30 June 2009

Hardwear Jewelry...

...was so fun yesterday afternoon! Using the book Hardwear : jewelry from a toolbox by Hannah Rogge (a contender for the 2010 Garden State Teen Book Award in the nonfiction category, by the way), we kicked off the Teen Summer Reading Program at Franklin Lakes Library. We made earrings from washers and anklets and necklaces from different sized nuts. We could have done so much more with all types of supplies that can typically be found in a hardware store, but we ran out of time. We were surprised at how absolutely easy the projects where (the ones we tackled anyway), and the best part was that I got all the supplies at Michael's craft store or from my dad's workroom! The different textures and colors (from some of the older hex nuts, especially) actually made the jewelry pieces that much more interesting. I destroyed my nails (because I was too cool for the needle-nose pliers), but love my new anklet. (Click on the pictures for a closer look... be warned: it's pretty close-up.)

Hardwear : jewelry from a toolbox is available at the library.
Call number: YA 745.5942 ROG (shelved with adult nonfiction)

For more information on upcoming teen programs at the library and the Teen Summer Reading Program, go online to the library's calendar of events.

29 June 2009

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I recently read the book Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, the first in a four-book series. In my opinion, it wasw a very good book and I recommend it to young teenagers. Ms. Meyer has a very creative mind and I can't wait to continue the series.
Call number: YA MEYER (Teen Room, where you'll find the entire series)
Reviewed by Caroline, age 12

Book Club - JULY 15 - Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern

Anna Bloom is depressed—so depressed that her parents have committed her to a mental hospital with a bunch of other messed-up teens. Here she meets a roommate with a secret (and a plastic baby), a doctor who focuses way too much on her weight, and a cute, shy boy who just might like her. But wait! Being trapped in a loony bin isn’t supposed to be about making friends, losing weight, and having a crush, is it? In her fiction debut, Julie Halpern finds humor in the unlikeliest of places, and presents a character whose voice—and heart—will resonate with all of us who have ever felt just a little bit crazy.

Ø Why is Anna in a mental hospital?

Ø What “issues” does Anna think she has? Is she suicidal? Is she overly-obsessed with her weight? Is she a danger to others?

Ø What factors do you think really contributed to her parents’ decision to place Anna in the hospital?

Ø How does Anna treat the other patients? How do they treat her?

Ø Describe some of the other characters. How do their perceptions of themselves allow you to get to know them?

Ø What gets Anna through each day while she’s in the hospital?

Ø Can you put yourself in Anna’s shoes? Do you think she’s crazy?

Ø If it was you, what would you NEED to bring? Why does Anna crave her own clothes, her favorite shoes?

Ø What do you think will happen between Anna and Justin?

Ø What is life like for the “patients” on the “outside”? How do you think Anna is going to adjust back in her real life? How do you think she might be treated – by her family, Tracy, kids at school?

Snack ideas: Cap’n Crunch cereal

Activity ideas: Draw portraits of each other!

Book Club - JULY 8 - The Saga of the Bloody Benders by Rick Geary

This addition to the Treasury of Victorian Murder series delves into the minds of the family notoriously known as the Bloody Benders, and with black-and-white graphics explores just a piece of their murderous journey through the wild west in the late 19th Century.

This great graphic novel invites fantastic discussion based simply on:

Ø Speculate on who the Bloody Benders are, where they are from, where they went, and what they did!
Ø Describe how the town reacts to the drama going on in town.
Ø Describe how the time period and geographical nature of the Kansas Frontier affect the events of the story.
Ø How might the story of the Bloody Benders have been exaggerated over time? How much of these events do you believe are true?

Snack ideas: Mmm… something bloody??

28 June 2009

Shug by Jenny Han

I thought Shug was a great book. It had a lot of romance and drama. It is about a tall, freckled twelve-year-old girl named Annemarie. She is trying to get a first kiss from her best friend. Annemarie is starting middle school and she acts so different around Mark now. Since they have been best friends, she wants to tell him that she wants him for her first kiss, but she also doesn't want to tell him. It is a complicated life for Annemarie. But her's is a great love story.
Recommended for middle school readers, especially girls with a taste for romance.
Call number: YA HAN (Teen Room)
Reviewed by Chloe, age 12

11 June 2009

Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

Another tragic story of death bringing life into perspective. Through a series of first person narration and letters to her best friend Julia, Amy tells the story of Julia's death, but she also tells the story of her own insecurities, dreams, and family problems. Amy's parents never wanted children, and have ignored her for most of her life. Now that she's sixteen and the cause of her best friend's death, all of a sudden they think she's an important part of their lives. Amy didn't have many friends before except for Julia, but now everyone at school avoids her, except for Mel, Patrick, and oddly enough, Caro. And all Amy can think about is how many days Julia's been gone, and how many days it's been since she's had a drink.
We meet Amy as she finishes up a stint in rehab for alcohol abuse, we follow her through therapy sessions (both formal and those other unplanned sessions with Patrick), family movie nights, and a visit to Julia's grave. Time doesn't heal all wounds, but we watch Amy grow stronger with each choice that she makes.
Recommended for high school readers.
Call number: YA SCOTT (Teen Room)
Reviewed by kate the librarian

08 June 2009

This Book Isn't Fat, It's Fabulous by Nina Beck

Sometimes girls need their guilty pleasures, and this book could be one of them. There is something about this book that makes you want to keep reading without even coming up for air.

