Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Teen review: Apocalypse?

Race the Night
by Kirsten Hubbard

Reviewed by S.J., 6th grade

If you enjoy books about passion, friendship, adventure and trust, Race the Night is the book for you! It has 275 pages and is geared toward 5th graders and up. This book fits the genre of Realistic Fiction, for everything listed in this story COULD happen in real life.

This book is about five kids named Avis, Finch, Jay, Linnet, and Eider, who live on a desert ranch in the middle of nowhere. Here they are taught that the world has ended, and they are the only kind-hearted survivors left. But Eider believes that there must be something else out in the world, because the Earth is WAY bigger than the patch of land the Desert Ranch occupies. Her head is always up in the clouds, whereas the other children’s minds are focused “inward” rather than “outward”. But this all changes when Teacher decides to create a new lesson where the children must learn how to read each other’s minds and see in the dark! The effect is to tear bonds, strengthen them, and also reveal the truth about Before and Now.

I really enjoyed this book because of all the characters' relationships and hopes! Finch and his thirst for knowledge, Avis and her love of beauty, Linnet and her passion for drawing, Jay and his skills, and Eider with her curiosity and determined attitude! They all work together on their fears and quirks. It is raw friendship and teamwork that helps them get through life without knowing much. My favorite character/s would have to be Eider and Teacher, because of their personalities. Eider is always up for an adventure and wants to know what happened to the world around them. The boundaries set on her don't keep her from fulfilling her dream and finding what she lost! Teacher is sly and tricky, making her an interesting “villain." Trusted with power, she does the wrong things, and I really enjoyed the roller coaster of events she caused. She doesn’t let people get away with what they do, and takes drastic measures to show them that! I was a bit disappointed that sometimes the author would introduce a new character or idea and then just leave it lie. For example, Charles the Hiker! You see him once, but he is never talked about again.

On the cover of my book, there is a broken wooden wall and papers flying in the air. Simple, but meaningful. The papers are all the ones Eider collected about Before the world “ended,” and the wall is the one surrounding the Desert Ranch, letting no other humans in, or any of the children escape! What I enjoy about the cover is, it shows the things that sum up the book--determination and hope. I rate this book 5 stars because it was full of unexpected twists and was really sweet!

Editor's note: Readers in this same age group (grades 5 and up) might also enjoy Hubbard's book Watch the Sky, while those in grade nine and up can read about the joys of finding yourself on a trip to Central America in Wanderlove.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Little Free Libraries: Assembly!

This Thursday night we put together all our painted pieces with wood glue, screws, and plenty of good intentions! Then we will caulk all the seams and touch up the paint. We will be led by two adults with woodworking experience, but there will be things for everyone to do (and snacks to eat in between). This session begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Central Library--by 9:00, we will have three Little Free Libraries, ready to be decorated next week! This activity is for teens in grades 7-12 only. We hope to see you at Central on Thursday! (Don't forget to wear clothes you don't care about getting messy--I repeat, wood glue, caulk, paint!)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Week #2 Reading Log Winners

Our winners at each branch for the reading log drawings are:

Northwest Branch

     $5 Yogurtland gift card = Angelo W.

     $10 Target gift card = Maddie S.

     $10.50 AMC movie ticket = Archini N.

          Buena Vista Branch

               $5 Yogurtland gift card = Sungjoo Y.

               $10 Target gift card = Aidan A.

               $10.50 AMC movie ticket = Luvin L.

                    Central Library

                         $5 Yogurtland gift card = Mary M.

                         $10 Target gift card = Maddie S.

                         $10.50 AMC movie ticket = Yogini V.

Congratulations to all our winners! You can pick up your prize at the reference desk of the library where you won the prize. Be sure to bring a picture I.D. with you--we don't want to accidentally give your prize to someone else!

If YOU would like to read, write, and win, fill out your reading log and bring it to the reference desk at any branch. You can get up to three tickets per day (one ticket per item read), which go in the jar, and once a week on Fridays at noon, we draw for prizes.

If you write book reviews online at, your name will be included in bigger drawings for larger prizes. Follow the summer book review guidelines, and you could be taking home a pair of movie tickets, a gift certificate for a one-pound box of See's Candy, or...?


Saturday, June 17, 2017

A guest at Book Café

This year we are featuring two authors at Book Café. Robin Benway will join us on Tuesday, June 20th, at 7:00 p.m. at the Buena Vista Branch. Her first teen book was Audrey, Wait!, a story about a girl who breaks up with her musician boyfriend, only to have him write a song about their break-up that goes viral and gives her dubious fame. She then wrote about three sisters with magical powers, in The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June, followed by a fun duology about a 16-year-old safe-cracker whose parents are spies, called Also Known As and Going Rogue. Her latest book is Emmy & Oliver.

The basic story of that book is: Emmy and Oliver are childhood friends. Then, at age six, after his parents have divorced and are following a common routine of the kid living with the mom and seeing the dad on weekends, Oliver's dad picks him up for a three-day weekend and never brings him back. Instead, he disappears with Oliver, and all the efforts of Oliver's mother, the police, and the FBI are unable to locate him. This is all in the past, though. When the story opens, it's 10 years later, Emmy is 16 and still living next door to Oliver's mother, who has remarried and had twin girls, and then one day, Oliver returns. He was doing a school project that required the students to be fingerprinted, and when he was, the fingerprint popped up in the missing children database, and the police and Oliver's mom retrieved him and brought him home.

Now Oliver has to adjust to being with his mom instead of his dad (who is on the lam to avoid arrest), and try to fit back into his old life, with his old friends (who are happy to see him but don't know how to treat him), and to reconnect with Emmy, his best friend from birth to six years old.

Emmy has had her own issues since Oliver disappeared, the most obvious one that it made her parents turn into "helicopter" parents (they hover). This wasn't so bad when she was 10, but now that she's 16, she is chafing under the curfews, the prohibitions, and the constant surveillance. So she welcomes Oliver back and takes particular enjoyment in (mildly) breaking some rules. As you probably figured, at some point romance ensues.

