10 December 2008

Fancy White Trash by Marjetta Geerling

Abby Savage is the only normal one in her family. She thinks so, and pretty much everyone else around her thinks so, too. Abby has two sisters, a mom, a largely-absentee alcoholic dad, a stepfather (who is also her sister’s ex-boyfriend and the biological father of her niece), a niece, another niece on the way, and – surprise! – another sister on the way. She also has a gay best friend, Cody, and a love interest in Cody’s older brother, Jackson, who are also her next-door neighbors. This mish-mosh of characters perfectly represents the way that this novel is written. This is a just-for-fun book that presents too much sexual banter, drinking, and overall “unwholesomeness” to really warrant a positive recommendation. However, despite the lack of quality that goes into the plot or authentic character development, teenage girls are bound to be sucked into Abby’s drama. The text is quick-moving and readers might just feel compelled to follow through to see how everything wraps up. The characters are all entertaining in the style “Jerry Springer,” but if you have an aversion for soap operas, you might want to choose an alternative brand of chick lit.

Without the quality to make up for the content, too much underage drinking and out-in-the-open sexual behavior limit this book’s readership.

Call number: YA GEERLING (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt

Dana Reinhardt does it again. Realistic fiction at its best tells the story of seventeen-year-old Harper, who decides to take a break from life, including from her broken family and her none-too-perfect sort-of boyfriend. Her passion for environmental and social responsibility leads her to the volunteer organization, Homes from the Heart, and she ends up spending her whole summer rebuilding a home in Tennessee that was destroyed by a tornado. Upon her arrival, she is stressed out and tired of having to deal with people, but new friends and tough physical work begin to break her down and win her over. More than anything, it is watching her get to know her new friends and fall in love with Teddy, the son in the family for whom the home is being rebuilt, that allows the reader to become completely immersed in the story, wherever it leads. Her ultimate realizations about family, relationships, independence, and love are the icing on top of the cake. The reader is alternatively heartbroken and uplifted by Harper, and by those who lift her higher. Some age- and situation-appropriate language and some sexual encounters might make this story appropriate for an older readership, but the character’s exploration will appeal to teens and adults alike.

Highly recommended to high school readers.
Call number: YA REINHARDT (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

09 December 2008

Madapple by Christina Meldrum

Aslaug is a fifteen-year-old girl who would have been average if she had just lived a different life. Aslaug was born to a woman who claimed to “have never had a lover,” and was then raised in isolation, her only companions being lessons in religion, language, and botany. When Aslaug’s mother dies, she discovers that she has an aunt and two cousins who live nearby. She is fascinated by her cousins, who seem equally fascinated by her, although for different reasons, and her relationships with her newfound family go through dramatic shifts as the plot progresses. Told through shifting time periods, half of the story follows the events following Aslaug’s mother’s death up to the present time; the other piece of the whole covers the trial for the death of Aslaug’s aunt and cousin. Religion, magic, and science play major roles in the mood and depth of this story. Ultimately, this story leaves readers focused on the idea of perspective, and how the understanding of theories and actions can completely change based on the point of view of the storyteller.

While the text of the story sometimes drifts uncontrollably to botany details and longwinded religious debate (mostly historical rather than contemporary controversial), this is an original and fascinating novel about family, self, perception, and love. Because of high-quality content, the writing and story are best suited for high school readers. The cover is breathtaking, and the characters unpredictable, and the story captivating.

This book is recommended to high school readers.
Call number: YA MELDRUM (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

BOOK CLUB - JAN - Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would "unwind" them Connor's parents want to be rid of him because he's a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev's unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family's strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can't be harmed -- but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

Ø Could this situation happen? Do you understand how policies are made in government?

Ø What character do you relate to the most? What are the roles that Connor, Risa, and Lev played in this story?

Ø What kind of parent would choose to have their child unwound? Why?

Ø Where does life begin? Where does it end? What does being “alive” mean? Should Unwinds be considered “dead” or “alive,” or something else?

