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GEPL Tweens: Tween Book Review – Out of My Mind


What’s your first name and school? : Julie Hadley Jr Highoutofmymind

What are you reviewing? : Out of My Mind

What did you review? : A book

What did you like about it? : About a girl who is 11 years old and has cerebral palsy and she can remember everything she sees or hears. Every one thinks she is dumb but she discovers something that helps her communicate with other people. Now she can talk to everyone about what she learns that is was I liked.

Who would like this? : students who like realistic fiction

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

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Teens: Morris Award Nominees

Teens Blog BannerLast week, I raved about Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, winner of this year’s Morris Award for best young adult debut. But because the Morris is my favorite of the young adult literature awards, I actually read all five nominees this year before the winner was announced. While Gabi was definitely my favorite, it was a great group of books (it usually is – thus the status of the award as my favorite!) While they didn’t all appeal to me personally, there’s no denying that all five Morris nominees were written by talented authors, and are books that will find fans. Music seemed to be a theme this year, with three out of the five books dealing heavily with music in some way. The books featured dragons, girls with wings, and Kurt Cobain. They were set in the present, across numerous decades, and in the 80s or 90s. They took place in Canada, Ireland, and the US. But one thing all these books had in common was that they were written by talented authors who I expect great things from in the future.

I already talked about Gabi, A Girl in Pieces (and if you haven’t put it on hold yet, I highly recommend you do so! This book is most definitely worth your time) but I thought today, I’d give some mini-thoughts on the other four nominees.

Blog Entry 126 - Image 1The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley

Description (from goodreads.com): It’s 1993, and Generation X pulses to the beat of Kurt Cobain and the grunge movement. Sixteen-year-old Maggie Lynch is uprooted from big-city Chicago to a windswept town on the Irish Sea. Surviving on care packages of Spin magazine and Twizzlers from her rocker uncle Kevin, she wonders if she’ll ever find her place in this new world. When first love and sudden death simultaneously strike, a naive but determined Maggie embarks on a forbidden pilgrimage that will take her to a seedy part of Dublin and on to a life- altering night in Rome to fulfill a dying wish. Through it all, Maggie discovers an untapped inner strength to do the most difficult but rewarding thing of all, live.

Thoughts: This was my other favorite of the bunch. I loved the small-town Irish setting, from the mud and damp to the pub to the old man in his farmhouse up the hill. The romance seemed to jump from “crush” to “in love” a little quickly for my tastes, but I liked Maggie and Eoin so much that I didn’t really mind. I think the way music entered into the story was great – I’ve never been a huge Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins fan, but I still felt sucked in to what these bands and concerts meant for Maggie, and it was easy to remember the magic of concerts I’ve been to and feel connected with Maggie’s experiences. Overall, I loved this book – and I wasn’t the only one! The Carnival at Bray also received a Printz honor (the Printz award recognized the best literary young adult fiction.)

Blog Entry 126 - Image 2Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

Description (from goodreads.com): A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock ‘n’ roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world…even if you carry scars inside and out.

In attempting to describe himself in his college application essay–help us to become acquainted with you beyond your courses, grades, and test scores–Harbinger (Harry) Jones goes way beyond the 250-word limit and gives a full account of his life.

The first defining moment: the day the neighborhood goons tied him to a tree during a lightning storm when he was 8 years old, and the tree was struck and caught fire. Harry was badly burned and has had to live with the physical and emotional scars, reactions from strangers, bullying, and loneliness that instantly became his everyday reality.

The second defining moment: the day in 8th grade when the handsome, charismatic Johnny rescued him from the bullies and then made the startling suggestion that they start a band together. Harry discovered that playing music transported him out of his nightmare of a world, and he finally had something that compelled people to look beyond his physical appearance. Harry’s description of his life in his essay is both humorous and heart-wrenching. He had a steeper road to climb than the average kid, but he ends up learning something about personal power, friendship, first love, and how to fit in the world. While he’s looking back at the moments that have shaped his life, most of this story takes place while Harry is in high school and the summer after he graduates.

Thoughts: Scar Boys is unquestionably a book I would never have picked up if it hadn’t been nominated for the Morris award. Something about the description just didn’t engage me. So for that reason alone, I’m glad this was nominated for the award! I ended up liking Scar Boys a lot more than I expected to, even though it wasn’t my favorite of the nominees. What can I say, books about teen punk bands in the 80s just aren’t my thing, I guess, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them! And there was a lot I really did love about the book – the set-up of a college admissions essay was unique, the main character Harry was both extremely loveable and extremely obnoxious at the same time, which I liked, and I loved the book’s focus on male friendships, something I don’t see a lot of in books I read.

Blog Entry 126 - Image 3The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston 

Description (from goodreads.com): Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival. There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition. But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected. Such was Trondheim’s fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard. Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen!

Thoughts: Owen is probably a book I would have read eventually on my own, though I moved it up my list once the Morris nominations were announced. Alternate history, dragons, and a bard? Sign me up! Unfortunately, maybe because my expectations were so high, I was kind of underwhelmed by this book. Although I loved the alternate history with dragons, I did feel like parts of the world-building were a little thin (if dragons are attracted by carbon emissions, why wasn’t solar or steam or some kind of alternate energy developed years ago?) And one of my favorite characters just disappeared from the story part way through. But I did like the way the book explored dragon slaying as both a service and a spectacle, and tied the lives of dragonslayers in with the lives of those telling their stories, and I loved the concept of dragons in our modern world. But ultimately, for me, there just weren’t enough dragons to satisfy!

Blog Entry 126 - Image 4The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Description (from goodreads.com): Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

Thoughts: Here’s the thing. While there are exceptions (there are always exceptions), overall, magical realism and multi-generational stories are not my favorite things. I couldn’t tell you why, something about those types of stories tends to just not work for me. So being both, Ava Lavender was never going to be my favorite of this year’s Morris nominees. That said, there was a lot I did like about this book. As far as magical realism goes, a girl born with wings is a pretty fascinating thought. The descriptions of food were mouth-watering and awesome. And the book did a really good job of exploring some interesting themes, and most of the magical realism helped to enhance and frame the issues of family, love, faith, freedom, and obsession (among others,) and give physical form to some abstract thoughts and ideas. I think this was a great book, and the fact that I personally couldn’t really get into it doesn’t mean a whole lot – I think this would be a great book for anyone looking to explore magical realism, or some of the themes I mentioned before. Just make sure some pastries or a loaf of bakery bread are at hand, because you will want them!


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Tween Book Review – What If Humans Were Animals


What’s your first name and school? : Arnold Glencrest

What are you reviewing? : What If Humans Were Animals

What did you review? : A book

What did you like about it? : About the facts and features of animal attributes and just alone just the pictures two showing the eyes and weirdness of like a human hybrid and the animals featured are animals I have not heard of like a some beetles can carry 850 times there eight.

Who would like this? : people that like animals

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 – Woods Runner


What’s your first name and school? : Michelle Garcia Hadley Jr Highwoodsrunner

What are you reviewing? : Woods Runner

What did you review? : A book

What did you like about it? : It about a boy who lived with his dad and a war was happening at that time and then his dad got taken away from the boy so the boy survives by himself and follow the soldiers to find his father but will he have the bravery to confront a solder from the war? Or will he ever find his dad alive?

Who would like this? : people who love war books and historical fiction

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

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Tweens: Tween Book Review – The Return of Skeleton Man


What’s your first name and school? : Michelle Garcia Hadley Jr Highreturnskeleton

What are you reviewing? : The Return of Skeleton Man

What did you review? : A book

What did you like about it? : What I like about it was that the skeleton man came back for revenge on Molly but Molly now is brave and clever and the special thing is she has a little friend that will help her defeat the skeleton man now for good.

Who would like this? : people who love people who like scary book that might scare the bones right out of u

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

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Tweens: Tween Book Review – The Skeleton Man


What’s your first name and school? : Michelle Garcia Hadley Jr Highskeletonman

What are you reviewing? : The Skeleton Man

What did you review? : A book

What did you like about it? : What I liked about it was about a girl named Molly and her parents had disappeared with no trace of them and she find out that she had a uncle but he was not and he was a skeleton man who eats people alive and Molly does not know that till the end of the story so then she finds clue of where her parents might be. But will she ever find them???

Who would like this? : people who love people who like scary book that might scare the bones right out of u

On a scale from yuck to best ever, how much did you like it? : awesome for me

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Kids: Play Math

By: Carolyn Wissmiller, Youth Programming Associate

Most parents/caregivers understand the importance of helping their child acquire early literacy skills, but some of us aren’t sure what to do to get our children started on the road to math literacy. If you found math difficult and ended up hating it, break the cycle – show your child that math is fun!

Children have fingers and toes to count. We encourage them to hold up those fingers to show how old they are. They see us stop at “money machines” and use credit cards, checks, cash, or our smart phones to pay for groceries. They might hear us say that we’re early or late for an appointment or that we can’t afford the new toy they want or the new car we want. Math is everywhere – there is no escape!

