Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Vote for the Teens' Top Ten!

Some of you may have noticed a ballot lying around your teen section all summer, with 26 books on it that we suggested you read and mark up as "loved," "hated," or "meh." These books are the Teens' Top Ten list of nominees, and now that you've had the summer to read at least some of them, it's time to vote! You can go here to vote for up to three of your favorite titles from among the 26 nominees. The final winners (the Top Ten!) will be announced at the end of Teen Read Week, October 8-14. You can vote from now through October 14, so add your vote for your faves.

Here are a couple of the books (Love and Gelato, The Diabolic), in an illustration I made for our summer Book Café (does the mug look familiar?). I also included Crooked Kingdom, because it was one of my personal favorites, but it's not on the ballot this year. Too bad!

Here is a link to a review of Love and Gelato, along with some more details about the Teens' Top Ten. Take a look!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What we're reading: Slice of life

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, by Benjamin Alire Saenz, has a lot going for it: an amazing variety of diverse characters; really beautiful language; and moments that provoke grief, joy, and hope, sometimes all at the same time. Like his book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, it is completely character-driven, and while in some ways a lot happens, in other ways it's simply a slice of life for a group of people in close proximity. But what a group of people!  

Salvador, 17 and starting his senior year of high school, has had both bad and good luck with family. His mother died when he was three; but he was adopted by her best friend, Vicente, a loving gay man who gifts Sal with a large, enveloping Mexican American family that includes his beloved grandmother, Mimi, with whom he has a special relationship. He is also blessed in his best friend, Sam, a girl with some issues (but, it turns out, not as many as Sal has!). She's passionate and funny and understands Sal, and their platonic relationship is so refreshing (no sappy romance overshadowing this story).

Sal is experiencing some upsets and sorrows, and they are having an unexpected and somewhat unwelcome effect on him. He is aided in working them out by Sam and by his friend Fito, and in turn is able to help them when they are the ones in need of support and counsel. The grown-ups in this book are likewise fully fleshed out and compelling in their personalities, and the interactions between Sal and his dad, in particular, are moving.

I didn't immediately fall for this book, the way I did Aristotle and Dante. It was more of a long, slow build. And there are some parts that are a little slow. But there was such a sweetness and a genuineness about the characters in this book, I couldn't help but love them. And there was some stereotype busting that I liked. The awkwardness and the stumbling around of Salvador was endearing, and the open arms of his family made me want to meet them and have them as my friends. In the end, I loved immersing myself in this segment of these lives.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book Club Report, Decisions, News

Tuesday night was the joint meeting of our three book clubs, for purposes of getting acquainted and choosing books to read for September and October. (We choose two up front so that when you come together to discuss the first at your September club, we are prepared to hand over your second. Then we're "in the groove.") So those of you who were unable to attend won't have a voice in the first two choices of what to read for club; but at our September meetings, we will choose the November book, and at that point everyone can suggest books and vote, and that procedure will continue for the rest of the year. Certain people's opinions notwithstanding (ahem), Anarda and I think we brought you a good and eclectic selection of books from which to choose for your first two reads. Here are the final choices of each club:

10-12 Club
September: The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness  
October: How It Went Down, by Kekla Magoon  

8+9 Club
September: The Accident Season, by Moira Fowley-Doyle (finally!)  
October: Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon  

6+7 Club
September: Beastkeeper, by Cat Hellisen  
October: Masterminds, by Gordon Korman  
(This club please note: We couldn't get enough copies of The Case of the Missing Marquess, by Nancy Springer, so we switched to your #3 choice, which was in the running anyway.)

In other news: We had hoped to inform the entire 10-12 Club of a change of meeting day at this meeting, but since more than half of you were unable to attend this joint meeting, we will tell you here (and send you an email): This club will now be meeting the first THURSDAY of the month, rather than the first Tuesday, due to multiple scheduling problems for the four first Tuesdays that fall on the day after a Monday national holiday. We hope this schedule works for all of you (for some it may actually be better). If it doesn't work out well for this school year, we will contemplate changing it back (or to a third alternative) for next year.

For any of you who want to be proactive about putting book club dates on your calendar, you can go here to Teen Programs on our website, choose the appropriate club (10-12, 8+9, or 6+7), and instantly see all the meeting dates there. We suggest that you add them to your family's paper calendar, print them out and stick them to the refrigerator, and/or put them on your phone schedule!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tonight: Joint Book Club Meeting

Tonight (Tuesday) at 7:00 p.m. at the Central Library, book club members please attend our pre-school-year meeting of all three of our Teen Book Clubs. New members will be introduced, people will promote from one club to the next, and we will all choose books to read that we will discuss at our first official meetings in September.

If you are not a member of a book club but would like to be, email melliott@burbankca.gov with your name, grade (going into), email address, and phone number.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Teen review: Grendel?