Ø Explain CyFi’s situation. What happens to him, and what do you think happened after he confronted Tyler’s parents?

Ø Describe what takes place during Roland’s last scene with Connor. What is it meant to show about Roland? Is it meant to imply anything about being an Unwind? (Can unwinding take kids that are somewhat deviant and make them far worse? Had the circumstances been different, would Roland have been the same kind of person? “He was a decent kid, protecting his mother like he did, and then his whole situation turned him into a self-centered, power-hungry bully, still with that core of decency that prevented him from committing murder.”)

Ø How did you react to Roland’s final scene? How did you react to Mai’s last scene?

Ø What are your thoughts on the Admiral? Does he redeem himself in the end?

Ø What do you think the ending of the story brings to the story as a whole?

Ø Where there parts of the story that you feel like you missed? Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from three separate points-of-view? How did some of the stories overlap?

07 November 2008

First Place - TRW Creative Writing Contest

Why Reading is Important
They whisper love will trump them all
But I believe that it can fall
In words we find an endless way
For passioned reason to hold its sway

Of Romeo and Juliet
Their love was true, but fixed, preset
Did not the stars still twist their fate?
So love was killed with burning hate

I’ll tell you now where lies power
One needs not life to stay alive
It’s through the words which we devour
We find a way to learn, to thrive

Immortality, the only path
To not incur a fearful wrath
Is paved with words set forth to last
Since words hold true, hold strong, hold fast

To read is, so, to honor life
And free oneself from pain and strife
For strength of that, the written word
Is truth one gained, one’s mind conjured

A world half yours, a world half real
A wondrous place for all to feel
It opens gates to endless sky
Where only fools need wings to fly
--Lily Ting, a senior at Indian Hills High School

Runner Up - TRW Creative Writing Contest

Why Is Reading Important?

Everyone knows Jared Kennedy. He’s infamous. Jared is that kid who always goes around school asking those random questions, saying he’s on a “quest for truth.” Jared’s latest question centers on the importance of literacy – whether reading is actually important or not. (A few say that this question was prompted by a bad grade in English class; others say that Jared is simply an anomaly and refuse to continue attempting to figure him out.) So Jared, in typical Jared fashion, decided to ask that very question: “Is reading important?”

Jared first asked Kurt Schneebly, captain of the Mathletes. The MIT hopeful thought carefully for some minutes, before answering, “Well, obviously reading is important. Without reading, ideas cannot be passed from one person to the nest. As history shows us, this passing of ideas was especially critical in the Age of Exploration, when Europe was trying to establish new colonies in the 1600s. Point is: without reading works from other explorers, Columbus would never have found an incentive to explore. America would not exist.” Jared then proceeded to pose the same question to Marcus, the class clown. “Dude reading is awesome!” exclaimed the jokester. “Everyone things I’m ridiculously funny but honestly I just quote Oscar Wilde without sourcing him.” Marcus winked. Laughing, Jared continued on his search for truth. He proceeded to ask the head of the English Department. Mrs. DuPont answered, “Well without reading I would have no job . . . nor would I have any entertainment.” She grinned wickedly, “You have no idea how amusing it is to watch children attempt to analyze Shakespeare.” Jared then asked the assumed valedictorian of the class of 2009. Jamie responded matter-of-factly, “I read because it boosts SAT scores.”

Satisfied with his collected answers, Jared went home. He picked up Lord of the Rings and proceeded to be drawn into a fantasy world. When Jared arose from his mesmerized state three hours later, he finally understood the importance of reading. Reading provides an unparalleled escape from reality. Reading mandates the exercise of pure imagination, the most liberating and powerful experience in which a human being can partake.

--AnnaLee, a Junior at Immaculate Heart Academy

Teen Read Week Creative Writing Contest!

Congratulations to the winners of Franklin Lakes Public Library's second Teen Creative Writing Contest!
Lily Ting Hsu received First Prize: a $50 Barnes & Noble Gift Card.

AnnaLee Rice received Second Prize: a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card.

