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Middle School Reviews: The Unwanteds

Check Out The Unwanteds by Lisa McMannWhat’s your name?: Aidan 

What school do you attend?: St. Petronille

What grade are you in school?: 7th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: The Unwanteds

Did you like it?: I have mixed feelings about this book. It was a great idea, but they could have gone a lot farther with it. For instance, the main character’s twin brother practically sentenced him to what he thought was death, and he doesn’t even care. I think that this is an average book, built on a great idea that was wasted.

Who would like this?: Someone who likes post-apocalyptic fantasy science fiction.

How many stars would you rate this?: Three Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

Middle School Reviews: Esperanza Rising

Check out Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz RyanWhat’s your name?: Merry

What school do you attend?: Hadley Middle School

What grade are you in school?: 7th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: Esperanza

Did you like it?: Yes, I loved this book. It was very interesting and there was an amazing meaning to this book. I loved how it included her family members during the story. It was an amazing thing to see how hard it was for Esperanza, then overcoming her difficulties. I liked how the girl went through her challenges with her help from her family members.

Who would like this?: Ages 8-12

How many stars would you rate this?: Five Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

Animated Movies

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Zootopia Movie PosterLast week, I settled in to my apartment on a Friday night and watched Zootopia. Yes, very exciting night for an adult woman living in Chicago, right? Anyways, I was excited to watch the movie after being on the holds list for it at the library for a while, and it didn’t disappoint. Hilarious jokes (seriously, the sloths slayed me,) astute social commentary, a sweet friendship, and all packaged as a solid buddy cop movie. I loved it.

It got me thinking though. I rarely watch movies, since I find TV shows a little easier to work in to my daily schedule. And in the last few years, a lot of the movies I’ve seen have been animated. If I were to actually count, it would probably be a hilariously large number of animated movies for an adult. Whether it’s re-watching Beauty and the Beast or Mulan for the 20th time or finally getting to Zootopia (and, soon I hope, Finding Dory), I’ve found animated movies for kids are some of my favorites. And you may have noticed a couple weeks ago, a teen volunteer reviewed Finding Dory and gave it eight out of ten stars, so it’s not just me who’s finding enjoyment in movies aimed at a younger audience.

So why is it that animated movies hold such a wide appeal, even for teens and adults well outside their target demographic? I don’t have any actual answers, because that would probably require tons of research by several very smart people with doctorates, but I do have some ideas. One is that, by and large, kid’s movies are positive. They’re not all sunshine and roses (Lion King or Up anyone?) but most of them involve good triumphing over evil, limited death and destruction, and a happily ever after style ending. And I love that. I love finishing a movie and feeling happy and satisfied, and I bet I’m not the only one who finds that to be a huge appeal of these movies.

Another factor is almost certainly nostalgia. Don’t get me wrong, as Beauty and the Beast’s Oscar nominations prove, it’s an excellent movie. But it was also the first movie I remember seeing in theaters, and a childhood staple, and I doubt I’d be watching it quite as often if I didn’t have such great memories of it.

But what about current movies, without the nostalgia factor? Well, since my childhood, there’s been a shift in a lot of animated movies to including more content specifically for adults. I don’t mean anything inappropriate, but rather things like pop culture references, wordplay, and jokes that go right above the heads of the main child audience. Shrek is probably the biggest example of this (and one of the earliest) but at this point, it’s become the norm for most animated movies. That doesn’t mean the movies have changed their intended audience or become inaccessible to kids – Frozen mania and Finding Dory’s lucrative opening weekend definitely prove that these movies are still hits with young children. But the extra little Easter eggs and more grown-up humor really help the movies appeal to older audiences as well (much to the relief of parents everywhere, I’m sure.)

What’s the point of all this? To be honest, mostly I wanted comment on a phenomenon I’ve noticed and talk about movies I love. But if you have shied away from animated movies in the past, consider giving them another chance – many of them are for you too, not just little kids. And if you already love them, you can join me in singing it from the rooftops. Because who doesn’t love talking dogs, powerful ballads, and a happily ever after?

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Pokémon Go

By: Melissa Hilt, Youth Department Assistant Director

Pokemon Go LogoIf you have gone outside at all in the past week or been on social media you have probably seen and heard a lot of people playing Pokémon GO. Groups of people of all ages can be found all over the place glued to their devices, trying to catch these elusive Pokémon.

