Friday, October 9, 2015

Teen Poetry


by Harika Katakotta

Across the haunted bay

dwell dystopians

camoflauged in smog

Bloodshot hunchbacks

stuffed in fleece

zig-zagging molten asphalt

Split open their hearts

and out gush songs

of sparrows and laughter

Starved of light they will

wither away, little dust hills

piled in corroded hearths

Editor's note: We seem to have some teens who like the idea of publishing poetry on the blog--if there are more of you, perhaps we will create a poetry PAGE, that you can reach from clicking on a tab at the top. So if you want your poetry featured here, please email it to!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

10-12 Book Club Report

There were 14 in attendance (out of 20) at Tuesday night's 10-12 Book Club (it seems there were choir rehearsals and surprise pop tests that kept people away) to discuss Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, by Matthew Quick.

Everyone pretty much agreed that they started out unsure about the book but were quickly pulled in and then couldn't put it down. Although the topic was controversial (and caused two book club members to stop reading at various points), most felt that the protagonist was interesting (although weird) and the story was well written. Only one person expressed active dislike for the book. A few were uncomfortable with the open ending, but most felt it was appropriate and gave them what they needed to know. Our rating was a solid 8 (high for this group).

Next month, we will be discussing Lexicon, by Max Barry, and the month after that we will read The Martian, by Andy Weir.

Other books we considered (in alpha order by author):

Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia
The Bride's Farewell, by Meg Rosoff
Lock-in, by John Scalzi

Our next meeting will be held on November 3. You can pick up your copy of Lexicon Wednesday after 4 p.m. at either library.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Teens read to tots!


November is PICTURE BOOK MONTH, so we decided it would be fun if Burbank Teens read to Burbank Tots! If you would like to be one of those teens, here are the details:

The readathon takes place from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 7, at Buena Vista Branch, in the round room in the Children's Department. But before that happens...

You would get to pick your book(s) (in consultation with the children’s librarians), check them out, take them home, and rehearse on your own before the event.

We will meet ONCE before the event (November 6 after school) to practice our stories and get pointers from each other and from one of the children’s librarians.

Then you show up to read during your given time period. We will have teens reading continuously at 15-minute intervals during that entire time, but YOU would only have to be there for your "slot."

BUT! None of this will happen unless TEENS SIGN UP!

We will make it worth your while by giving you SERVICE HOURS. Yes, we will. But we hope that you will be motivated more by the "reading to little kids" part!

If you are interested, contact or and TELL US! Name, phone, email address. We will collect names and then get back to you with a confirmation and a schedule. (Also please say if you can only do certain times—for instance, “I have swim practice from 10-12, so schedule me after 12:30.”)

We will discover some new picture books and enjoy some old favorites. People can come and listen to one, or stay for them all! If you are NOT going to be a teen reader, at least tell all the people you know who have toddlers so they will bring their children to this giant readathon storytime!

Monday, October 5, 2015

What we're reading: Charles de Lint

I wanted to discuss the works of the author Charles de Lint, because although many teens don't know about him, most of his books would be both appropriate for and interesting to teens who like fantasy and/or magical realism. He has several books that are marketed to young adults--The Blue Girl, Dingo, and Little (Grrl) Lost--and they are available in our teen sections, but his adult books are equally compelling and take place in the same universe.

His particular niche is called "urban fantasy," because instead of being set in some mythical kingdom or strange land that he "world-built" from scratch, the stories are set in an urban environment, i.e., in the city. This gives them more of a modern feel than what we typically think of as fantasy (Lord of the Rings, for instance), because it's as if we're in a contemporary, everyday place where magic is not the norm, but it still manages to creep in around the edges.

Picture yourself, for instance, walking down a busy street or through a city park. You catch a fleeting glimpse of a person that you could swear had horns growing out of his head, but then you decide that of course it must have been a hat. You see a couple of crows perched in a tree, and for an instant they look like a couple of raggedy goth girls dressed in black, but then the crows fly away and you mutter to yourself, "Got to get some coffee." The characteristic of urban fantasy is that it's happening all around you, but most people remain oblivious as they go about their day of commuting, working, playing, eating, and sleeping. The weirdness comes to a character's attention because something causes him or her to step outside of daily routine, and he is suddenly able to see more.

