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GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli Book CoverI often worry when reading a much-buzzed about book that it will disappoint – especially if I’m late to the game and have been hearing about it for months. Luckily for me, that wasn’t the case with this edition of What I Just Read!

What I Just Read: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Do I Like It: To a squeeing and hugging my Kindle degree

Thoughts: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – sometimes it’s good to read something a little lighter (though not without its depth) and something that makes me super happy in the end. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was exactly that book for me. It was SO CUTE. Simon was hilarious, and the romance made me melt a little. The conflicts were real and meaningful, even if they weren’t exactly life-threatening. While I never went through exactly what Simon does during the book, I could sympathize with so much of his story. I think anyone who is a teenager or has been a teenager, anyone who has had a crush, who has balanced new friendships with old, anyone who has loved their family but struggled with them as well, anyone who has experienced any number of normal life experiences could connect with this book. The relatability of Simon’s experiences is what makes this book so special. Well, that and the adorableness.

Simon of course is wonderful, but I actually thought the secondary characters equaled him, and occasionally even outshone him in some ways. Which isn’t a bad thing – after all, we’re supposed to relate to Simon, so it makes sense that the people around him would shine a little brighter than himself from his perspective. The dynamic between Simon and his best friends Leah and Nick was comfortable and familiar, and the intensity of his new friendship with Abby was almost like a romance, though completely platonic. Simon’s family members were all likable as well – his parents and sisters all had distinct personalities, and as someone close to my siblings, the relationship between Simon and his sisters delighted me. And of course, there’s Blue – a good romance is nothing without a good romantic interest, and Blue was great. His e-mails were quirky, smart, funny, and showed off his personality so well. It was easy to see why Simon would fall for him, even before we knew who Blue was.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda has a lot going on in its pages – friendships, character growth, drama, family, and, of course, romance. But despite the ups and downs within it, Simon was a very up book for me, and I loved that. So if you’re looking for something to keep you engaged and warm your heart during this cold December, I highly recommend Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Book Crush

By: Leigh Ann Vock, Youth Department Page

I have a crush, a book crush. Amy Rosenthal’s Exclamation Mark is the newest addition to my long list of book crushes. I have an affinity for picture books that appeal to celebrating differences. Exclamation Mark is an endearing book that does just that. It is a creative story about a sad punctuation point who cannot find his place in the grammar world. Among the myriad of periods, Exclamation Mark sticks out and is unable to fit in. Along comes inquiring Question Mark and a friendship begins and differences are embraced. Sharing literary works that display kindness and acceptance is invaluable. At one time in our child’s lives they will likely question their differences and the differences of others. This book teaches children compassion and acceptance and throws in a punctuation lesson as a bonus.

When I added Exclamation Mark to my book crush list I had to add other titles by the same author. Equally as inspiring is The OK book, which contains a wonderful message of its ok to be just ok. Spoon, is a creative tale of overcoming self- doubt and delivering the important message that each of us are special in our own way.

The message of liking oneself and the differences in others is never wasted on a child or an adult for that matter. These books do just that in a way that is humorous, creative and memorable. My crush list is always available to share. Exclamation Mark and the others will remain in a prominent place on my book crush list.

Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Book to Movie Adaptations

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By: Peter F., Teen Blogger

The Hunger Games Katniss Movie Poster "The World Will Be Watching"It seems that ever since The Hunger Games came out on the big screen, more and more people have been drawn to books and movie adaptations of them. I’ve watched a few of them, and some of them have been amazing, while others have been huge letdowns. For the most part, I enjoy them and generally look forward to when they come out. I read a lot, so when a movie comes out for a book I like, it’s like being able to experience it in a completely different way. I thought The Hunger Games were great books (except for the last one) and when they were made into movies, they were just as good. The movies were accurate to the books which was great, and they edited in a way that didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment. Same with the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit Trilogies, Ender’s Game, The Life of Pi, and many others.

