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GEPL Teens: Great Character Alert – Willowdean Dickson

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Dumplin by Julie MurphyYou guys, if you haven’t already heard of this book, it is officially time to get super excited about Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. This book has been getting a lot of buzz, and I was able to score and advanced copy for my ereader. As of the time I’m writing this, I’m about 20% in, so I won’t be reviewing the book as a whole. But at 20% in, I can tell you for sure that the main character, Willowdean Dickson, is worthy of a top level Great Character Alert, because she is FABULOUS.

Willowdean lives in a small town in Texas famous for its teen beauty pageant, which her mom (a former winner) helps run every. Willowdean, however, is more interested in her best friend Ellen, music, and her work crush Bo than she is in beauty pageants. She is also, in her own words, a “resident fat girl.” As far into the book as I am, I already love Will. She is unapologetic about her size, her ideas, the fact that she has a crush on a jock, or anything else. She loves her best friend more than almost anything, puts up with her mom’s pageant diets and criticisms while still loving her, and sticks up for a girl at school getting teased.

All of which is not to say that Will is perfect, or that everything is going perfectly for her. She does get insecure sometimes, especially when it seems like Bo might be interested in her. She is also insecure about her friendship with Ellen, which comes out when Ellen starts talking more with a work friend from the trendy boutique she works at. She is not immune to being frustrated with her mother, or apathetic about school. She misses her aunt Lucy, who died before the start of the book, and sometimes takes this out on others.

But Will is smart, funny, confident, thoughtful, and witty. She loves to sing to Dolly Parton, spends mornings and afternoons at the pool with Ellen, and jumps at a chance to try on one of the hallowed pageant crowns, despite her disinterest in the competition overall. Her realness and fun makes her someone that I can not only picture knowing in real life, but someone I wish I knew in real life! I’m sure I’ll continue to love Dumplin’ as I follow the rest of Willowdean’s story, and if you place your holds now, you can find out ASAP when the book comes out in September if you feel the same!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Digital Resources

By: Bari Ericson, Youth Programming Associate

During the GEPL Youth Department remodel, check out these digital resources, available 24/7!

BookFlix LogoBookFlix
This site provides video versions of popular picturebooks. Each of the over 110 stories is paired with a simple non-fiction e-book title to explore the subject further. Puzzles and games are offered to try out what you have learned. Themes also have links to other educational websites that allow you to explore the topics in greater depth. Designed for pre-school through 3rd grade.

CultureGrams LogoCultureGrams
The CultureGrams Online Database is a leading reference for concise, reliable, and up-to-date cultural information on countries across the globe. This resource includes thousands of images and interviews with native inhabitants. Fun extras include state bird sound files, a distance calculator and at least five recipes from each country.

GoGrolier LogoGrolier Online
Eight encyclopedia databases are combined on one site to help with homework and welcome exploration. This digital resource offers an extensive general encyclopedia, dictionary and maps. Look for science topics in “Amazing Animals of the World” and “Popular Science.” Research state history and current events in “America the Beautiful,” or other countries and cultures in “Land and Peoples.”

International Children's Digital Library LogoInternational Children’s Digital Library
This foundation promotes tolerance and respect for diverse cultures by providing access to the best in children’s literature from around the world. Browse by age, genre, book length, character types, or even the color of a book’s cover. ICDL is a great resource for books in other languages.

ScienceFlix LogoScienceFlix
A vast variety of topics in the areas of earth science, space, life science, health and human body, physical science, technology and engineering are profiled. View experiments which explore a hypothesis, objectives, procedures, observations and results. Other features include information about careers in science and recent news.

TrueFlix LogoTrueFlix
Over 80 non-fiction social studies, history and science themes are explored in video and e-book formats. All of the titles are paired with an introductory video quiz and vocabulary practice that you can complete before and after you read. Designed for grades 3 and up.

Tumblebooks LogoTumbleBooks
TumbleBooks adds animation, narration and music to favorite picturebooks. Non-fiction and foreign language titles are also included. Chapter books with sequence highlighting and narration are offered as Read-Alongs. E-Books and audiobooks may be viewed online or downloaded. Be sure to try the National Geographic videos and games! Aimed at pre-school through elementary school-aged children.

Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – All The Bright Places

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By: Allison G.

What I Just Read: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Jacket Description: An exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might die, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground—it’s unclear who saves whom. And when the unlikely pair teams up on a class project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, they go, as Finch says, where the road takes them: the grand, the small, the bizarre, the beautiful, the ugly, the surprising—just life live.

Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a bold, funny, live-out-loud guy, who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet forgets to count away the days and starts living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is a heart-wrenching, unflinching story of love shared, life lived, and two teens who find one another while standing on the edge.

Did I Like It: Definitely one of my favorite books now, I couldn’t put it down!

Thoughts: Having just finished this book, I’m still thinking about it and feeling all the emotions that books like this make you feel. I was hesitant to start reading this book because I was afraid it would be solely focused on the fact that both main characters had contemplated suicide, which wasn’t the sort of book I wanted to read. But I finally started to read it and I became pleasantly surprised. Once I got into it, I loved reading about how their relationship was progressing. As Finch and Violet went on adventures and got themselves into all kinds of mischief, they learned more about each other and I learned more about myself. This book gave me different perspectives on life since it’s told from the viewpoints of both Finch and Violet, who obviously live very different lives.

Nothing about this book disappointed me, I loved every single page. This quote from the School Library Journal perfectly sums up my feelings on this book: “The writing in this heartrending novel is fluid, despite the difficult topics… Finch in particular will linger in readers’ minds long after the last page is turned.” Just as the quote says, Finch’s character and his personality have stayed with me (as weird as that might sound). I find myself seeing parts of his personality in other people and parts of Violet’s personality in myself. Lastly, I was excited to learn that All the Bright Places is going to become a movie starring Elle Fanning as Violet and it’s set to be released in 2017.

 

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Top Middle School Reader

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By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

Meet our top middle school reader, Jeff Johnston! He’s an eighth grader at Hadley Junior High and finished up the summer reading program with 171 hours and 45 minutes!
Jeff Johnston Standing By Book Shelves

Wow! His secret: listening to Playaways while doing chores like mowing the lawn and walking the dog. He loves that the library has such a variety, and reads all genres. If he had to pick a favorite, it would be realistic fiction.

Somehow, beyond all that reading, Jeff, a former GEPL volunteer, has had a very eventful summer. When he’s not reading or listening to books he’s playing sports. He enjoys soccer and basketball, but soccer is his favorite. He visits the Glen Ellyn Park District Rec Center to play basketball, ultimate Frisbee, and wall ball with his friends.

He even went to Europe for three weeks in July, and made it back in time to compete against the Glen Ellyn firefighters in our tug of war.

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Summer Reading Wrap-Up

Teens Blog BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Much to everyone’s dismay, the end of summer is finally almost here. School starts next week, the weather is getting cooler, and of course, summer reading is over – though the humiliation for me is not!

The most important thing about this year’s summer reading is that you guys rocked it! Seriously, seriously rocked it. All told, you read 1,170 books, compared to 649 books last year. That’s about 180% of what you read last year, which is amazing. You nearly doubled your number of books read, even though there were actually two less people participating than last year, and averaged about 8 books per person. CONGRATULATIONS! Our top reader got through an impressive 110 books, and the two winners of our grand prize drawing read 122 books between the both of them.

And of course, with that incredible reading, came incredible embarrassment for me! You reached all your goals, which means I have:

Shown you a picture of me at 18

Exhausted Hannah, Age 18

Been pelted with Nerf darts

Worn ridiculous outfits to work for a week, like this one (the rest are here)\

Hannah Monday

Done a three-legged race with Christina, our Middle School Librarian

Faced off with Christina in a break dance competition

And there’s more!

Because you reached your goal (in record time!), Christina and I will be doing a live performance at the library’s open mic night on September 2, 6:30 p.m., at Shannon’s Irish Pub. We’ll be videotaping it of course, so I can share my shame with the world, but I highly recommend the in-person experience. And because you beat out the Middle School students and reached your goal first, I will also be lip-syncing my heart out sometime soon. Probably to a song from the 80s.

So all in all, I think this was a fantastic year for teen summer reading – you smashed your reading goals, you helped the library achieve our overall goals and raise money for the police and fire departments in town, and you forced me to do embarrassing things which are now on the internet forever. It doesn’t get much better than that, but we’re already making plans for next year!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Back to School Basics

By:  Sia Paganis – Youth Department Programing Associate

Kids Running with Backbacks OnEvery year at this time I marvel at how fast time flies in the summer. As a parent, I always seem to be rushing around filling out those last minute forms for school, checking supply lists and realizing that my kids have out grown every piece of decent clothing they own.

My kids are trying to finish up any summer reading at the last minute or completing a summer packet . Sometimes we spend so much time physically preparing for ‘Back to School’, that we forget that kids need to be emotionally prepared as well.

Many kids will be transitioning to new schools or classrooms. Talking openly about what it might feel like on the first day will help children recognize their emotions and validate any feelings of nervousness. Anticipating emotions in new situations could lead to a conversation on how to deal with some of those emotions. For example, some kids who feel very anxious might benefit from simple self-management tools like taking deep breaths or counting.