Has your child expressed interest in playing the game (or maybe already downloaded it)? There are a few things you should know as a parent to make sure that they are safe, not racking up any unwanted bills, and having fun. Like everything, there are pros and cons to Pokémon GO.

Pro: It’s free!

The app is free to download, however there are in-app purchases available. If you want to make sure your child is not racking up bills, you will want to make sure you have their phone set up to disable in-app purchases.

Pro: It’s fun!

Pokémon GO is fun and as a parent, you might even feel nostalgic playing with your kids.

Pro: It gets your kid outside and moving around.

In order to find Pokémon and visit Pokestops and Gyms, your kids will need to be outside. Yes, some people do it while someone is driving them around, but most people are out walking or riding their bikes. It’s screen time,yes, but it’s active screen time.

Pro: You can play with them!

If you were a kid when the first Pokémon games came out, you’ll likely become as obsessed with this game as your kiddo is. You can go for walks to catch creatures together or take a family trip to a “Pokémon gym” to battle your highest-level finds. It’s a different kind of family fun, but it’s fun all the same.

Pro: It can be educational.

In the game, players can go to “Pokéstops” to get items. Most of these stops are public landmarks like libraries, churches, fire stations, and public parks. You can use these stops as an opportunity to teach your child about their town and surroundings.

Con: It tracks your GPS.

Because the game is connected with Google Maps so that you can locate Pokémon in real time and real places, your child’s phone’s location will be activated.

Con: It leads to distracted walking/driving/biking.

If your child is out biking or walking around with friends trying to catch Pokémon, due to the nature of the game, their eyes will have to be glued to the screen. This makes for distracted walking in roads, riding bikes with one hand, or running to a location with their head down. Remind your child to always be aware of their surroundings and to be stopped before looking down at their phone.  They can set it up so that the phone will make a noise when a Pokémon is near.

Con: It uses data.

Since you can’t always play sitting at home using your WiFi, the app does use a lot of data, which is something to be aware of, especially if your child has their own phone and you do not have unlimited data.

Con: It’s being used to “lure” children to secluded areas.

One of the options in the game is to “lure” people to your location to engage in a battle. I have read that children are being lured to secluded areas, and no one wants that to happen to this child. It’s a good idea to set some guidelines with your kids. Let them know where and when they can play, or make sure that you can go out with them so there’s a set of eyes. Kids should be aware of stranger danger and travel in groups if they are not with their guardians.

Youth Staff Member with Pokemon FaceIf you have made it this far, I am guessing your child is already playing or has been begging you to let them play. I know here at the library, which by the way has two Pokestops and a handful of Pokémon inside, we have been seeing kids and adults come through playing the game so we decided we need to have a Pokémon GO Safari!

Join the library’s Pokémon experts on a safari to catch as many Pokémon as you can. We will be casting lures at several downtown Glen Ellyn Pokestops along the way. Just bring your own device loaded with the Pokemon GO app. The safari will meet in the library’s Youth Program Room and conclude at the library. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, as our safari will take us on walk within a few blocks of the library. For children 12 years and younger, adult caregivers will be required to sign permission slips and participate in the safari until the end of the program.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Diversity in Media

By: Hannah S., Teen Blogger

We Need Diverse BooksDiversity in media has become increasingly popular and is shining light on discussions about inclusion. Along the way, however, there has been an increase in misrepresentation in media regarding people with disabilities and how they live life. This is due to the stories being written and portrayed by able-bodied people with no disabilities. Why is this harmful and what can be done to make sure people with disabilities are accurately portrayed in media?

The misrepresentations of disabilities in movies, books, etc. are causing people to have a skewed view on how to treat people with disabilities and how to view them within society. It is important for people to understand different disabilities from the perspective of those who experience and live with them. A simple approach to improving the inaccurate portrayal of people with disabilities is to have writers and actors people with disabilities create these roles or to have a consultant to help along the way. This will not only help educate people of what disabilities are really like but they will also help people with disabilities feel more adequate and represented. It is especially important for children and teens with disabilities to have a character they can relate to and see themselves in. I, as a teenager who is disabled, have trouble finding characters who accurately portray my disability. This struggle can lead children and teens with disabilities like me to feel different and left out.

