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GEPL Tweens: Conlangs

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By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

Everyone has been busy lately, and I have been no exception to this. But instead of cross country and soccer practices, I have been promoting the 3D design competition and practicing for upcoming presentations.

While it’s great to be busy, it’s also important to leave time for your hobbies. Weirdly enough, language has long been an interest of mine. Once upon a time, I wanted to be a linguist, and even minored in linguistics in college. I really did love it, especially syntax, which is sentence structure. Looking at my career options, nothing really appealed to me. Librarianship presented itself, and *POOF!* a librarian was born.

Even though I’m a librarian now, I still have a tiny bit of a linguist inside. That part isn’t trying to break free or anything, but it is delighted when fed linguistic information. I recently encountered an article from Wired Magazine that talks about “conlangs,” which are constructed languages. I love conlangs, and even did a huge presentation on them in library school. This article inspired me to share with you my wealth of knowledge in conlangs.

Conlangs are created to give depth and authenticity to a fictional story and world. The new world must be consistent, and comparing it to the human world may help in the creation process. The creatures living in your world must be considered as well. Do they have the same speaking tools as a human? If so, pronunciation must be considered. For example, you don’t see words from the English language often combining the sounds “r” and “k” consecutively at the beginning of a word, but you can at the end. Sayings and slangs need to be thought of, too. A company used the slogan “Turn it Loose” which when translated to Spanish meant “Suffer from Diarrhea”, which isn’t really convincing when trying to get someone to buy something. Look at other popular conlangs for inspiration!

Elvish Conlang
Klingon Conlang

The television show “Futurama” made a language called “Alienese” that was so easily cracked, they had to think of a second version! (Which was also deciphered)

Alienese from Futurama Version 1
Alienese from Futurama Version 2

What would your conlang be? Who would speak it? Would it sound like a Klingon or an Elf?

More Fun Conlang Facts:

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: On Fanfiction

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell Book CoverAs you probably know, especially if you are in any way a fan of Rainbow Rowell (or possibly Harry Potter,) Rowell’s newest novel, Carry On, came out this week – and yes, I pre-ordered it for myself and the library! If you’ve read Fangirl or know much about Carry On, you’ll know that both of them are intimately connected with the world of fanfiction. Between that and several high-profile authors who started as fanfiction writers, or even published books that started as fanfiction, it’s certainly a phenomenon people are paying more and more attention to. But knowing about something and understanding or appreciating it are different things. Fanfiction is a unique experience for everyone, but as a former avid fanfiction reader and sometimes fanfiction writer, I wanted to explore what – to me – makes fanfiction so popular, so enduring, and so wonderful.

When I first started reading and writing fanfiction, it was centered around a series of books that I loved. Loved. I lived, breathed, and dreamed these books. Ever since I was a kid, I had always daydreamed about being able to magically find my way into another world, and never as much as with this world, once I discovered it. And when I discovered fanfiction (and co-writing it!) I almost could find my way there. It was the closest I could ever get to actually being in a fantasy world – immersing myself in the world through my writing. I didn’t even read or write about the characters from the books, not in this fandom anyways. The characters, stories, and plots were my own or other writers’, but the world, with its fantasy creatures, complex cultures, and unique dangers and wonders – the world was the one I had always dreamed of inhabiting, and that I loved to exist in, even if only through writing. Even when I expanded to reading and writing about actual characters from other books, as well as their world, it was always that chance to exist in a world I loved that drew me back to fanfiction. As Cath says in Fangirl:

“The whole point of fanfiction is that you get to play inside somebody else’s universe. Rewrite the rules. Or bend them. The story doesn’t have to end. You can stay in this world, this world you love, as long as you want, as long as you keep thinking of new stories.”

Fanfiction can be magical in that way. But it’s not just about me and my experience, of course.

Keep Calm and Write FanfictionDifferent people have different reasons for reading or writing fanfiction. Some want to see familiar characters in new situations, some want to experiment with mixing worlds and characters, some just want a story to keep going. Fanfiction can also offer a lot for writers. A chance to play with plot, dialogue, and character without having to worry about world-building can help develop those skills. Playing with an already-existing world can even help writers learn how to world-build well when they need to do it on their own. Whatever the reason readers and writers love it, fanfiction is here to stay, and completely reasonably adored by many people all over the world. If you’ve never given fanfiction a chance, consider logging on to Fanfiction.net or Wattpad and checking out some of the best fanfiction about your favorite book or movie. And if you’re a fanfiction reader or writer, be proud – you’re participating in what is and will continue to be a long and increasingly honorable tradition!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Graphic Novel Recommendations

By: Katy Almendinger, Youth Early Literacy Librarian

Want to find something new to read? Stuck in a reading slump? Try a graphic novel! Graphic novels have tremendous kid appeal for both advanced and reluctant readers. And it’s not just because they’re easier than chapter books. Like chapter books, graphic novels are complex, rich with literary elements, and engaging.

There’s a graphic novel out there for everyone! There are mysteries, animal stories, historical fiction, fantasy, biographies, and even graphic novel adaptations of classic stories like A Wrinkle in Time. Graphic novels aren’t just about superheroes anymore! Here’s a list of some of my favorites.

Binky the Space Cat
Blinky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires Book Cover“Binky, a beloved house cat, tries to prepare a rocket ship so he can explore outer space, but he has second thoughts about taking off as he wonders how his owners would protect themselves against aliens if he weren’t there to help them.”

Why I Recommend It: This hilarious series tries to answer one of life’s most important questions—what is your pet thinking about? Binky’s story is perfect for animal lovers who still want illustrations with their chapter books.

Roller Girl
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson Book Cover“Twelve-year-old Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole. So when Astrid signs up for roller derby camp, she assumes Nicole will too. But Nicole signs up for dance camp with a new friend instead, and so begins the toughest summer of Astrid’s life. There are bumps and bruises as Astrid learns who she is without Nicole…and what it takes to be a strong, tough roller girl.”

Why I Recommend It: GO READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. And then come tell me how much you love Astrid. I love her because she always tries to do the right thing, but she doesn’t always do it, because doing the right thing is hard sometimes. Roller Girl is perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile or Cece Bell’s El Deafo.

Amulet: The Stonekeeper
Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi Book Cover“Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a giant robot—and two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission.”

Why I Recommend It: Sure, this one sounds really weird, but kids LOVE this series! Kibuishi’s fast-paced storytelling and gorgeous illustrations might have something to do with it.

Mal and Chad: Biggest, Bestest Time Ever
Mal and Chad: The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever by Stephen McCranie Book Cover“Mal is a super kid genius and Chad is a talking dog, but no one knows it. What’s it like to be so extraordinary and yet so invisible? Not even Megan, Mal’s secret crush, has any idea that Mal is anything more than a dork. Fortunately, Mal and Chad are best friends with a penchant for adventure . . . even if the time-traveling does get them grounded by Mal’s mom.”

Why I Recommend It: I really love the set-up of this story. A school assignment turns into a series of crazy adventures! Mal and Chad tend to remind readers of another loveable graphic novel duo named Calvin and Hobbes.

The Storm in the Barn
The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan Book Cover“Facing his share of ordinary challenges, from local bullies to his father’s failed expectations, eleven-year-old Jack Clark must also deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl in 1937 Kansas, including the rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness.”

Why I Recommend It: Historical fiction isn’t my favorite genre, so when I do read it I want a little bit of everything. The Storm in the Barn has that perfect combination of tall tale, thriller, and historical fiction. Not convinced? Just check out this book trailer!

Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Year-Round School Take 3

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By: Matt J., Teen Blogger

Pie Chart Showing Terms and Breaks for Year Round and Traditional School YearsYear round schools are going to be my topic this week. What I know about it is that it is self-explanatory. If you don’t understand, they are schools that last all year without having summer vacation in between. They run for about 12 weeks, then take a one week break. They started in urban areas. They had 48 school sessions for weeks at a time. In 1971, a survey predicted that there would be more than 200 year round schools in 15 years, though it hasn’t quite happened yet. Students who attend year round schools succeed more than the ones in a traditional school, meaning they are working harder without a long break.

Now for my thoughts on year round schools, I don’t think it is a good idea for people like me. I do like to have the whole summer off. The kids at year round schools get the entire month of August off but I would like a longer break than that. Also I think kids might get sleep deprivation or might get stressed out from doing so much work in very little time to get it done. They also need a nice long break from doing so much work that they’ve been doing for most of the year. I like to enjoy my freedom during the summer but these kids get a shorter break than we do. For these reasons, I am against year round schools.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I’m Reading Now – Sorcerer to the Crown

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Believe it or not, I do on occasion read adult books, in addition to my usual YA lit. Weird, right? But sometimes, I come across truly great books that way, and it makes me happy to that I make an effort to expand my horizons occasionally. Today’s What I’m Reading Now is one of the books that reminds me why I read YA and adult books!

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho Book CoverWhat I’m Reading Now: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zo Chen

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Do I Like It: It’s pure joy!

Thoughts: You guys. You guys. This. Book. I cannot get over my love for this book. I think the last time I had such pure joy reading a book was reading His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik – which, incidentally, is a fantastic read-alike for Sorcerer to the Crown. This book combines so many of my favorite things in any book. It’s set around the same time as His Majesty’s Dragon and Jane Austen books, and includes a lot of the wonderful regency manners, clothing, and wit. There’s a complicated and intriguing magic system, and at least mention of a dragon. There are fantastic creatures as familiars who bond with their sorcerers. There are politics and politeness, typically in the same scene. There is comedy, mystery, and adventure. And of course, there are the characters!

The Sorcerer to the Crown himself is Zacharias. Zacharias is reserved, tough, hard-working, and in terrible need of a little more humor in his life. Because he’s spent his whole life proving himself in the face of prejudice, he’s thick-skinned but also acutely aware of injustice when he sees it. He is willing to be a champion for others as well as himself, and that makes him admirable – even when he can be almost hilariously serious and stuffy.

And then there is Prunella. Prunella Gentleman has lived her whole life at a boarding school for magical girls, helping the headmistress teach them to hide and suppress their abilities, despite the fact that Prunella holds immense magical powers herself. Prunella is feisty, determined, capable, practical, headstrong, and has a wicked sense of humor. Even when she’s plunging herself into danger because she hasn’t stopped to consider the consequences, she is still so easy to like and root for. While Prunella is more ambitious and less altruistic than Zacharias, they are both ultimately good people who are fun to read about and make me want to spend more time in their company – much like Jane Austen or Gail Carriger characters, which is probably part of why I love this book so much.

I haven’t finished Sorcerer to the Crown yet (though I probably will have by the time you read this!) but it’s hard to imagine I’ll stop loving it. The only downside is that at some point, it will be over – and that’s almost certain to be the worst part of the whole book!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Patch Club’s Design A Patch Contest

By: Melissa Hilt, Youth Department Assistant Director 

Are you an artist? The creative type? I always wished that I could draw well, but the truth is that I can’t. Even my stick figures are a little on the sad side.

When I was a Girl Scout, around 4th grade, we were all given the task of drawing an image that we liked and it was going to be turned into our very own stationary. This was exciting and terrifying at the same time. Exciting because well, who wouldn’t want to feel famous and have your drawing made into an entire pad of stationary! Terrifying because I couldn’t draw and I was going to have this image on hundreds of pieces of stationary. It didn’t have to be big, they just want something that would go in the corner of the paper, a character was suggested. I practiced and practiced and came up with Susie Hop! I have no idea why I named her Susie Hop, poor girl didn’t have a body or really even a head. I only created her eyes, nose and mouth but I had created her and it was turned into my very own stationary!