The romance is sweet, but the parts I liked best were the darker moments, including when Oliver reveals to Emmy that coming home to his mother after 10 years of living with his father felt like he was being kidnapped all over again. There is also a moving scene when Oliver expresses his bitterness that his mother was supposedly all broken up about losing him but somehow had the time and attention to get remarried and have two more kids.

We will be having a drawing to give away copies of this and Robin's other books at Book Café, including an Advance Reader Copy of her new one, which is called Far from the Tree, and is due out October 3rd! I'm sure she'll be pleased to answer all your questions about this and all her other novels.

Please join us at Book Café on Tuesday, June 20th, at 7:00 p.m., in the Buena Vista community room to meet Robin Benway! Book Café is for teens in grades 7-12 only.

See you there?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Review Winners!

Here are the SIX WINNERS in our bi-weekly Book Review Drawing:

Nelida Ayala = $15 iTunes gift card
Katrina Darwich = $15 Barnes & Noble gift card
Symera Jackson = two AMC movie tickets
Dhruv Kaushik = $15 California Pizza Kitchen gift card
Cami Miceli = 1 lb. See's Candies gift certificate
Silva Tatarian = $15 Target gift card
Congratulations to this week's winners! You may pick up your prize at the Central Library reference desk any time or, if that's not convenient, email and we can send your prize to one of the branches. (That will take a couple of days.) Be sure you bring your student or photo I.D. so the librarians at the desk know you are who you say you are! We wouldn't want your prize to go to someone else.

If YOU would like to win next time (two weeks from today on Friday, June 30th), write some book reviews! Go back to where you registered, here, and log your book reviews. Not sure what a book review is supposed to look like? We're so glad you asked! Go here for hints and tips. Remember, a book review is different from a book report, so be sure you write a review!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Little Free Libraries: Primer!

Tuesday in the park behind Northwest Branch Library, we took all our Little Free Libraries out of their boxes and spread them out on five picnic tables. We sanded all of the pieces, and then took turns using rollers and paintbrushes to get a coat of primer on everything. We had a great time! Go here to our Facebook page to see some more photos of the event.

We repeat this session this Thursday (tomorrow) at 4:00 p.m. at Northwest, to put the base or background coat of paint on the three LFLs, and then next week the action moves to Central, where we will assemble them all. We hope to see you there!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Little Free Libraries begin!

Last night at the Central Library, we had around 30 teens show up for the first night of the Little Free Library Project. It was a jam-packed session--we discussed where our three libraries would be located in Burbank, and what impact that would have on their design and their contents.

Our first LFL will be located on the Chandler Bike Path, at the intersection of Buena Vista Street. We chose this location along the bike path because it's a major entry and exit point for the path, as well as having foot traffic along Buena Vista. Our primary users there will be bikers, walkers, runners, and dog-walkers, and since this is a recreational destination for families, there are quite a few children passing by. Our design group decided that children's books should be included, and that books for adults should primarily be paperback, since people on foot or on a bike don't want to be weighed down too much!

Our second LFL will be at the Metro Station on Front Street. There is a heavy flow of both train and bus commuters passing by this location, and the primary users will be adults going to their jobs (during the weekdays, 81 percent of train riders are commuting to work), so this location will mostly feature material for adults, both educational and recreational.

Our third LFL will be on Glenoaks @ Scott Road, which was singled out because there is a double bus stop there, and a small landscaped area perfect for containing the LFL. There is also some foot traffic from McCambridge Park, which is a few blocks away; there are many children in that neighborhood; and some traffic from schools. Since the ethnicity of bus riders in Los Angeles is diverse, we may include some books in other languages. We will include some children's books (although not as many as at the bike path), and other books of interest to all ages.

After we talked about the locations, we discussed possible themes. Then we brainstormed a bit, and then we sketched out some ideas. Once we were done sketching, we shared them and talked through how we could perhaps combine some with others, which ones worked best for what location, and how we would accomplish the effects we want. It was an intense almost three hours!

Everyone had wonderful ideas to express the appeals of reading:


  • Modes of transportation ("Books transport you")
  • Trees (tree of books with book fruit or book leaves, people sitting under trees reading)
  • Desert island with your favorite book, "reading under the sun"
  • Book covers in layers, or lined-up book spines, with book names on them, in various colors
  • Games and puzzles (puzzle pieces with children's book themes, game board like "Candyland," playing cards, checkerboard, etc.)
  • Garden theme ("Books help your mind grow") with various flowers
  • International languages ("read" in every language)
  • Book Salad (bowl with books, dressing of words pouring over)
  • Expanding connections (world, universe, diverse hands reaching inward towards book)
  • Mirror on the back to attract children
  • Oven theme with cupcakes, cookies, etc. ("good things await inside")
  • Fairy Tales
  • Map with various locations from fictional places (Hogwarts, Narnia, Oz, Baker Street, Gotham)
  • Signposts with various locations (see above)
  • Quotes (the power of words)

  • hearts, flowers, and the word "read" repeated around the borders, or just repeating flowers
  • checkerboards (black and red or black and white), zig-zags (two color), stripes (alternating), plaid, or polka dots
  • puzzle pieces of various colors and shapes
  • ABCs
  • Twining vines with leaves (and flowers?),or simple curlicues
  • Words or quotes ("read" in multiple languages, quotes, commentary)
We talked through all these ideas and discussed what relation they had to the various locales and what would attract the eye and appeal to the particular people who would frequent that spot. Our (semi)final decisions were the following:

Genres on a map. We envision the whole box painted like a map (background color sepia/light brown/gold) with lines for roads and rivers and such (or maybe footprints, like on the "mischief managed" map in Harry Potter), leading to small illustrations such as: Castles and dragons (fairy tales), planets/space ships (science fiction), a detective with a spy glass (mystery), etc. One idea for the trim was to incorporate the multi-colored interlocking puzzle pieces with children's book titles on them.

Modes of transportation: "Let a book transport you." A road will run all the way around the three sides. It might run just around the bottom, or it might bisect the sides diagonally. Some real modes (trains, buses, bikes, planes), some fanciful (hot air balloons, camels, flying carpets, hoverboards, elephants, alien spacecraft). The background will be pale blue. Something extra that everyone would like to add to this box is a signpost with signs pointing to various locations (Hogwarts, the Shire, Wonderland, Oz) that sticks up above the box. We will only do that if we can find someone who owns and knows how to use a jigsaw, to cut out the signs for us. This will probably happen after the fact.