Riley Swain is fabulous. “Fabulous, in Riley-speak, is more than just what you wear, or who does your hair. Those things are obviously important, but fabulous is the way you hold yourself, the way you inspire others to treat you.” So, that’s better than being rich or beautiful, although she’s also both of those things. Riley thinks that her only real problem in life is that she’s in love with her best friend, and he’s the only boy just not that into her (and he’s not even gay). Her father thinks that her only real problem is that she’s overweight. So despite her boy troubles, she’s sent off to New Horizons Program for Young Ladies . . . also known as Fat Camp. Riley didn’t think she could be any more fabulous, but things can always get better.

The story is predictable, but the characters are fabulous. From the start, Riley is happy with who she is, despite what others think of her, but she also finds out how to be a better friend, and better to herself. This is a quick fun read, with a bit of a turn away from the typical girls-who-have-it-all. Recommended for high school girls. (Coming up next: This Girl Isn't Shy, She's Spectacular.)

Call number: YA BECK (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks

Peter is having sort of a lazy summer. Better yet, he’s in the midst of a lazy teenage boy life. When Nicole calls saying that she wants to get the group together one last time before she and her twin brother move with the family to Paris, how can he say no? Even when a little voice in his head is telling him not to go.

The night that Peter, Nicole, Eric, Pauly, and Raymond meet up at “for old time’s sake” changes everything for everyone. Stella Ross, a childhood friend turned famous model/actress/star, goes missing from the carnival and it seems that everyone who saw her that night is being considered a suspect, especially Raymond, who has also gone missing. Peter’s dad, the cop, gets kicked off the case because Peter was one of last people to be seen talking to Stella and Raymond. But all Peter wants to do is find his friend and prove his innocence, so he can’t seem to keep away from the wrong people at the wrong times.

This is a full-fledged mystery, complete with distrust, last-minute twists, and a touch of gore. Brooks doesn’t hold back for the sake of his readers, so this book is only recommended for older mystery readers who have a taste for the bizarre. At times predictable, and at other times just too weird to completely grasp, this mystery manages to pull the reader along, whether he likes it or not.

Call number: YA BROOKS (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

Book Club - JULY 1 - Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

Stuck in Neutral is the heartbreaking tale of a young boy, Shawn, who has cerebral palsy and who is profoundly developmentally disabled. However, inside his broken body, Shawn believes himself to be a genius due to his ability to remember everything he has ever seen or heard. Shawn is unable to prove this power to anyone around him as he is unable to communicate, and is unable to even focus his eyes where he wants them to go. Shawn also cannot protect himself when his father decides the best thing he can do for him is kill him. Stuck in Neutral is a journey into a world where no one can truly go but the actual participants, both in Shawn's role and the role of his father.

To the world, Shawn's senses seem dead. Within these pages, however, we meet a side of him that no one else has seen: a spirit that is rich beyond imagining, breathing life.

Ø Characterize Shawn. Does he seem real? Why?

Ø Discuss cerebral palsy. What causes this condition? Do all children with this affliction become like Shawn? Do you know anyone who has this condition? How would you feel if your brother or sister had this condition? Did reading this book give you any insight into living with a disability? Why? Has this book changed your perceptions of people who are disabled?

Ø How is Shawn just like a “normal” teenager? What did he have in common with you? How is Shawn misunderstood in the same and different ways than other people?

Ø What is your definition of quality of life? Do you think that Shawn has a good life? What do you think his life is like? Would you be happy living without the ability to communicate? Why or why not? How do you think Shawn defines quality of life? Why does Shawn want to live?

Ø What is parental responsibility? What do you see has your parents' responsibility toward you? How would you describe Shawn’s family? What are the similarities and differences among the men and the women of Shawn’s family? How did the parents’ divorce affect the family as individuals and as a group?

Ø What are Shawn's father's responsibilities toward him? Why do you think Shawn's father thinks it is his responsibility to end Shawn's pain? Do you think he has that right?

Ø What do you think Shawn’s father believed about Shawn as a person and his life? Do you think his father was using him for fame? Would you describe him as selfish or selfless? Is he suffering more for Shawn or himself? Why do you think so?