As a middle school educator, I talk with my students about how we ‘feel’ when we are actively learning; and then ultimately how do we get ourselves in this feeling before a lesson or activity. It is amazing how this simple discussion leads to a more productive learning environment!

Many resources are available online for parents to help them prepare for ‘Back to School’. From suggested sleep routines, healthy food suggestions to general safety; listed below are a variety of links to reputable sources. Each year brings new promises for our kids to grow, learn and have fun. Happy ‘Back to School’!

Best Back to School Tips from Happiness Matters

Back to School Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Guiding Our Children Through School Transitions by Dr. Sharon Sevier

Parents: Start With A by Matt Levinson

Back-to-School Resources for Parents

Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Summer Homework

Teens Blog BannerBy: Britta J., Teen Blogger

Blog Entry 172 - ImageSummer Homework. The bane of all students’ existence, and if you’re like me, you hadn’t even thought about it until today. It seems each year, more and more busy work is piled on us until we have a project or reading assignment in almost every class. Let’s be honest, it’s really hard to motivate yourself to work on schoolwork in the summer. So I thought I could lighten the burden by giving you a few tips on how to knock out some of those assignments instead of staying up past midnight the night before school starts like I did last year

1. Make a Schedule

All that work can be daunting, so if you plan out what to get done each day, not only will it seem more manageable, but you will make sure that nothing is forgotten. Make sure you stick with it. Even if you only have a week left, better late than never!

2. Find a space without distractions

This advice applies to any work, but is especially important when there are so many more distractions and less structure than during the school year. Try to avoid your bedroom and find a place like the office or a guest bedroom. Turn off the notices on your phone, put away any non-school books, and buckle down.

3. Find a specific time

For me, if I don’t give myself a time frame to work, I will drag it out all day. No one wants to spend what little break they have left on homework, so try to really focus for a couple hours instead of half-trying all day long. You can even set an alarm for yourself. When you’re done, reward yourself. You deserve it!

4. Find a study group

Find friends in the same classes as you and get together. You can help each other, and keep each other on track. If you’re hanging out with your friends at the same time, you might even trick yourself into thinking that summer homework is fun. Your parents will also be all over letting you hang out with friends if schoolwork is even slightly involved.

5. Assemble your materials before sitting down

Don’t give yourself an excuse to get back up, because once you do, there is no going back to boring old homework. Make sure you have all the calculators, pencils, paper, and erasers you need. This tip includes food! Bring a couple of snacks with you, and make sure you have something to drink too. Dehydration can cause tiredness, and homework already does enough of that.

Just do it. Nike has a point, there is no easy way to do summer homework, but by pacing yourself, you can get your work done to freely enjoy your last moments of freedom. I can only assume that as someone reading the library blog, you either have already done all their schoolwork, or you are in a lot of difficult classes and are procrastinating. If you are in the latter group then this message is for you. I believe in you. Get ‘er done!

-Britta J.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

Teens Blog BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Blog Entry 171 - ImageI’ve been doing a lot of good reading this summer (we have a staff summer reading program too!) so once again, you get to hear my thoughts on another great, summery read!

What I Just Read: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

What’s It About (Jacket Description): The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

Did I Like It: It had depth, a summer feel, and an engaging story, so obviously YES!

Thoughts: Despite the fact that The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is actually set in a pretty chilly town in Oregon, rather than someplace warm, it still felt like a good summer read to me. There was an ocean, beaches, no school, outdoor activities, romance, friendship – all the things I associate with the best summer reads (like Sarah Dessen’s Colby books!) So despite the hoodies and the freezing ocean, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids definitely satisfied my desire for a good seasonal read. But it dealt with some heavier issues as well, so don’t mistake “summery” for “frivolous” – the best summer books are never totally frivolous.

Elyse is dealing with some pretty heavy issues in this book. Literally losing the power to speak and – just as bad for her – to sing is a tough, tough thing, and is very recent in Elyse’s past. She’s dealing with the grief of losing something she loved, and the pain of trying to figure out whole new ways to communicate, whole new ways to be. Add into that the threat of her beloved aunt and cousin losing their home, right as it is becoming her home, and Elyse has lots on her mind. But despite that, she still finds time to laugh, to love, to make new friends, and to feel good about herself. Grief is complicated, and Elyse’s grieving and living showcase that beautifully.

