Saturday, October 3, 2015

Teen review: Mystery sequel

Hide and Seek
by Jane Casey
288 pages
YA mystery
Part of a series
For 7th grade and above

Reviewed by Patrick Castro, grade 12

I greatly enjoy the Jess Tennant series, but the third book was a bit overshadowed by the first two. I loved the second one, but the third one just felt flat. It was good, but I wished it was more complex in terms of mystery and plot. Ultimately, it turned out a great read and definitely still worth picking up, to see how everything in Jess's life turns out.

Hide and Seek just by the title relates to a lot of what goes on in the novel. It is Christmas in Port Sentinel, and the mystery begins when one of Jess's classmates is kidnapped and held in a cottage near a beach. The tensions in the novel were intense and everything moved pretty quickly. Jess is just as great a protagonist as she is in the previous books, and in this one, she deals a lot more with her emotions towards Will and family circles. Casey does a great job with weaving together a mystery, but also exploring Jess and her emotions.

I'd have to say that although the mystery of the novel was bit cliche, I didn't suspect who did what until the very end. I wish Casey had added more plot to the whole novel; things just needed to be more developed. The action was okay, nothing super crazy, just was hoping for more out of Jess and her incredible abilities to rescue people and solve mysteries. It almost seemed too easy...

But overall, I enjoyed reading the finale to the Jess Tennant series! It was a quick and simple book and goes straight to the point. Be sure to pick this one up if you're reading the Jess Tennant series or looking for a new mystery series to start!

Editor's Note: Burbank Public Library doesn't have this book yet, but it is on order. We do have the previous two books in the series, though (How to Fall, and Bet Your Life), so you can read those while you wait!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

October craftiness!

On Wednesday, October 21, at 3:30 p.m. at the Northwest Branch Library, we hope you will join us for our teen craft, a Dia de los Muertos-inspired ofrenda!

Dia de los Muertos is a holiday to honor and remember family members and friends who have died. It is celebrated in Mexico (and in other guises in many cultures) with feasting, the visiting of graves, and the building of ofrendas (altars or memorial tableaux) for the beloved dead.

Join us to make your own miniature ofrenda in an Altoids tin! You can honor a family member, a friend, a beloved pet, a celebrity--whomever you like!

We will provide the box and many craft items with which to decorate it. YOU should bring a small photo of your person (don't cut up an original, make a photocopy!), plus anything TINY you want to include that is personal to him or her.

Here are a couple of examples of miniature ofrendas:


Melissa says: If you're wondering what you could put in one...when I made one for my mother, I put a little picture of a dress, because she loved fashion; some paintbrushes and a palette, because she liked to paint; a stack of books, because she loved to read; a picture of a rolling pin and a pie because she was known for her baking; and a couple of buttons and some thread because she was an amazing seamstress. All that plus a small photo of her told you a lot of what you needed to know about my mom, Bernice!

This craft is for teens in grades 6-12 only. To sign up, please email!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Teen Read Month Writing Contest

Teen Read Week is October 18-24 this year. This celebration, created by YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association), encourages teens to escape from the day-to-day grind of school, homework, family responsibilities, part-time jobs and so on by picking up something good to read. We're definitely down with that!

We're taking it a step further, though, and asking you to WRITE something too! There's been a big trend in recent years of authors taking fairy tales and adapting the old into something new. Think the Lunar Chronicles series by Marisa Meyer, the Woodcutter series by Alethea Kontis, or the Mirrorworld books by Cornelia Funke. Consider Impossible, by Nancy Werlin, Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley, or Sisters Red, by Jackson Pearce.

Now we're asking YOU to come up with your own re-told fairy tale. You can adapt one of the old favorites from Grimm (Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel?), or you can create a story of your own that resonates with fairy tale traditions. You can be light and ironic, like Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia Wrede, or a little creepy, like Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal.

