

We had so much fun at our first Book Swap & Jane Austen program back in April that I planned another one! Yesterday, 12 teens showed up to watch Emma and Clueless, as well as swap paperbacks. It was hilarious to see how so many elements from the classic Jane Austen story were incorporated into the cheesy 90s materialism of Clueless. We'll be swapping books again in the winter or spring, so check the schedule when it comes out.

12.29.2009

Recommended Reading

No matter how much you read, there are some great books you just miss. Maybe you tend to read in one genre, or read a lot of series and sequels, or read what your friends are reading. Winter is a great time to get out of your reading rut, so here are some recommendations for recent teen books:

Amazon.com's Top 10 Books for Teens
These are their editors' 10 picks for best books of 2009 for teens. Their number one choice is the newly-published Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

2009 Teens' Top Ten
An online vote by teens during Teen Read Week helps YALSA narrow down a list of books from 2008 and 2009. Paper Towns by John Green came in first this year!

Reading Rants 2009 Top Ten
Reading Rants is a great teen book review site that features quirky book lists. The site's author put up her "from-the-gut" 2009 list last week, and it has several unique recommendations.

Gift Books 2009 Part One
Gift Books 2009 Part Two
These teen gift recommendations from librarians in Seattle, but I like the variety of books they suggested. Their list includes a few of the year's best graphic novels, too!

12.28.2009

Donate Your Partially Used Gift Cards!

From now through January 31, the Teen Advisory Board is collecting donations of partially used gift cards. You know how you buy stuff with a gift card, have like $1.33 left, and never go back and use it? We'll take it! Get your family members to clean out their wallets and donate those leftover cards to support the Sellers Library's 2010 summer reading program.

Here's how it works:
  1. Put the card(s) in an envelope at the library.
  2. Fill out the donation form if you want a tax-deductible receipt.
  3. Give it to a staff member at the children's or adult circulation desk.
  4. We will look up the value of each card online and send a receipt, if requested.
  5. We will use the cards to help purchase supplies and prizes for the 2010 Summer Reading Program.

Craft Closet Cleanout Complete!

Last Wednesday, 12 teens showed up for our final Craft Closet Cleanout of 2009. Maria J. dropped in to visit us since she's home from San Francisco on winter break, so everyone was happy to see her! Our big project of the day was potato-print wrapping paper. Yes, I let people use knives to carve potatoes into stamps for paint. See what you miss when you don't come to stuff!? We also decorated gift boxes, constructed duct tape wallets, and made tiaras, among other random crafts from events past.

Carving the potatoes.

Stamping snowmen, hearts, and pandas.

Nothing says "Christmas" like pink triangles and blue hearts...

Decorating mini gift boxes.

I think he's making that face at the disembodied hands holding the duct tape wallet in the picture.

Some participants with their completed crafts. The most artistic crafts of the day were definitely the wrapping papers printed with white doves (far left) and pandas (far right).

My star-stamped paper wrapped two beautiful Christmas gifts for Nat and Ben!

12.23.2009

Teen Books for 2010

I am always trying to keep up on release dates for teen books, so here's my list so far for 2010:
  • 1/1/10--Next Semester by Cecil R. Cross II (Kimani Tru)
  • 1/5/10--Captivate by Carrie Jones (sequel to Need)
  • 2/1/10--Fabulous by Simone Bryant (Kimani Tru)
  • 2/1/10--Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson (sequel to Suite Scarlett)
  • 2/9/10--Eleventh Grade Burns by Heather Brewer (Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series)
  • 2/9/10--Heist Society by Ally Carter (author of the Gallagher Girls series)
  • 2/23/10--The Sable Quean by Brian Jacques (Redwall series)
  • 3/9/10--Hourglass by Claudia Gray (Evernight series)
  • 3/9/10--The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth)
  • 4/1/10--This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer (sequel to Life as We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone)
  • 4/20/10--Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely series)
  • 4/27/10--The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong (Darkest Powers series)
  • 4/27/10--Burned by P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast (House of Night series)
  • 5/11/10--Hell's Heroes by Darren Shan (Demonata series)
  • 5/18/10--Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy series)
  • 5/18/10--Love Bites by Ellen Schreiber (Vampire Kisses series)
  • 7/20/10--Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (sequel to Shiver)
  • 8/24/10--The Hunger Games Book Three by Suzanne Collins (official title not released yet)
  • 8/31/10--The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (author of the Mortal Instruments trilogy)

12.22.2009

Test Your Driving Distraction

All drivers are guilty of some level of distracted driving, whether it's eating fast food or talking to their passengers. Anyway, since the invention of cell phones and text messaging, distracted driving has become almost normal. But, anything that takes your attention away from the road, for even a second, can be the cause of an accident. In high school, one of my friends totaled his car while just reaching to change the radio station! Try this game from the New York Times to test what happens to your reaction times when you text and drive. No matter how well you think you can drive, this activity is food for thought.

12.20.2009

Book Review: How to Ditch Your Fairy

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier
Click on the cover to see which libraries own it.

