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GEPL Tweens: April Is National Poetry Month


By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

It’s April, and know that April showers bring May flowers, but did you know it’s also National Poetry Month? To celebrate, I have gathered a list of stories told in verse that you should totally pick up. Sure, stories in verse doesn’t necessarily mean poetry in its truest sense, but if you’re looking for pure poetry, you can always check out the nonfiction section. These books and other great works of poetry are also available on our poetry display at the front of the Youth Department.

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: What I’m Reading Now – The Young Elites

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 140 - ImageToday I thought I’d take a break from talking about books I’ve already finished, and go back today to talking about a book I’m right in the middle of reading (or rather, of listening to.)

What I’m Reading Now: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

What’s It About (Jacket Description): I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

Do I Like It: I’m really intrigued by it, and I like what I’ve read so far, but I can tell some big stuff is going to happen, so the jury is still out on my overall opinion.

Thoughts: First off, for all you Marie Lu fans out there, the world of The Young Elites is a far cry from the world of Legend, and the main characters are a far cry from Day and June, whatever the description might make you think. This is straight up fantasy, although the fantasy world in question is plenty dark enough to please dystopia fans. And Adelina, Enzo, and Teren are, to be perfectly honest, far nastier and less likeable than June or Day. Which is amazing, in my opinion.

I think the subversion of your typical fantasy/hero/villain tropes is easily my favorite part of this book so far. I haven’t had a chance to see as much of Teren or Enzo as I have of Adelina, but what I’ve seen of them is enough to convince me that they’re both deeply flawed, and devoted to their causes obsessively enough to be harmful to themselves and others. But Adelina – oh Adelina! She has suffered so much, and been treated cruelly and unfairly, so her rage is certainly understandable. And she does love her sister very much, despite her resentment of her. But she is also hateful, angry, ambitious, bitter, and power-hungry. She fights her more hurtful tendencies – sometimes – but they are also what make her a completely engaging character and a strong, powerful person. Adelina is an anti-hero in the best sense of the word (so far – I’ve heard some rumors that Marie Lu wrote this book about a villain’s journey, rather than a hero’s? So we’ll see.)

Compared to the characters, the plot has been relatively slow, but I don’t think that’s a bad sign. While there’s been some action and certainly the tension is rising, it’s also given me a chance to get to know the characters and the world, and see some of the pieces of a larger conflict falling into place. But it also means that I can’t fully embrace the book and say I love it until I see what happens when the action picks up, since that can hugely change my reading of any book. But it’s safe to say that I’m enjoying The Young Elites so far, especially Adelina Anti-Hero, and I’m excited to see what happens next.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Can You Teach Your Baby to Read?

By: Carolyn Wissmiller, Youth Programming Associate

Flashcards for babies! I’ve overheard parents talking about it. I’ve seen it advertised online. I’ve even seen “evidence” on YouTube videos. Can you really teach your baby to read?

I have a degree in Early Childhood Education. Admittedly, I earned my degree decades ago, but even my rusty memory recalls child development courses emphasizing many important activities for caregivers and babies – teaching reading was definitely NOT one of them.

A recent study (February 2014) by the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development found that while babies are learning a variety of skills at an astonishing rate, learning to read through flash cards is NOT one of those skills. Read a summary of their study.

So, what can we adults do to help our charges at the earliest stages in their development? Here are “7 Super Things Parents & Caregivers Can Do” as suggested by the Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force of the U.S. Department of Education and Health & Human Services:

  1. Talk often with your children from the day they are born.
  2. Hug them, hold them, and respond to their needs and interests.
  3. Listen carefully as your children communicate with you.
  4. Read aloud to your children every day, even when they are babies. Play and sing with them often.
  5. Say “yes” and “I love you” as much as you say “no” and “don’t.”
  6. Ensure a safe, orderly, and predictable environment, wherever they are.
  7. Set limits on their behavior and discipline them calmly, not harshly.

Remember to come to the library for books with more ideas on how to enhance your baby’s intellectual, emotional, physical, and social development. Here are a few suggestions:

Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Tough Stuff Display, Take Two

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 139 - ImageAdolescence. Whether you don’t want it to end, or can’t wait for it to be over, it seems to us in the moment that it is the defining period of our lives. And regardless of popularity, economic status, and ethnicity, we all go through tough stuff. It feels like in society, major issues we face are ignored or pushed aside. But luckily there are books like Speak and Crank that focus on issues such as rape and drug abuse, and other books that focus on other tough subjects. They educate us and prove to us again and again that we are not alone in our struggle. This is why a tough stuff book display has been created, to show some of the books that focus on these subjects.

Both Suicide Notes and Thirteen Reasons Why focus on suicide. Through Jeff’s recovery in a psychiatric ward, and Clay’s influence and understanding of Hannah’s suicide, both novels show the causes and effects of suicide and act as cautionary tales to prevent these actions from the readers.

Though Cut and Willow focus on self-abuse, and Wintergirls and Skinny focus on eating disorders, all these titles enlighten about the nature of self-destructive behaviors. They educate about the misconceptions about insecurities that prevent ending obesity, and the fear that makes anorexia so difficult to overcome. Cut emphasizes how isolated people who cut themselves feel, and Willow shows how important support is for any person, especially those who have suffered from a tragedy. These books focus on these topics to better educate society by encouraging tolerance, and therefore inspire more support for people suffering due to self-abuse.

Books were created to spread knowledge, which is why it is so important that books focusing on prevalent issues for our age group are recognized and emphasized. Whether historical struggles such as surviving a concentration camp, shown in the book Night, or more recent issues, like school shootings depicted in Hate List, our book display covers them. It is pertinent that these topics are discussed because it is necessary to understand the problems we face now in order to fight for solutions in the future.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Battle of the Books Winner


By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books has found its winner, and so have we! Kiera Akines won our Tween bracket challenge with 8 correct answers.

Kiera Akines BoBKiera is a 7th grader at Hadley Junior High. Out of this year’s contenders, she had previously read Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and looks forward to reading Poisoned Apples by Christine Hepperman. Normally, Kiera looks for books that she thinks will hold her interest and keep her guessing. She enjoys being a part of GEPL’s Middle School Volunteers and helping the library “look more presentable”. Outside of school and the library, she’s a track superstar, and appreciates nice manicures and shopping trips.

Congratulations to Kiera! Meet lots of interesting tweens like Kiera at any of our programs, and be sure to keep reading!

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – All the Rage

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 138 - ImageSome books I love because they’re fun.  Some because they’re exciting and adventurous.  Some books just make me happy.

Today’s What I Just Read is not any of those things, but I still loved it, and can’t wait to recommend it to as many people as possible.  It comes out on April 14 and we have it ordered already, so get your holds placed ASAP!

What I Just Read: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

What’s It About (Jacket Description): The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Did I Like It: “I loved it” and was “I was wrecked by it” would be more accurate phrases

Thoughts: I’m going to be honest – this book was really tough to read sometimes.  But I mean that in the best possible way.

All the Rage is not a happy book.  It’s not cheerful, or fun.  But it is real – real in a way that makes it difficult to read, because in its brutality, it so clearly reflects the world around us.  What Romy goes through is so recognizable, so beautifully and emotionally portrayed, that reading about it really did leave me a mess.  But it was worth it.

Like so many books I love, a strong, flawed, incredibly well-drawn character is at the heart of All the Rage.  Romy makes mistakes – a lot of them.  She has suffered and continues to suffer in ways that not only seem hard to bear, but are so blatantly nasty and unfair that it’s hard to read about them.  But she carries on, she finds joy in little things, and strength in herself.  She loves her family deeply, and cares for the people around her as well as she can.  This love and caring are some of the things that made me like her, even when she’s making her worst and most hurtful decisions.  She also has a strong sense of what is right, even if it’s hard for her to act on it sometimes.  And her strength is not the kind we sometimes see in young adult novels – she has no great physical prowess, nor the strength of will to change the world around her.  It’s a strength we see more often in our real world – the strength to endure, to see past the immediate despair and to a brighter future, and to try and do what’s right, even if it seems hopeless or pointless.

There is no magical happy ending to this book.  But there is hope, and there is courage, and there is Romy standing on her own two feet and facing the world.  And while that didn’t leave me feeling any less heartbroken at the end, it did allow some hope and positivity to co-exist with the heartbreak.

All the Rage is powerful, raw, real, and important, and I loved it.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Comics Support Children’s Literacy

By: Sia Paganis, Youth Programming Associate

Comic Strip Support Children's Literacy

Comic Strip Support Children's Literacy

Comic Strip Support Children's Literacy

Do you feel like your child only wants to read comics? Don’t worry, comics have been shown to increase children’s engagement with reading and books. Reading comics, actually, can be difficult. Many children race to decode text, but comics slow their eyes down to read the visual elements on the page. This can increase the comprehension of the text for many readers.

So next time your child races to the graphic novels. . . rest assured, they are reading!

Here are some great comics for kids:

Luke on the Loose
Tiny Titans Treehouse
Hilda and The Black Hound
Gettysburg The Graphic Novel
Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Ender’s Game: A Book-to-Movie Analysis

Teens Blog BannerLibrarian note: One teen, a big fan of the Ender’s Game books, had some pretty strong opinions about the transition from book to movie.  Here he’s outlined his thoughts on what the movie got right – and what it got wrong!  -Hannah

Blog Entry 137 - Image 1 Blog Entry 137 - Image 2

So, what did the movie get right?

-Battle room physics
-Sloped floors
-The inside of command school

So, what did the movie get wrong?

In battle school:

-There were not enough battle rooms
-The audience never sees Ender train with his practice session or with Dragon army
-The barracks for the armies did not fit the book’s description
-The battle room is supposed to be a cube not a sphere, and the whole school be a bowl not a cylinder

In other areas:

-Ender only ever fights the Formicas over the home world and not any of their many colony planets; he finds the queen egg on a colony planet not Eros
-They go from modern fighter jets to giant space ships in a matter of 30 years
-They seemed to completely forget the other Wiggins
-Mazer Rackham is mostly just a space filler and didn’t do much in the movie, even though he is very important in the book
-They never developed what makes Ender such a great commander
-The movie makers also left a lot of key characters undeveloped
-Bean is on the shuttle with Ender instead of getting there after him

Final Thoughts?