The contest officially begins on October 12, but you can start writing now! Your story must be 4-6 pages, double-spaced, and you may turn in a physical, printed copy at any Burbank Public Library reference desk (attention Anarda or Melissa), or you may email it, by either attaching a Word doc or by pasting your story directly into the email, and sending it to The final due date is Thursday, November 12, at 5:00 p.m., so don't be late! (You know what happens to people in fairy tales when they're late...)

We have some method to our fairy tale-inspired madness: The results of the contest (and the top writers) will be revealed on Thursday, November 19, at BOOK CAFE, featuring author CORNELIA FUNKE!

We are honored to be the first venue at which Cornelia shares her brand-new book, the third in the Mirrorworld series (after Reckless and Fearless), called The Golden Yarn. There will be copies of this eagerly anticipated sequel available for purchase (only two days after it is released!), and Cornelia will be happy to autograph them for you. Cornelia will also present the prizes to our top writers! (This will all happen at Buena Vista Branch--more about it later.)

Get ready to READ, WRITE, AND WIN! Anarda and I look forward to reading your retold fairy tales in November!

Monday, September 28, 2015

It's Banned Books Week!

No, that doesn't mean we're celebrating people who ban books!

BANNED BOOKS WEEK is designed by the American Library Association to urge us to celebrate the freedom to read. It highlights the value of free and open access to information, and draws our attention to the harms of censorship.

What happens when someone wants to ban a book? Hopefully a librarian, teacher, or community member stands up and speaks out to preserve the freedom to read it for any who want to.

People try to get books banned--removed from the public library, or the school library, or the school curriculum--all the time. From Harry Potter to Captain Underpants, from To Kill A Mockingbird to Fahrenheit 451 (ironically, itself about a society that burns books!), you will find familiar and many times inexplicable choices on the list of "Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books" through the decades.

Buena Vista Branch has a display of books that have been banned or censored, on a cart in the central aisle of the library. You can find examples at Northwest Branch on the ends of the bookshelves in the adult fiction section. Central Library has a display that includes lists of banned books, plus a fun contest for you to identify banned books from various age groups and genres by guessing what book is in each jar. (There will be prizes.)

Support the freedom to read: Check out a banned book today!

(Here's a cool interactive timeline highlighting one significant book from each year between 1982 and 2012 that was banned or challenged. Be sure to click on "more" under each book if you want to know the whole story.)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Teen review: Western

Vengeance Road 
by Erin Bowman
336 pages
Western-inspired thriller
Not part of a series
8th grade and up

Reviewed by Patrick Castro, grade 12

Thrilling. Racing. Action-packed. Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman is a novel that is unique and fresh, featuring a strong protagonist with a passion driving her around the dry, hot desert of the West. I enjoyed reading it.

The novel begins with Kate Thompson (who is disguised as Nate Thompson) hoping to find her father's journal. Her father was killed by the Rose Riders, and now Kate has no one left but herself. She is a strong, fierce character who radiates off the pages. She has one goal, and she achieves it. While there are tons of action and suspense in the novel, Bowman balances them with a growing romance between Kate and Jesse. She introduces two guys, Jesse and Will, who help Kate on her path to vengeance. I enjoyed seeing how they worked together. I thought Kate and Jesse were great for each other, and I love the companionship they shared. The novel may have a small cast of characters, but Bowman does a fantastic job weaving in the Rose Riders, the Wild West, and Kate.

One thing that stood out from the novel that I enjoyed was the ending. It took me by surprise! Bowman blows your mind with a twist you won't see coming. The least I could say is that it was suspenseful! I love how the book came together.

Vengeance Road was a great novel. I do wish it had been more complex in terms of Kate as a character and in her family relations. But that being said, it was still a fantastic book that will have you looking at the West in a whole new light.

Editor's note: It's so refreshing to see a western for young adults! Not many of those out there, and I'm not sure why. Historical fiction fans, this one might appeal to you, too! (It's set in 1877 Arizona.) Also, don't you love the cover art? If you like this book, NoveList also suggests you might like Under A Painted Sky, by Stacey Lee.