Grendel’s Guide to Love and War
by A. E. Kaplan
312 pages
Romance, for mature teens

Reviewed by S. L., grade 11

Grendel’s Guide to Love and War starts off with the main character, Tom Grendel. He lives with his dad in a small, quiet neighborhood with a bunch of elderly women and widows. Everything is going smoothly until one of the elderly, Minnie Taylor, passes away. Now the new neighbors, the Rothgars, have moved into Minnie’s former house.

Tom has a soft spot for their daughter, Willow Rothgar, but has been humiliated several times by her brother, Rex Rothgar, and cousin, Wolf Gates. When Ellen Rothgar, their mom, goes away to televise a hurricane over on the east coast, Rex and Wolf throw one of the loudest and most crowded parties Lake Heorot has ever seen. It drives Tom’s dad and the rest of the elderly neighbors crazy. Now it’s up to Tom to stop the party and win back peace and quiet for Lake Heorot. However, he needs help. Tom hits up his best friend, Ed Park, and his sister, Zip Grendel; and together, all three of them go on a crazy adventure and find a final solution to taking down the Rothgar’s party once and for all.

This book has been one of my favorite romance novels to read over the summer. It was so good that I read it twice in a matter of three weeks. Almost all of the characters in this book are likeable--people you would want to meet in real life. Even the cover of the book fits perfectly. The way Tom coped with the death of his mother was really interesting, and his strong bond with the elderly is also amazing. Even though the climax of the book took a little longer than other romance novels I have read, I felt so good after reading the ending; all the suspense and stress building up to get to the good parts made them an absolute pleasure.

There should be a sequel, in which Willow and Tom deepen their relationship together. I would rate this 5 swine out of 5 because it's a page-turner with an amazing and fulfilling ending.

Editor's note: Yes, it really is based on Beowulf! It's also quite humorous.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Take our survey!

Did you participate in the Teen Summer Reading Program, "Reading by Design," this summer? Did you come to a Book Café or Little Free Library program, write a book review, or get tickets for the weekly reading log drawing? Then please: TAKE OUR SURVEY!

Here is why we really need you to take it:

  1. We want to know what you thought about our summer programs, events, and activities, so that if you LOVED them, we can keep doing more of the same, but if you DIDN'T, we can do something different!
  2. If you want us to do something differently, then we need to know what! We have given space in the survey for you to express preferences between a variety of options, or even to write in your own suggestions.
  3. If you are well intentioned towards your teen librarians, then you should know that we are required by both the city and the California State Library to collect and turn in certain data about our program (it's about funding), so you'll be helping us out by responding.
  4. It's fun!

It's only 10 questions. You can find it here. If you are a teen and you came to our events or read with us or wrote book reviews this summer, then we want to hear from you!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Teen review: Urban fantasy

The Infernal Devices trilogy:
Clockwork Angel, 481 pages
Clockwork Prince, 502 pages
Clockwork Princess, 567 pages
by Cassandra Clare

Reviewed by E. C.

I chose to end my summer reading with this series. It is the prequel to the Mortal Instruments series, which I know a lot of people like, but in this case I think the prequel series is actually better. It takes place in Victorian England, where Tessa, the protagonist, has just traveled from New York, having been sent for by her brother, Nate. But instead, she is taken (not kidnapped, you'll see) by two warlocks, the Dark Sisters, who keep her for weeks, trying to unlock her previously unknown and apparently invaluable power, so that she will be prepared to marry someone called the Magister. After almost succeeding in escaping on her own, Tessa is rescued by the London Shadowhunters (demon hunters, protectors of humans, or "mundanes"). She agrees to use her power to help them against the Magister's sinister cause if they will in turn find her brother. But her world is quickly turned upside down.

What I enjoyed most about the series was the characters. Like characters should be, they are realistic in their actions, complexities, and shortcomings - as well as entertaining. In fact, one of the Shadowhunters is now among my Favorite Characters of All Time.

With regards to reading level, it is in middle school range (with the occasional need for a dictionary). With regards to the material,or content, the series is probably better suited to a high school reader. My rating: 5 out of 5. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Update: LIttle Free Libraries

Last week, we finished up painting the decor on our three LFLs. Mr. Benne, woodshop teacher (and good guy!) from Burroughs High is kindly constructing the posts on which they will be mounted, and sometime after August 2nd, we will speak with the Public Works Department to schedule installations. We will email everyone when we have dates/times, and make an event of it!

But first...on Thursday, August 3rd, we'd like you teens who designed these so thoughtfully for their various locations to come to the Central Library from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. to choose the books to go in them. We have discussed the various needs of the demographics represented at each site, and now we need to discover just the right selections that will appeal to our new "patrons."
So put it on your calendars and come browse donations
with us!