Friday, May 29, 2015

Teen review: Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is a science fiction book by Eoin Colfer, author of the critically acclaimed The Supernaturalist. This book stars, well, Artemis Fowl, a genius criminal mastermind--at the age of 12. He and his butler/bodyguard, known to all as… Butler, are dedicated to a life of crime and deception. Artemis discovers that a race of creatures known as fairies actually exist underground, all over the world. He decides that they would be the perfect targets to attack for their precious gold, and begins working on a kidnap operation to gain a ransom. What he doesn’t realize is that, even with all of his genius, he can’t afford to underestimate his formidable opponents. At a good-sized 277 pages, this book uses every page with purpose, whether in describing the genius of Artemis, or detailing just how massive Butler is.

This book is great for a lot of reasons, one of them being the fact that Colfer really knows how to describe a character. The characters in Artemis Fowl are all interesting and have unique personalities, humans and fairies alike. Another reason I enjoy this book is that Artemis’s genius always seems like...genius. The description of his thought process is also helped by his somewhat arrogant personality, because he tends to show off his intelligence. It’s always rewarding to read about how Artemis has predicted his opponents’ moves and has defended himself accordingly. Eoin Colfer is really just an incredible writer, and this book has just the right balance of action, dialogue, and description.

I would recommend Artemis Fowl to teens who can appreciate clever writing. The book is not necessarily difficult to understand in terms of vocabulary, but it has perhaps what some people would consider content inappropriate for children. I would rate this book a 4 out of 5. Overall, Artemis Fowl is an all-around good read, and I have no issues with it. I can’t find a way to criticize how he writes his character descriptions and witty dialogue. If you like reading fiction, no matter what genre, Artemis Fowl will keep you engaged and loving the story.

Reviewed by Isaac Kim, grade 9

Editor's note: What Isaac didn't mention is that this is the first of an eight-book series! So if you like book one, you are in for an extended treat!

Also, to tie in with Isaac's review from day before yesterday, here's an interesting development: Did you know that Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series, also wrote book #6 to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? It's called And Another Thing... and Goodreads describes it as follows: "The rather unexpected, but very welcome, sixth installment of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. It features a pantheon of unemployed gods, everyone's favorite renegade Galactic President, a lovestruck green alien, an irritating computer, and at least one very large slab of cheese."


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Teen review: HGTTG

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a short but sweet 137-page science fiction novel by Douglas Adams. For the sake of this review, the title of this book will be abbreviated to Hitchhiker’s Guide. Hitchhiker’s Guide is a book about five friends and their antics in space. These five friends are: Arthur Dent, a simple human from planet Earth; Ford Prefect, an alien writer/researcher for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the infamous two-headed President of the Galaxy, recently gone rogue; Marvin, a depressed robot; and Trillian, Zaphod’s human companion. With Earth destroyed, Arthur has no choice but to follow his friends on their ship, the stolen Heart of Gold, in order to explore the galaxy and learn from his new life.

Hitchhiker’s Guide was brilliant. Adams was a hilarious writer, and this is evident throughout the book. The entire story is full of comical situations and witty dialogue. These situations work well with Adams’s galaxy, and with how the galaxy is a seemingly infinite and diverse world for the Heart of Gold to explore. It just astounds me the amount of creativity and talent it must have taken to come up with this masterpiece. The creative universe fits Adams’ writing style perfectly, creating a book with never a dull moment.

This book deserves a 4.5 out of 5. Hitchhiker’s Guide is one of my all-time favorite books, and for good reason. Once you start reading this book, you will never want to put it down. The story is always engaging, funny, or interesting. Adams’s writing is borderline addictive. I would recommend this book to all science fiction and adventure enthusiasts. The reading level starts from about 13 years old, but some would argue that there might be some inappropriate or subtly distasteful humor. Hitchhiker’s Guide IS part of a series, I have not read it all yet but I have personally heard very good things.

Reviewed by Isaac Kim, grade 9

Editor's note: Isaac, you are not alone in your fondness for this book! We read this book last year for book club, and then used the radio show scripts to create an awesome Readers' Theater version that was performed by our teens last summer during Teen Summer Reading. BPL owns all the sequels, as well as some sound recordings for those who like audio books, and a cool book called The Science of THGTTG. If you have ever wondered about, say, the number 42, check it out!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sketch Journaling Workshop!

One of the things we're going to do this summer as part of TEEN MEETUP IN THE BURB (our teen summer reading program) is keep a SKETCH JOURNAL. What is a sketch journal? It's funny you should ask, since we have created an entire page to explain it to you!

If you read this page and like the idea, but aren't sure how to get started, come to our WORKSHOP! It's on Thursday, June 11, at 3:00 p.m. at the Central Library (upstairs in the auditorium). We will give you hints and tips, show you some cool examples, and do some demos and drawing exercises, all designed to get you started.

SIGN UP by emailing This workshop is for teens in Grades 7-12!

If you like the sketch journaling, also put June 23 on your calendar! We will meet up that morning at 9:00 a.m. at the Central Library to go on a SKETCHCRAWL, which means that we will walk around downtown Burbank, stopping at various points to draw together! (You have to turn in a permission slip to be allowed to go with us, so look for the sketchcrawl flyer at the library, which has the permission slip on the back!)

Will we see you this summer at the library?

Monday, May 25, 2015

What we're reading: Perfect for Memorial Day

I'll Meet You There
by Heather Demetrios
Realistic fiction / romance
379 pages
For grades 10 and up

Sometimes life is funny. What are the odds that I'd pick this book up and start reading it the day before Memorial Day? I had no thought in my head about that when I checked it out of the library last week--the intro on the flap sounded intriguing, and I decided to take it home with me as one of three books I would read over the weekend.

This is the story of Skylar and Josh. Skylar is trying so hard to get out of her dead-end town in the Central Valley, her job at the Paradise Motel, the trailer park where she has to take too much responsibility for her broken mother; her dreams of art school in San Francisco--even with a full scholarship and work-study program on her side--seem so far from reality that even though it's her plan, she just can't bring herself to believe in it.

Josh, the hard-partying Mitchell boy who took a different route out of agricultural California by joining the Marines, ends up back in Creek View just as Skylar graduates from high school, having left a leg in Afghanistan and brought back with him all sorts of dark memories and bad dreams he can't get past.

The two of them together? The most unlikely pairing in the eyes of anyone who knows them both. Sky's best friend Chris (about to get out himself, to go to college in Boston) is in a panic--he and Sky made a pact years ago that there would be no involvement with "the locals" to keep them from pursuing their lives--elsewhere--but Sky can't seem to keep away from the new, damaged but more compelling Josh Mitchell.

This is a love story, but it's also a story about poverty and hardship, about war and consequences and heartache. An author quote from the afterword sums it up for me: Demetrios says she wrote the book "because young adults are being recruited for the military while they're still in high school and they need to know what war really is and what it means to serve." Then she says to all the disadvantaged kids who have to grow up too fast, "Love is medicine and dreams are oxygen."

The book is compelling--the pictures she paints, the relationships she crafts, the emotions she invokes. Although I didn't learn until after reading it that Demetrios comes from a military family with two Marines for parents, the authenticity is on every page. The understanding she brings to the reader about the consequences of war, all bound up with the love story, are powerful, and the resolution is satisfying.

Also, I love the cover of the book. How often does a publisher get that right? Good job.

Due to mature language and fairly frank sexuality, this is one for mature high school readers. If you are one of those, I urge you to seek out this book.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Library closed!

All branches of the Burbank Public Library will be closed on Sunday, May 24 and Monday, May 25 to honor Memorial Day. The libraries will reopen on Tuesday.