Charles de Lint is one of the masters of this genre. He has created a fictional city called Newford, which is loosely based on his home town of Ottawa (in Canada), although he maintains that Newford is an American city, and is much larger than Ottawa. It's hard to say just how many books he has set in and around Newford, but I counted more than 40 books on his website, and most are urban fantasy. He is one of the few writers whose short stories I enjoy; I don't usually care to read short stories (it's too truncated a format for me), but de Lint's all hang together around central themes that make them more like continuing narratives than individual stories.

On his website, he has a suggested order for reading the books set in Newford:
Dreams Underfoot (collection)
Memory and Dream (novel)
The Ivory and the Horn (collection)
Trader (novel)
Someplace to Be Flying (novel)
Moonlight and Vines (collection)
Forests of the Heart (novel)
The Onion Girl (novel)
Tapping the Dream Tree (collection)
Spirits in the Wires (novel)
Widdershins (novel)
Promises to Keep (short novel)
Muse and Reverie (collection)
Although I have enjoyed all those I have read, my favorites are Trader, and Memory and Dream.

In Trader, Max Trader wakes up one morning in someone else's bed in someone else's apartment and, when he looks in the mirror, he discovers he's also in someone else's body! After an initial period of confusion, he heads over to his own place, figuring that perhaps there's another guy inside his body. There, he discovers Johnny Devlin, a loser who has gone to sleep wishing his life could be different and has awakened to discover he "is" Max Trader, with all of Max's successes and assets, and Johnny isn't inclined to trade back! Meanwhile, Johnny's been evicted from his apartment, his possessions are impounded, and Max, walking around in Johnny's body, is sleeping on the street and considering panhandling for spare change so he can eat. Trader is the story of what happens next to both of them.

Isabelle Copley is the protagonist of Memory and Dream, which takes place in two time periods: the present, in which she is a reclusive artist living alone on an island and painting only abstracts; and the past, when she first came to Newford as an aspiring young art student and fell under the spell of the talented but abusive painter of super-realistic portraits, Vincent Rushkin. Isabelle, or Izzy as she was known then, learned a particular skill from Rushkin that at first gave her great joy in her art but later led to heartache and disaster. Through the dual story, we learn how she went from a vibrant young woman with friends, success, and happiness to the solitary, defensive person she is today...and then the story continues.

Both of these books are wonderful on so many levels--the world-building, the characters, the narrative, the magical realism verging on fantasy. I hope this will inspire you to try one of them and see if you, too, would like to be an inhabitant of Newford for a while.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Teen review: Mystery sequel

Hide and Seek
by Jane Casey
288 pages
YA mystery
Part of a series
For 7th grade and above

Reviewed by Patrick Castro, grade 12

I greatly enjoy the Jess Tennant series, but the third book was a bit overshadowed by the first two. I loved the second one, but the third one just felt flat. It was good, but I wished it was more complex in terms of mystery and plot. Ultimately, it turned out a great read and definitely still worth picking up, to see how everything in Jess's life turns out.

Hide and Seek just by the title relates to a lot of what goes on in the novel. It is Christmas in Port Sentinel, and the mystery begins when one of Jess's classmates is kidnapped and held in a cottage near a beach. The tensions in the novel were intense and everything moved pretty quickly. Jess is just as great a protagonist as she is in the previous books, and in this one, she deals a lot more with her emotions towards Will and family circles. Casey does a great job with weaving together a mystery, but also exploring Jess and her emotions.

I'd have to say that although the mystery of the novel was bit cliche, I didn't suspect who did what until the very end. I wish Casey had added more plot to the whole novel; things just needed to be more developed. The action was okay, nothing super crazy, just was hoping for more out of Jess and her incredible abilities to rescue people and solve mysteries. It almost seemed too easy...

But overall, I enjoyed reading the finale to the Jess Tennant series! It was a quick and simple book and goes straight to the point. Be sure to pick this one up if you're reading the Jess Tennant series or looking for a new mystery series to start!

Editor's Note: Burbank Public Library doesn't have this book yet, but it is on order. We do have the previous two books in the series, though (How to Fall, and Bet Your Life), so you can read those while you wait!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

October craftiness!

On Wednesday, October 21, at 3:30 p.m. at the Northwest Branch Library, we hope you will join us for our teen craft, a Dia de los Muertos-inspired ofrenda!