SUMMARY: This light fantasy takes place in a world that is much like our own, except that nearly everyone has some kind of fairy that gives them one special ability. Charlie attends a magnet high school for sports and has normal life of schoolwork and sporting events. However, her parking-space fairy is so annoying that she has decided to starve it by walking everywhere, which takes up a huge amount of time and earns her a lot of demerits, game suspensions, and community service time. Teaming up with her best friend (shopping fairy), the boy she likes (not-getting-in-trouble fairy), and her archenemy (all-the-boys-like-you fairy), Charlie embarks on an increasingly wild quest (luge, anyone?) to get rid of her fairy once and for all.

OPINION: Although this is technically a fairy fantasy, it reads more like a contemporary novel with weird slang. There is none of the darkness that makes fairy books like Tithe so popular, and there is no cultural fairy connection as in The New Policeman. The fairies in this book each randomly provide a particular gifting to a person; consult the List of Known Fairies in the back for an amusing recap of those mentioned in the book. I really enjoyed Charlie's strong-willed antics, and it was great to read about well-rounded girl who could play a wicked game of cricket, do well in school, and enjoy a day of shopping. I do wish that the author had provided a little more information about the world of New Avalon and the history of the fairies, but overall it was a humorous and easy read. It was little on the girly side, but I'd still recommend it for girls and guys in middle and early high school. The comedic tone of the story reminded me a lot of books by Janette Rallison, so check it out if you are a fan of hers.

12.18.2009

Don't Try This at Sellers, Either...

A movie theater in England has banned its customers from kissing their cardboard cutout of Robert Pattinson! They smacked a sign across his lips telling movie-goers it would help stop the spread of seasonal flu. Read the news article here.

Since Robert is currently lurking behind our circulation desk in a Santa hat, I think you are safe from disease. Still, I don't want to see anyone leaping the desk to get at him, mmmkay?

12.17.2009

Love Is Not Abuse

Yesterday, 20 high school students showed up for our Love Is Not Abuse discussion group led by Katie Kenyon from the Delaware County Domestic Abuse Project. We had 5 guys and 15 girls, representing a variety of grades, schools, and backgrounds. (Three of the people were even getting extra credit from their health teacher for attending.) Our starting activity provided us with enough to talk about for the entire session! Everyone worked in pairs to determine if the scenario they were given was no big deal, something to talk about, or a dealbreaker in a relationship. Our freewheeling discussion gave everyone a chance to voice their opinions, share stories, ask questions, and think about the issues in a new way. The conversation went until the last minute and then some! At the end, I talked about some of our new fiction and nonfiction on topics related to dating and relationship issues.

We wll have Katie back in the new year to do a few more programs, including a possible series of classes to continue this discussion. Meanwhile, here are some online resouces that might give you more insight:

http://www.athinline.org/
This is MTV's new project aimed at preventing digital abuse among teens. Take their quiz, then get informed about issues like constant messaging, cruelty, sexting, digital disrespect, and spying.

http://www.thesafespace.org/
This site for teens from Break the Cycle has quizzes, a place for questions, and a lot of great resourses on teen dating issues. I particulary like the ideas in their Take Action section.

http://www.thatsnotcool.com/
This website provides teens with tools to combat digital misbehavior, including Callout Cards that you can share through email and social networking sites. I like the one that pictures a toilet and reads, "Thanks to your constant calls, the sound of your voice offically makes me want to puke."

http://www.knowmoresaymore.org/
This site for young women from the Family Violence Prevention Fund talks about the link between relationship abuse and reproductive health.

http://www.giveitaponder.com/
This new ad campaign features the disembodied beard of James Lipton, which attaches itself to teens' faces and makes them think before they text inappropriate things. It sounds completely weird, but just watch one of the videos. They made me giggle.

Helpful Books about Teen Relationships

After talking about these resources our Love Is Not Abuse discussion session yesterday, I just wanted to post the titles for everyone. You are free to check them out of the library anytime or just browse them while you are here.
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Online Romance by Ann Boger
  • Boyology: A Girl's Crash Course in Everything Boy by Sarah O'Leary Burningham
  • Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change by Bonnie Burton
  • The African-American Teenagers Guide to Personal Growth, Health, Safety, Sex, and Survival by Deborah Harris-Johnson
  • No Mistakes! The African American Teen Guide to Growing Up Strong by Robin Henry
  • GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens by Kelly Huegel
  • The Guy Book: An Owner's Manual by Mavis Jukes
  • In Love and in Danger: A Teen's Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships by Barrie Levy
  • The How Rude! Handbook of Friendship and Dating Manners for Teens by Alex J. Packer
  • Respect: A Girl's Guide to Getting Respect and Dealing When Your Line Is Crossed by Courtney Macavinta and Andrea Vander Pluym
  • Just Us Girls: Secrets to Feeling Good about Yourself, Inside and Out by Moka
  • The Blueprint for My Girls in Love: 99 Rules for Dating, Relationships, and Intimacy by Yasmin Shiraz

12.16.2009

Book Review: Shock Point

Shock Point by April Henry
Click on the cover to see which libraries own the book.