The Teen Creative Writing Contest was part of the celebration of Teen Read Week 2008. Teen Read Week is the national adolescent literacy initiative of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), the fastest growing division of the American Library Association. The theme for the writing contest this year was “Why is Reading Important?” At Franklin Lakes Public Library and area schools, teens were given a contest entry form and were encouraged to create an original short story, essay, poem, screenplay, etc. Copies of the winning entries can be found in the library and on the Teen Blog at http://katethelibraryan.blogspot.com. Thank you to all who submitted entries for this contest; we appreciate your participation!

For more information about teen reading and Teen Read Week, visit
www.ala.org/teenread. For more information about library programs and contests, visit www.franklinlakeslibrary.org.

21 September 2008

Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

Courtney is stuck traveling with her recently-ex-boyfriend, Jordan, from their homes in Miami to begin their first year at Boston University. Told from alternating points of view and switching between the time spent in the car during the roadtrip and the events leading up to the breakup, this unlikely tale is full of secrets and revelations. With each character’s input, the reader learns more about the characters themselves, as well as the backstory, colored by additional storylines. Nothing – the characters, the backstory, or the sidestory – ever becomes more than two-dimensional, the story is full of predictable plot points, and a bit more careful editing wouldn’t have hurt the final product. However, the characters are interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention for as long as it takes to get through to the end. It’s a quick, fun read, if ultimately unoriginal. Two Way Street is an optional purchase, and the number of mentions and insinuations of drug and alcohol use and sex might limit it to older teen collections in public libraries.

Recommended for high school readers.
Call number: YA BARNHOLDT (Teen Room)

Reviewed by Kate the Librarian

01 August 2008

Meet the Robinsons

This is a great movie that gives you a dazzling view of the future and shows that family can be closer than you think.

Reviewed by Angelica.

09 July 2008


This movie was very cute, always funny, and I could watch it over and over again.

Reviewed by Neda.

Hoot by Carl Hiassen

I really enjoyed the book Hoot. It was hilarious. I loved it, and you should read it!

Reviewed by Angelica.

Bee Movie

This movie wasn't so great; it was just okay. I liked the ending and the beginning. I wouldn't want to watch it again.

Reviewed by Neda.

01 July 2008


Metrostation is a band that I love. Their music is great. My favorite song is "Shake It." Mitchel Musso and Miley Cyrus's brothers are in this band together. They really are good. They are one of my favorite bands.

Reviewed by Neda.

Life as We Knew It

This book was very good and well written. I could read it over and over again. I felt as if I was there surviving like how they did. This is one of my favorite books.

Reviewed by Neda.

The Gameplan

This is a very cute and funny movie. It showed the role of a father. You can watch it over and over again and not get sick of it. I would rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Heba.

Dear Dumb Diary, My Pants are Haunted

This book was very funny; I could read it over and over again. Even though this book is fiction, it seems like a real girl's point of view and opinions on many ideas and thoughts. This book is one of my favorite books. It is a series.

Reviewed by Neda.

29 June 2008

Fire on Ice by Sasha Cohen

Sasha Cohen's Fire on Ice is about Sasha and what she had to do to become a professional figure skater, including what she had to leave behind and the bad times and good times about it. Her parents had to leave so much stuff behind so they could pay for all of her classes. They had to face the loss of their cat and Sasha was very sad. At the end, Sasha ends up winning a gold medal and she did the best, so after all that, all the hard work finally paid off. [Readers and ice skating fans, you can find this book with the call # J BIOG COHEN]

Reviewed by Maxime.

Rush Hour 3

A very funny movie about how friendships always last. I loved the fighting and how the good guys always win. There was a nice blend of cultures and different backgrounds.

Reviewed by Neda.

23 June 2008

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

Heartbeat had a great meaning, and I also love the cover and back of the book. The moral of this story was very touching. Sometimes it was funny or serious. This book was written by one of my favorite authors, Sharon Creech.

Reviewed by Neda.


This movie was very funny, made for children and adults. I loved the setting and story, as well as the characters.

Reviewed by Neda.