This one was inspired by this cartoon:

There will be a cross section of a bus continuing around all three sides (like you cut a bus in half lengthwise and were getting a sideways view), with passengers all gray and bored with their commute except for the READERS, who have words and images and colors exploding out of their minds because they are engaged with a book! There will be signs on the bus (where signs usually go, up above the passengers' heads) talking about the advantages of reading, or sharing reading quotes, etc. The background will be pale gray, with bright multicolored trim to reflect the bright colors emerging from the readers. The trim could be all one color, or a variety of colors for each piece, or we could incorporate some of our border ideas, like stripes, checkerboards, flowers, or words.

Alternatively, the bus could just wrap two sides, with the third side being given over to a sort of message board containing such flyers as "Have you seen this wizard?" with a mug shot, a request for a babysitter for children who have suffered "some unfortunate events," etc.

Great, creative ideas, everyone! Now we just have to find people both willing and capable of drawing all of this onto the LFLs!

Next week, we meet again on Tuesday to put a coat of primer paint (all one neutral color) on all of the individual pieces of the LFLs. We will continue refining our ideas at that session, to make sure we are all in consensus about what we're going to do. On Thursday, we will paint them with their final base (background) colors. On June 22, we assemble the LFLs, with the help of a couple of woodshop experts. And then we have a couple of sessions to decorate them with all the fabulous ideas!

We hope those of you who participated at our first session will keep coming back, and we invite others to join us. Just imagine how people will react when they see your beautiful Little Free Libraries out in Burbank, enticing them to take a book!

Today's winners!

Our first week of Teen Summer Reading has passed, and we have drawn three reading log winners at each branch:

At Central:
$5 Starbucks gift card = Luvin L.
$7 Coldstone Creamery gift card = Maddie S.
$10 Barnes & Noble gift card = Emilia C.

At Buena Vista:
$5 Starbucks gift card = Catalina S.
$7 Coldstone Creamery gift card = Katelyn B.
$10 Barnes & Noble gift card = George S.

At Northwest:
$5 Starbucks gift card = Sarkis T.
$7 Coldstone Creamery gift card = Katie F.
$10 Barnes & Noble gift card = Abbie F.
Congratulations to all our winners! You can pick up your prize at the reference desk of the library where you won the prize. Be sure to bring a picture I.D. with you--we don't want to accidentally give your prize to someone else!

If YOU would like to read, write, and win, fill out your reading log and bring it to the reference desk at any branch. You can get up to three tickets per day (one ticket per item read), which go in the jar, and once a week on Fridays at noon, we draw for prizes.

If you write book reviews online at, your name will be included in three bigger drawings (one every other week starting next week), for larger prizes. Follow the summer book review guidelines, and you could be taking home a pair of movie tickets, a gift certificate for a one-pound box of See's Candy, or...?


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Book Café #1 is tonight!

If you have never been to Book Café, show up tonight and find out about everybody's favorite teen program! We're starting at 7:00 p.m. at the Buena Vista branch, in the community room. We will drink cappuccino and eat (good) cookies, we will draw on the tables (because butcher paper), and we will talk about what we're reading!

Book-talking is sort of like a movie preview: You're trying to get your audience to want to read the book, so you tell just enough of the story to intrigue them, without giving away the good parts or the ending. But you don't have to book-talk--your motivation might be to find out what books others are reading, write them all down, and check them out yourself! After all, isn't reading what summer is for?

Here are some of the perks (pardon the pun) of Book Café:
  1. If you attend three of the four sessions, you get to pick out a book from our fabulous stash;
  2. We also have drawings for books for a few lucky winners at each session;
  3. We invite authors on some nights, and you get to meet them and ask them questions and hang out with them;
  4. Sometimes we do a craft (we're doing one tonight);
  5. And this year, we are also giving a special gift to all attendees (while supplies last, so don't be tardy!).
So join us at Book Café, tonight!

Not registered for Teen Summer Reading? Go here, scroll down to "Reading by Design," and sign up. There's no obligation--you can do one thing, everything or nothing! But we have a bunch of fun activities planned for you, so don't miss out!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

PFLAG in Burbank

There is a new chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) in Burbank, and its members would like to invite your attendance at their meetings.

While PFLAG was formed for the purpose of helping the parents of LGBTQ kids to understand and support their children, the group emphasizes that all are welcome to attend--parents, friends, teens, siblings.

If you are a gay or transgender teen who feels uncomfortable or awkward trying to make your parents understand what your life is like (particularly if you are in the early stages of coming out), you might want to tell your parents about this group. It helps for parents to hear about what their kids are going through from other parents who have had that experience.

This can also be a source for you, if you feel unsupported, to find adults who will watch out for you and let you know that you're not alone.

The meetings take place the second Monday of every month, at the American Lutheran Church at 755 N. Whitnall Highway, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. If you want more information, you can email them at

Burbank Public Library's teen section offers book lists for LGB and Transgender teens, with both fiction and nonfiction titles that reflect your experience. Pick one up and read something during June for LGBTQ Pride Month.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

8+9 Book Club Report

Our final meeting of the 8+9 Book Club for this (school) year was Tuesday night at Buena Vista. We met to enjoy the obligatory end-of-year pizza and to discuss Killer Instinct, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Only 13 of our 22 members were present, which is too bad, since it was our final meeting.

Killer Instinct is the second in a four-book series; we don't usually read sequels, but an ordering mistake when we read the first book (The Naturals) earlier in the year left us with 16 books on hand, so we ordered a few more and read it!

Everyone in the club liked the book well enough, and some gave it truly high marks. The two people who liked it less well cited "too dark" as their criticism (and since it includes stuff about serial killers, we all get that!), but everyone liked the story arc, the suspense, and the characters, and we awarded it a final score of 9 out of 10.

We have seven members of this club promoting to the 10-12 Book Club in the fall; congratulations!

Since we don't pick our book for September until August, we then went around the circle so people could say what they were reading now. Some hadn't had time to do more than finish this book, since everyone has been in the middle of finals; but many had book lists they were going to start working on, now that summer vacation is here, and some will be starting with the other two books in this series: All In, and Bad Blood.