Ø How do you think this story would have worked if Shawn’s parents were not divorced? How might that have changed the family relationships and Shawn? How did the divorce bring another dynamic to the story?

Ø What roles did Cindy and Paul play in this story? How do you think they were affected by being raised in a family with a sibling like Shawn? Were these effects positive or negative? Do you think these characters were realistic? Do you think they were important characters?

Ø Do you think Shawn's father killed him or not? Why?

Ø Has this book changed your views of euthanasia or abortion?

Ø Why do you think the book was written in the first person? Retell the story from the mother's point of view; from his sister Cindy's; and from his brother Paul's.

Ø Do you think the title fits the book? Why or why not?

Ø Terry Trueman includes a note at the end, saying that his son, Sheehan, has a condition similar to Shawn’s. Does knowing this about the author take away or add to the story? Would you have preferred to know this before you read the book instead of after? Why do you think Mr. Trueman wrote this story?

05 June 2009

Compilation of Novels in Verse...

Here are brief reviews/synopses of just a handful of teen fiction written in poetry or verse. Novels in verse are so awesome because they read super quickly, and because they are designed to pack a lot of punch into just a few words.

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder is a typical "I love him so much, I can't live without him!" teenage chick book, except the boy in this one is actually dead. Ava still loves Jackson but she doesn't know how to get him to rest in peace, and how to go one living the rest of her own life. Also, check out Far from You. (YA SCHROEDER in the Teen Room)

Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas is another heartbreaking novel of parental abuse. The twist on this one is that Anke can't figure out which is worse: the fact that her father beats on her older brother and sister, or the fact that he completely ignores her. Anke figures out how to take control when Dad crosses the line. (YA CHALTAS in the Teen Room)

Identical by Ellen Hopkins has so many twists and turns that you won't know what's real until the characters want you to know. All of Hopkins' novels in verse are emotionally wrought and sometimes heartbreaking, but they are worth every word. Tricks is coming out soon! But in the meantime, it's worth your while to seek out Crank (and its sequel Glass), Burned, and Impulse. (YA HOPKINS in the Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

Some of Tim's Stories by S. E. Hinton

Disclaimer: I love S. E. Hinton. The Outsiders is hands-down my favorite book; I could read it over, and over, and over again (and have). I met the author two years ago at Book Expo NYC and secured a signed copy of the 40th anniversary edition of her ground-breaking book. I first read The Outsiders on the suggestion of a friend of mine in 7th grade (before we were assigned to read it in school), and have since read everything Ms. Hinton has written, including her stand-alone adult title and her children's book. I never knew that Some of Tim's Stories exsisted until I came across the 2009 edition, published by Speak.

Tim's stories are autobiographical, starring Tim himself as Mike. Terry and Mike are cousins -- their dads are brothers who married sisters -- but were raised as close as brothers. These stories tell of various times in their lives, mostly tough times through which they struggled to survive, emotionally and physically. What comes across most clearly in these stories is the idea that we very often don't know where we're going in life, how to get there, or what to do with what we have. We can almost always get from Point A to Point B, but B usually isn't what was anticipated at the onset.

The stories are followed by a series of interviews with the author, S. E. Hinton, who began writing fiction at age 15, had her first book, The Outsiders, published when she was 17, and who wrote many of Tim's Stories at a point in her life when she was struggling with severe writer's block. Understanding more of Ms. Hinton's journey helps the reader to form a closer relationship with Tim/Mike, and to come the realization that life brings unexpected twists and turns all the time . . . it's up to the individual to make the best of it.

Recommended to readers interested in the "process," and also for those who just can't get enough of the author who invented Ponyboy and Johnny . . .
Call number: YA HINTON (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

04 June 2009

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Mia has a pretty sweet life. She's the daughter of used-to-be-punk-rock-stars. She's in love with a boy in a punk rock band. (He's in love with her right back.) She has an 8-year-old brother, and they worship each other. Her whole life, she's been immersed in the Seattle scene, surrounded by music and all types of artistic impression. And, it hasn't always been super easy, but she is finally coming to terms with shunning her punk rock genes in favor of becoming a talented cellist; she's even waiting to hear about her audition at Julliard!

But sometimes things are just too good to be true, and this story is tragic. Mia is left in a coma from a car crash; her parents and her little brother die at the scene of the accident. While her body is in a coma, Mia can see, smell, and hear everything going on around her. And it's up to her to decide if she should "go" or if she should "stay."

This story will stay with the reader far beyond the last tissue.

For more musical fiction try Sarah Dessen's Just Listen or Gordon Korman's Born to Rock; for those who love tearjerkers try Jenny Downham's Before I Die or Brooke Taylor's Undone; or check out Punk Rock Etiquette by Travis Nichols or Revolution on Canvas, edited by Rich Balling, for more on the punk rock indie scene.

Recommended to middle and high school readers.
Call number: YA FORMAN (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian