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GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Under a Painted Sky

Teens Blog BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Blog Entry 165 - ImageEveryone has certain genres or stories they tend to gravitate towards or away from. It’s natural! But once again, I’ve been reminded how important it is to not let those tendencies get in the way of finding a great read. For instance, I’ve never been a big fan of Westerns or Oregon Trail type stories, but I am a huge sucker for friendship stories. And if I hadn’t given my latest What I Just Read book a try, despite the cowboy thing, I never would have discovered the amazing friendship at the core of it.

What I Just Read: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

Did I Like It: More like LOVED it!

Thoughts: Like I said, I’m not usually a fan of Westerns, and aside from the joy of killing 1800 pounds of buffalo (and only being able to carry 200 pounds back to the wagon,) not all that interested in the Oregon Trail. And Under a Painted Sky is a Western set on the Oregon Trail – complete with covered wagons and cowboys. But as it turns out, I can love a Western, and be fascinated by life on the Oregon Trail! Under a Painted Sky won’t disappoint fans of Westerns. There’s outlaw gangs, horses, stampedes, fiddles, quests, and more. And for Oregon Trail fans, there are covered wagons, dangerous river crossings, and cholera (yes, cholera – and it’s ugly.) I am by no means trying to say this isn’t the type of book I thought it would be, because it was.

But what was great for me to learn is that a really well-written Western, like a really well-written book in any genre, can have all kinds of other appeals as well. For me, I loved the adventure aspect of two young women trying to track down something important (in Annamae’s case, her brother, and in Samantha’s case, her father’s best friend and clues about her future) and overcoming obstacles to do it. There is danger, intrigue, and some humor. There are fights as well as fun, despite the dangers of the journey. But as is usually the case for me, it was the characters and their relationships that really brought Under a Painted Sky into the realm of the truly great.

Annamae and Samantha are both fantastic characters, and they complement each other well. Annamae is nearly fearless, always fierce, and extremely down-to-earth and pragmatic. She keeps Samantha, an artistic dreamer, centered. But both characters are strong – strong to their core. They have each endured terrible things, horrors even in Annamae’s case, but they have both decided to push through anyways, to struggle for what they want, and to keep embracing life and joy. And their friendship with each other is lovely to read about. They learn to trust each other fast, because they have to, and their friendship is forged by fire. But they also make each other laugh, and look out for each other, and talk to each other about big and little things, and even have in-jokes. It’s so real and wonderful to read about, even in these extraordinary circumstances. To be honest, for me at least, Samantha and Annamae completely overshadowed the supporting characters, even though they were all wonderfully interesting, well-developed, and likable.

So if you like adventures stories, or Westerns, or cowboys, or are obsessed with the Oregon Trail, this is a book for you. And if you like well-developed characters, dynamic and relatable relationships, and great friendships, this is also the book for you! I can’t recommend Under a Painted Sky enough, and I can’t wait to see what Stacey Lee will do next.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Tween Movie Review – Ted

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What’s your first name and school?: Andrew, Hadley Jr. High

What are you reviewing?: Ted

What did you review?: A movie

What did you like about it?: Ted is a funny movie that is about a teddy bear. Ted the teddy bear helps his friend get thought problems. Ted is so funny they do everything together. They love to call people names and yell. Its a great book.

Who would like this?: Someone who likes funny movies.

On a scale from yuck to best ever, how much did you like it?: Best ever.

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Tweens: Tween Book Review – Divergent

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What’s your first name and school?: Quinn, Hadley Jr. High

What are you reviewing?: Divergent

What did you review?: A book

What did you like about it?: What I like about the book Divergent is how the author makes puts an image in my mind. For example, if the main character, Tris jumps out of a train I would feel like I am right there in the book. I also like how the author is very descriptive.

Who would like this?: Someone who enjoyed the Hunger Game trilogy.

On a scale from yuck to best ever, how much did you like it?: A Great Book.

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Tweens: Tween Movie Review – The Dark Knight

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What’s your first name and school?: Eric; Hadley Jr. High

What are you reviewing?: The Dark Knight

What did you review?: A movie

What did you like about it?: Batman is try to take down the Joker. It is the second movie in the series. I like that he helps people in need. He will not let the Joker kill anyone in the city. That is why I like the Batman.

Who would like this?: Anyone who likes creepy.