And that's a perfect segue into a reminder to teens to sign up for the Teen Summer Reading Program, Reading by Design. If you keep track of the books you read in your reading log, you can get a ticket for each one you record, put it in the jar at any reference desk, and be eligible for our weekly drawing on Fridays for small prizes (nine winners every Friday for six weeks). If you write a book review of your book on our online interface, you will be entered in a larger drawing (six winners every other week = 18 total) for bigger prizes. So read, write, and win! this summer by signing up.

We also hope to see you at Book Café on Tuesday!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Coming up at the library...

The Buena Vista Branch is closed tomorrow, Sunday, and all three branches of Burbank Public Library are closed on Monday, in observation of Memorial Day.

The 8+9 Book Club meets for the last time this school year on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. at Buena Vista. We have read and will discuss Killer Instinct, the second book in the Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. This club is for enrolled teens only; to be added to the book club list for next year, please email (name, phone number, email address, grade).

On Saturday morning at 10:00 at the Central Library, kids ages 14 and under can enjoy LEGO Club. (Children under nine must be accompanied by an adult, or a responsible older sibling.)

The teen summer reading program, READING BY DESIGN, begins next week! Our first event is Book Café, Tuesday night, June 6, at 7:00 p.m. at the Buena Vista Branch. Bring whatever you're reading to book-talk, enjoy cappuccino and cookies and a craft, and get a special gift! (while supplies last) If you attend three of our four Book Café sessions, you also get to pick a free book from our fabulous stash. And we have drawings for books for a few lucky winners at every session as well.

Our next event is the kick-off of our Little Free Libraries project. We are building three Little Free Libraries for the Burbank community as part of teen summer reading. You are free to drop in on any of our sessions; but if you sign up to work at all of them, you get service credit! To register, email Our "design" session is Thursday night, June 8, at 6:00 p.m. at the Central Library.

If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about,
go here to register for teen summer reading. Signing up implies no commitment--you can do one thing, you can do everything, or you can do nothing! But there are benefits to being signed up--you will be eligible for all our prize drawings, for one thing! These activities are for teens in grades 7-12 only...but if you have younger siblings or your parents are readers, there are programs for them as well!

Please join us at the library this summer!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Teen review: The Queen of Katwe

The Queen Of Katwe
by Tim Crothers
229 pages
Appropriate for high schoolers
(maybe upper middle school grades)

Reviewed by S.J., grade 6

If you enjoy true stories full of passion, struggle, and inspiration, The Queen Of Katwe is the right book for you! It has 229 pages (not including the Author’s Note) and is geared more towards upper grade teens and adults due to the deep content.

This book is about a young girl named Phiona who lives in Katwe, a slum city in Uganda, and how a man named Robert Katende sheds a ray of light on Phiona’s life, by teaching her to play chess. You learn about Robert’s soccer background and how hard his life was, living in Katwe, and how his backstory is like almost everyone else’s: Rough, hard, and almost impossible to survive. You also learn about how chess opened a door for many kids. How chess became an inspirational game to people as they dedicated their time and love to this game. The children in Katwe, and in Uganda in general, came to inspire Phiona Mutesi and led to a path to freedom through this competitive game!

I LOVED this book. It was sweet and sad, and every page I turned I really began to see how HARD life was for these children. Selling maize (instead of going to school), living in shacks and in poverty, it’s unbelievable how harsh life was and this is still happening today! And then, chess comes in, and people are saved. It’s like their lives depended on chess, and that they could relate to the pieces more than anyone else could. They were playing to LIVE and not just for fun. I was expecting more of an in-depth story about Phiona, but I got facts and stories about many other people who played important roles in making this girl successful. I wish I could learn more about Phiona, and how SHE felt about playing the game. I wanted to see things through HER eyes. However, I enjoyed getting some of the inside scoop by the people around her like Robert. I felt deeply connected to the characters and cried multiple times, and I must say this book was PHENOMENAL!

On the cover of this book you see Phiona and a chess board. It is very simple, but has the key factors of the overall story. If you look at the surroundings, you see that Phiona is in a shack. That’s her home, which doesn’t look as comfy as the house I live in with plumbing and beds. What I enjoy about the cover is, it sums up the whole book. A book about a girl, chess, determination, and how she leaves her home to become an inspiration and legend! I rate this book 5 stars because it was descriptive and really touching!

Editor's note: Burbank Public Library does not currently own this book, but we do have the movie made from the story.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What we're reading: An amazing fantasy

I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, with one of our book clubs back in 2012, I think. I wrote a short but positive review on Goodreads at the time:
"I liked this book a lot. It took me awhile to get into it, but it helped that Karou was an artist and hung out with art people, I'll always read a book if it has that angle. Then exciting things started to happen and I was hooked. I have to say, with my dental issues, this was a hard book to read, though! If you don't get that reference, you'll just have to read it for yourself. Looking forward to the sequel."
But somehow I never made the time to go back and read the two other books in the trilogy. It's possible that it was because the book deals with familiar tropes (angels and demons) that don't interest me that much. and also features a great big old insta-love (Karou and the angel Akiva) that caused me not to return to it...or maybe I just got busy reading the next book club book and moved on. But the thing that was so great about the series, as Anarda (who did read the whole thing) pointed out, was that Taylor basically took the tropes and turned them on their head--not all the demons were bad, and the angels certainly weren't all good! Because I remembered that, and also what a master Taylor is at both world-building and at wordcraft (what a lyrical writer she is!), when I saw Strange the Dreamer on the teen new books shelf, I snapped it up.

This is the book that I was waiting for Taylor to write. This is the book that captures her ability to lure you into a world so completely and complexly drawn that when you come up for air, you can't believe that you're not really there.