Dia de los Muertos is a holiday to honor and remember family members and friends who have died. It is celebrated in Mexico (and in other guises in many cultures) with feasting, the visiting of graves, and the building of ofrendas (altars or memorial tableaux) for the beloved dead.

Join us to make your own miniature ofrenda in an Altoids tin! You can honor a family member, a friend, a beloved pet, a celebrity--whomever you like!

We will provide the box and many craft items with which to decorate it. YOU should bring a small photo of your person (don't cut up an original, make a photocopy!), plus anything TINY you want to include that is personal to him or her.

Here are a couple of examples of miniature ofrendas:


Melissa says: If you're wondering what you could put in one...when I made one for my mother, I put a little picture of a dress, because she loved fashion; some paintbrushes and a palette, because she liked to paint; a stack of books, because she loved to read; a picture of a rolling pin and a pie because she was known for her baking; and a couple of buttons and some thread because she was an amazing seamstress. All that plus a small photo of her told you a lot of what you needed to know about my mom, Bernice!

This craft is for teens in grades 6-12 only. To sign up, please email!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Teen Read Month Writing Contest

Teen Read Week is October 18-24 this year. This celebration, created by YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association), encourages teens to escape from the day-to-day grind of school, homework, family responsibilities, part-time jobs and so on by picking up something good to read. We're definitely down with that!

We're taking it a step further, though, and asking you to WRITE something too! There's been a big trend in recent years of authors taking fairy tales and adapting the old into something new. Think the Lunar Chronicles series by Marisa Meyer, the Woodcutter series by Alethea Kontis, or the Mirrorworld books by Cornelia Funke. Consider Impossible, by Nancy Werlin, Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley, or Sisters Red, by Jackson Pearce.

Now we're asking YOU to come up with your own re-told fairy tale. You can adapt one of the old favorites from Grimm (Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel?), or you can create a story of your own that resonates with fairy tale traditions. You can be light and ironic, like Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia Wrede, or a little creepy, like Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal.

The contest officially begins on October 12, but you can start writing now! Your story must be 4-6 pages, double-spaced, and you may turn in a physical, printed copy at any Burbank Public Library reference desk (attention Anarda or Melissa), or you may email it, by either attaching a Word doc or by pasting your story directly into the email, and sending it to The final due date is Thursday, November 12, at 5:00 p.m., so don't be late! (You know what happens to people in fairy tales when they're late...)

We have some method to our fairy tale-inspired madness: The results of the contest (and the top writers) will be revealed on Thursday, November 19, at BOOK CAFE, featuring author CORNELIA FUNKE!

We are honored to be the first venue at which Cornelia shares her brand-new book, the third in the Mirrorworld series (after Reckless and Fearless), called The Golden Yarn. There will be copies of this eagerly anticipated sequel available for purchase (only two days after it is released!), and Cornelia will be happy to autograph them for you. Cornelia will also present the prizes to our top writers! (This will all happen at Buena Vista Branch--more about it later.)

Get ready to READ, WRITE, AND WIN! Anarda and I look forward to reading your retold fairy tales in November!

Monday, September 28, 2015

It's Banned Books Week!

No, that doesn't mean we're celebrating people who ban books!

BANNED BOOKS WEEK is designed by the American Library Association to urge us to celebrate the freedom to read. It highlights the value of free and open access to information, and draws our attention to the harms of censorship.

What happens when someone wants to ban a book? Hopefully a librarian, teacher, or community member stands up and speaks out to preserve the freedom to read it for any who want to.

People try to get books banned--removed from the public library, or the school library, or the school curriculum--all the time. From Harry Potter to Captain Underpants, from To Kill A Mockingbird to Fahrenheit 451 (ironically, itself about a society that burns books!), you will find familiar and many times inexplicable choices on the list of "Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books" through the decades.

Buena Vista Branch has a display of books that have been banned or censored, on a cart in the central aisle of the library. You can find examples at Northwest Branch on the ends of the bookshelves in the adult fiction section. Central Library has a display that includes lists of banned books, plus a fun contest for you to identify banned books from various age groups and genres by guessing what book is in each jar. (There will be prizes.)

Support the freedom to read: Check out a banned book today!

(Here's a cool interactive timeline highlighting one significant book from each year between 1982 and 2012 that was banned or challenged. Be sure to click on "more" under each book if you want to know the whole story.)