On the other hand, a handful of stories have done a great job with representation and accurate portrayal. Some authors clearly did their research and consulted with people with disabilities before writing anything that could possibly be upsetting or inaccurate. Some authors also do a good job of using the proper terminology and using appropriate wording to avoid offending anyone. This makes a big difference in how people with disabilities view themselves and also how they are seen in society. People with disabilities’ confidence can vastly improve when there is a character that they can read about in a book or see in a movie that portrays their thoughts and sensitivities accurately.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Middle School Reviews: 11 Birthdays

Check out 11 Birthdays by Wendy MassWhat’s your name?: Aneeqa Meah

What school do you attend?: Madison Elementry

What grade are you in school?: 6th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book.

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: 11 Birthdays

Did you like it?: I absolutely LOVED it. The book is about two best friends that haven’t talked to each other in year. Now their 11th birthdays over and over again. This book has a mixture of genres.

Who would like this?: Someone who loves books that have a bit of mystery.

How many stars would you rate this?: Five Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

Middle School Reviews: Hidden

Hidden by Helen Frost Book CoverWhat’s your name?: Molly

What school do you attend?: Hadley

What grade are you in school?: 6th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: Hidden

Did you like it?: Yes it was very exciting and sad at the same time. I was in shock when reading it on the plane I would love to read it over and over again .

Who would like this?: 5th or 6th graders.

How many stars would you rate this?: Three Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

Middle School Reviews: Ranger’s Apprentice: The Royal Ranger

Check Out Ranger's Apprentice: The Royal Ranger by John FlanaganWhat’s your name?: Auden 

What school do you attend?: Clapham 

What grade are you in school?: 6th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: Ranger’s Apprentice: The Royal Ranger

Did you like it?: It was an amazing fantasy book. One of the best in the series! It is action packed and suspenseful.

Who would like this?: Someone who likes action and suspense, boys and girls alike.

How many stars would you rate this?: Five Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

Middle School Reviews: FIFA 16

Check Out FIFA 16 by EA SportsWhat’s your name?: Shelby

What school do you attend?: Saint Michael

What grade are you in school?: 6th grade

What are you reviewing?: A video game

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: FIFA 16

Did you like it?: Yes! I love it! It is so much fun! It is super easy to learn, so anyone can play! Also, each game is only ten minutes long.In addition to having men’s teams, FIFA16 has women, unlike FIFA14. Plus, you can play as any team you want!

Who would like this?: Someone who likes soccer.

How many stars would you rate this?: Four Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

What I Just Read – Summer of Sloane

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check out Summer of Sloane by Erin L. SchneiderEarlier this month I went on vacation with my family, which meant I packed plenty of light (but not too light) summery reads, full of fun, romance, summer camps, or in the case of this What I Just Read, beaches.

What I Just Read: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

Do I Like It: Beaches, friends, family, and a dash of romance…what’s not to love?

Thoughts:  Okay seriously, if you are looking for ideal beach reads, you need to add Summer of Sloane to your list. Like Lisa Freeman’s Honey Girl, which was probably my favorite beach read last year, Summer of Sloane is the perfect combination of realistic family and friend relationships, drama, romance, character development, and a gorgeous setting. Don’t let this fool you into thinking it doesn’t have substance though. From the very first pages when Sloane realizes that her boyfriend and best friend have betrayed her, Summer of Sloane gives real emotional depth to the reading experiences and the main character.

I think the friendships in Summer of Sloane were my favorite part, but not in my normal “I loved seeing these dedicated and loving friendships” way. While Sloane’s relationship with her brother, her Hawaiian friend Mia, and her coworkers were delightful to watch, I think it was the complications of her relationships to her best friend Mick and (ex) boyfriend Tyler that were the most compelling. It would have been possible to make either character a villain, or to exonerate both of them, but that would have been taking the easy way out. Instead, Erin L. Schneider does a great job of portraying Sloane’s mixed emotions, the real pain suffered by Tyler and Mick as Sloane ignores them, and the complications of dealing with being hurt by some of the people dearest to you.

But of course the friendships, while my favorite part of the book, are not all of what makes this book a great beach read. Summer of Sloane is also full of pools and oceans, surfing and sun, beach bonfires and lanais, and everything that will make you wish you were in Hawaii yourself. The romance that develops between Sloane and Finn adds an element of heat, but never overwhelms the main story of Sloane figuring out who she is without two of the most important people in her life. So if you’re looking for a summer read, pick this up immediately. And even if you aren’t specifically looking for a beach book, you’re likely to find something compelling in Summer of Sloane.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School