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Meet Your New Librarian!

By: Josh O’Shea, Young Adult Librarian

Josh O'Shea, Young Adult Librarian This is my first post for the Teen Scene blog, and my first little essay as a Young Adult Librarian. There are few places where I talk about myself in general, in the spring newsletter, The Guide, on the Adult Department Meet the Staff page, and on the Ask Josh page.

But this is a place for me to talk about subjects all related to teen-ish-ness. It’s a place where I want you to comment on those things, too; just contact me at joshea@gepl.org. Much of this blog has been dedicated to book reviews, as the last YA Librarian read and reviewed veraciously. She set a model of literature experience that I envy. Her vision is one I have, too: the library is intended to be a safe space, where diversity and community are celebrated. We find relief when we escape on an adventure. We gather courage when we understand a subject better, or imagine ourselves in the footsteps of a heroine who triumphed over adversity. These stories — fiction and nonfiction — empower us.

I want to present experiences related to safety, comfort, otherness and fun. That means I’ll write a few book reviews, and feature guest authors. I want to hear from new people, too. Send me an email about something that’s important to you, something that excites you, something that concerns you. Send me a topic you’d like me to investigate; I’ll keep you anonymous. In fact, if you send something to me and want it posted, I’ll keep your name off it unless you otherwise say “say my name!” If you say “say my name,” you will be credited for your work using your first name and last initial.

I’m ready for an adventure in my new job position, and I want some input from you, my constituency. Here we go!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Youth Media Award Winners

By: Melissa Hilt, Youth Assistant Director

It’s that time of year again, award season!  I’m not talking about movies awards, although it’s true those were on recently. On Monday, January 23, I was at home streaming the Youth Media Awards on my iPad.

The YMAs include the Newbery, Caldecott, Geisel and Coretta Scott King awards as well as many others. Each award seeks to highlight the best in books published for children and young adults during the previous year. The full list of honored titles can be found here.

I thought I would highlight the Newbery and Caldecott titles for you, since those are the ones I am most excited about.

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

Check out The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly BarnhillThe Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
An epic fantasy about a young girl raised by a witch, a swamp monster, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, who must unlock the powerful magic buried deep inside her.

Three Newbery Honor Books also were named:

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan
Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
Crossing paths at an inn, thirteenth-century travelers impart the tales of a monastery oblate, a Jewish refugee, and a psychic peasant girl with a loyal greyhound, the three of whom join forces on a chase through France to escape persecution.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Twelve-year-old Annabelle must learn to stand up for what’s right in the face of a manipulative and violent new bully who targets people Annabelle cares about, including a homeless World War I veteran.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

Check out Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka SteptoeRadiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
Jean-Michael Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocked to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat’s own introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean –and definitely not inside the lines — to be beautiful.

Four Caldecott Honor Books also were named:

Leave Me Alone! illustrated and written by Vera Brosgol
Grandmother wants so badly to be left alone to finish the knitting for her grandchildren that she leaves her tiny home and her big family to journey to the moon and beyond to find peace and quiet to finish her knitting.

Freedom in Congo Square illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Carole Boston Weatherford
As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance and play music.

Du Iz Tak? illustrated and written by Carson Ellis
Readers are invited to imagine the dramatic possibilities to be found in the natural world, even the humblest back garden! With exquisitely-detailed illustration that will appeal to children and art-lovers alike, and a wonderfully playful invented language, we soon find ourselves speaking “Bug” … Du iz tak? What is that?

They All Saw a Cat, illustrated and written by Brendan Wenzel
In simple, rhythmic prose and stylized pictures, a cat walks through the world, and all the other creatures see and acknowledge the cat.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Groundhog Day

By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

Check out Ten Grouchy Groundhogs by Kathryn HelingGroundhog’s Day has come and gone, and for the life of me I can’t understand the appeal. This seems very anti-children’s librarian of me, I know, and I know I’m in the minority on this one, as hotels in Punxsutawney cost more than hotels for the Super Bowl this year. I am a big believer in superstition and magical things, but if a meteorologist can’t predict snow in two days, how can an animal’s shadow? Also, the groundhog is surrounded by lights during this escapade. Isn’t it guaranteed that not only is his shadow going to be there, but you would think the large draw of crowds would make any animal skittish?