On a scale from yuck to best ever, how much did you like it?: Best ever.

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Tweens: Tween Movie Review – Jurassic World

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What’s your first name and school?: Eric; Hadley Jr. High

What are you reviewing?: Jurassic World

What did you review?: A movie

What did you like about it?: I liked that it was action because am an action person. Also I liked that there were 2 people that relate to my family because there were to boys and I have an older brother like the movie does. That is why I like that movie.

Who would like this?: People that like action movies.

On a scale from yuck to best ever, how much did you like it?: Great.

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Tweens: Tween Book Review – The Graveyard Book

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What’s your first name and school?: Gabe, Glen Crest

What are you reviewing?: The Graveyard Book

What did you review?: A book

What did you like about it?: This book is a book about a baby and his family being killed and he discovers a graveyard which he is adopted by ghosts and he will discover many things about the graveyard, and it is a very unique book.

Who would like this?: People who like fantasy.

On a scale from yuck to best ever, how much did you like it?: Awesome.

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Tweens: Tween Book Review – Geek Girl

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What’s your first name and school?: Audrey; Hadley Jr. High

What are you reviewing?: Geek Girl

What did you review?: A book

What did you like about it?: I liked how there were many conflicts that the main character had to overcome and that they were very realistic and things that many people could relate with in real life. Also I like that there is a character who you love to hate in the book and I think that makes the book a lot better.

Who would like this?: Someone who likes realistic fiction books.

On a scale from yuck to best ever, how much did you like it?: Best ever.

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Kids: July Birthdays

By: Melissa Hilt, Youth Department Assistant Director

Melissa BirthdayJuly is birthday season for the girls in my family. Within eleven days, four of us will have a birthday and this week is my birthday!

When you get to be an adult, birthdays aren’t as fun as they used to be, I mean who wants to feel older or look older? Working with kids allows me to remember just how fun birthdays can be.

We have some great books at the library about birthdays and birthday parties, come on in and check some out!



Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Technology & Teenagers Take 3

Teens Blog BannerBy: Sabrina A., Teen Blogger

Blog Entry 164 - ImageYou are standing in line at a coffee shop and the person in front of you is using their smart phone. At school, iPads are being used for textbooks and homework. Technology makes most people’s life a lot simpler but is it really all that good? There are many debates on whether or not technology is helping out our society or only dumbing us down. There are many reasons why people believe that technology helps us out. One of them is that they give us more experiences.  For example you get to meet people online who you would not get to meet in person, and see pictures and videos of places you would not get to travel to. Another reason why some people believe that technology is helpful is because it helps people learn. For example, if a student has a question on their history homework, they will most likely use their iPhone or Tablet and simply google the question. Also it could help a busy parent learn a recipe for dinner, for instance. The last reason why a person might believe technology is good is because it saves people in times of an emergency. If one gets sick or doesn’t feel good, they could call someone, or if a child is in danger they can call their guardian. One phone call can save someone’s life.

Although many people believe that technology is valuable, many people believe that technology is making society stupid. One reason why technology is bad is because people depend on it to remember important things for them such as a best friend’s birthday or a test day. Another reason why technology is harmful is because it ruins society’s social skills. Everyone talks to teach other on these tiny little screens through texted words and the only way to express emotions through text is emoji’s. Society completely forgets how to read facial expressions and body language and so when a person needs to be social in real life, they get anxiety. The last reason why some people believe that technology is unhealthy is because it causes bullying. A lot of people have a hard time saying mean things to someone’s face but they do not mind saying it over social media. Over social media almost anyone can access it and the person can be humiliated in front of a lot more people than just a small group of people at school. Technology encourages cyber-bulling with apps like Yik-Yak, Ask.fm, and etc. These apps let people post things anonymously so everyone can be a bully on those types of apps without revealing their identity. Technology can be dangerous and harmful, however it can be really helpful – if people use it in the right way.

-Sabrina A.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Rainy Day Suggestions

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By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

Rain. This is the summer of rain. What have you been doing when the weather outside is frightfully wet? Obviously, reading comes to mind for me. I think a lot of other people have this idea, as the library is usually pretty busy during the soggy times of the day. I have compiled a great list of book suggestions for you to turn to if you need a new story to dive in to.



Happy reading! Let’s hope it dries up outside by the time you finish your next book.

Posted in GEPL Tweens