Saturday, June 6, 2015

Teen Film Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Our film reviewer is Chelsea G. This is her second film review for YAThink!


Directed by: Wes Anderson
Based on the novel by: Roald Dahl
Written by: Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach
Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson

Two kinds of people emerge when a piece of literature transforms to film; those who have faith in the adaptation, and those who don’t. The potential of the film is heavily dependent on the capability of the director. Luckily, Fantastic Mr. FoxWes Anderson’s debut in stop-motion animationproved to be a crowning achievement.

Roald Dahl’s children’s book of the same name has the protagonist, Mr. Fox, experiencing the equivalent of a mid-life crisisrealizing he’s not a “kit” anymore. Mr. Fox’s career has consisted of robbing nearby farms of their chickens. When he settles down to have a family, he finds the change difficult. He becomes a newspaper columnist by day, and devises a plan to steal chickens, apple cider, and turkeys from Boggis, Bunce and Bean (the agricultural tycoons of the region) by night, but his obsession gets out of control when he starts to deceive his family. His instinctual urges prevent him from being something he’s not; a wild animal. Honoring that instinct, he cunningly steals food until his mistakes turn into dire consequences for the entire ecosystem.

George Clooney and Meryl Streep provide the voices for Mr. Fox and Mrs. Fox, respectively. Obviously, both are actors with incredible on-camera skills, so it’s exciting to see them try something new. Their voices are beautifully matched and almost harmonize with the dialogue. Regulars like Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Owen Wilson all join this cast to make it a quintessential Anderson movie.

It’s mandatory for a Wes Anderson production to have film references hidden within the text and subtext of the scene. Anderson enjoys the humor of using a classic quote from another movie to suit his own plot, which creates an experience of dramatic irony for the observant cinephile. For instance, this film uses a reference from the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause: “You say one thing, she says another, and everyone switches back again.” The iconic role James Dean portrayed, in his white T-shirt, blue jeans, and red motorcycle jacket, is mimicked by an animated character, who wears a red blanket draped over his shoulders while speaking the same line. This kind of attention to detail in film-making is probably one of my favorite aspects, so the fact that Anderson was able to join sophisticated comedy and stop-motion is an unprecedented artistic feat by his creative team that I appreciated.

Ray Harryhausen’s animation was a major inspiration for this film. One of the pioneers of stop-motion, his 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts had the notorious skeleton sword fight. Merging real actors with clay skeletons in battle is still an incredible animation accomplishment today.

Anderson’s hard work in converting Dahl’s masterpiece from page to screen was a success. This enjoyable film holds lessons significant for the entire family. Fantastic Mr. Fox celebrates the values of what it means to be a unique individual with different strengths. It encourages audiences to recognize “We're all different. But there's something kind of fantastic about that, isn't there?”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Teen Review: Possible apocalypse

We All Looked Up, the 370-page book by Tommy Wallach, is very simple, but speaks volumes. It involves six teenagers, but is told from four of their points of view. Although all four of these teenagers are from completely different ends of the popularity spectrum and believe that they could never share anything in common, that is quickly proven wrong when they all face the same rushed possibility, death. The story involves them coming to terms with waiting to be killed by an unstoppable asteroid, discovering their true dreams that they might have compromised, and learning about the flaws buried in every family.

This book is filled with questions that only the reader can answer. This is surprisingly refreshing. I cannot express how much this book made me reflect on life and question the accomplishments we are told are worth taking risks for, as opposed to those that are a “waste of time.” When placed in a situation such as this one, is it better to do what will make your last moments satisfying or filled with regret? When is doing what you want--over doing what you’re told you should want--unjustifiable? These are the questions I was left to ponder, long after I had finished the book.

I must admit the beginning chapters slightly dragged and almost made me want to stop reading. However, the story became immensely more intriguing once the panic of an asteroid possibly wiping out the human race plagued the population’s mind and caused desperate actions. Due to this, I rate it 4 out of 5 stars. Another component I really enjoyed was the awesome-looking cover, which intrigued me all on its own and did portray the contents waiting inside. In addition, there is a soundtrack to listen to while reading, composed by the author himself, which was just another rare awesome detail!

Reviewed by Melody, Grade 11

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Teens' Top Ten!

The nominees for this year's Teens' Top Ten are out. The Teens' Top Ten is a list of books compiled by teens from 15 libraries across the country. The books were all released in 2014, and the books that are picked will become 2015's Teens' Top Ten list.

