Saturday, June 27, 2015

What you are reading this summer, first installment

We're thrilled that most of you who have signed up for "Teen Meetup in the Burb" are also writing summer book reviews through the online interface. It's great that you can share what you're reading with all the other teens in the program, and I hope you're all taking advantage of the posted book reviews to find new things to read for yourself!

Here is a random sampling from the 124 book reviews turned in so far! (Also remember that TODAY is our first Book Review Drawing, at noon. We'll let you know if you won something--and post the names here and on Facebook.)

The Boy Who Dared,
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Reviewed by K.B.

This 210-page book is about Helmuth, a German boy who lived at the time of Adolph Hitler, and his opinions about Hitler's unfair rules. I just love how the author tells this story in third person, as if she was there retelling Helmuth's life story. I fancy how it went into detail about how Helmuth was being mistreated by the Nazis. I also like how the author took pictures of the main characters at the end of the book. I adore everything about the book, There is not one part that I disliked. This book is not part of a series. I recommend this book to 6th graders and up--there is some violence. 10 out of 10 stars.

Ten, by Gretchen McNeil
Reviewed by L.B.

Meg and Minnie have been best friends ever since seventh grade. M & M, always looking out for each other, no matter what. Meg has a secret--she's in love with her best friend's crush, T.J. Fletcher. She can't tell Minnie. Minnie and Meg get an invitation from Jessica Lawrence:

SHH! Don't spread the word! Three-day weekend. House Party.White Rock House on Henry Island. You do NOT want to miss it.--Jess
Meg and Minnie go to this party without telling their parents. When they get there, they have the time of their lives. Beer. Boys. Friends. It's all fun until someone has the idea to watch a movie. They open all the cases but they can't find a CD. Minnie finds a homemade CD labeled "Don't Watch Me." The movie starts with a countdown 10,9 , 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1; every time with a red slash through each number. Watching the movie gives Lori a big scare. After that, everyone goes straight to bed. Meg wakes up in the middle of the night to find that something tragic has happened. Then another tragic event takes place. Then another. Will Meg find out how to put a stop to it and make it out alive?

I loved this book. There was not a part that I didn't like. I have absolute praise for Gretchen McNeil. If you love stories of intense murder and strange solutions, you will love this book.I am looking forward to reading more of Gretchen McNeil's young adult books. This book contains 294 pages of sheer terror. I would recommend this book to mature 14-year-olds and above, due to the book's usage of inappropriate language, alcohol, and murder. Gretchen McNeil, without even having to mention, you are on my favorite authors list. I LOVED your book.

Editor's note: You are in luck, Fangirl! You can MEET Gretchen McNeil on July 22, when she comes to our last session of Book Café!

Kiss of Broken Glass, by Madeleine Kuderick
Reviewed by Patrick Castro

Dark. Lyrical. Haunting. Also kind of a snooze fest. The novel had some golden scenes, but since it is such a short book, it lacks a developed protagonist, and the plot was overtaken by the poetic writing style. 

In Kiss of Broken Glass, we meet Kenna, who is admitted into a psych ward for 72 hours because of her cutting. The Baker Act of Florida involuntarily forces teens who cut to seek care and help, and readers are able to see that in Kenna's story. The novel delves into Kenna's currrent situation with her family, friends, and herself. Within the 72 hours, Kuderick explores Kenna's journey in and out of the ward, and how she deals with her emotions and cutting.

I really enjoyed Kenna's journey and the raw emotion Kuderick was able to weave throughout the book. With that being said, I also felt like Kenna's story and family/friend dynamics were not as developed. I just wished Kuderick had written more, and got rid of the poetic style she was trying to use; it caused the book to feel short and boring.

What I did admire from the book is the message. At the end of the book. I thought it was amazing that Kuderick had hotlines and website for teens dealing with cutting and self-infliction. She was able to get the word out that cutting only leads to pain and suffering. Ultimately, Kiss of Broken Glass had many great moments and some wonderful writing. But it did fall short for me.

Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore
Reviewed by Amy Berberyan

Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore, is a young adult fantasy novel that serves as a companion book to her books Graceling and Fire. Bitterblue takes place eight to nine years after Graceling, and involves many of the same beloved characters and their abilities. Therefore, gracelings, people with mismatched eyes and unique skills, and monsters, vibrantly colored animals, also exist in this book. This book is basically about Bitterblue and her struggle to figure out the history of her kingdom, as well as correct all the problems that her psychopathic father caused during his abominable reign.

