Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chinese Brush Painting!

We're having a WORKSHOP!
CHINESE BRUSH PAINTING, with children's book author and artist DEBORAH NOURSE LATTIMORE! (She's awesome...)

Celebrate Chinese New Year with us on February 19th at 3:30, at the CENTRAL LIBRARY. We will have fun, get messy, make art, and eat appropriate refreshments!

This is for teens in grades 6-12 ONLY!
And you need to SIGN UP--email!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Teen review: Autobiography

I am Malala is an inspiring and deeply emotional nonfiction autobiography written by Malala Yousafzai. She is more commonly known as “the girl who was shot by the Taliban.” 

Her book delves deep into the history of Pakistan, what her life was like before being targeted, what lead up to the shooting, and what she hopes she will accomplish. She tells us about her life in Swat Valley, and what a beautiful place it once was. She goes into detail about the horrible things the Taliban do once they have control over the valley. She explains what the government is like in Swat and how terrorist groups were formed. She also talks about how political actions from America and Britain were received and how for a long time they had no connection to the outside world due to Taliban law.

Before reading this I had absolutely no idea just how terrible the situation in Pakistan was. I had no clue there even was a situation in Pakistan to be worried about! In 327 pages I learned more about the history of terrorization, educational rights, and the religion of Islam than I did in history class. I feel like every teen should read this at least once so as to be more aware of the problems people face outside our country. It does deal with some heavy topics, and parts in the beginning are slow, so I would recommend this to 9th graders and up. This book sheds light on extremely important human rights issues and it gives a very detailed account of what has happened and what the reader can do to help. For these reasons I’m giving it a solid 5 out of 5 stars. Like I said before, I hope everyone reads this--its message is both powerful and important.

Reviewed by Isabella C., grade 9

Editor's note: Thank you, Isabella, for that thorough, insightful and positive review. We're happy to see some nonfiction readers on the blog! Please note that Burbank Public Library carries this as a regular book, an e-book, and a sound recording (audio book).

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Blind Date!

Ever been on a BLIND DATE? Yeah, not such a success, maybe. Perhaps even a total disaster. A tragic evening that made a good story later at parties.

BUT! Now you have a chance to go on a BLIND DATE WITH A BOOK! And that's a whole different enchilada!

At Central and Buena Vista, there are displays of books, MYSTERIOUSLY wrapped in Valentine's paper so that you CAN'T SEE WHAT THEY ARE! You have to check one out, sight unseen, and have a brand-new reading experience! So take a chance on (book) love and grab one for your weekend!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Teen Review: Realistic Fiction

White Oleander
by Janet Fitch
446 pages
Realistic fiction
Mature readers

Reviewed by Lauren H., grade 11

White Oleander is about a girl named Astrid Magnussen and her poet mother, Ingrid Magnussen. Astrid was always a mere shadow to her mother; her daughter didn't seem to fit into Ingrid’s schedule of cocktail parties and poetry slams. Despite the fact that Astrid was ignored for most of her adolescent years, her mother made sure to instill the idea that the beauty they both shared was incomparable, that they were made from the beauty of the Norse gods themselves. When Ingrid is suddenly accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend, Astrid finds herself alone in foster care, far from a place she can call home. In a span of five years, Astrid goes to five different homes, each home containing a radically different woman than her mother. In each and every household, Astrid learns a new meaning of the words loss, gain, and--most importantly--beauty. Although Ingrid Magnussen is serving a life sentence, can she let her daughter be tainted by new ideas of beauty? Or will she annihilate those ideas faster than the poison of a white oleander flower can kill?

I have to say this book is so incredibly amazing and so well written that I didn’t want it to end. If you’re looking for a novel with a completely different writing style than you would see in common books, then I would highly recommend White Oleander. It has poetic and beautiful language that I found completely enchanting. At the end of this book I actually wanted to be friends with Astrid because she was written with such depth and detail I forgot that she was a fictional character. Janet Fitch is now added to my list of favorite writers.

I give this book a 5.

Editor's note: I love this book as well. It gives a clear, though disturbing, view of what it's like to go through (and survive) the foster care system. And they did a pretty great job with the movie made from the book. If you liked this book, you might also enjoy The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, another realistic fiction book for mature readers.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What we're reading: Realistic Fiction

The Scar Boys
by Len Vlahos
Realistic Fiction
237 pages

10th grade and up

Reviewed by Anarda

Hurray for music (rock and roll, in this case) for saving more than one teen life! Many years ago I read Frank Portman’s King Dork and absolutely loved the way music infused the life of the protagonist, who imagined his (nonexistent) musical career in terms of hilarious cover and song titles, and whose experiences with girls and music do follow a strange, circuitous and haphazard parallel path to success!

Now we have The Scar Boys, ostensibly a “personal essay” that outgrew its 250-word limit, and written by the literally scarred 19-year-old Harry Jones for a college admissions officer in the 1980s. Every chapter is titled after an appropriate song (“Rock and Roll Band” for the creation of The Scar Boys band, ”Punk Rock Girl” in honor of the Doc Martin-shod girl who joins the Scar Boys and changes EVERYTHING), wherein we experience Harry’s increasingly sophisticated interpretation of his life “so far”-- and what a distance he has come. Ignored and/or bullied as a child, Harry starts his story with the lightning incident that causes his hospitalization and terrible scarring, and continues with his being ignored and/or bullied as a teen before becoming the too-grateful sidekick of one of the popular boys in high school. Starting a band, and including a girl who is musical to her bones, begins Harry’s transformation from a passive and yearning “yes-man” to a confident and independent songster and college hopeful.

Refreshingly, this story of a physically and emotionally damaged guy is not about his being recognized by others as “heroic” or “saintly” despite his scarring, which so many books suggest is the norm. Rather, it shows how owning who and what you are is the path to maturity, heartbreak and all. What a nice surprise from a new author.