Saturday, June 16, 2012

What We're Reading: Fairy Tales

by Alethea Kontis
305 pages
Fairy tale/fantasy
Stand-alone novel (for now)
Any age—a good read-aloud!

Reviewed by: Anarda

Oh ho! So, this is what happens when you mix dozens of fairy tale motifs and tropes into one big bowl, bake it under a master baker’s care, and deliver it festooned with flowers, bells, and gold filigree! This is what happens when a seventh daughter and a seventh son bring forth into the world a seventh daughter. This is what happens when said daughter, named Sunday Woodcutter (blithe, and bonny and good and gay—care to guess what her six older sisters are named?), is “doomed to a happy life,” albeit tinged with the sadness we all find in our own imagined fairy tale lives.

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Jack, Sunday’s brother, is long gone, cursed to be a dog by little Prince Rumbold's fairy godmother when Jack accidentally killed the prince's brand-new puppy. (The Woodcutter family are not big fans of Prince Rumbold henceforth.) Wednesday, quite beautiful, is indeed full of woe, and recites mournful poetry, and perhaps prophecy. Fair Monday was swept away by a prince and is never heard from, while Tuesday, graceful as the wind, danced herself to death in a lovely pair of red shoes. Thursday is far away, sailing the seven seas as the bride of a Pirate King, and having the time of her life! Kind Sister Friday sews like a dream, and spends her time doing charity work, and Saturday is always “all work, and no play,” no matter how much her mother scolds her. Their father ("the" Woodcutter) mourns the loss of his son Jack, and manages his affairs with his second son, Peter; and everyone watches over Trix, the mischievous youthful stepbrother whom poor Saturday is always trying to disentangle from scrapes. Sunday’s mother rarely speaks but to command a task done or a chore completed. As she constantly reminds the dreamy Sunday, words have power!

So when Sunday finds a Frog who will listen to her stories (for, like the rest of her family, she loves to spin tales), a smart but strangely forgetful Frog who likes her for herself, how could she not like the creature back? And when he asks her to kiss him, how could she not remember the tales of princesses kissing frogs, who then promptly turn into royal hotties? And when he does NOT turn into a prince, how could she not be charmed by his still wanting to listen to her stories—and ask for kisses? So she lives for the times when she can run to the woods and continue her blossoming friendship with the Frog. He grows into his memory with every visit, making Sunday feel new and unexpected feelings when he tells her how wonderful he finds her and her tales. Could love be growing here? And then what happens? HA! Read it and find out!

Did I like this book? Yes, it was a pleasure to figure out the references to all the various fairy and folk tales Kontis used--and there were several I couldn't quite identify, but KNEW came from some story I'd heard, long ago and faraway! Of the many fairy tale reworkings I've read, I'm reminded most of the Levine books--Ella Enchanted, etc.--and I'm looking forward to her next books, which will follow the adventures of her other sisters.

The book boasts a pretty cover, although we’ve seen its look-alikes on the YA shelves.
Rating: 4.5

Alethea Kontis says next up are Saturday's and Friday's novels in the Woodcutter Sisters series. She wrote this original book as a challenge from her writer's group--she was supposed to pick a particular fairy tale "seed" for her story, but instead decided to incorporate them all. She says, "I liked the idea that every fairy tale we know (and some we don't) originated from only one family (The Woodcutters) a very long time ago."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Keep a Dream Journal!

Because our teen summer reading theme is "Own the Night," we thought it would be fun to keep a DREAM JOURNAL during the summer. If you want to do this, start getting ready:

  • Get yourself a journal (it can be as simple as a legal pad or as fancy as you like!);
  • Start programming your mind to remember your dreams (repeat to yourself "I will remember my dreams" each night before you go to sleep);
  • Prepare yourself by reading the "dream journal guidelines" (scroll to the top of this blog and click on the "Own the Night Dream Journal" tab, for directions, suggestions, and more;
  • Plan on writing in your journal each morning when you wake up, from June 18 to July 19!
If you keep the dream journal, you may sign up for our Dream Interpretation Workshop with Forest Nui Cobalt (a dream interpreter) and discover the meaning of YOUR dream!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fairy Faces for Teens!