I personally loved this book, as I got sucked into the story within the first chapter, and got to visit many of my favorite characters again. The story is a little slow-paced, but I for one enjoyed every little detail Cashore plugged into her book. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Graceling, Fire, mysteries, plot twists, or high fantasy.

Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen
Reviewed by Isabella Curtis

Like most of Sarah Dessen's books, this one had a feel-good, chick-flick vibe to it. But I liked this book more than some of her previous works. I felt it dealt with more real-world issues for teenage girls (such as eating disorders, lying to family members, etc).

*spoiler alert*  For some reason I found it very respectable of Dessen to write a book in which the protagonist has to go through something as horrible as rape. Statistically, a woman has a 1 in 4 chance of being raped in her lifetime, so it's obviously a real-world issue, but not many writers are bold enough to write about it because of what an awful thing it is. But Dessen wrote about it, and I think it's important to have an author willing to write about things that can actually affect teenage girls in the real world.

The only reason I wouldn't give this book a full 5/5 is because although I liked reading the story, books that are all feel good just aren't my favorite genre. So...4.5.

Editor's note: First of all...Isabella, maybe try some of the books of Deb Caletti. They have a similar vibe, but are a little less "tied up with a bow" at the end.

Reviewers, these are some good comments, and what a nice variety of reading levels and genres! Other reviewers take note: Yours don't have to be as long as these were, but these reviewers took care of the two sides of a good book review--the summary (what it's about), and the review (their opinion of the book and what made them feel that way). We'll publish more here in a few days. Keep reading, keep writing, keep winning!

Friday, June 26, 2015

This week's winners!

For those of you keeping a READING LOG during Teen Summer Reading, here are the prize winners from today's drawing:

Eileen K. = $5 Pinkberry card
Blezzing Z. = $5 Target card
Ossanna A. = AMC movie ticket

Marion H. = $5 Pinkberry card
Harrison W. = $5 Target card
Alex A. = AMC movie ticket

Mariah S. = $5 Pinkberry card
Georgiana N. = $5 Target card
Grigor Y. = AMC movie ticket

And for those of you who have been writing BOOK REVIEWS, here are the six winners from this week (Bi-weekly drawing #1):

Elizabeth N. wins a $10 Wahoo's gift card
Chris R. wins a $10 Wahoo's gift card
Mic F. wins a $15 iTunes gift card
Samantha C. wins a $15 Target gift card
Kiana S. wins one pound of See's Candy
Amy B. wins two AMC movie tickets

All of you who won prizes from the weekly JAR drawing may pick up your prizes at the reference desk of the branch where you won.

Those who won prizes in the bi-weekly BOOK REVIEW drawing should email Melissa directly at to say where you would like to pick up your prize! This afternoon and tomorrow, the prizes will be at the Central Library reference desk for pickup; otherwise, email and say where you'd like it sent and we'll let you know when you can pick it up.

Please bring some form of I.D.! We don't want someone else claiming your prize!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

More photo albums!

Tuesday morning’s Sketchcrawl was an arty good time! Twenty-two people showed up at 9:00 a.m. (not the easiest thing for teenagers, we realize!), sketchbook in hand, ready to go walkabout in downtown Burbank and do some drawing. We made four stops in all: across the street from City Hall (many things of interest to sketch, from the Deco-style building to the fountain); in front of the Story Tavern (a great example of Craftsman and Art Nouveau) with alternate views across the street to Wild Carvery; in front of the marquee above The Great Grill (with a beautiful wrought iron gate at the entrance to Granville behind us); and the courtyard on Palm, among the fast food venues and movie theater. We spent about 15-20 minutes at each stop, and made it back to the library around 11 a.m. for a glass of lemonade, a short watercolor demo, and a sharing of what we’d drawn. Above is a picture of most of the participants (a few had to leave right at 11:00). If you’d like to make a traveling watercolor palette like Melissa's in the picture below (it's an Altoids tin with bottle caps to hold the paint), come to our Makerspace workshop on July 7! (We'll supply the materials.)

Wow! Remind us never to turn our backs on YOU people in a dark alley! The usual suspects turned up for our Make a Mystery workshop with Gay Kinman on Wednesday night at Buena Vista, and the "what if"s were flying! Murderous suspects, hapless victim, and we never even got around to defining the sleuth! We learned where the term "red herring" came from, we set our mystery in Switzerland on Christmas Eve (for very good reasons), and we hope to see/hear the end of this story from some of you before the summer is over!

If you want to see more photos from the Sketchcrawl or from the Make A Mystery workshop, go to our Facebook page to see the albums we have created. If you're still not signed up for Teen Meetup in the Burb, you're missing out on some great programs! Sign up!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Teen review: Adult book for teens?

Reviewed by Amy Sepulveda, grade 11

Aimee Bender’s An Invisible Sign of My Own, a fiction novel, is told from the point of view of Mona Gray, a 20-year-old girl obsessed with math and numbers. Readers learn from the start that Mona is very superstitious, which is proven by her tendency to constantly knock on wood when any little thing makes her uneasy. These 242 pages tell the tale of Mona becoming a math teacher for elementary school students and the strange happenings in her classroom and throughout her small town. Her mind is almost always somewhere else, whether it be worrying for her father and his rare, unnameable illness, her second grade class, or the anxiety that drives her life. An Invisible Sign of My Own takes readers through the journey of a troubled young woman just trying to understand the world around her.

Bender’s writing is spectacular in this novel as well as in her others, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and The Girl in the Flammable Skirt. I particularly love her lack of use of quotation marks, which makes you have to read each word carefully and fully understand why everything is said. She also makes it easy to follow, despite there being no quotation marks. I was awestruck by everything in the novel and found it near impossible to put down. It is very hard to find a book quite as interesting as this, and it should be rated a 5/5. An Invisible Sign of My Own is a book I have wanted to read for quite some time, and I regret not picking it up sooner. It is written at about a high school reading level, from grades 9-12, but is not considered young adult, so anyone willing to give it a chance definitely should!

Editor's note: I would call this book a "new adult" read--which is defined as "a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18-25 age bracket," and as "fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult--a sort of 'older YA' or 'new adult.'" It also sounds, from the few pages I read after Amy piqued my interested in it, like it would fall into the category of "magical realism," fiction that "incorporates fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction." Or maybe it's just quirky! :-)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Last week's winners!

For those of you keeping a READING LOG during Teen Summer Reading, here are the prize winners from last Friday's drawing:

Patrick C. = $5 Starbucks card
Isabella C. = $5 Target card
Katrina D. = $5 Pinkberry card

Katelyn B. = $5 Starbucks card
Sandi A. = $5 Target card
Angel V. = $5 Pinkberry card

Tyler N. = $5 Starbucks card 
Valentina T. = $5 Target card
Grigor Y. = $5 Pinkberry card

You can pick up your prize from the Reference Desk of the library where you won the prize. Be sure to bring some I.D.--we wouldn't want to give away your prize to someone else!

For those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about, SIGN UP for Teen Meetup in the Burb. When you do, you get a reading log. Write down all the items you read in your reading log. Bring it to the Reference Desk daily (or whenever) to get tickets, one for each item you read. Put your name and phone number on the tickets, put the tickets in the jar, and on FRIDAYS at noon, we draw three prizes from each branch for a total of nine reading log winners!

ALSO: For those who write BOOK REVIEWS (through the online interface where you signed up), there is a bi-weekly drawing (first one is coming up this Friday) for LARGER prizes.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Meetups this week!

Central Library, 9:00 a.m. (sharp!)

Are you keeping a sketchbook this summer? Do you want to meet up and sketch with others? We are going to gather at the Central Library on Tuesday morning and go walkabout in downtown Burbank, stopping along the way to draw various things!

If you want to come with us, you MUST bring a signed waiver from a parent or guardian! It's on the back of the Sketch Crawl flyer, so be sure to grab one, get it signed, and BRING IT WITH YOU! This is mandatory--no waiver, no sketch crawl for you. You can also download one here.

We will be out about two hours, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. (ish). Wear a hat and sunscreen! Bring water too (you can drink it, or you can paint with it--or both!). Bring your sketchbook and whatever implements you like to use--pencil and eraser, pen, or more!

Buena Vista branch, 7:00 p.m.

MAKE A MYSTERY with Gay Toltl Kinman!
Are you an aspiring writer? Do you love a mystery? Would you like to learn to write one? Come to our workshop! Dr. Kinman is a successful mystery writer, and will help you with all the requirements: A detective, a murderer, three suspects, and a victim are just the beginning!

If you would like to attend, please SIGN UP by emailing!

Both of these activities are for teens in grades 7-12!

See you at the library this week?