17 April 2008

Third Place - Teen Poetry Contest

The letter was left unaddressed.
A snow-white stampless envelope.
Unmailed; all concentrated hope.
For sealed forever's often best.

It's placed and locked inside the drawer,
It still yellows; not given thought,
Passed unnoticed more oft' than not.
This desk is not used anymore.

But now as thunder shakes the room,
The lock is turned on that same drawer;
and memories from the note do pour.
Contented silence beyond rain's gloom.

written by Marielle, Indian Hills High School

Second Place - Teen Poetry Contest

The World

A wimper
A cry
A scream
Silence . . .

Listen to this endless Void
Your scream of emptiness
All alone
Fading . . .

Existing in nothing
Living in a lie
There is Nothing more
Hiding the Truth

How quaint
Hearing the story of heaven and Hell
When it's already obvious
You are burning away . . .

Striving for nothing
Life is meaningless
Holding onto fleeting illusions
So hurting, so wanting . . .

The world gathers around
Empty faces, hollow eyes
Death everywhere
How strange, hear them scream of uniqueness

Walk, jog, run, sprint
How funny
You can never escape
Endless eyes watching, and watching . . .

Run Away! Hide Away!
Until you finally die
From hollow eyes, empty souls
Running into darkness . . .

Weep, sob. Why are you crying?
Hiding away in the darkness
Crying in that corner
All alone, with empty strings pulling and pulling

Your final scream
Your cry of freedom
Your shout of difference
Oops! Too late

You are already dead
Walking with empty eyes
Hollow strings tugged tighter
Laughing, laughing, such a quaint smile

Search and find
Oh! There's another one
Let's heart it scream
Let's let it Die once more . . .

This is what was lost
This is the truth

Welcome to
Our beautiful world . . .

written by Kevin, Indian Hills High School

First Place - Poetry Contest

T. S. Eliot

It's like when you're sleeping,
Though you're partly awake,
Dreaming a dream that
You want to escape.

But you just don't know how.
We all don't. Don't understand.

So this is my life:
Stuck between the conscious
And the oblivion.
The grip is so entrancing.

You are falling and not feeling,
Downward into the black tornado,
You know you're alive, but
Something in you has died.

You must keep trying.
You will fail, but you must. We all must.

And then you wake up
With a jump you'll regret,
Wishing you were back again,
Back were you might have been before.

He walks forward from
The light into your darkness.
He, like you, is alone.
He speaks slowly, pausing,
Recalling the forever embedded.
His are glassy, his pupils dilated.
He blinks, takes a deep breath,
And asks the question no one will answer.

Where is the life
We have lost in living?

written by Justin, Indian Hills High School

NLW Poetry Contest

Congratulations to the winners of the Franklin Lakes Public Library's first Teen Poetry Contest!
Justin, a freshman at Indian Hills High School, received First Prize: a $50 American Express Gift Card.

Kevin, a sophomore at Indian Hills High School, received Second Prize: a $25.00 Starbucks Gift Card.

Marielle, a sophomore at Indian Hills High School, received Third Prize: a $25.00 Starbucks Gift Card.

The Teen Poetry Contest was part of the celebration of National Library Week 2008.

At Franklin Lakes Public Library and area schools, teens were given a contest entry form and encouraged to create original poems or song lyrics. We received 11 awesome poems or songs, and three winners were chosen. Copies of the winning entries can also be found in the library. Thank you so much to all the teens who submitted entries for this contest - It made the job of choosing just three winners very difficult for the judges! Thank you for your participation.

19 March 2008

One Book NJ online book discussion

Log onto our online book discussion of Dr. Franklin's Island and chat directly with author Ann Halam!!


on Thursday, April 3 at 7:00 p.m.
& Thursday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m.

03 March 2008


Hey guys -

Don't forget.. This is a great place to rate, recommend, and review your favorite books, movies, music, comics, video and computer games, whatever! It's also not a bad place to bash your least favorites... nicely, of course.

Any questions? Post a comment here or email me!