Voting will be online from August 15 - October 19 of this year. The winners will be announced during the week of October 21st. So if you want to participate, pick some up at the library and start reading!

We have a BALLOT for you at Burbank Public Library--you can pick one up from the teen section, or download it and print it yourself. Then, as you read the books, you can make a note as to whether it was fantastic, terrible, or meh, and keep the ballot to remind you what you thought of each book when it's time to vote.

Here is a video of all the nominated titles:

And since you are all signing up for "Teen Meetup in the Burb," our teen summer reading program, you can list all these books in your reading log and be eligible to win valuable prizes weekly!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Teen Meetup in the Burb!

TODAY is the first day you can SIGN UP for our Teen Summer Reading Program, TEEN MEETUP IN THE BURB! This summer is all about the meetup:

We will have four sessions of Book Café, at which you can hang out with your friends and enjoy coffee-house treats while sharing what you are reading. We have a few surprise visits from teen authors planned for these (not a formal author event--they're just coming to hang out with and talk to you!), so don't miss them! (If you attend three of the four sessions, you get to pick out a free book from our fabulous stash!)

We're showing three movies (The Maze Runner, If I Stay, and Guardians of the Galaxy), and there will be prize drawings at each of these.

We're having two writing workshops--Make a Mystery, with mystery writer Gay Kinman, and Six Word Memoirs and Flash Fiction, to tell your story in very compressed forms!

We're having a Makerspace Meetup--that's like a giant craft event, where we put out all our supplies and materials for you to make whatever you are inspired to create! We will, of course, have some ideas and suggestions for you.

There's a concert in the park at the Northwest branch, with the band Flood Zone (featuring our friend Allen Alvarado) that you'll want to come to--bring a picnic!

You can keep a Sketch Journal over the summer. If you want help to get started, SIGN UP NOW for our Sketch Journaling workshop, which is on June 11. Also keep in mind our Sketchcrawl Meetup, for which we will gather at the Central Library and then walk around downtown to sketch together. That's on June 23.

Our summer reading finale will be the always-in-demand Open Mic and Karaoke Night, at which you can share the things you read, wrote, and drew over the summer, as well as performing your favorite songs!

So if you are in grades 7-12, SIGN UP. Click this link, choose "Teen Meetup in the Burb," create a profile, and then come to the Reference Desk at any library to get your swag bag. Let us remind you that signing up implies no commitment--you can attend everything, one thing, or nothing. (It's not like school or summer camp, it's all optional.) But if you sign up, you are eligible to win prizes at any event you attend!

Oh, and let us not forget the most important part of our program--the READING! You can, as usual, keep a reading log of all the books you read, and be eligible to win prizes every Friday at noon. You can also write book reviews (you log back in online and type them in--here's an explanation of all that) and win bigger prizes! Those drawings are every two weeks.

So join us--Teen Meetup in the Burb! It's going to be awesome.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Teen review: Humor

Hyperbole and a Half is a book written by Allie Brosh in the humor genre, with a total of 369 pages. That might seem like a lot, but actually, Hyperbole and a Half is a fairly short book. Judging the book by its cover and a quick look at its insides seems to show a silly children’s book with childish drawings. Actually reading the book, however, proves it to be quite the opposite. Hyperbole and a Half is a humorous nonfiction book filled with hilarious anecdotes and illustrations. These stories include letters from Brosh to her younger selves, a quest to validate the mental capability of her dog, the battle of a four-year-old against her cruel mother to reach and consume her grandfather’s birthday cake, and much, much, more.

Allie Brosh is one of the funniest writers I’ve read. Her style of storytelling is unique and incredibly interesting, and pairing that with her amusing illustrations forms an amazing book. There are some other less humorous entries in this book, however. Allie’s battle with depression is described in great detail, making for a truly inspiring story.

I rate Hyperbole and a Half 5 out of 5. This may seem surprising, but this has been the only book out of all the ones I’ve ever read that has been able to make me laugh out loud. The whole book is just an amazing read to laugh and also to be inspired to make yourself a better person. Hyperbole and a Half is a must-read for anyone who loves to laugh. However, this book is for more mature audiences, as there is a lot of mature language unsuitable for children. Allie Brosh is a great writer, and if she ever comes out with another book, I will definitely read it.

Reviewed by Isaac Kim, grade 9

Editor's note: As Isaac mentions, this is a book that was written for adults, so although it may appeal to more mature teens, be aware that it is not specifically written for them (you). However, a rating of 5 from Isaac! There's a first.