Now it’s your chance to be creative and share your image with members of the Glen Ellyn Public Library Patch Club! You don’t have to be an expert artist. The last time we held a design a patch contest, some of the best ones were what one might call simple designs.

I mean, how awesome would it be to Create an original and fun patch design for Patch Club! Kids have been reading and earning colorful patches for over ten years at the Glen Ellyn Public Library. Contest winners will be announced on December 1. Winning designs will be available to Patch Club members beginning in January.

To submit a design you must:

  1. Be a member of the Patch Club.
  2. Have an original design.
  3. Complete a contest entry form and submit your design to the Youth Department no later than October 12.

Limit one entry per person. Entry forms are available at gepl.org/design-a-patch.

Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Year-Round School Take 2

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By: Carson M., Teen Blogger

Note from Hannah: You may remember that in June, one of our bloggers discussed the concept of year-round school. Since then, several of our bloggers have considered the issue and written about their take on the balanced school schedule.

"When I say I miss school, I mean my friends and the fun. Not the school."As a 16 year old boy, naturally my immediate response to should students have year round schooling is an immediate and forceful no. However, after doing a little research, yes. Yes we should. While research on year round schooling has given mixed results. Some year round schools have reported an increase in student production and test scores, while others have reported a decline in test scores. According to a Huffington Post article from June 2012, Esther Fusco, a professor at Hofstra University, stated that “research suggests that students in high-needs districts and those who have disabilities do better in year-round learning situations. This is logical because these students do not have the downtime that occurs over the summer. But the results are not very significant. I have not seen any study that shows students greatly improve.” Despite this controversy, many people, including myself, believe that year round schooling is the way to go. In Wake County, N.C., where 50 public schools are on the year-round system, “we definitely use the year-round calendar to maximize space and address some capacity issues,” said spokesman Mike Charbonneau. “We have had a rapidly growing school system for the last 10 years.” Most schools in the United States operate on the 10-month calendar that was established when America was still an agrarian country. But times have changed and many people propose doing away with this “outdated” system and moving to “year-round education.”

In this updated system, schools continue to operate 180 days per year, but they stretch out the 180 days over the entire year and take shorter breaks between each term.

The most popular form of year-round education is the 45-15 plan, where students attend school for 45 days and then get three weeks (15 days) off. The usual holiday breaks are still built into this calendar. There are two other plans in consideration for year round schooling, one being the 60 days on and then 20 days off, or 90 days on and 30 days off. The most important aspect of course with year-round education is how it is implemented. Schools may operate regularly, where all students are on the same calendar and get the same holidays off, or a multi-rack schedule, which has groups of students attending school at different times with different vacations. A multi-track system is currently popular because it allows schools to enroll more students than buildings would normally hold, which benefits both the schools and the teachers. Year round schooling, while it has both its pros as well as its cons, definitely leans more towards the pro side. Year round schooling would enable students to retain the information that they learned, as well as improve their test scores.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Middle School Room Contest

By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarain

What’s in a name?

There are a lot of weird names out there. Did you know that there’s a guy who legally changed his name to “Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop”; parents who tried (and failed) to name their child “Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116”. The record holder for longest name is over 600 characters long. Names are powerful. There are plenty of myths and beliefs that your true name holds power over you.

You mane know that in the Youth Department remodel, we are adding a special room only for middle schoolers, however, when picturing this scene, it doesn’t sound so cool.

Stick Figures Talking "What do you want to do toady? Let's Go To The Middle School Only Room! Yes! Although It Can Really Use A Better Name. Yea, I Know, If Only We Entered the Naming Contest!"

We can stop this from happening! Enter your great name ideas during the contest. The middle schooler with the winning suggestion will take part of our opening ceremony and have a blog spotlight written about them!

