Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bashallen really was a bash!

That was the title of our Open Mic Night, after our emcees, Bashar and Allen (pictured below, with Cameron, Jahad, and Justice). We had a GREAT time! Go to our teen Facebook page to see all the photos! And if you were there and HAVE more good photos, send them to me at melliott@burbankca.gov, and I will post them!


The guys, singing karaoke of "Single Ladies" (Put A Ring On It). A truly memorable performance, of which the girls took truly blackmail-worthy video!


Teen Review: Realistic Fiction

The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Night-time
by Mark Haddon
Realistic fiction
226 pages
High School reading level
Reviewed by
C. Paster, 9th grade

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a coming-of-age novel written by the British author Mark Haddon. The 221 pages have you constantly on edge waiting to see what will happen next in the mind-bending plot. The story is narrated by the mildly autistic 15-year-old Christopher Boone. He gives us in-depth thoughts and opinions that could not be achieved by any other narrator. The Curious Incident begins with a sad and quite disturbing event: One morning Christopher steps outside only to see his neighbor’s poodle lying dead on the lawn with a garden fork protruding out of it. This sickly scene causes Christopher’s inner Sherlock Holmes to be unleashed as he decides that he will be the one to solve the case of the dog’s murder. This is the event that leads down the winding road that will reveal the truths and lies that make up the hectic life of Christopher Boone.

This book was a thrilling read that had my heart beating crazily as the plot constantly took unexpected turns. Getting inside the head of autistic Christopher Boone was something new and quite interesting. It really gave you a good glance at what the world may look like to all of the autistic kids out there. The author does a spectacular job of illustrating Christopher’s feelings and emotions throughout the entire story. This book, unlike many other realistic books that I have read, gave off a perfectly structured world that was completely believable. As I turned every page, not once was I under the impression that it was only a book. The author puts you perfectly inside Christopher’s head, and it’s as if you are the main character, fully connecting and agreeing with every action he makes. Although in some stories rambling would be rather annoying, Mark Haddon was able to pull it off. I didn’t find it aggravating in the least. In contrast, the rambling of Christopher actually made me connect more with him on not just a surface reading level, but emotionally too.


In conclusion, this was a wonderful read. It caused me to take a new look at the world. A warning: The book does contain a little swearing, but to me that just made it all the more realistic. I give The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time a final rating of 5/5. I absolutely loved the book.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

It's here! Open Mic!


TOMORROW NIGHT (FRIDAY, APRIL 25)
AFTER HOURS! (6:00-9:00)
BUENA VISTA BRANCH!
FOOD!


You can do OPEN MIC (poetry, dramatic reading, sing, play instruments, stand-up comedy, whatever), or you can do KARAOKE!

SIGN UP! melliott@burbankca.gov


OR…just COME! (don’t not come if you didn’t sign up!)

If you DON’T want to perform, come be our AUDIENCE! Everybody needs an audience!

This is our last big program of the spring before TEEN SUMMER READING begins, so let’s make the most of it!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What we're reading: A ghost story, a love story

Meet Me At the River, by Nina de Gramont, is told from two viewpoints, that of Tressa, trying to cope with the death of her boyfriend, and Luke, the boy who is dead but can't leave. I don't want to say too much about it, because I so much enjoyed discovering the facts of the story in exactly the way the author wanted me to, which was not immediately, not all in a paragraph of explanation, but gradually, through the interchanges, the thoughts, the scenes, that I'd like other readers to have that experience.

This book is more than either a ghost story or a sad love story. It is as deep and intense as the river in its title, and I love the involvement of so many people and what each of them brings to it. The part about Tressa's mother reminded me of Where the Stars Still Shine, by Trisha Doller, and although Tressa wasn't damaged in quite the same way by her mother's odyssey of wandering with Tressa, the theme brought a similar contrast to the plot of the things that happen when you stay put vs. when you are always on the move, playing into Tressa's reluctance to move an inch from where she was when Luke died.

I wonder if de Gramont had an ulterior, underlying motive for calling the book Meet Me at the River. It does come directly from a scene in the book, but I found myself humming while I was reading, and finally figured out that the song playing in my head in response to this book was the hymn "Shall We Gather At the River?" by Robert Lowry, a song they sang at funerals in my childhood, a song laden with images of crossing over, being with loved ones. So much of this book is about death, but so much about life, too.

The writing is beautiful. This quote, when Tressa says goodbye to Carlo:

It seems so unfair, how hard life is, just getting through every day. It's hard enough without these endless goodbyes. Every sixteen hours or so we living have to close our eyes all night long, just so we can recover.
And others I would share but that, again, I don't want to spoil the read. If you loved A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb, this book has the same intensity, the same sensibility. Beautifully done.


Monday, April 21, 2014

What we're reading: Steampunk

The best way I can describe Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger (to give you a frame of reference) is that it's like Ally Carter's book, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, only it takes place on a dirigible with steampunk trappings. So, boarding school for girls: check. Secret agenda at said boarding school (training girls to be spies): check. Intrepid protagonist who flouts the rules to achieve her objective: check.

And ohhh...it was cute. It was quirky. Some of it was ingenious. It was also overly self-conscious, and if I'm going to be absolutely truthful, I became a little bored with it. The action just wasn't there (like it is in Carter's series). I felt like it took forever to get to any kind of a plot. I mean, something happens in the first chapter, and it takes until halfway through the book before you find out definitively what it is and what it's for (sort of), and then it takes until the LAST chapter for anything to resolve? Not worth the wait.

I felt like a lot of the adult characters were unnecessary and just cluttered up the scenery, while the subsidiary teen characters (like Monique) were kind of one-dimensional, verging on stereotypical. I did like Sophronia (the protagonist), and Genevieve Lefoux, and also the character of Soap, just for the contrast of the coal stoker to the society girls, and I loved the "mechanimal" dog.

I see from some of the reviews on Goodreads that this is a YA prequel of sorts to the author's adult series, the Parasol Protectorate. Maybe, if I had read those books first, I would be more charmed by this?

I give it a 3/5: readable and entertaining, but not one of my faves. That said, if you are a steampunk devotee (which I am not), you might like this a lot better than I did. The sequel, Curtsies and Conspiracies, is also in our library.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Program report: Chalk art!

Oh, we had big fun on Friday afternoon at the Central Library! I wish more of you had come to enjoy it with us. I hope you had a chance to see some of our CHALK ART before it got washed away. This is definitely a program we will revisit someday. If you want to see the complete gallery of photos, go to the gallery on our Facebook page!