It starts with an orphan, named Lazlo Strange. All orphans are given the surname of Strange, but Lazlo really is a little offbeat. He survives being raised by a community of priests who were ill prepared and not particularly beneficent towards all the orphans they got stuck with after war caused parentless children to "arrive like shipments of lambs" at the monastery. He grows up repressing an active imagination that is obsessed with a lost city that lies on the other side of a vast desert; he learns about it from one of the elderly and senile monks for whom he must fetch meals, and Brother Cyrus's stories possess his mind almost to the exclusion of all else. But the practicality of the monks doesn't allow for stories, or play, or anything, really, but work. So Lazlo works in their scriptorium, copying manuscripts, until the day the brothers succumb to a meal of bad fish and he gets sent on an errand to the Great Library of Zosma. He never goes back. The library entices him with its stock of stories, and he disappears into its grasp until he is discovered days later, and taken on as an apprentice. The master who discovers him in the stacks says, "The library knows its own mind. When it steals a boy, we let it keep him."

Lazlo assumes he will end his days as a librarian, but after years of doing his job while indulging his passion for researching the lost city he has never forgotten, a surprising and wonderful thing happens: Proof of its existence manifests, and changes Lazlo's destiny.

This book is a combination of the best of everything. At its heart, it's the story of an underdog, like Harry Potter, or Peter Parker, or Gen from the Queen's Thief series, who gets the chance to become something more. But it's not just that; there's also the rich world-building, the magical, dreamy language, the powerful and intriguing ideas about gods and monsters. The book is completely immersive, and I hereby declare it my best book of the year. I was going to add "so far" at the end of that sentence, but I really can't conceive of liking anything more than this!

It is the first book of a duology, so you do have to suffer through the "to be continued" aspect when you read it. But read it anyway--it's so good that I guarantee you'll want to read it now and then reread it later when the sequel is ready to drop.

I'm so glad I included it in the illustration for the cover of the Reading Log for Teen Summer Reading--perhaps more teens will find it because of that, and if they are fantasy readers, they need to find it!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Teen review: Middle school adventure

The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase
(Book #2 of Candymaker series)
by Wendy Mass
Realistic fiction/adventure
534 pages
Appropriate for middle school teens

Reviewed by S.J., Grade 6

If you have a sweet tooth, enjoy adventure, and love surprises even more, then The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase is the right book for you! The Candymakers books are a series written by Wendy Mass, that fits in the genres of realistic fiction and adventure. This book has 534 pages and is geared toward readers between grades 5-8 (middle school age).

This book is a sequel, and is written from four perspectives: Daisy the fun-loving spy, Logan the son of the Candymaker, Miles the bookish map-loving boy, and Philip the stubborn violin prodigy! After the National candy-making contest at Life is Sweet, these four friends' lives are back to normal--until, that is, the Harmonicandy comes off the conveyer belt. A mysterious box addressed to Logan Sweet sent by Franklin O. Griffin arrives, holding an even more mysterious contract signed by Logan’s grandfather and four other people, talking about secret beans. The four friends are invited on a road trip to introduce the Harmonicandy to other Candy Factories! Can Logan, Daisy, Miles, and Philip figure out the mystery around the contract and the meaning behind the beans? With the stakes higher than any of them predicted, how will this Harmonicandy tour really end?

I thought this book was a really intriguing sequel to the first book, The CandyMakers. Each character’s perspective was entirely different from the others', except for their mutual love for candy! They all attach to each other in different ways, and every relationship is different! I love Miles's and Logan’s relationship the most, because they became fast friends in the first book, and the Life Is Sweet candy factory brought them even closer. But I was kind of disappointed with the character AJ. I thought that he would be better explained in the second book. because all I knew about him is that he is Daisy’s cousin who is also an awesome spy. Here we learn that AJ and Daisy are developing a brother-and-sister type of relationship, and that AJ is always up for journeys. I wished I could learn more about his background, rather than his traits.

My favorite character has got to be Daisy, because she has SO many cool spy gadgets and has SO many abilities! Being a spy means she gets to go on exciting missions and can carry 30 pound weights, swim underwater for a long time, and go undercover! Also, she is a strong, passionate, and kind person who isn’t afraid to stand up for people and put her foot down when things get out of bounds.

The cover of this book has an RV, a chocolate bar, the environment, and the outlines of the heads of Logan, Miles, Philip, and Daisy. I liked it because it featured the key factors of the book: the characters, where the book's setting would be, and that the RV is somehow important! I think this book deserves a rating of 5, because it was descriptive, action-packed, and took me on the ride the characters were going on!

Friday, May 12, 2017

6+7 Book Club report

This past Tuesday, 13 of us met to discuss The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, to eat pizza and snacks, and to talk about what else we were reading and what were our plans for the summer.

Everyone liked the book, and its lowest score was a 6 out of 10, with the final rating being a solid 8. Some people doubted that other people knew for sure the "nature" of Silas (Nobody's guardian), but the rest of us convinced them with a laundry list: Only goes out at night, sleeps in a big "box" lined in white satin, only wears black, doesn't eat or drink (at least not in front of people), has cold skin, is able to baffle people's minds so they forget things...yeah, he was definitely one of "those." Everybody liked Bod and his ghostly friends, some liked Scarlett while others found her a bit irritating, some liked the whole Jack story arc better than others, but everyone agreed it was an engaging story.

People's list of books they were reading was eclectic, from Percy Jackson to Stephen King. I wracked my brain for some YA horror titles, and passed along Jennifer Bosworth's newest, The Killing Jar, to Sophia (who loves horror), only to have Rhett check it out! Summer destinations were also interesting, and included both in-state, stateside, and overseas destinations. But all promised to sign up for and attend as many of our Teen Summer Reading programs as possible!

As far as we could tell (given that five people were absent), it looks like we have five members promoting to the 8+9 Club in the fall. All three clubs will have a joint meeting during August, at which we will meet new and promoting members and choose books to read to discuss at our first official meeting in September.

See you this summer!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Teen Summer Reading is coming!

This year's theme for the teen summer reading program is "READING BY DESIGN," so teens this year will participate in a design exercise to promote more reading in our community: We're going to build three Little Free Libraries (LFLs) for Burbank this summer!

We will have six sessions: Design, primer, paint, assemble, decorate, decorate, and then we will install! Any teens may drop into single sessions to work with us at whatever stage, but teens who sign up to complete all sessions will receive service hours for school. No experience is necessary; we will coach you through each step with help from various experts.