My groundhog grinchiness aside, I decided to look further into this nationally acknowledged festivity to maybe unshroud the skepticism and maybe get some enjoyment out of this weird day. The first American Groundhog’s day was celebrated in 1887, but this holiday was recognized long before that in Germany and nearby territory. This holiday is based off an old religious tradition of Candlemas held between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. “If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.” Add that to German farmers’ practice of relying on badger’s hibernation habits to predict when they should begin the year’s farming work, and poof — there’s your weird holiday. When Germans settled on this continent, they found a shortage of badgers and switched to another mammal. Other sources say the original animal was a hedgehog, and switched to the next best available critter. Punxsutawney Phil was used to predict the seasons, settlers relied on Br’er Groundhog, which sounds right out of a Beatrix Potter book. Phil was named after King Phillip, and has been used for over a hundred years.

Whoah. Phil’s been around for over 100 years? The average stats of a groundhog are 12-15 pounds and lives 6-8 years. Every summer at the Annual Groundhog Picnic, the 20 pound Phil is given a magical elixir that not only increases his girth, but also extends his life another seven years.

Fun fact: We’re not the only weirdos to celebrate a rodent meteorologist. Canada also celebrates Groundhog’s Day.

Now I’m going to read “Ten Grouchy Groundhogs” because that’s what I feel like right now — a grouchy groundhog.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Best YA of 2016 On Display

By: Hannah Rapp

With another year gone by, many journals and awards have posted lists and chosen winners, trying to seek out the best books of 2016. Any judgment on a book is relative, but the journals and award committees this year have compiled some pretty amazing selections of great young adult books from 2016. The review journal Kirkus had a lengthy longlist for their “best of” selections, but Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal included some different titles on their shorter lists. The National Book Awards finalists also produced some great picks for the best of 2016, and we rounded out our display books with titles nominated for the Morris Award, which honors the best young adult debut novels of the year.

Like most of our displays, the Best of 2016 features a wide variety of books for any reading taste. History buffs will like Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee or the non-fiction graphic novel account March: Book 3 by John Lewis. For fantasy lovers, Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom finishes the story begun in Six of Crows and Traci Chee offers up a fascinating new world in The ReaderIf you’re looking for a tug at your heartstrings, check out The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon or When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. Some cheerier offerings can be found on 2016’s best of lists as well, like The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness or Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown. Whatever you’re in the mood for, find one of the best young adult books of 2016 outside the teen room this February.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School


By: Saaniyah S., Teen Blogger

You will never regret being kind.“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.”
— George Sand

Without a doubt, an act of kindness may mean little to you, but could mean the world to someone else. I, for one, believe that kindness is among the most valuable human traits. It does not take much to do something as little as picking up a dropped item or complimenting someone on their appearance. You would never know that this could hold a big place in his or her heart.

In a world of terror, horror, and hurt, why not facilitate an act of empathy to others?  Be it helping your mother with the dishes, assisting your friends with planning a family get together, or even saying hi to your neighbors, with whom you may not have exchanged a greeting with in a while.

Why have kindness and goodness become so rare today? Well, start by looking at yourself. What is your definition of leaving behind a good mark? In my case, I like to spread an act of kindness wherever I go, even if it has me going out of my way. I understand that everyone around me may be fighting a hard battle that I know nothing about, and the one thing they long for is simply a true, kind smile.

It’s important for everyone to understand that yes, anger and hate are powerful, but in the end, kindness overpowers all. You may think that a little act of kindness may go unnoticed, but this is not true. What goes around, comes around. Your most important reward for showing goodness to the world is not praise, or anything of the sort. Rather, it is knowing and understanding that indeed, you have made a difference in someone else’s day, week, or even their life. That feeling of satisfaction knows no limitations, and you will always love yourself for it.

When you spread goodness on this earth of ours, you have just given everyone else the most precious gifts you can give, the beloved gift of kindness. So it all comes down to this: everyone has the capability of being kind. It is just so natural for humans to feel empathy for others. The trouble is, why don’t we show empathy more often? Why don’t we create the time and even the little required effort to do something good? This really shouldn’t be something we have to ask ourselves. Kindness should and must come automatically. It needs to be experienced by each and every one of us. For indeed, a little spark of kindness can put a colossal burst of sunshine into someone’s day.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

My Library History

By: Leigh Ann Vock

Farewell wonderful Glen Ellyn Public Library! I am relocating to Denver Colorado (to work in yet another library) after living in Glen Ellyn and Wheaton my entire 56 years. I would like to take you on a trip down memory lane to my library life.