SUMMARY: Cassie Streng, 16, knows that her psychiatrist stepfather, Rick, prescribed an experimental drug for his teenage patients, three of whom have committed suicide. Before she can gather evidence, however, she is grabbed by two men, handcuffed, locked in the back of a van, and taken to Peaceful Cove, a facility for troubled teens in Mexico. Although Rick has assured her mother that the place is an excellent boarding school, Cassie soon realizes that she is trapped in a brutal prison camp. She must make her way back to Oregon and convince someone of the danger Rick represents before anyone else dies. (adapted from the School Library Journal review)

OPINION: The classic "wicked stepmother" story gets a new twist in this suspenseful novel. Cassie's stepfather, Rick, is a charming and charismatic psychiatrist who has her mother completely fooled. Expecting their first child, Cassie's mother complies with all of Rick's plans, from moving to a new house in a new city to sending Cassie away on suspicions of drug possession. The lack of family support in this book is astonishing, but I don't think it is unrealistic. The action in the book flips back and forth between present and past, creating tension as it reveals crucial details. The story is not too graphic, but the plot will keep you hooked. Most frightening to me, boot camp programs like this for troubled teens do exist and this book provides a chilling look at how they can be misused. I would recommend this book to anyone in middle or early high school looking for a quick and exciting read. I finished this book in one afternoon because I wanted to see what happened!

12.14.2009

List Mania

As we close the first decade of the new millennium (!!!) it seems that everyone has started posting reflections on the past 10 years. Here are some of my favorites:

Top 10 Happiest Endings
Part of Newsweek's 20/10: The Decade in Rewind content, these are news stories that will actually make you smile

One Hit Wonders of the Decade
Who was the number one artist who didn't manage to score a follow-up hit? Check out this great list of the top 40 one-hit wonders from Billboard.

Ten Most Underappreciated Teen Books of 2000-2009
This quirky list from http://www.readingrants.org/ lists one great teen book that got overlooked for every year of the past decade.

The Decade's 50 Most Important Recordings
NPR's music critics and listeners compiled this list of recordings that were influential in some way over the last decade. Covering everything from Britneyy Spears to Radiohead to Jay Z, plus jazz and classical, this list will intrigue music lovers.

The Decade in Seven Minutes
Spare a few minutes to check out Newsweek's video of highlights from the past 10 years.

12.12.2009

Monthly Feature: Word Nerd

Here is our Word Nerd challenge for December:

Although her family was considered nouveau riche, Penelope manipulated the complex machinations of high society to her favor using her decadent family home, lavish parties, elaborate fashions, and her naturally cunning nature.

(This sentence is based on The Luxe series and was inspired while I writing a review for the blog! Use http://www.thesaurus.com/ and http://www.dictionary.com/ to help you translate it.)

Official Word Nerd Rules:
  1. Once a month, I will post a sentence with vocabulary words in boldface.
  2. You have one week to look up the words, translate the sentence into normal language, and post a response in the comment section (with first name and last initial, please).
  3. Participants must be students in grades 6 to 12 who regularly visit Sellers Library.
  4. After one week, the person with the most accurate translation will get a prize.
  5. Entries may be similar and use some of the same words.
  6. If no entry is entirely accurate, I reserve the right not to pick a winner.

12.11.2009

The Lovely Bones

The movie version of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is available in limited theatrical release starting this weekend, but the reviews have been mixed. I'd curl up at home with the book if I were you! If you've already read it, here are some read-alikes recommended in this month's Teen Scene email newsletter:
  • Many Stones by Carolyn Coman
  • Waves by Sharon Dogar
  • The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue
  • Where I Want to Be by Adele Griffin
  • The Afterlife by Gary Soto
  • Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

12.10.2009

RiffTrax

So RiffTrax sounds like a weird toy from the 80s, but it is actually is a hilarious movie commentary site. It is the brainchild of some of the people responsible for Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). They have created commentaries that synch up perfectly with the movies, so you download their MP3 and listen to it while simultaneously watching the movie. It's like having MST3K in your living room! This would totally make bad movies watchable and good movies more fun. And as a person who always feels the need to talk during any movie I'm watching, this sounds like a great idea. They have commentaries for a wide variety of movies, from current to classic to just plain horrible. I think I will throw a party and watch Twilight with RiffTrax!!

12.09.2009

Book Review: The Luxe Series

The Luxe, Rumors, Envy, and Splendor (The Luxe series) by Anna Godbersen

Click on the book cover to find library copies of all the books in the series.

A REVIEW OF THE LUXE: A big, sumptuous tale of catty girls, dark secrets and windswept romance unfurls in this compulsively readable novel of late-19th-century New York City socialites. Godbersen weaves a tenuous web of deceit, backstabbing and pretense that follows four teens: Elizabeth Holland, a prim and proper lady of old-money society, is betrothed to one man, though furtively loves another; Henry Schoonmaker, a debauched playboy who must marry Elizabeth or be disinherited; Diana Holland, Elizabeth’s younger sister who is in love with her fiancĂ©; and Penelope Hayes, a member of the nouveau riche who will stop at nothing to win Henry’s affections. As Elizabeth and Henry’s wedding approaches, the spectacle unfolds in a wondrously grandiose web of friends, lovers, lies and betrayal. (adapted from Kirkus Reviews)

Among New York's wealthiest citizens at the turn of the 20th century, the money made by the family patriarchs was meant to be spent. Decadent homes, lavish parties, elaborate fashions, and juicy gossip were a fact of everyday life in these families. The author's fictional imaginings are very close to the truth, and even reference some real New York society families of the time, such as the Vanderbilts and the Astors. These books do not read like historical fiction because the wider world only briefly intrudes into the complicated machinations of high society. The Luxe series does an amazing job of bringing the reader inside the insulated lifestyle of Manhattan's elite families of that time. It's like Gossip Girl with better fashion and more manners! The historical detail is impeccable, yet it's the scandalous behavior that will keep you reading.

I do have a few quibbles with the writing style, which is probably more glaring since I read them all at once. I know there are only so many ways to describe something, but some adjectives were greatly overused during the series. I got really tired of hearing about Carolina's "bee-stung" lips or Snowden's "preternaturally blond" hair. Some descriptive passages were also a little too similar among the books to be really interesting and I found myself skimming the text to get to another "good part." I suspected many of the bigger events in the books long before they happened, but, nonetheless, the intrigue among the characters and the never-ending plot twists kept me hooked on the books until the final shocking chapters.

Although Splendor is the final installment in this series, I would love to see the author write another series furthering the adventures of a certain character in Europe. I would also beg her to move forward in time and write about 1920s New York, continuing the story of her high society families from The Luxe with a new generation.

Find out more about the series, read the first book for free online, send Luxe e-cars. and more at the official website: http://www.theluxebooks.com/. You can even watch a book trailer for The Luxe!

And if you like reading about this era of history, often called the Gilded Age, read Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. It's a highly readable classic about high society, and is one of my all-time favorite books.

12.08.2009

Book Grub Finds Paper Towns

Last Friday, the Book Grub Book Group met to discuss Paper Towns by John Green. We had a far-ranging discussion, moving from telling road trip stories to talking about revenge to considering how well we can really ever know other people. We could have talked about many more things if we'd had the time! All of John Green's books are full of random trivia, quirky characters, existential questions, and truly hilarious moments that balance out the seriousness. They are great for discussion on a lot of levels. If you liked Paper Towns, be sure to read Green's other two books Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines.

John Green and his brother Hank became notorious on the internet in 2008 for their Brotherhood 2.0 video blogging experiement. They have generated a lot of internet content between them, all amusing and well worth wasting your time exploring. Here are some quick links:

http://www.sparksflyup.com/
John's website and home to random trivia connected to his books.

http://omnictionary.com/index.php/Main_Page
Become addicted to updating the Omnictionary!

http://nerdfighters.ning.com/
Created by Hank, "this is a place where nerds gather and play. We fight to increase awesome and decrease suck. What more is there?"

http://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers
John and Hank's original blog spawned its own YouTube channel.

12.06.2009

B&N Book Fair

Yesterday, nine members of the Teen Advisory Board spent the day wrapping presents at the library's Book Fair fundraiser at the Barnes & Noble in Broomall. We made $71 for teen programs at Sellers Library, mostly thanks to two generous donors who each gave us $20. The heavy snow put a damper on the shopping in the late afternoon, but it was still a good day. Thanks to Alexa, Amy, Stephanie, Judy, Elena, Genni, Nitha, Kaitlyn, Christine, and Emily who each took a two-hour shift at the table.

If you missed it, don't worry! If you shop there any time until Friday, just tell them you're shopping for the Upper Darby Libraries and we'll get the credit. All of the money raised goes to fund programs for kids and teens, so you will definitely benefit from this!

I saved some of our book budget for this day, so the TAB wrappers also helped me select some books for the teen section. We bought a bunch of new stuff that will probably arrive on the shelves next week:

FICTION
  • Take Me There by Susane Colasanti
  • When It Happens by Susane Colasanti
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan (replacement)
  • Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan (replacement)
  • Rumors by Anna Godbersen (Luxe series; replacement)
  • Splendor by Anna Godbersen (Luxe series)
  • Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson
  • Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga (sequel to Fanboy & Goth Girl)
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy series; replacement)
  • Hero by Perry Moore
  • The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking series)
  • Saving Zoe by Alyson Noel
  • The Secret Circle: The Captive Part II and The Power by L. J. Smith
  • Deadly Little Lies by Laurie Faria Stolarz (Touch series)
  • Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz (Touch series)

SHORT STORIES

  • The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire edited by Trisha Telep
  • Immortal: Love Stories with Bite edited by P. C. Cast

NONFICTION

  • Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail by Danica McKellar

12.05.2009

Who Is Claudette Colvin?