We have picked out three great locations to showcase your work and provide books to walkers, bikers, and commuters. The LFLs will also be an ongoing chance for teens to earn service hours during the rest of the year, as they check in on them periodically and refresh the book selection they contain.

For those who are reading-minded but not interested in participating in the LFL project, we will also have four sessions of the ever-popular Book Café. We serve cappuccino and cookies, and teens bring the books they are reading to book-talk to one another. So if you have a favorite book that you just know other people would want to read if only they knew about it, bring it and tell them!

The other feature of Book Café that everyone loves is the opportunity to socialize with authors. Every year we invite two or three authors to join us. They talk about their books and their writing process, and answer all the questions you've been dying to ask them, like, "Will there be a sequel to that?" or "Why did you kill off my favorite character?" or "How could she fall for that guy, he's so sappy!" And then you can just hang with them and chat.

If you attend three of the four sessions of Book Café, you get to choose a free book from our amazing stash. And this year we have a special gift for each and every person who attends any of the Book Café sessions as well (while supplies last).

We're also going to "build a better world," under the direction of Peter Abrahamson, LEGO enthusiast--yes, we're building LEGOTOPIA! We provide the LEGOs and you provide the creativity. The buildings you create for the city will be on display in the glass case in the Central Library lobby through the month of August.

And of course, it wouldn't be summer without Reading Logs and Book Reviews. If you write down all the books, graphic novels, and manga you read, we will give you a ticket for each one (limit three per day), and every Friday we draw from our big jar of tickets to award three prizes per branch for nine lucky readers! The prizes for the reading log are gift cards to places such as Starbucks, Target, Pinkberry, In-n-Out, and more. If you write book reviews, you are eligible for three drawings (one every other Friday) for bigger prizes, including See's Candy and Barnes & Noble gift cards, and movie tickets. All you have to do is write a few sentences describing what the book you read is about, followed by a few sentences about why you liked it (or didn't!), and we'll put you in the drawing.

Finally, to wrap up our summer of reading, our wonderful Teen Advisory Board (TAB) is revisiting the success of our big finale program last year. That's right, we're having another Murder Mystery lock-in, after hours on a Saturday night at the Buena Vista Branch. Picture this: You're at a celebrity book-signing at the Scene of the Crime mystery book shop. Suddenly, from a back room, someone screams "Murder!" It's "BODY IN THE BOOK SHOP!" But who dunnit, how, and why? YOU follow the clues to solve the mystery!

You can register for summer reading beginning Monday, May 22nd, at Then stop by the reference desk to get a brochure and a reading log to get you started. We hope to see you this summer at the library!

Monday, May 8, 2017

What we're reading: Another nominee

My next foray into the Teens' Top Ten nominees list was The Killing Jar, by Jennifer Bosworth. I was initially attracted to the book because of its gorgeous cover and interesting title; when I realized who had written it, I was also pleased. Jennifer Bosworth wrote a book called Struck back in 2012, and was a guest author at our library, along with Lissa Price, who wrote Starters, when we had a writing contest for our teens centered around dystopic and post-apocalyptic fiction. Struck had an interesting concept and a lot of action, but it was her first YA novel, and it felt to me like she was trying to do too much in one book. But a lot of our teens enjoyed the book, and I have kept an eye open ever since to see what she would write next. It's been such a long time that I feared she was going to be a one-book wonder, but it seems she had lots of life changes going on (she moved from Los Angeles to Portland, for one thing), and more teen books were delayed--until now.

I don't quite know whether to simply call The Killing Jar paranormal, or to venture into the horror classification--there are elements that are kind of "Children of the Corn," but while some are grotesque and kind of ghastly, I didn't find the story itself too frightening, except in a few isolated moments.

Kenna has a horrifying event in her past that defines her. Because of a dark power she has trouble controlling, she has strict rules for her life, partially enforced by her mom, but mostly self-generated: She keeps to herself, is careful not to get too emotionally close to anyone, and doesn't touch people. But things are looking up: Her best friend, Blake, enters her in a music contest and her entry is chosen out of thousands.
She's having feelings stronger than friendship for Blake, and wonders if she dares to explore that. But just when she lets down her guard, the past catches up with her, and when the crisis is past, Kenna is living in a commune with a relative she didn't know she had, and trying to decide whether it's ever going to be possible to go home...or if she wants to.

The writing in this is dynamic, the plot moves fast, and we jump into the action from the beginning. The story and events keep the reader intrigued to the very end. Along the way, some of the language--Kenna's descriptions of the ecstatic experience of nature, for instance--is truly beautiful. The one thing I'm going to say, and I can't believe I'm going to say it, is that although I find many YA books too long and wish they had had a more ruthless editor, this book could have used another 100 pages to address the scanty coverage of some things. There were a lot of mysteries that should/could have been discussed, fleshed out, or resolved. Some of the relationships seemed shallow, and I wondered about the inner motivations of the people involved, but there were no explanations. The ending was climactic, but it left so much unexplained that I am inclined to expect a sequel, although none may be forthcoming, because it's not obvious whether it's intended to be a stand-alone or part of a series.

Still, it was an exciting and enjoyable book, and the paranormal element was so unusual and so graphically described that I think it would grab a lot of readers.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

What we're reading: Another Teens' Top Ten nominee

For the cover of this year's Reading Log for Teen Summer Reading, and also for my illustration for Book Café, I chose to depict some of the books from the Teens' Top Ten nominees list for this year. I reviewed Love & Gelato, by Jenna Evans Welch, a few days ago, and have since read two more.

The first is a story about Jasmine, whose family immigrated to this country with her from the Philippines when she was a young girl. They sold her on the concept of the American dream, and were strict parents, encouraging her to throw all her energy into studying and cheer squad, so she could get into a good school and make something of herself. Jasmine goes along with this program, and is a single-minded scholar who foregoes a social life to constantly hit the books--and it pays off. One day, a letter arrives for her, and she is thrilled and excited to discover that she is has won a national scholar award, which includes with it a big dinner in Washington and a chance to meet the President, but also a real shot at getting a full financial ride at any school she chooses. But when she rushes home to share her excitement with her family, she doesn't get quite the reaction she was expecting: Her parents reveal to her that they lost their work visas years ago, meaning that the entire family--Jasmine, her parents, and her two little brothers--are in the country illegally. No green cards, no papers, means no scholarships, no college, and possible deportation.