I think it’s safe to say I recommend reading the book!


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Women’s History Month – Part IV

Teens Blog BannerMarch is almost over, so this will be our final Women’s History Month book list.  This set of books all feature women in history…but with a little extra.  Whether it’s ghosts, steampunk, a death god, or something else, these books add elements of speculative fiction without sacrificing research and historical accuracy.  As always, descriptions are from Goodreads.com unless otherwise specified, and librarian notes are in italics.

Blog Entry 136 - Image 1The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Hannah’s Note: This book won’t be out until May 2015, but don’t worry, we’ll have it! With the combination of historical fiction and mythological re-telling, I already think it’s going to be an irresistible read. For drama lovers, there’s murder and revenge and love. For history lovers, there’s an ancient setting. And for mythology lovers like me, there’s a whole story built around the tale of A Thousand and One Nights. What’s not to love?

Blog Entry 136 - Image 2Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversWhy be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Hannah’s Note: This is a long book, but it doesn’t feel like it when you’re reading it, because the action and intrigue are non-stop. Ismae is a strong, tough, and determined character. She’s devoted to her work, and to her country – a country I didn’t know much about until I read this book. Although St. Mortain, the god of Death, haunts the book, it is really a story of politics, assassination, faith, and love, with a fierce and powerful character at its center. And if you like it, there are two more in the series!

Blog Entry 136 - Image 3The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope – In 1558, while exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle known as Perilous Gard, young Kate Sutton becomes involved in a series of mysterious events that lead her to an underground world peopled by Fairy Folk—whose customs are even older than the Druids’ and include human sacrifice. (Description from Goodreads.com)

In 1558 while imprisoned in a remote castle, a young girl becomes involved in a series of events that leads to an underground labyrinth peopled by the last practitioners of druidic magic. (Description from Worldcat.org)

Hannah’s Note: This book has been a favorite of mine for years. While the fantastical elements are light, they add depth and tension to an incredibly well-researched and well-depicted historical setting. Although the setting is historical, the story itself is timeless in its own way, because it is about the old vs. the new and innovation vs. tradition. But none of this – the research, the plot, even the Fair Folk themselves – would be as compelling if it weren’t for Kate, one of my all-time favorite main characters. Give The Perilous Gard a try and see if you agree!

Blog Entry 136 - Image 4Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger – Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

Hannah’s Note: Is it possible for a book to be witty, fun, old-fashioned, modern, exciting, and dramatic all at once? Yes. Oh yes. Etiquette & Espionage is all this and more. There are werewolves, robots, petticoats, evil plots, catty arguments, strong friendships, boarding schools, dirigibles, and a mechanical dog named Bumbersnoot. Beyond that, I just want to say that this book is one of the most enormously entertaining books I’ve read in a long time, and it beautifully combines Victorian culture with Steampunk fun and Carriger’s own unique brand of humor. It’s wonderful.

Blog Entry 136 - Image 5In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters – In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

Hannah’s Note: There’s a reason Cat Winters’ books have appeared on two of these lists. She writes fantastic, and fantastically well-researched, historical fiction featuring strong women characters. This book juxtaposes the frightening realities of World War I and the influenza epidemic against the frightening specters of ghosts and spirits. Equally as fascinating are Mary Shelley’s relationships – with her first love, told in flashbacks, with her aunt she barely knows and sometimes disagrees with, and with a world trying to tell her what women can and can’t do.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Parent Teacher Collection

By: Katy Almendinger, GEPL Early Literacy Librarian

The Youth Department doesn’t just have books for kids. We also have non-fiction books (and DVDs) for caregivers in the Parent/Teacher collection. Items in this collection focus on child development and behavior.

Brain Rules for BabyBrain Rules for Baby by John Medina is just one of the many titles in our Parent/Teacher collection. Backed up by recent science, Dr. Medina tells readers how to raise smart and happy children. I picked up this book hoping to learn more about what goes on in a baby’s brain. And it delivered:

“Parentese makes the sound of each vowel more distinct; this exaggeration allows your baby to hear words as distinct entities and discriminate between them.” This ability is also known as phonological awareness, which helps children learn how to read.

“We now know that open-ended activities are as important to a child’s neural growth as protein.” There are amazing benefits, including increased problem-solving skills and creativity. Want to try open-ended play at home? Play with blocks, sensory bins, or even finger-paints.

“The brain follows a developmental timetable that is as individual as its owner’s personality.” Babies, even siblings, will reach milestones at different times. Medina recommends praising effort by saying things like “You worked really hard!” Why? Kids praised for effort not only want to explore the world around them but will later outscore peers in academic achievement.

Unconditional Parenting The Science of Parenting Already read Brain Rules for Baby? Try The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland or Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn.

Medina, John. 2010. Brain Rules for Baby. Seattle, WA: Pear Press. | http://www.brainrules.net/

Posted in GEPL Kids