Life of Pi Movie PosterHowever, there are a couple movies that are so bad, it makes it hard to watch the entire film. Not only the first Lightning Thief movie, but also the second, were such huge disappointments to me that I have given up hope for the third, even though it probably would have been my favorite out of the series. The movie plot strayed so far from the actual book that it made me cry inside. The reasons I look forward to a movie-book is because the book was good. When you change everything that made the book good, you make the movie bad. This is the reason why I am skeptical about book adaptations. Most of the time, the movie turns out great and that would be a cause to celebrate, yet some of the time the producers mess up, and that lowers my expectation levels. But all in all I enjoy book to movie adaptations, and I encourage producers to make more of them.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Ways to Stay Warm

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By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

We’ve been really lucky this year. It hasn’t been as cold as the last few winters, but we’re getting to the point where people would rather stay inside – that is, unless it’s perfect sledding conditions.

Chicken in Orange Sweater

While animals can keep warm in natural ways, that’s not as fun as googling animals in sweaters for hours.

Christina Wearing Tiger SnuggieIt’s been really cold at the desk of our temporary Youth Department, and I know it’s only a short matter of time before we’re back in our new awesome space, I can only fantasize about being in what is best described as a tiger snuggie.

But if you’re not a lucky tiger-snuggie-clad person like me, you might need more inspiration as to how to keep warm when the days get blustery. Don’t worry, I’m here to help.

A book can help you visualize a warm, arid setting. Why not try one of these?

A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn FitzmauriceA Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Infestation by Timothy J. Bradley
 
Infestation by Timothy J. Bradley Book Cover
The Scorpions of Zahir by Christina Brodien-JonesThe Scorpions of Zahir by Christina Brodien-Jones Book Cover
The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
 
The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages Book Cover
Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Short Stories

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

One Death Nine Stories by Marc Aronson and Charles R. Smith Jr.As a reader, I’m pretty addicted to novels. Non-fiction, poetry, essays, and short stories all tend to get slighted in my reading habits. But I know full well that I’m missing out – which is what inspired this December’s display! Maybe with collections of short stories on display, I’ll be inspired to read some myself. Short stories have a lot to offer, and I would love to explore them more.

Monstrous Affections by Kelly Link and Gaving J. GrantOne of the best things, in my experience, about short stories is their incredible capacity to make you think. With a shorter form to work with, it’s impossible for authors to go in-depth into every aspect of the story or include a neat and tidy epilogue, which leaves a lot of room for us as readers to imagine, interpret, and consider. Short stories also, not surprisingly, can be great for traveling, holidays, and other hectic times. Because they are short and digestible, it’s easy to sneak one in during a medium length drive, or between family events, and still feel like you’ve accomplished something and finished a story. Plus, many short story collections offer us opportunities to read a whole lot of new writers in a short amount of time, or get a great introduction to a genre. While some collections are full of stories by one author, many of them bring in stories by a variety of authors, whether the stories are all related to each other like One Death, Nine Stories, all brought together under a specific theme like My True Love Gave to Me, or all connected by genre, as in Steampunk!

No matter if you are looking to expand your horizons into a new territory, find short reads to slip in between homework, family visits, and travel, or just want to try out a new author or genre, short stories are the perfect way to do it. Come visit our display and explore the world of the performing arts in Starry-Eyed, read about monsters, romance, and fairy tales in Monstrous Affections, or catch up with old friends in Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories. Whether you are a short story aficionado or new to the form, you’re sure to find something for you in the wide world of short fiction.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: For When Times Are Scary

By: Melissa Hilt, Youth Department Assistant Director

Did you hear what happened in Paris? How about all of the violence that happens on a daily basis in nearby cities? Do you ever feel like you are surrounded by negative news?

We often don’t think about how much these events affect the little ones since they aren’t often sitting there watching the news. However, I have found that even when children are nearby playing, they are picking up on what is being said on TV.