The title of Melissa de la Cruz's book, Something in Between, expresses the ambivalence her character feels as she explores who she really is in light of this information. Is she an American, or is she a person with no status? For so many years she has put everything else on hold to do the right thing for her parents, and now she's wondering why she sacrificed everything for a lie.

With the national dialogue on immigration, paths to citizenship for undocumented people, and so on, I think this is the kind of story that demands to be highlighted right now. It was pretty well done, and there were some truly poignant moments, especially as Jasmine's priorities are abruptly shifted and she finds herself furious, sad, and at a loss for how she should feel about her change in status.

When I first started reading the book, I was afraid that the treatment would be a total cliché, so I was pleasantly surprised when everything didn't resolve in quite the way I expected. I even learned some things I didn't know about the immigration process. There was, however, still a lot of "in the nick of time" plot points that seemed a little convenient. And as usual (maybe I just have to stop reading teen books with romance in them?), I disliked intensely the meet-cute insta-love between Jasmine and Royce the senator's son, although there were elements of the relationship that I did like, based on the characters' different personalities. I mostly enjoyed the book, and particularly appreciated how it addressed both blatant racism and the nuances of small but offensive stereotypes.

Another TTT entry follows in a day or two...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

10-12 Book Club Report

Tuesday night, 18 of us gathered to discuss the last book of the school year, I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson. I'm so glad we chose this for our last book, because the response was overwhelmingly positive. People loved the compelling three-dimensional characters, the elements of magical realism, the quirky way in which the story was told. Different people had different favorites, but everybody loved someone or something about the book, and our rating was a high 8.85.

We then went on to have a lively discussion about the television show that has been made from Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, and whether it's a good or a bad thing, and whether people are getting from the show what we readers got from the book, and whether there should have been a stronger message attached at the end about where people contemplating suicide could get help. The consensus was that the show is good, we dislike some of the flip reactions from people on social media, and we thought an 800 number at the end couldn't have hurt. It also seemed like the show was setting up for a second season, but...what would be in it? We didn't know, and thought that was a bad idea.

We were so grateful that Cami brought pizza for us to our last meeting, and enjoyed it greatly! We were also happy that she brought along friend and book reviewer Amy Sepulveda to celebrate her birthday with us.

We missed those who didn't show up, particularly wondering why those who are graduating from high school and therefore also from book club weren't at our final meeting. Here is a picture of seven of our graduating seniors; Camille and Zoey left before we had the idea to take the photo (so sorry), while Zofie, Mike, and Alice weren't in attendance. Anarda and I couldn't figure out whether Sabina is graduating this year, but we think yes. If so, we're losing 13 of our 22 members! Some of them have been with us since 6th grade, so it's a big loss. We embarrassed everyone by reminiscing about what they were like as middle-schoolers. (For one thing, most of them were a lot shorter!)

Left to right: Cami, Caleigh, Margaret, Julia, Alex, Casey, and Ryan

We're really going to miss you! Those who are staying in the area, come see us, and those who are traveling far from home (Oregon, Boston, Edinburgh!), remember that we have a plan for an Alumni Book Club once a year in August! We have loved having you in book club! We hope to see you at Book Cafe before you go.

May the Fourth Be With You!

Tonight, for May the Fourth (etc.), we are having a special screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, at the Buena Vista Branch, at 5:45 p.m.

The screening is sponsored by the teen department, but all are welcome to attend, and movie snacks will be provided.

There will be a drawing for teens only, for Star Wars-related prizes!

This screening is a "food-raiser" and the price of admission is one non-perishable food or toiletry item from the list below, which will be donated to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center (BTAC)'s pantry.

Please be prompt! (it's a long movie!) and join us to celebrate May the Fourth!

Requested items are:
macaroni & cheese, peanut butter, cereals, canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned soups, canned meats, rice, pasta, instant potatoes, pancake mixes, syrup, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant. Please, NO ramen.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What you're reading: Top new books at BPL

These are the brand new teen books that circulated the most during the past three months at Burbank Public Library (all three branches). We thought you might enjoy seeing what's new and, out of that, what's being enjoyed by others!

Scythe / Neal Shusterman
In a conflict-free world in which humans have conquered death, it is up to the "scythes" to cull the human population. But what if you are a teenager, chosen to be a scythe, and you don't want to take lives as your day job?

The Fever Code / James Dashner
A prequel to the Maze Runner series

The Sun is Also a Star / Nicola Yoon
On the day that Natasha is 12 hours away from being deported to Jamaica, she meets David, and there is a spark. Now what?

Something In Between / Melissa de la Cruz
Jasmine is about to receive a full scholarship to college. Then she discovers that her Filipino immigrant parents are in America illegally. So--no scholarship? Deportation?!

Heartless / Marissa Meyer

Meyer's take on the world of Alice in Wonderland.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child / J. K. Rowling

In this play, Harry is now a husband and father of three, and works at the Ministry of Magic.

Three Dark Crowns / Kendare Blake
A set of triplets is born, all heirs to the throne. At the age of sixteen, they must use their formidable powers to fight one another for the crown. The one left standing will be queen.

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy / Cassandra Clare

After his memory loss from the events in City of Heavenly Fire, Simon is at the Academy learning to be a Shadowhunter.

Take the Key and Lock Her Up / Ally Carter

This is #3 in the Embassy Row series. Grace discovers she has royal blood, which puts her life at stake.

Our Chemical Hearts / Krystal Sutherland

A quirky mix of funny and serious subjects on the way to a love story.

What Light / Jay Asher

The setting is a Christmas tree farm in Oregon and a Christmas tree lot in California. A girl falls for a troubled boy. Readers say "read it at Christmas for the full effect!"

Pasadena / Sherri L. Smith
Jude's best friend is dead, and while some are saying accident and others are saying suicide, Jude knows it was murder. Now she has to prove it.

Holding Up the Universe / Jennifer Niven

Libby is the girl known as "America's Fattest Teen." Jack is unable to recognize faces. They find each other because of a cruel joke, but they stick together for different reasons.

Everyone We've Been / Sarah Everett
Addison keeps talking to a boy who isn't there, a boy no one else sees. She's afraid she's going crazy, so she goes to a clinic, only to discover that maybe someone helped her to forget this boy.

Crooked Kingdom / Leigh Bardugo

The second book in Bardugo's duology that began with Six of Crows. More amazing than the first, and that was really good! (Melissa's opinion.)

By Your Side / Kasie Wes

Autumn and Dax accidentally get locked in the library for an entire weekend. (This would never happen. --ME) Confusing feelings arise. Etc.

Bad Blood / Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The latest (#4) in the Naturals series. If you haven't read the others, the description on this one is spoiler-y, so I'll just say, everybody seems to love this series about teenagers who become profilers for the FBI.

Of Fire and Stars / Audrey Coulthurst

Dennalaia is betrothed to the prince of a neighboring kingdom, and their marriage will seal an alliance that will protect her homeland. But she starts having feelings for the prince's sister, Amaranthine, when "Mare" is teaching her how to ride the kingdom's war horses. Uh-oh...

Carve the Mark / Veronica Roth

Deadly enemies, out of control gifts, star-crossed lovers...

RoseBlood / A.G. Howard

A modern-day spin on the Phantom of the Opera.

The Reader / Traci Chee

Sefia and her aunt, Nin, are on the run. When Nin is captured, Sefia has to consult a strange artifact she rescued from her home before they left. (It's a book, in a land where no one reads.)

The Midnight Star / Marie Lu

This is #3 in the Young Elites series.

Last Seen Leaving / Caleb Roehrig

January dumps Flynn, then she goes missing. Everyone is looking at Flynn, expecting he must know something. But Flynn is focused on his own coming of age crisis. 

King's Cage / Victoria Aveyard

This is #3 in the Red Queen saga.

Everything, Everything / Nicola Yoon

She has a rare disease that makes her allergic to the world. She's never left the house, never been in the presence of anyone but her mother and her nurse. Then a guy moves in next door, and she's suddenly thinking about everything she's been missing...

Wrecked / by Maria Padian

Jenny accuses Jordan of rape--but who is telling the truth?

United / Melissa Landers
The third book in the Alienated series: angsty teenage space aliens!

A Totally Awkward Love Story / Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Two English high school students trying to lose their virginity before going away to college.

A Torch Against the Night / Sabaa Tahir

Sequel to An Ember in the Ashes.

Timekeeper / Tara Sim
An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers.

Seven Ways We Lie / Riley Redgate
Seven students, with seven deadly sins, and one secret...

Lucy and Linh / Alice Pung

Lucy is the daughter of Chinese immigrant refugees, trying to fit in at a posh Australian private school.

Kids of Appetite / David Arnold

Death, first love, murder, shenanigans, by the author of Mosquitoland.

Goldenhand / Garth Nix

Abhorsen #5, in which Lirael has dead creatures to battle and free magic to bind, and a new foe threatening the Old Kingdom.

Frostblood / Elly Blake

A Fireblood in a world of Frostbloods. Secrets, rebels, yadda yadda.

Be Good Be Real Be Crazy / Chelsey Philpot

Three teenagers on a road trip. Kudos for title and cover.

These are, of course, not the only new books for teens at Burbank Public Library, just the latest favorites of our teen patrons! If you want to see the rest of the new books for teens, go here. There are currently 148 new teen books!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

8+9 Book Club Report

Tuesday night, 17 members of the 8+9 Book Club gathered at the Buena Vista Branch to discuss Dorothy Must Die, the modern homage by Danielle Paige (first book in a series) to L. Frank Baum's classic Oz books.

Although some of us had problems with the lack of explanation of how things got to the state they were in by the time new girl from Kansas, Amy Gumm, arrived on the Oz scene, and others of us weren't fans of some of the rather graphic violence, everyone in the club liked the book, and some liked it the best of any book we have read this year. The rating ended up being 8.6 out of 10. Since there are two other main books and a bunch of prequel and sequel novellas and short stories in this series, those who enjoyed it can keep reading within the Oz universe for a while.

Next month, we are reading Killer Instinct, the second book in the Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Since next month is the last month we meet this school year, we didn't select another book, but instead spent the rest of club talking about the upcoming Teen Summer Reading Program, and what authors we would like to come to our Book Café events.

The summer reading program's theme this year is Reading By Design, and our big summer project is building three Little Free Libraries for the city of Burbank! In addition, we will have four sessions of Book Café, a Legotopia craft (we're building a city out of LEGOs), and our finale will be an interactive murder mystery game, "Body in the Book Shop." This program, which is open to teens in grades 7-12, starts June 5 and ends July 22, and also includes reading and writing activities, for which teens can win weekly prizes. Sign-ups begin on May 22.

Our next (and last) book club meeting of the year is on Tuesday, May 30.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

What we're reading: The asteroid is coming!

Reviewed by Anarda, teen librarian   

Before the asteroid, the teens in We All Looked Up, by Tommy Wallach, fell into the typical tropes of high school:
  • Simple-minded star athlete with beautiful, popular but shallow girlfriend
  • Slacker dude who hangs out with a crazy druggie/dealer friend
  • Athlete's sister, girlfriend of the druggie
  • Artsy girl labeled as a slut
  • Type A girl with super-strict parents (who is the only African American character in this otherwise white world)
But after they learned it was coming, and discovered the earth just might be in its path, well...what do you do when you know your life may end in eight weeks?

I followed the various collisions of these teens as they scrambled to make sense (or nonsense) of their lives, each in their own alternating chapters, and it works for the most part--the tropes evolve. I thought the story sagged a bit two-thirds of the way through, and a couple of the teens did not seem to expand much from their original conceptions, while the adults were barely present, mostly cardboard cutouts too easy to knock down. The ending, however, was good--not too American, which was a surprise.

My recommendation is that you also read Tommy Wallach's Thanks For The Trouble, a wonderful bookend to the question he asks in this book. It's a fine meditation on why life is worth living, and when it can stop being worth living. The title comes from a Leonard Cohen song, "Famous Blue Raincoat," and the idea that someone took the trouble to end someone else's pain, a stranger's no less, is inspiring.