Old Wheaton Public Library BuildingAs a young child, weekly trips to the library were a way of life. I will be forever grateful to my parents for instilling this as a family practice. I lived in Wheaton until age eight and have pivotal memories of traipsing up to the third floor of this historic building, then known as the Wheaton Public Library. I was allowed to choose “three books, no more no less.”

There were no “play areas” and we were always quiet for fear of disturbing the librarian. The stacks of books were taller than me but I knew were to find my favorites. It was a dark, cold place but still held my fascination as to the wonders that were housed on its shelves.

Moving to Glen Ellyn as a young girl felt like an earth shattering event.  How could my parents expect me to adjust to a new school, new town, new friends, NEW LIBRARY?!

Old Glen Ellyn Public Library Building

To my delighted surprise the Glen Ellyn Public Library became my favorite spot. A mere mile from my home off of Crescent Boulevard, I would walk by myself and spend time amongst my favorite things, books. The children’s section was down a few stairs and brightly decorated in bold avocado green and yellow. The staff knew me by name and would greet me with a smile.

The card catalog was an amazing tool, pre computers, to help find the materials you needed. The Dewey Decimal System was a piece of cake to navigate, as this was taught and retaught in school on a regular basis. I remember graduating out of the children’s section to the upstairs adult section, and I felt so old. I have fond memories when I recall my time in this building. Fast forward to years later…

Current Glen Ellyn Public Library BuildingI have had the delight to be a part of the staff of Glen Ellyn Public Library Youth Department for over fifteen years.  It is a different library experience from when I was young and I am continually amazed at how GEPL serves the community with excellence and innovation.

I will miss my colleagues, my town and my library. Village of Glen Ellyn consider yourself very fortunate to have this wonderful place at the center of your community.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Art Contest

By: Hannah Rapp

GEPL Teen Scene Art ContestThis year marks the third year in a row of GEPL’s Teen Art Contest! Whether you’re an artist, a friend of an artist, an art fan, or just into fun events and good food, listen up. You can get all the rules and details about the art contest on our website here, so today we’ll just focus on a few things you need to know.

1.) Last year’s winners have their work displayed in our teen room on the second floor, and this year’s winners will replace them in the spring. So hurry in now to see the awesome work your classmates and other local teens did last year, and check it out again this spring or summer to see the new winners.

2.) You can still submit a piece! We are accepting submissions through the end of January, so you still have time to go for it. If you submit, you’ll get a chance to show off your work at a reception, and if you are a winner or runner up, you’ll win a prize in addition to having your piece displayed.

3.) Anyone can come to the reception. If you are an artist, we’ll want your piece to display, and encourage you to invite your friends and family. But even if you aren’t, come to the library on Sunday, February 19, from 2-3:30 and you can see all the amazing work submitted this year, chat with the artists, and enjoy some tasty snacks.

The art contest and reception are perfect opportunities to show off your talent, enjoy some great art work, and beat the winter doldrums by getting out of the house and doing something fun. What else could you ask for?

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Baseball is Coming!

By: Amy Waters, School Liaison

Staff in Cubs gear.It may seem like baseball season just ended, however, at this writing, it’s been 78 long days since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. I still get goosebumps saying that! But because this last season was so exciting for me, I am even more anxious for the new season to start.

Here’s a quick countdown to baseball as of January 19:

  • 37 days until Chicago Cubs 1st Spring Training Game 2/25 split squad Oakland/@SF
  • 37 days until Chicago White Sox 1st Spring Training Game 2/25 @ Dodgers
  • 72 days until CWS 1st Regular Season Game 4/1 @ Brewers
  • 73 days until Cubs 1st Regular Season Game 4/2 @ Cardinals
  • 74 days until CWS Home Opener 4/3 vs. Tigers
  • 81 days until Cubs Home Opener 4/10 vs. Dodgers

Some of you may have managed to get passes for the Cubs Convention to tide you over until the season starts. Or maybe you are making the trek to Mesa, AZ in February or March to catch some Spring Training. This year I’m taking my mom and daughter and we will be cheering on the Cubs and catching our first glimpse of some of the new players on the team.