In preparation for our READERS' THEATER version of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, by William Shakespeare, we have invited a face painter to help you all get into the spirit of the play! If YOU would like to have a fairy face, SIGN UP by calling 818 238-5589. Leave your name and telephone number. The face painter will be at the Buena Vista branch from 3:00 to 5:00 next Wednesday, June 20. Then COME to the performance at 7:00--it stars Burbank Teens, so support your friends and show off your face paint! (Face painting is for teens ONLY, but EVERYONE is welcome to the performance!)

What We're Reading

The Storyteller
by Antonia Michaelis
402 pages
Realistic Fiction
Stand-alone book
Mature high school, 11th grade and up
Reviewed by: Anarda

As a studious and dependable student, Anna has never caused concern for anyone, not for her parents, her bold friend Gitta, her teachers, and least of all for herself. She sees herself as absolutely unadventurous and ordinary. So when she begins to wonder about Abel, the mysterious foreign student called “the Polish peddler” by her classmates, she surprises everyone, not least of all Abel, who everyone knows is a petty drug dealer, and perhaps, it is hinted by her friends, something else. But Anna is snared by the secrets of Abel Tannatek, the secrets she slowly untangles during the winter of her senior year as the trust between them grows. Not least of Abel’s secrets is his parenting of his enchanting little sister, Micha, due to the disappearance of his irresponsible single mother, and his avoidance of authority figures who could place his sister with her brutal father.

But as Anna becomes involved in Abel’s sometimes tortuous daily life with Micha, she is also beguiled by what she thinks may be his biggest secret--his amazing gift as an inventive storyteller. Gradually she realizes that he is creating a fairy tale for Micha that includes everyone in their orbit, including Micha and Abel, their missing mother, a sympathetic teacher, Anna herself, and Micha’s abusive father. And then, as the winter deepens, as she falls deeply in love with Abel, the murders begin...and the murdered are characters in Abel’s fairy tale. His biggest secret may be his biggest lie.

This is a moving and suspenseful novel that I could not put down. While reading a YA book with a German setting is unusual in itself (not too many YA books are translated from German into English for the American market, that’s for sure!), the story itself could take place in Anytown, USA, and the characters are believable. Watching the unfurling of Anna and Abel’s relationship, at times tender and at times incredibly painful (WARNING! This is NOT a book for the young) , what I truly loved was Abel’s fairy tale, which not only paralleled the often hellish life he was living with his sister, but that also served as a guide or compass for her. I highly recommend this book to those mature teens who like suspenseful realistic fiction.
I’d rate it “5.”

If you want another GREAT book from this author, try Tiger Moon, a romantic, suspenseful fairy tale based in India. Don’t let Tiger Moon’s cover fool you; it is not a book for the juvenile section of the library. It boasts a particularly lyrical translation by Althea Bell, who translates Cornelia Funke’s books. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Free workshop for Burbank students!

Do you want to know more about video production? TAKE A WORKSHOP! You must be a Burbank student in grades 7-12. The six-week workshop begins Friday, June 22 (that's NEXT Friday), from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., and will continue every Friday through July 27, at the Community Services Building, 150 N. Third Street (Burbank civic center).

This workshop will teach you basic journalism skills, camera techniques and editing. All completed projects from the workshop will be featured on BURBANKTEENS.TV!

Not only will you learn valuable skills, but you will earn SERVICE LEARNING HOURS with attendance! Wow.

The Teens in Action Media Team is hoping that after taking this workshop you will be interested in helping them produce Burbank Youth Update, a news-style show for teens by teens.

To register, go here, and fill out the application form. For more information, call 818 238-5378.

Monday, June 11, 2012

OWN THE NIGHT Trivia Contest!

Teen Summer Reading is HERE! Starting TOMORROW, you can REGISTER at all Burbank Public Library branches (go to the reference desk). And one of the activities you can get started on right away is the TRIVIA CONTEST.

This year's contest is based on the three BOOKMARKS you will receive in your goodie bag when you register; each bookmark has a list of books that go with our THEME, "Own the Night." There's Dark Fairies (self-explanatory), Dark Futures (dystopic and post-apocalyptic novels), and Read the Night, which is a fun book list made up of all the young adult novels with "night" in the title. Not only can you READ these books and put them in your READING LOG, but you will also need to become familiar with them by looking at our OPAC (online public access catalog) so you can answer the questions on the Trivia Contest! FIVE big winners for this contest will be announced on JULY 24 at our Open Mic Night and Poetry Slam, and you MUST be present to win! So download our trivia contest here (scroll to the bottom of the page), and GOOD LUCK!