This is a book where the details, the side characters, and the smaller plots really add up to more than the sum of their parts. Which is impressive, because each of those parts is pretty great. A highlight of the side plots and characters is Christian’s younger brother Sebastian, who must hold on to his sense of self despite the shaming he receives from others for not fitting in to the box of “normal little boy” that they want him to fit into. And he does – it’s not easy, and he gets down sometimes, but Sebastian never lets go of his love for mermaids and pretty things, his sweetness and affection for Elyse and Christian, or his love of Atargatis Cove itself. Other side elements are equally as rich, like the nuanced portrayal of non-physical abuse, the proud “feminist killjoy” friend Elyse makes, Elyse’s aunt Lemon and her coven, the stormy, cold Pacific, and more.

Overall, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids was a layered, complex read that still managed to feel perfectly in season with the summer. It’s a book that makes me want to read it again, so I can get more of the nuance, find things I didn’t see before, and have a chance to know the characters even better. And if that doesn’t convince you to pick it up, maybe one of Elyse’s poems that plays a key role in the story will make you want to hear more of her voice on the page.

plan B
plan Battered and Broken
plan Boxed in
plan Bailed on and Back from the dead
plan Better luck next time
plan Balled up
plan Backtracked
plan Backhanded
plan Backward steps
plan Blackballed, Black-marked, and Blacklisted
plan B-side, Bye Bye Baby
plan Belly up and Beat down
plan Bad days ahead and Best are far Behind”

-From The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: What Is Your Phone Number?

By: Carolyn Wissmiller – Youth Department Programing Associate

Little Girl on Cell Phone

Photo From:
http://www.all4cellularblog.com/wp-content/uploads/kid-playing-on-phone.jpg


 

For the past 11 years, I’ve been registering kids for our Summer Reading program. Here’s one major cultural shift that’s occurred during that time: children no longer know their phone numbers.

Here are some of the responses I’ve received to the question, “What’s your phone number?”

  • I don’t know.
  • Mine or my mom’s? I don’t know my mom’s. I’m not sure what mine is.
  • Our home number? Mom, what’s our home number?
  • I don’t have a phone yet.

These responses came from all age groups – preschoolers through 8th graders.

I distinctly remember teaching my children our phone number when they were three-years-old. Of course, I have to admit it was our one and only phone number. It was a preschool assignment. If your child does not know your phone number, how will they reach you in an emergency? They don’t have to memorize every number, but make sure they know at least one parent’s number.

Here are some website with tips and tricks for helping your child learn phone numbers:

Lasting Thumbprints: 
Fun Way To Learn Phone Number
8 Ways to Teach Kids Addresses and Phone Numbers

Spell OUTLOUD:
Learning Phone Numbers

Your Modern Family:
Teach Kids Their Name and Number

Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Fandoms

Teens Blog BannerBy: Elizabeth W., Teen Blogger

Blog Entry 170 - ImageFandoms have recently become a major part of how people interact with a book, movie, or TV show. In many ways a fandom is just a place to talk about a work you like with other fans. However, fandoms do have some serious negative aspects that we don’t often realize.

Recently in an interview Young Adult authors Cassandra Clare and Maggie Stiefvater explained the negative aspects of their fandoms. Each said that they had been insulted by fans or felt dehumanized by them. Their fans sometimes seemed to care more about the characters in their novels than about them as people. They have received threats from fans of their work who care deeply about their books but don’t seem to respect them. Both authors feel that they are particularly targeted like this as women authors.

It all comes down to respecting people online. In a fandom, it’s easy for someone to say things that they wouldn’t say to someone face to face. Although fans love the work that their authors create they sometimes don’t seem to respect that author as a fellow human being. In the interview, Stiefvater said, “I’m seen as either a demon or a queen, and the reality is somewhere in between.” People in fandoms often don’t realize that their overzealous emotional responses to books and movies can seriously hurt people’s feelings. Fans should support authors and creators, not tear them down. Fandoms unfortunately produce strong emotions and an anonymous online environment where people feel they can say whatever they want without repercussions.

I know that this revelation about the darker side of fandoms has impacted my view of them. It’s important to always stay polite and respectful of other people, both authors and other fans, when we are participating in a fandom. While authors love when people engage with their work in interesting ways and enjoy their books and movies, they certainly do not appreciate the hate that often comes with it. All of us need to make sure that we are interacting with others online in a way that is courteous and kind. Even if someone wants to critique an author or disagree with them, there are ways of doing that without hurting that author’s feelings or making them feel unsafe. I’m not saying to stop interacting with fandoms. Fandoms can be a really great way of connecting with other people and appreciating a work of fiction, a movie, or a TV series. However, I do believe that we can make fandoms an even more positive environment by respecting and appreciating each other online.

-Elizabeth W.

Posted in GEPL Teens