A few weeks ago, it was announced that Phillip Hoose won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for his biography Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. When she was just 15 years old, Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat for a white woman in Montgomery, Alabama. If this story sounds a bit familiar, it's important to note that Colvin did this on her own a good nine months before Rosa Parks! Why did history remember one and forget the other? You'll have to read the book, or at least this New York Times article.

12.04.2009

Vampire Academy Goes High-Tech

The Vampire Academy Signature Edition is a new hardcover version of the first book in that popular series by Richelle Mead. If you go to the Vampire Academy website and hold up the Signature Edition to your webcam, the cover will come to life and reveal insider info on the series! This is the first time a U.S. publisher has used this technology, called Augmented Reality (AR), to promote a book and it sounds pretty cool. If you aren't buying the book, look for an ad in the December 7 edition of People that will also activate the AR features. Read more about the promotion in this article from Publishers Weekly.

12.03.2009

Third Hunger Games Book Announced!!

I just found out that the third book in The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins will be released on August 24, 2010! It's a long wait, but it's nice to know when to expect it. The title is rumored to be Victors, but the firm title will be released early next year. If you want to read a little more about it, check out this article from Publishers Weekly. You can also visit the publisher's website for The Hunger Games series.

If you are not already a fan of the series, go read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire RIGHT NOW!!!

NIA Workout

Yesterday, 11 teens showed up for our NIA exercise program paid for by the Fit for Life grant. NIA blends different disciplines of dance, martial arts, and healing arts. Pat, our instructor, led us in a variety of moves during our 45-minute program, and I had to turn on the AC because we were sweating! It was a fun and energetic experience, and I would highly recommend it as a fitness activity. It was exercise, but it didn't feel like work at all!

If you'd like to learn more about NIA, visit http://www.nianow.com/.

12.01.2009

Upcoming Events

There are three teen health and wellness events in the next three weeks, so sign up and feel good:

NIA for Teens
Wednesday, December 2, 3:30 to 4:30 pm
NIA is a wellness program that incorporates dance arts, healing arts (Yoga and Pilates), and martial arts. There will be 45 minutes of instruction followed by healthy snacks. Fit for Life programs in Delaware County are sponsored by Libraries for the Future, the program division of Americans for Libraries Council, and MetLife Foundation.

Building Healthy Relationships
For students in grades 6 to 8 ONLY
Wednesday, December 9, 3:30 to 5:00 pm
It seems like everyone wants a boyfriend or girlfriend, but what exactly does that mean? Find out about the qualities of healthy and unhealthy relationships. The program is provided free of charge by the Delaware County Domestic Abuse Project. For more info on the topic of dating violence, visit http://www.chooserespect.org.

Love Is Not Abuse
For students in grades 9 to 12 ONLY
Wednesday, December 16, 3:30 to 5:00 pm
Learn about the forms and warning signs of dating abuse, how to help a friend who is being hurt, and how or when to call someone out if they are using harassing behaviors. The program is provided free of charge by the Delaware County Domestic Abuse Project. For more info on the topic of dating violence, visit http://www.chooserespect.org.

PS--Don't forget to send your parents to our parenting class on dating violence on Monday, December 7, from 7:00 to 8:30.

DIY Tie-Dye

Last Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving), 12 teens showed up for our drop-in tie-dye craft. A lot of people did our shoelaces, but we also had people bring shirts, socks, and even a messenger-style bag! I also had some random shirts and baby items that some people made as extra items.

I made a few baby items for my cousin that turned out pretty well, but I managed to dye my hands completely blue when rinsing them out at home! I am still blue around the nails, and I will remember to wear gloves next time...

If you want to learn more about how to tie-dye, check out this post from the summer.


Two girls rubber banding their shirts into different patterns.

These girls modeled their trash bag smocks and plastic gloves.

One trash bag model and two girls showing off their shoelaces.

One person wore her awesome new shirt to the library on Friday! It turned out amazingly well.

This is a great baby onesie I made for my cousin. It's probably the most perfect tie-dye I have ever done.

I also did a baby burp cloth that turned out really well.

Katie's socks came out super-cute!

11.30.2009

Book Reviews: Mormon Fundamentalism

You may remember the headlines from spring of 2008, when a polygamous compound in Texas was raided on suspicions of child abuse and over 400 children were taken from their parents during the investigation. It was shocking to a lot of people that there are communities in our country where families have one husband, several wives, and many children. These communities generally exist on private land in the American West (as well as Northern Mexico and Western Canada) and practice various interpretations of Mormon Fundamentalism.

I bring this up because I just read two recent teen books that take place in fundamentalist polygamous communities. I decided to review them together, along with a nonfiction book on the topic that I read several years ago. The fictional stories are all the more heartwrenching because they are based on how real girls and women are living in actual communities in our country.

Click on the covers to find library copies of the books.

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning it much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever. What I appreciate about this author is that she is obviously writing from a familarity with general Mormon culture, but also did her research to make this book about fundamentalists entirely believable. The author does not gloss over the control and violence issues created by the Prophet's increasingly secretive and paranoid ways. The action in this story builds up to an extremely tense climax, which moved me to tears several times. (And not just because of the heroic librarian!) This book will make you thankful for the freedoms you enjoy, and hopeful for the teen girls and boys in these communities.

Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka

In the isolated rural community of Unity, the people of The Movement live a simple life guided by a set of religious principles and laws that are unique to them. Polygamy is the norm, strict obedience is expected, and it is customary for young girls to be assigned to much older husbands. At fifteen, Celeste is repulsed at the thought of becoming a sister wife, yet feels ashamed for craving the attention of Jon, a boy her age. Not knowing much about the outside world, she feels powerless to change her destiny. Her assignment as a sixth wife to a caring man makes her desperately unhappy, but rebelling will bring shame, and possibly punishment, upon her family. Celeste must decide what she is willing to sacrifice...her family or herself. Although the basic plot sounds a lot like The Chosen One, this book is set apart by several characteristics. It is told from the perspectives of three teen girls, which adds layers of understanding to the story. It is also a gentler story overall, and Celeste's eventual path feels like more of a choice than an act of utter desperation. This book is true to the details of life in a fundamentalist community, and will engage you as you realize how different and alike you are at the same time from the characters.


Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

This book surprised me when I read it five years ago, and some of the content has really stuck with me over time. Jon Krakauer researched a crime committed by Mormon Fundamentalists, and in the process revealed a lot of information about the history of such groups and their current practices. One thing that made me particularly sad was the plight of young men in polygamous communities. A lot of them are driven out of their communities and away from their families for reasons that boil down to supply and demand. They are seen as a liability in a group that marries off multiple women to a single (usually older) man. Not everything Krakauer says about the Mormon church in general is entirely accurate, but I appreciated the light he shed on fundamentalist sects in this writing. It provided a good background that really helped my understanding and empathy for the characters in the two books reviewed above.

11.27.2009

A Movie & Some Anime

Today, we got a double dose of Japanese culture. First, 14 people showed up to watch the original Japanese version of the movie Shall We Dance?. The movie was about a straightlaced Japanese businessman learning to do ballroom dancing and we watched it with subtitles. We took a 1/2 hour break, then had anime club! Some people stayed after the movie, and others came just for anime, so we had a total of 20 people for that. Our drawing challenge this month was "ninjas" and we had the most random collection of entries ever! There were a four normal ninjas and ninja cartoons, then we had ninja versions of a Scotsman, an alien, Mega Man, animals, a jellyfish, among other things. And, although both events were great, we probably had the most fun in between them when I taught everyone some Charleston swing dance and the "cheater" waltz! We will have to have some basic dance classes in the future.

11.25.2009

Cardboard Wars!

A teen book group at a Massachusetts library had a unique fundraiser last week...a cardboard tube battle! Check out this article from a local paper. Also, another local paper published a video from the event. I don't know about you, but I'd totally go to their group!

11.24.2009

Monthly Feature: Word Nerd

I have officially changed the name of our monthly vocabulary challenge to Word Nerd, but the rules are the same:
  1. Once a month, I will post a sentence with vocabulary words in boldface.
  2. You have one week to look up the words, translate the sentence into normal language, and post a response in the comment section (with first name and last initial, please).
  3. Participants must be students in grades 6 to 12 who regularly visit Sellers Library.
  4. After one week, the person with the most accurate translation will get a prize.
  5. If no entry is entirely correct, I reserve the right not to pick a winner.
Here is the Word Nerd sentence for November:

Edward Cullen, an enigmatic vampire known to have a penchant for cars, endeavors to keep Bella safe with a preposterously expensive Mercedes that earns her a lot of bothersome attention.

(Yes, this is based on the beginning of Breaking Dawn. Use http://www.thesaurus.com/ to help you translate it!)

11.21.2009

Newest of the New

Here are the latest additions to our teen section. Some of the health and beauty titles were purchased with the AAAS grant money from the Teens and Tans program. Come in and look for something new!

FICTION
  • Such a Pretty Face: Short Stories about Beauty edited by Ann Angel
  • Who Am I without Him?: Short Stories about Girls and the Boys in their Lives by Sharon Flake
  • Rage: A Love Story by Julie Anne Peters
  • Someone to Love Me by Anne E. Schraff (Bluford High)
  • A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
  • Fault Line by Janet Tashjian
  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
  • Pay the Piper: A Rock 'N' Roll Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
NONFICTION
  • Skin: The Science Inside by the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Boyology: A Teen Girl's Crash Course in All Things Boy by Sarah O'Leary Burningham
  • Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change by Bonnie Burton
  • Ask CosmoGirl! about Beauty: All the Answers to Your Questions about Hair, Makeup, Skin, & More by Cosmogirl (2 copies)
  • Born Beautiful: The African American Teenager's Complete Beauty Guide by Alfred Fornay
  • Teen Beauty Secrets: Fresh, Simple, & Sassy Tips for Your Perfect Look by Diane Irons
  • In Love and in Danger: A Teen's Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships by Barrie Levy
  • Respect: A Girl's Guide to Getting Respect and Dealing When Your Line Is Crossed by Coutrney Macavinta and Anthea Van Der Pluym
  • Just Us Girls: Secrets to Feeling Good About Yourself, Inside and Out by Moka with Melissa Daly

11.20.2009

Realistic Fiction from our Book Groups

A lot of the reading I do is in preparation for our teen book discussion groups, so here are short reviews of three titles that have sparked interesting discussions lately. Don't forget to click on the book cover to look for an available library copy!


Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes

After five bored freshmen start randomly singing and playing along with a radio commercial during detention, they decide to put their diverse musical talents together to form an avant-garde pop band. As social outcasts, they name their band after the equally outcast frozen lemonade machine at their school. Somehow their blend of ukelele, bass, trumpet, congas, and singing gains them a cult following and propels them to local stardom. But is it really possible to transcend your school's accepted social order without some kind of backlash?


The Last Chance Texaco by Brent Hartinger

At 15, Lucy Pitt has landed in a foster care group home that is the last stop before juvie. She's been in state care for eight years, so she does her best to be inconspicuous in her new home and school. However, her hot temper and sharp sense of justice get her noticed in both places. A fight on the first day of school lands her a long string of after-school trash duty with her tormentor, one of the most popular guys in school. And when she starts breaking house rules to investigate suspicious fires in her neighborhood, she puts not only herself, but the entire group home, in danger.


Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

Mina was just trying to do the right thing when she wrote the letter. But, in trying to apologize to a classmate, she got herself completely ostracized by her church and its youth group. When that same youth group mounts a campaign against the teaching of evolution in her science class, Mina finds herself the object of ridicule, scorn, and harassment as she tries to figure out exactly what she believes. The battle lines are drawn, pitting her passionate science teacher against the powerful church preacher. And Mina has to reinvent herself even as she is questioning everything she has ever believed in.

11.19.2009

Rock On!

Yesterday, 25 people showed up to play Rock Band after school. It was a little crazy, but a lot of fun! We started with Rock Band: The Beatles, but as more people arrived we switched to Rock Band 2. A bunch of people were willing to sing, so it gave Avis and me a break! It probably helped that we have the house rule of letting the singer pick the song to play. Some people who attended were really amazing players, so a lot of people watched the game when they weren't playing. Of course, everyone enjoyed the snacks, demolishing two big bags of cookies, a giant package of string cheese, and some clementines. We will definitely do this a few times over the winter, so be sure to check the schedule when it comes out next month.

11.18.2009

Teens and Tans Discussion Questions

In addition to having great table discussions, our Teens and Tans participants covered our tables with Sharpie comments and drawings. Check out some of my favorite responses:

What new information did you learn today? How will it change what you do? What will you share with your friends?




What messages do you see in pop culture about tanning? How else does the media deal with issues of skin color? How does this make you feel?





What places do you go outdoors? How can you protect yourself? What if people make fun of you?





Why do some people like to tan? How can you talk about the dangers of tanning without making anyone feel bad about their skin color?

11.17.2009

New Reviewed Books

The Delaware County Library System office gets lots of teen books for review, and the deal is that we can have them for our libraries if we take the time to review them. So, here are the new additions to our teen collection that I reviewed in the past few weeks:
  • Privilege by Kate Brian (Privilege series)
  • Crazy Diamond by David Chotjewitz
  • A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson by Barbara Dana
  • Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "The Ballad of Mulan" by Cameron Dokey
  • The Blonde of the Joke by Bennett Madison
  • The Frost Child by Eoin McNamee (Navigator trilogy)
  • Sprout by Dale Peck
  • The Stone Child by Dan Poblocki
  • Bad Apple by Laura Ruby
  • The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

11.15.2009

Teens and Tans!

Even though it was gorgeous outside today, 24 teens showed up for our Teens and Tans program. We started the event with a presentation by Janet DeSipio, a Physician Assistant at Bryn Mawr Skin and Cancer Institute. She brought a slide presentation and talked about the structure of skin, skin cancer, and skin care. It was interesting, educational, and a little bit scary! The group asked a lot of great questions and the presentation actually went on longer than I had expected. That's good, though, because it meant that everyone was paying attention and actually learning something!

After the presentation, we rotated through four tables to discuss issues of sun exposure, tanning, and skin color. Members of the Teen Advisory Board kept the discussion at each table on track, and everyone was able to write on the table covers while they talked. Everyone enjoyed covering the tables with graffiti, but they also showed a lot of interesting thoughts. I will share some of the ideas in a future post.

While we were eating healthy snacks (good for the skin!), we looked at the ingredients on a variety of daily-use facial sunscreen products. I purchased four at Target and two at the beauty counters at Macy's. Ms. DeSipio recommended looking for ingredients that block UVA rays, especially recommending at least 3% avobenzone. (Some brands of sunscreen use trademarked names for formulations of UVA-blockers, such as Helioplex, Parsol 1789, and Mexoryl.) We found that five of the six face sunscreens had these ingredients. The only one that didn't was the cheapest, a Target store brand, and we tossed it in the trash!

At the end of the program, Roslyn was the lucky winner of the Neutrogena gift basket, and five other people took home those bottles of daily-use sunscreen. Everyone at the event went home with a gift bag of sample products from Ms. DeSipio and book called The Science Inside Skin. If you missed the program, check out a copy of the book from the teen nonfiction section. There are also several other new books on skin care, health, and beauty, so look for those as well.

Funding for this program was from Neutrogena through a grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Thanks!!

Ms. DeSipio giving her presentation to the group.

A group talking and writing about one of our discussion questions.

The lesson of the day.

Skin & Beauty Books

When I was researching for our Teens and Tans program, I found that there are not a lot of great books for teens that are just about skin care. So, here are some teen health and beauty books, as well as some skin care books published for adults, that you might find helpful.
  • Skin: The Science Inside by the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual: For Everyone from Beginner to Pro by Bobbi Brown
  • Bobbi Brown Teenage Beauty: Everything You Need to Look Pretty, Natural, Sexy, & Awesome by Bobbi Brown and Annemarie Iverson
  • Ask CosmoGirl! about Beauty: All the Answers to Your Questions about Hair, Makeup, Skin, & More by CosmoGirl
  • The African American Woman's Guide to Successful Make-Up and Skin Care by Alfred Fornay
  • Teen Beauty Secrets: Fresh, Simple, & Sassy Tips for Your Perfect Look by Diane Irons
  • Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin by Ellen Marmur, M. D.
  • Teen Makeup: Looks to Match Your Every Mood by Linda Mason
  • Skin Health Information for Teens: Health Tips about Dermatological Concerns and Skin Cancer Risks edited by Robert Aquinas McNally
  • Body Drama: Real Girls, Real Bodies, Real Issues, Real Answers by Nancy Amanda Redd
  • You Being Beautiful: the Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty by Michael F. Roizen, M. D., and Mehmet C. Oz, M. D.
  • Dr. Susan Taylor's RX for Brown Skin: Your Prescription for Flawless Skin, Hair, and Nails by Susan C. Taylor, M. D.
  • The New Science of Perfect Skin: Understanding Skin-Care Myths and Miracles for Radiant Skin at Any Age by Daniel Yarosh, Ph.D.

11.14.2009

Real-Life Frindle

In the children's book Frindle by Andrew Clements, a boy invents and popularizes the word frindle as a substitute for pen. He is at odds with his teacher, who goes to great lengths to stamp out the word. Of course, this only makes it more popular with the kids at his school and beyond.

So, it cracked me up to read about a high school in Connecticut that has banned the use of the word meep. This is a totally made up word, used by Beaker, Road Runner, and sometimes appearing as an expression in manga. Apparently, students at the school were uttering disruptive "meeps" and planning a "mass-meep" using Facebook. If the lesson of Frindle holds true in real life, someday we'll see meep in the dictionary!

Read the local news article, or listen to an NPR interview.

New Moon Madness!

Last night, 36 people came out to celebrate the New Moon movie at our release party. We did it a week early so it didn't interfere with anyone's actual movie viewing, and the bonus was that it was Friday the 13th! Huge thanks to the Teen Advisory Board (TAB) for funding this event and suggesting some of the activities. The TAB purchased the cardboard cutout of Robert Pattinson, as well as all of the Twilight products we used for prizes and some of the craft supplies.

Some of our activities came from the hilarious new dating advice book The Vampire Is Just Not That Into You. We took two magazine-style quizzes to test our compatibility with the vampire of our dreams and we also wrote vampire love poetry. I wish I had more than one copy of the book in our collection because a lot of people wanted to check it out!

After watching the relevant scene in the Twilight movie, we made glitter gel, so that we could sparkle like a vampire in the sun. Scooping it into the containers proved to be more of a challenge than I bargained for. Next time, we will use funnels! It did turn out really cute, though. We also did a Mad-Lib of the initial meeting of Bella and Edward. I had to collect a lot of nouns, verbs, and adjectives, but it was really funny, especially after watching the serious scene in the Twilight movie.

Later, we had a cupcake decorating contest in honor of the beginning of New Moon when Alice sets up an elaborate celebration of Bella's birthday. Everone got a devil's food cupcake with white icing and directions to do something related to the Twilight series. After that, it was a free-for-all of candy, pretzels, red and black icing, and creativity! Emily was the overall winner and she won a New Moon shirt, while our four runners-up (Anila, Jasmine, Kaitlyn, and Jolene)won Twilight Sweetarts. We watched some of the New Moon movie trailers while we enjoyed the cupcakes and some other snacks.

At the end, my book display of vampire fiction was demolished, and a lot of people also took my newly-updated list of vampire books. If you missed the list, extra copies are now down in the teen section. I hope everyone had a great time!

Robert Pattinson was a popular guest at our party!

The winning entry in our cupcake decorating contest!

A cupcake runner-up: I loved his hair

Another runner-up: Edward and Bella

One more runner-up: a pretzel werewolf