Friday, January 15, 2016

Saturday is the deadline!

Tomorrow, Saturday, January 16, is the last day you can turn in an entry for the Friends of the Burbank Public Library  2016 PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST! So if you haven't done so yet, review the rules, fill out the application, and (most important) take your photo, get it printed, and bring it to the library! (You can bring it to any Reference Desk.) Good luck!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Book Club Report!

All but one attended this month's 6+7 Book Club, so it was a noisy discussion (with 18 teens plus two librarians) of SYLO, by D. J. MacHale. This book proves that there is no predicting affinity for a book by gender; by reading a description of this book (football players, action, military, explosions, male protagonist), most people would say "boy book!" but (at least for our club) they would be wrong! None of the boys in the club (and there were six present) were more than tepid about it, while more than half of the girls (seven or eight out of the 13) were enthusiastic fans!

Positive remarks: People liked the characterizations, especially that of Tori and the best friend/sidekick Quinn. Negative remarks: The way the book was written seemed either "dead ahead" or "dead," with a choppy execution. Also, everyone (fans too) was frustrated by the cliffhanger ending. Two people had already read the second book, which finally reveals some answers to the questions posed in the first, and one was halfway through the third book in the series. The book was rated 6.75, with five people giving it a 10 out of 10, and five people down in the 4-3-2 area.

Next month's book is The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor, and in spite of its Cylon-like guys on the cover, the fact that it's based on Alice in Wonderland led Harrison to make a remark about boy books vs. girl books (as in, "we read too many girl books") that had all the girls hopping mad. A spirited exchange ensued, and the upshot was that the girls took their revenge by voting as a bloc for the club to read The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot, in March. We told the boys to keep an open mind!

Other books we considered:
The Boy Who Dared, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne
Deep Blue, by Jennifer Donnelly
A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park
The Kingdom Keepers, by Ridley Pearson
The Eighth Day, by Diane K. Salerni
The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson
Chasing Forgiveness, by Neal Shusterman

Our next meeting is on Tuesday, February 9.

Our book for 8+9 Book Club was Gone, the first in a six-book series by Michael Grant. There were a variety of reactions from the 16 people present--a couple of people said they liked it well enough to read the whole series, while others were turned off by the viscerally horrifying descriptions of events, people, and creatures! The ratings for the book tended to cluster in the middle (5-8), with the final rating being 6.75.

For our next meeting, which is Wednesday, February 10, we are reading Splintered, by A. G. Howard, also a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, for older readers.

A new nomination, The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater, narrowly beat out The Fifth Wave, by Rick Yancey, for first place, so that will be our March book.

Others we considered, in descending order of number of votes:

Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carringer
The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey
Far, Far Away, by Tom McNeal
Tiger Lily, by Jody Lynn Anderson
October Sky (formerly published as Rocket Boys),
          by Homer Hickam
Famous Last Words, by Katie Alender
Don't Look Back, by Jennifer Armentrout
Every Soul A Star, by Wendy Mass
Heist Society, by Ally Carter
The Shadow Society, by Marie Rutkoski

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Teen review: Science Fiction

by Robinson Wells
373 pages
Science fiction

Reviewed by George S., grade 8

Variant, by Robinson Wells, is a sci-fi story that takes place at Maxfield Academy, where everything is completely wrong: Gangs of teenagers rule the school, and there are no teachers or, in fact, any adults, and also no escape. In this first novel of a series, Benson Fischer takes on challenges as he strives to achieve his goal of escaping. However, when things get tough and a great secret about the purpose of Maxfield is revealed, his plan will have to be postponed, and he will have to deal with learning more about who he can really trust.

The book was really much better than I thought it would be. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars. It went kind of slowly at first, until the end where all the action took place. I really enjoyed it because if there were a couple of adults around, Maxfield would be like a luxury summer camp. This was quite similar to The Maze Runner because the maze is an experiment in that book, just as Maxfield Academy is in Variant. I would recommend this book to anyone who has read or enjoyed reading The Lord of the Flies, because they both have the central focus on how teens fare on their own when separated from adults. If you wonder what happens when teens form their own society without adults, this is definitely your book.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Teen review: A Beloved Fantasy

The Mysterious Benedict Society
by Trenton Lee Stewart
485 pages
Fantasy, for grades 5-9

Reviewed by George S., grade 8

Even after having read this compelling adventure six times, I still enjoy making my way through its beautiful pages. In The Mysterious Benedict Society, an advertisement in a newspaper catches the eyes of various children in Stonetown. It asks for gifted children looking for special opportunities to respond. Of course, many kids show up but only Reynie Muldoon, “Sticky” Washington, Constance Contraire, and Kate Wetherall are chosen after taking a series of complex quizzes. Their task together is to investigate the L.I.V.E. Institute and stop Ledroptha Curtain from brainwashing adults by using their logic, intelligence, force, and stubbornness.

This book sounds like it has a short simple plot, but as the children try to avoid problems, they require remarkable planning to save themselves. I would rate this book 5 out of 5 stars solely because of this. It is the very basis of the story that moves it along and spices up the plot. With the cunning actions of all the characters, Trenton Lee Stewart makes this one of the very best books I have ever read.

Editor's note: Burbank Public Library also owns the sequels, plus an audio book version.