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Fall Books

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By: Hannah Rapp, GEPL Teen Librarian

School is back in full swing, the leaves are turning color, and the pumpkin spice (and attendant memes) are back in our coffees (and on our screens). Even if it makes me cliché, I love fall – pumpkin spice and all, so I’m excited. And just like there’s a distinct profile for summer reads – beachy settings, lighter themes, maybe some romance – there’s also some books that just scream fall to me. So whether you’re as in love with autumn like me, or having a hard time getting excited, here’s some books that might help you with that fall spirit. (All descriptions from Goodreads.com)

Any Harry Potter book

“Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! The first book in the “Harry Potter” series makes the perfect introduction to the world of Hogwarts.” (Description of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).

Hannah’s Note: Since Hogwarts and classes are such a big part of most of the books, with most starting nearing the beginning of the school year, it’s hard to go wrong with a good Harry Potter book (or the whole series!) in the fall.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater Book CoverThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

“It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.”

Hannah’s Note: From the first line, “It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die,” it’s hard to put down The Scorpio Races. The chilly island wind, the November cakes, the terror of the capaill uisce, and more, all make this a perfect book for reading while curled under a blanket with a cup of hot cider (or, yes, a pumpkin spice latte.)

Scarlet Undercover by Jennifer Latham Book CoverScarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

“Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks — and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father’s murder.

Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.”

Hannah’s Note: Maybe it’s just Scarlett’s hoodie on the cover, maybe it’s the atmospheric scenes of a city at night, or maybe it’s the fun of a good, hard-boiled mystery, but Scarlett Undercover just seems like it’s set in the fall to me, and makes me want to spend cool nights on city streets. After I find out whodunit, of course!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Book Cover Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

“Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.  Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?”

Hannah’s Note: Okay, I may be cheating a bit, since between this and Harry Potter I’m talking about two of my absolute favorite books. But fall is a great time to retreat into comfort reads and favorites, and while Cath’s story takes place over the course of a year, it starts out with her first day at college – a perfect way to get into a fall read.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake Book CoverAnna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

“Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.”

Hannah’s Note: What’s fall without a good scare for Halloween? I admit, this is the only book on this list I haven’t read, since it sounds way too creepy for me. I scare easily. But I loved Antigoddess, also by Kendare Blake, and I’ve heard that Anna Dressed in Blood is both great and terrifying – the perfect mix for a book in October!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Libraries Celebrate Banned Books Week By Helping You Exercise Your Freedom to Read!

By: Amy Waters, GEPL Youth Department’s School Liaison

Banned Books 2015 LogoWhat do Junie B. Jones, Harry Potter, Captain Underpants and The Giver have in common? All these, and more, have been banned or challenged.

What’s the big deal about banning books?

A ban or a challenge happens when an individual or group has an objection to a book and they believe it should not be read by anyone so they request its removal from a school or library.

Could they be right?

It’s true that every book is not right for every reader. Reading is personal. But who gets to decide? The Freedom to Read means that you get to decide which books are right for you and your family. As a public library it is our responsibility to provide material for all of our readers.

Know your reader. When my son was little a walk to school could take forever “don’t step on the ants” he would warn, as we tip-toed our way along the sidewalk. The same caution was applied to the books he wanted to read. When I approached the library reference desk for a recommendation I would say to the librarian “no books where animals are hurt or killed”.

That’s what we do at the library, help you find the books that are right for you: whether it’s reading level or subject matter, or books with or without certain content, at the library, we help guide you to books that will fit your needs.

A child may be struggling with the death of a pet and need to read a story about that experience to help them cope. Removal of all books on animal death would not serve that child. And it wasn’t what I was asking for, either. I expressed my needs, but didn’t assume that my point of view and needs were the same as everyone’s.

To learn more about banned and challenged books and the freedom to read visit:

The American Library Association, Banned Books

The Freedom to Read Foundation

Posted in GEPL Kids