For times when things get a little scary here are some books about peace and people around the world that you can read with your children:

If the World Were a Village by David J. Smith Book Cover
Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox Book Cover

 

Peace, Baby! by Linda Ashman Book Cover
The Peace Book by Todd Parr Book Cover

 

All the World by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon Book Cover
Snowflakes Fall By Patricia MacLachlan Book Cover

 

Silver Buttons by Bob Graham Book Cover
Let There be Peace Prayers From Around the World Book Cover
Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Travel Tips

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By: Britta J., Teen Blogger

Baby Making Face: Taking Off On A Long Flight Remembered To Charge All DevicesWinter break is almost here, and if you’re lucky, that means vacation! Of course traveling has its ups and downs, and that saying about the importance of the journey and not the destination sometimes doesn’t apply.  Vacation is of course a special opportunity to relax and have fun, but getting there is difficult. Whether it’s a long flight, or a family road trip, sometimes the journey is downright miserable. As someone who has experienced both, here are a few tips to make your trip a bit more comfortable and enjoyable:

  • Bring snacks. As someone who highly values food, I would advise to prepare yourself with your favorite snacks. That gas station junk food or airplane meals might not be enough and no one wants to be around a hangry passenger. This means that your food is easy to take with you and edible at any time. You will also be the most popular person in your group.
  • Dress in layers or bring a blanket. Especially in planes, you never know whether it will be hot or cold. So, prepare for both! No matter where you’re going, it is always good to make sure that you are comfortable and bringing a sweatshirt along is an easy way to do so.
  • Bring activities to keep you preoccupied. I promise you, at some point, you will get bored. You can bring movies, your favorite TV shows, books, or if you get car sick easily, audiobooks. Especially if you are on a plane and have no internet connection, you will need something else to avoid pestering others. It will make the whole trip much more pleasant.

The actual traveling to your desired location can be intimidating. Trust me, I once spent 20 hours wedged between my younger brother and sister on a car trip. Yet if you prepare yourself, the journey can be fun. Don’t worry. As much as you might think that you will never get there, you will, and it will be awesome!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – All American Boys

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely Book CoverSometimes, you read a book that instantly grabs you, holds you, wrings your emotions, and in the end, makes you want to do it all over again because it was that good. This book was one of those for me.

What I Just Read: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

What’s It About (Jacket Description): In an unforgettable new novel from award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.

A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galuzzi, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?

But there were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan—and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team—half of whom are Rashad’s best friends—start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.

Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken from the headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.

Do I Like It: I already bought a copy for myself, that’s how much I loved it!

Thoughts: I read All American Boys in one day – most of it in one sitting on a plane trip. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. Rashad, Quinn, the real-world events, and the powerful prose all kept me glued to the page. But that description doesn’t really describe experience of reading All American Boys. I loved it so much that when I did have to take a break from reading it, I took the opportunity of a bookstore stop to buy it, before I had even finished reading it.

One of the biggest strengths of the book is that both Rashad and Quinn are great and compelling narrators and characters. Neither outshines the other, though of course, Rashad’s experiences take center stage in the book. Rashad’s anger, fear, and sense of injustice are palpable and understandable, but it is his relationship with his family and friends, his difficulty processing what has been done to him, and his courage to face up to injustice that really make him relatable and an outstanding character. And much like Rashad, Quinn is also defined more by his strong loyalty to his family and moral convictions than by his confusion and distress, though he struggles throughout the book with what his morals are and mean, and where his loyalties really lie.

Both boys are smart, unique characters struggling with issues we see every day in the news. But for Rashad and Quinn, the issues aren’t just in the news – they are in their lives, in their bodies, in the community they have grown up in and loved. And that’s what makes All American Boys so powerful. It makes huge, important issues deeply personal for the characters, and by extension, for the readers. And not only do Reynolds and Kiely not sacrifice characterization, plot, or good writing to do this, but in fact go above and beyond with all of these elements. Even without thinking about the big issues, All American Boys is a wonderful book about growing up, strength of character, friendship, family, and community.