If you’ll be home reading or listening to the latest sports news and just waiting until Opening Day, here are some things to help you pass the time:

  1. Go to the library and check out books on baseball: find the latest on your favorite teams at the baseball call number J796.357, your favorite players in the Biography section, or ask at the desk for help finding a fiction book, picturebook or movie about baseball. See a sampling below. While you’re at the library, be sure to check out the display cases. They are often filled with some great sports memorabilia collections.
  2. Follow local baseball news at the following websites for the Cubs, Sox or Kane County Cougars:
  3. Play Ball! Register to play baseball through the Glen Ellyn Park District. Look for Glen Ellyn Youth Baseball information here.
  4. Practice the words to Go, Cubs, Go!

Some titles to tide you over:

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Picking a College

By: Hafsa A., Teen Blogger

Road sign saying College Just Ahead.School. Not many people want to think about education especially when everyone is on vacation. But unfortunately, school is not going to get off anyone’s mind, especially for juniors and seniors who need to start thinking about which college they are going to. Finding the perfect college that will meet all your needs will be easier than you think because all you have to do is put the effort into finding one.

Since I am an incoming senior, I have chosen my colleges, my major, and my profession, but I still have to continue with writing college essays and getting recommendations. The tip I used to go through all the steps above was an app called Naviance recommended by my counselor. The program helps you decide which college you would want to go to, and would help you start creating applications. You just start by making a user and it shows you step by step from there.

Here are a few other tips and tricks to help you find a college that’s perfect for your needs.

Guide to a picking a perfect college:

First you will need to determine your specialty or what profession you would like. Choose a broad profession such as cosmetology, veterinary, or even medical assistance, one that is based on your skills and abilities.

Next, choose a college based on location. Consider if you want to go to colleges close by where you live, if you want to live in a dorm, or if you want to study abroad. By doing so it will narrow a variety of universities or colleges that will suit your needs.

After you choose the colleges by location, evaluate the top 5 colleges that would most likely be your choice depending on what your interests are. Evaluate, research, and look up what courses the college offers and how it will benefit you in the future.

As you are researching the costs of the colleges, make sure to look at the tuition costs. You also need to understand you family’s contribution to meeting these costs and also yours if you work.

After doing that, make sure you are confident in what major and profession you choose because that will be counted on the rest of your life. Then you are ready to start applying before the deadlines. Get help from experienced people who know how to write good college essays. Ask you counselor or even teachers for some recommendations.

Make a decision to apply earlier than the actual deadline or the day of the deadline. Soon enough you will not have to worry or stress about what college you are attending. Overall, while researching, look at the academic opportunities, see if there’s a financial benefit for you, and visit campuses.

Good luck!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Finals Are Over!

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

You did it!  You made it through finals! If you’re a senior at West or South, you’ve made it through your last ever high school finals. Congratulations! You’ve probably been too busy studying for the last couple of weeks to think about anything else, so now that you’re done, we wanted to remind you of some things going on in library-land that you may have missed in your finals haze.

We’re having an art contest! Details here, and we’re accepting submissions through the end of the month.

We still have hot chocolate for you. Finals may be over, but starting next week, we’ll be back to our regular Tuesday and Thursday Homework Café, which means you can still get hot chocolate and coffee while you study.

We have some cool new toys. New toys like an Oculus Rift and a Play Station VR, which you can come use at our Virtual Reality Showcase on February 4.

We have a new teen librarian! By the time you read this, I will be officially done with my time as your teen librarian here at GEPL. But the good news is, we have a great new teen librarian starting ASAP. Keep your eyes out for Josh O’Shea next time you’re in the library, and have fun getting to know our awesome new young adult librarian.

In true Hannah fashion, I’d like to make my exit and reward your hard work with some of my favorite pictures I’ve posted over the last few years (shocker: they feature cute animals). Congratulations on finishing finals!

A cat, a pig, a rabbit, a duck and a chick sleeping together.
A dog hiding under covers.
A pile of sleeping dogs.
A white dog running in snow.
A piglet in red rain boots.
Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School