Saturday, September 21, 2013

What you're not reading

Did you do a double-take when you read that headline? After all, it's usually what you ARE reading, right?

I'm going to let you into the secret lives of librarians now. Ooh, sounds exciting, doesn't it? Really it's just about a part of our job with which you may not be familiar: It's called "weeding."

Weeding is when we take each book off the shelf and check to see how many times it's been checked out. If it's been checked out a whole lot, this would prompt a few actions by us:

  1. Buy another copy, either to have as extra or to replace this one if it's thrashed (for instance we have 48 copies of The Hunger Games, and we have replaced it 27 times);
  2. Buy more books by this author!
But what happens when the book hasn't been checked out for awhile? As in, three or four years? Or, even worse, what if it's five or eight years old and it hasn't been checked out EVER? This is when we have to take a critical look at the book and ask Why? Maybe it has a really lame cover, or a dopey title. Maybe the book jacket description isn't very enticing. Maybe the subject matter is dated--it was a topic that was hot and now it's not, so the book went out 12 times the first year, two the second year, and then that was it.

We approach the next step differently in different sections of the library: Adult fiction, mystery and sci fi may hang around for quite awhile, but if it's YA fiction, we may turn things over more quickly, because we figure that if teens don't like it now, they probably won't change their minds in a year or three. Plus, there's a LOT of new teen fiction coming out all the time, and we want to make room on our shelves (where, let's face it, we YA people have limited space!) for the new, cool stuff you are asking for!

However, let's go back first and look again at that book that hasn't checked out in six years. It's sitting on the desk in front of you, and it doesn't show any of the obvious warning signs: It has a great cover, a good title, and intriguing book jacket text. Do you weed it? As Ralph Waldo Emerson says, "What is a weed? A plant (or in this case a book) whose virtues have not been discovered."

This was a very long explanation to get to my introduction of a new intermittent feature on the blog: Books you aren't reading. The book that prompted all of this was Fly By Night, by Frances Hardinge. I scanned it and discovered we bought it in 2006, and after checking out eight times in 2006-2007, it has been sitting collecting dust ever since--not one checkout since 2007. That's six years, which would ordinarily mean it was headed for the book sale. But the cover art, by Brett Harquist, is charming, quirky and true to the book; the subject matter is not dated; and the description made me want to read it. So I did, and...

I really liked this book! It reminded me of several others--the Inkworld series of books (Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath) by Cornelia Funke, because there's a lot of book mythology in it; the Septimus Heap books by Angie Sage (Magyk, Flyte, etc.), because of the quirkiness of the characters and settings; and a tiny bit of the Lemony Snicket books (although I rather disliked those) because of the odd relationships between children and adults (plus the protagonist is an orphan). So if you liked any of those books, you might like this one as well. And the language, oh the language is delicious!

Also, here is the perfect segue into this coming week, because...the protagonist, Mosca Mye, lives in a world where books (other than the official ones) are banned and reading is a subversive act. Since this week is BANNED BOOKS WEEK, it's the perfect way to celebrate, by reading Fly by Night, by Frances Hardinge! (I also just discovered on Goodreads that there is a sequel--Fly Trap. So instead of getting rid of a book from our collection, I may just have to add one!)

Thursday, September 19, 2013


for Burbank Public Library's “HOW-TO” FESTIVAL!

We are celebrating 100 years of library service in Burbank that day at the Central Library, by giving you the chance to learn a little about a lot!

All over the library there will be "how-to" stations. Here are a few things that might be of particular interest to TEENS:

Find out how to launch a career in animation! Chance Raspberry, animation artist, will tell you how to create your own projects, from making the cartoons/comics to funding their production and building a fan base! (Every half hour, between 10:30-12:00.)

Want to be a better pet parent?  Get the five basic steps from author/instructor and Pet Industry Woman of the Year Denise Fleck, at 12:30.

At 1:30, Narae Gharabagi will demonstrate how to craft beautiful paper roses from recycled books.

Also at 1:30, you can learn to master a simple card trick with renowned magician David Regal.

Have you ever wanted to start a band? Burbank keyboard player/producer Dave Goldstein will talk about how to make music for fun with your friends, starting at 1:00.

Do you know about Burbank's Sister City student exchange program? Doug Grimshaw and Dena Zelig will tell you how to travel to Japan, Korea or Botswana as an exchange student!

Would you like to know more about how to get started in calligraphy, watercolor or photography? We have how-to sessions for those too! Plus making your own jewelry, scrapbooking, how to french braid your hair...we hope YOU will join us to learn these things and more on October 5!

Here is the entire day's SCHEDULE--check it out!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

6+7 Book Club Report

The 6+7 Book Club read Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia Wrede, over the summer. Everyone seemed to like it pretty well (especially the rebelliousness of the princess Cimorene), but we forgot to rate it!

The books we considered as choices for our October and November books were:

Becker, Tom – Darkside
Carman, Patrick – The Dark Hills Divide
Fforde, Jasper – The Last Dragonslayer
Gale, Eric Kahn – The Bully Book
Hunter, Erin – Survivors
Kirby, Matthew J. – The Clockwork Three
Landy, Derek – Skulduggery Pleasant
Miller, Kirsten – Kiki Strike
Newsome, Richard – The Billionaire’s Curse
Springer, Nancy – The Case of the Missing Marquess


Our final choices were The Last Dragonslayer, by Jasper Fforde, and Kiki Strike, by Kirsten Miller, and our backup book (if we can’t get one of those) is Skulduggery Pleasant, by Derek Landy.

The next club meeting is October 22.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Your mission...

...should you choose to accept it...

(Am I displaying both advanced age and geekiness with that headline? Do teenagers still "get" that phrase from "Mission Impossible"? One of you email and tell me if I'm embarrassing myself.) Anyway...

Next week is BANNED BOOKS WEEK. Don't know what that is? Go here to find out, and then come back.

Okay! Now that you know, we want YOU to participate by taking, not a "selfie" but a "shelfie" to share with us--a picture of you with a book you like that is on the challenged or banned list--accompanied by a caption saying why you think this book is good and should NOT be banned!

Send it to, and we will post it on the Teen Facebook Page. Let's all stand together against censorship!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Teen Review: Spell singer

Title: Chantress
Author: Amy Butler Greenfield
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Part of a series? Yes
Level: High school
Reviewed by: Farah M.

“Sing and the darkness will find you….”

Lucy Marlowe is the last known chantress alive. What are chantresses? They are spell singers, casting their spells with songs. When Lucy was very young, she was a castaway on an island with her guardian, Norrie. Lucy is now 15, and she’s grown up believing that a shipwreck left them stranded there, but she always knew something was wrong with Norrie’s superstitions about singing. On a fateful All Hallows Eve, an enchantment Lucy blindly sings turns her life upside down as she’s sent back to England, which is now ruled by a tyrannical leader known as Scargrave. Trying to escape, she runs into a boy named Nat, who doesn’t take kindly to her but nonetheless brings her to safety...for now.

Chantress is a rollercoaster of emotions. Some characters you’ll love, and some characters you’ll just want to strangle. However, Lucy’s strength and determination drive the story and lead her to excel and to become a symbol of hope for everyone, even when she feels like hope is lost. From the cover, you can tell this girl has a load of hidden power but with no understanding of the perils ahead.

If you are looking for a girl whose hero sweeps her off her feet, then this isn’t the right book for you. If you’re interested in a brave heroine who is pulled straight out of her comfort zone into a new life of anguish and a slow festering love, along with a longing to unveil her inner self to meet everyone’s expectations, then I recommend this book!