Saturday, May 24, 2014

Don't panic! So long, and thanks for all the fish!



TODAY, May 25th, is TOWEL DAY! Don't know what that means? Obviously you are NOT a connoisseur of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy! A quote in explanation:
A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost." What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Towel Day is an annual tribute to the late (great) author Douglas Adams (1952-2001).

On Towel Day, carry a towel. Where? Everywhere. 
Spread the word.


Take a selfie with your towel, send it to melliott@burbankca.gov, and we will post it on our Facebook page!

AND...you as Burbank teens have a unique opportunity: This summer's Readers' Theater is "Little Lost Robot," by Isaac Asimov, and a couple of episodes from the radio play of...wait for it...The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy! So join with us to celebrate Douglas Adams by reading his work aloud for an appreciative audience of your peers, your parents, and total strangers (hopefully no Vogons) at the library this summer! First rehearsal is Tuesday, June 3, at 3:00 p.m., at the Buena Vista branch! Email awilliams@burbankca.gov NOW if you want to join in!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Last book club report


No, not forever, just for this school year!

Calculus tests and play practice thinned our ranks at our last meeting of the 10-12 Book Club, but we still had 11 voting members to rate Neal Shusterman’s Unwind, a speculative fictional look at the logical outcomes of Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice forces, an enthusiastic 9. Some planned to immediately read the two sequels (and wait impatiently for Book 4, coming out in August), while others liked the way Shusterman wrapped up the first book so much that they didn’t want to risk it! We’re always a little sad at our last meeting of the year, as we send our graduating seniors out into the world, but we have every confidence they will succeed, and also that they will come back to visit! Here's a picture from our last club meeting:



Sixteen members of the 8+9 Book Club awarded Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins, a solid rating of 8. A few people who disliked it brought down the curve from everyone else who loved it. We have 12 members of this club moving up to the 10-12 Book Club next year--giving us 26 in that club! So for now, membership is closed for 10-12. (But if you're in 6th-9th, there's definitely room for you in those clubs!)

At our final meeting of this year's 6+7 Book Club, all but one were in attendance, giving us a turnout of 13. We had read Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, a story about an “ark ship” traveling from Earth to Alpha Centauri, which received a more than respectable rating of 8. We have five moving up from this club to the 8+9 next year, and at least five coming in from the 4th and 5th Grade Book Club, including some “legacy” members (little brothers and sisters of our current bunch). We will have one family with one member in each of our three teen clubs!

We had an awesomely fun time with all of you this year, and look forward to seeing you over the summer at SET FORTH!, our Teen Summer Reading Program. You can sign up for TSRP starting June 2--watch the blog for the link!

We'll be in touch about a mid-summer meeting to select our books for Fall.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My apologies to John Green


Okay, I confess...I didn't think that The Fault in Our Stars could possibly be as good as everyone said it was. I thought it was momentum and a little bit of hype. Granted, I read and really enjoyed Looking for Alaska, and his other books were good too--but really, the fact that we own 15 copies and a sound recording, the fact that all are checked out and there are five holds, the fact that three more copies have suspiciously gone missing (leading us to believe that someone simply couldn't bear to part with it, once having read it) is not all that unusual in teen fiction.

Look, after all, at the Twilight craze (sorry, I know I'm not supposed to mention it, but there it is--at one point, we owned 64 copies of that book!), the Hunger Games phenomenon, City of Bones...teens lock onto something, they tell their friends, then their little brothers and sisters mimic them, their parents want to know what all the fuss is about, and before you know it, you can't get a copy of whichever book it is for love or money--especially if / when there's a movie tie-in.

So, although I knew it must be good, I got a little tired of all the reviews telling me it was the saddest book ever, most romantic book ever, best book ever, yadda yadda, and I finally (after, I think, six teen reviews published about the inimitable Hazel Grace and Augustus) put a stop to featuring yet one more review of TFIOS on our blog.

After being completely unable to access the book through normal library channels (because I didn't want to keep one precious copy out of circulation), I finally dropped by a Barnes & Noble this past weekend and decided while I was there to buy myself my own copy so I could finally read it guilt-free. Now I have to say, Sorry, John. Sorry that I doubted you. Sorry that I thought your book must be the teen equivalent of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Not that Sparks is a bad writer--but let's just say that sometimes his relationships and plot resolutions take the easy way out. They are a proven formula, and are designed specifically to tug at heart strings--which characteristics are appealing to many, judging by his blockbuster sales. I am not a fan.

TFIOS is not easy. It's smart, it's unexpected, it's funny and tragic, and even when I have been bombarded, these past couple of weeks, with quotes and imagery from the upcoming movie, it still surprised and pleased me and yes, touched my heart. So Mr. Green, from me to you--all the hype is deserved. Congratulations.


(Also, while I have your attention, your YouTube videos are brill. Just saying.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

What we're reading: Mystery, realism

I just finished reading High and Dry, by Sarah Skilton, another of the books I bought at the Pasadena Teen Book Festival a couple of weeks ago; and I have already given it to someone who came into the library looking for a good read! I plan to catalogue my copy for the Buena Vista branch, so that more than one copy is available to our patrons, because...I liked it!

Charlie is kind of a mess--his girlfriend of nine months has just dumped him, and although he always believed she was too good for him, he really didn't see it coming, especially with such abruptness. But this is just the start of his troubles--someone is out to get him, and they aren't messing around. He's framed for someone's near-fatal drug overdose at a party; he's blackmailed into trying to find a mysterious flash drive that multiple parties want; and a childhood friend asks him to do something he finds dishonorable, but Charlie feels he owes his friend big time, so...what to do?

The protagonist is smart, funny, and unpredictable; the story has some nice twists, with mystery and multiple problems to solve, but also showcasing disillusionment and growth, a little romance, some truths about friendship…better than I was expecting from the jacket copy, which tried to make Charlie seem like a hapless, out-of-control kind of guy ill treated by fate, when he was actually quite clever, once he got a clue and pulled his head out of his flask of whiskey. I especially liked his observations on his interactions with his parents (wry and revealing), the clever innovation to solve the problem of bullying at his school, and the whole story arc of the genesis and resolution of the friendship with Ryan. Recommended!