Ultimately, I’m finding it hard to write about this book. I still don’t feel like I’m doing justice to what reading this book was like for me. What I will say is that if you want a book that deals with current issues, this is your book. If you want a book with fully fleshed out and appealing main characters, this is your book. If you want a book featuring strong relationships between characters, this is your book. If you want a book that explores a community, this is your book. And if you want a compelling, page-turning read, this is your book. All American Boys was one of my absolutely favorites reads of 2015, and I hope you all get as much out of it as I did!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Kids: Gratitude

By: Amy Waters, School Liaison

Assorted Pumpkins In Front of Large Red Wheelbarrowgratitude

syllabification: grat·i·tude
Pronunciation: /ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/
Definition of gratitude in English:
Noun – The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
From the Oxford English Dictionary Online

This Thanksgiving is going to be a simple one at our house. Work and distance mean that our adult children won’t be here and we won’t be traveling. But that’s okay. As a parent of adult children I look back, with gratitude, for the time I had my little ones at home. I feel grateful but I wonder, do they know how thankful I am for them?

I tried to teach my children to say thank you by example, by saying thank you to others and by expressing my thanks to my children when they were helpful and kind. I wish, though, that I had been more specific.

“Thank you” followed by an acknowledgement of a specific act or a quality that is unique to each child reinforces the fact that who they are is what makes us appreciate them, not just what they do. Then, they will start to think of themselves as kind and appreciative people.

When we ourselves are grateful, our children learn to appreciate the world around them, they learn to recognize a kindness shown to them, and they want to return that kindness.

  • Thank those that provide food for you: at the grocery and at the table.
  • Express appreciation for the world around you: the silly and the serious.
  • Keep a “grateful” list: the big and the small, not just “things”.
  • Share a meal with someone.
  • Write a note of thanks or of appreciation.

An attitude of gratitude also means allowing yourself to be on the receiving end of giving. Sometimes the best gift is allowing someone to give to you. So, this Thanksgiving, offer thanks. And when someone thanks you, accept it as a gift, don’t brush it off. A warm “you’re welcome” can teach children that giving and receiving should both be done in a spirit of appreciation.

My children may live far away. But near or far, there are ways to show your appreciation for the special qualities in those you care about. Share a hug. Make a phone call or send a text. Place a note at the table or under the pillow of your loved ones. This year, I’ll write a note of thanks to my children, and when I tell them how thankful I am for them, I’ll be sure to be specific.

Thank you, for reading. Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are some books to read with your children that can help you start a conversation about appreciating the world around them:

 

Before We Eat by Pat Brisson Book Cover
Gracias~Thanks by Pat Mora Book Cover
The Best Part of the Day by Sarah Ban Breathnach Book Cover
Ten Thank-You Letters by Daniel Kirk Book Cover
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson Book Cover
An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton Book Cover
Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – No Mythologies to Follow Review

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By: Sabrina A., Teen Blogger

MO: No Mythologies To Follow CD CoverYou wake up at 5 a.m. and go to school. Finally, school is over at 2:35 p.m. but now you have to go to work. After a long day of school and work you find yourself at home, staring at a pile of unfinished homework. You finally finish all your homework and eventually you fall asleep by midnight. You wake up again at 5 a.m. and follow the same steps again. What’s wrong with this routine? There is no time given to yourself. I think a great way to dedicate time to yourself is to listen to music that you enjoy. I personally am a fan of alternative music and enjoy listening to an artist named MØ. I absolutely love the lyrics in her music and her voice is very soothing. My favorite album by her is No Mythologies to Follow, and I believe it holds a lot of emotion.

The songs included in this album are, “Fire Rides,” “Maiden,” “Never Wanna Know,” “Red in the Grey,” “Pilgrim,” “Don’t Wanna Dance,” “Waste of Time,” “Dust Is Gone,” “XXX 88,” “Walk This Way,” “Slow Love,” “Glass,” “No Mythologies to Follow,” “Dummy Head,” “The Sea,” and “Gone and Found.” No Mythologies to Follow is emotionally diverse which means it’s an album you can listen to after a rough day or when you want something upbeat to dance to. I think MØ’s voice is exceptionally relaxing and soothing in No Mythologies to Follow. Also I think MØ has a very unique perspective in her music. The newer music that is on the radio is often about drugs, alcohol, and other risky behaviors, but MØ strays far from those topics and brings a refreshing twist to her songs. I believe anyone can find themselves enjoying MØ’s album No Mythologies to Follow and take something away from her lyrics.

Posted in GEPL Teens