Here are some fun ways to “play math” with your child:

  •  While waiting in line, ask your child to jump three times, turn in a circle twice, touch their toes and reach for the sky four times, etc.
  • In any environment, ask your child to identify objects that are shaped like circles, squares, triangles, etc.
  • Use M&M’s or Skittles or other colorful candy to sort the pieces by color. Then line them up to make a graph showing which colors have the most or least pieces.
  • When traveling to a place you visit often, ask your child to guess how long it will take to get there.
  • In a restaurant, play this game with 10 sugar packets: Take turns claiming either one or two packets on each turn. The person who claims the last packet wins.
  • Create a chalk number line on the sidewalk. To add 3 + 4, start on zero, jump three times, jump four more times. What number did you land on?
  • To learn math facts, put answers on cards and lay them on the ground at the far end of the yard. Shout out a basic fact like 5 + 6. See how fast your child can run to find the card with “11” on it and bring it back to you.

Remember to come to the library for books with more ideas to make math fun. Here are a few suggestions:

Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – The Oscars

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 125 - ImageAs we all know, this weekend the famous Academy awards will be taking over millions of Americans’ Sunday evenings. At this time of year, all kinds of award shows are taking place such as the SAGs, the Golden Globe Awards, the Grammys, the Emmys, and The People’s Choice Awards. Yet, one award show, older and more famous than any others, stands out as the highest recognition in film industry. This show is the Academy Awards. For eighty five years they have recognized cinematic achievement and here is why almost a century later, this show still captivates the world.

The first Academy Awards presentation was held in 1929, at a private dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with an audience of about 270 people. The event wasn’t even televised until the 1950’s. Although the media were aware of the winners three months earlier, the award winners actually were originally printed in the Newspaper the evening of the event. That lasted until the Los Angeles Times printed the winners before the ceremony thereby beginning the tradition of revealing the winners from an envelope during the ceremony.

The actual Award, commonly referred to as Oscar, is made of gold-plated britannium on a black metal base, and it is 13.5 in tall, and weighs 8.5 lbs. It depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style holding a crusader’s sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes. The five spokes represent the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians. Because of the prestige that accompanies these awards, the Academy has implemented multiple rules that prohibit the selling of these awards.

From classics such as Casablanca to recent films including 12 Years a Slave, the Academy has awarded 2,701 Oscars to recognize achievement in the film industry. Movies are still an incredibly popular media and form of entertainment, as they were in the 1920s. They bring to light issues that our society faces such as American Sniper’s focus on PTSD, and Selma’s emphasis on inherent racism. No matter how ridiculous these red carpets and fancy shows may seem to people, it has become a unifying event in our culture that celebrates and appreciates the masterpieces that have entertained us throughout the year.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Create Crystals Indoors

By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

Brr! It is cold out there! Today, I’m going to show you how to make crystals inside, so you don’t have the brave the bitter cold weather. This week, you will learn how to make a crystal garden overnight in 5 easy steps. This process applies science to make art! Wait a minute… science…. art…. those are two letters of STEAM! You’re right. I can’t get anything past you. We will be learning a fun use of STEAM methods, just in time for the GEPL STEAM Fair happening February 28, 2015.

What you will need:

1 cup Epsom Salt

Food Coloring

1 cup Water

1 clean glass jar



Microwave (optional)

crystals 1
Step 1:

Add the Epsom salt to your glass jar.



crystals 3
Step 2:

Use really hot water from the sink, or heat the water in the microwave. Mix in the food coloring.


Step 3:

While the water’s still warm, quickly pour the water into the jar with the Epsom salt. Stir the solution for 1-2 minutes to make sure most of the salt has dissolved.

crystals 4

Step 4:

Place solution into freezer for ten minutes, then move to the fridge for best results. Leave in fridge overnight.

Note: also try putting in the sun instead! Does a different process yield the same result?

Step 5:

The next day, carefully pour out any excess liquid. Carefully wipe off any residue that has dried on the upper portion of the jar.


Remember there are instances where you do everything right, but not be successful. Just roll up those sleeves and try again!


Pictures from babbledabbledo.com

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Tweens: Tween Movie Review – Instructions Not Included


What’s your first name and school? : Michelle Garcia Hadley Jr High

What are you reviewing? : Instructions Not Included

What did you review? : A movie

What did you like about it? : I loved it a lot because it was soooo sad because its about a guy and he had a daughter because the wife left her with her and never came back for her so the dad wanted to return her but in his journey he starts to love her so he kept her but when he went to the doctor they told him something to sad that was when i stared to cry so bad they told him that the girl was going to die but what i hated was when the mother came back for the daughter but did not know about what happened.

Who would like this? : someone who love sadness

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

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews