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#WeNeedDiverseBooks

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

We Need Diverse BooksAs you may recall, last May we had a display celebrating the We Need Diverse Books movement. This movement started with a simple Twitter hashtag about two years ago, with people from all over the country sharing reasons why we need more diverse books, particularly books for children and young adults. One of our teen volunteers wrote about We Need Diverse Books a few months after it began, and you can read what she had to say here to get a great overview of the movement.

In the two years since the Twitter campaign started, We Need Diverse Books has become a full-fledged non-profit, devoted to encouraging diversity not only in books, but in the publishing world in general. They give awards and grants to encourage and recognize diverse books, publishers, editors and more; they help educate publishers, librarians and booksellers; they organize mentoring programs to help people break into the publishing industry and much more. Their work has certainly increased discussion and recognition of the diversity issue in publishing. So once again, we want to celebrate the work We Need Diverse Books is doing, and highlight some of the diverse young adult books from our own collection!

This month, stop by our #WeNeedDiverseBooks display to find a great adventure like Ink and Ashes or Endangered, or maybe some historical fiction highlighting experiences you may have missed, such as Under a Painted Sky or Honey Girl. If contemporary is more your style, you can check out All American Boys, Everything Leads to You, or Tiny, Pretty Things. Into real life people? You might like Laughing at My Nightmare or Rethinking Normal. We also have science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance and more on display. So stop by and find a great new read in your favorite genre, and see why #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Favorite Preschool Visit Reads

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

Miss Katy here. I’m hoping some of you have heard of me. Part of what I do includes visiting Glen Ellyn preschool classrooms on a regular basis. I bring a bag of books, my favorite songs and sometimes an interactive game to classrooms.

I can hardly believe it’s almost time for summer vacation! April and May visits are sometimes the last time I’ll see a classroom before summer. It’s always bittersweet—I know that some preschoolers will be attending kindergarten in the fall. In honor of the end of the year, I thought I’d share some of our favorite reads.

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak Book Cover
One class in particular will ask for this book every single time I visit. Kids love The Book with No Pictures so much that some can even recite the text with me. It makes audiences (even big kids) howl with laughter because it forces adults to say silly things and make silly sounds.

Hooray for Hat by Brian Won

Hooray for Hat by Brian Won Book Cover
“Remember the book with the animals and the hats? That one’s my favorite.” I always know a book was a hit when kids ask me about it the next time I visit. I asked kids to shout “Hooray for Hat!” with me when we read this one.

Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera

Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera Book Cover
The title alone makes this one a winner! Underwear, for some strange reason, makes kids giggle. Readers are invited to guess which underwear belongs to which animal based on clues seen in the underwear’s design. For example — carrot themed underwear belongs to a bunny. How many times can I say underwear in a short paragraph?!

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet Book Cover
“Miss Katy, that book is magic!” Preschoolers always have stunned expressions on their faces when we read Mix It Up. This book, and the author’s other books, are completely interactive. The narrator instructs kids to shake the book or turn it to the right to see what happens to the paint. And the results are magical.

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
 

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
There’s a slight gross out factor with this nonfiction title. It shares unique, size-related animal facts in a fun way. You’d be surprised by how many preschoolers know that anteaters have really, really long tongues.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood Book Cover
This book makes readers so anxious for the ending — and then it ends with a twist! The illustrations are beautiful, too. And you know it’s good when it’s one of Miss Bari’s favorites.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

What I Just Read – The Memory of Light

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork Book CoverI told you there was going to be more book talk coming down the line. And unlike last week, I know exactly how I feel about today’s What I Just Read.

What I Just Read: The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Vicky Cruz shouldn’t be alive.

That’s what she thinks, anyway—and why she tried to kill herself. But then she arrives at Lakeview Hospital, where she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.

Yet Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up—sending her back to the life that drove her to suicide—Vicky must find her own courage and strength. She may not have any. She doesn’t know.

Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one—about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.

Do I Like It: It’s amazing!

Thoughts:  The Memory of Light was, believe it or not, much less of a downer than I expected. While it deals with extremely heavy subjects, the writing is so beautiful, the main character so strong and all the characters so compelling that far from bringing me down, it mostly made me feel contemplative and hopeful. That said, there were some dark moments in the book, and it’s hardly sunshine and roses at the end.

Vicky is a main character who is easy to sympathize with, even if you don’t have depression like she does. The grind of feeling inadequate, struggling in school, family strife and more were easy to relate to. And despite her difficulties, Vicky was a really kind, caring and strong character. It’s clear early on that her suicide attempt was not a result of weakness. If anything, it seemed like a result of deep exhaustion and lack of knowledge. Watching her connect with the members of her group and her therapist, as well as learn more about herself and what it means to be depressed, was really powerful. In fact, despite a slow plot, I found myself lingering in my car for just a few minutes more when I parked to hear more of her story.

The writing in The Memory of Light is top notch. The way Vicky described being depressed was descriptive, evocative and really made me as a reader understand what she felt and really grasp what she was going through. There was also a really well done writing trick in the text, which especially came through in the audiobook. At the beginning, Vicky’s voice is a little dull and, at least in the narration, monotone. But as the story progresses and she begins to deal with some of her depression and find some rays of hope, the prose gets more lively and the narration does too. It was such a great way to reflect Vicky’s experiences and mental state.

Lastly, this review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the side characters. Ignore the Breakfast Club-like description, because none of the characters in Vicky’s group are “types.” They’re all living, breathing characters with their own stories and issues outside of Vicky. But the way they bond with each other and with Vicky, and the way their stories play out, was really engaging to read about, and made me feel like I knew them all. The same thing goes for Vicky’s family.  Despite their flaws and failures in taking care of Vicky when she needs them, they never came across as caricatures or villains, but as people who just didn’t understand what was going on, and didn’t know how to care for someone they loved.

This is not the book for you if you’re looking for a fast-paced plot, drama (really) or action. But it is a character-driven, incredibly realistic look at what depression is like and what comes after a suicide attempt, and it’s told through beautiful prose and a compelling and sympathetic protagonist. It’s a wonderful, quiet, powerful read that I highly recommend.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

The 2016 Caudill, Bluestem and Monarch Award Winners!

By: Melissa Hilt, Youth Department Assistant Director

It’s been over a month since the Caudill, Bluestem and Monarch awards were announced, but people are still surprised to see that we now have the 2017 nominees on display; and everyone wants to know which books won for 2016. So without further ado, I present to you the 2016 winners.

The Caudill Winner Is…Michael Vey: the Prisoner of Cell 25 By Richard Paul Evans
Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Book Cover

To see a list of the final totals, visit: Rebecca Caudill 2016 Final Totals

 

The Bluestem Winner Is…The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths
The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths Book Cover

To see a list of the final totals, visit: Bluestem Final Totals

 

The Monarch Winner Is…Breaking News: Bear Alert by David Biedrzycki
Breaking News: Bear Alert by David Biedrzycki Book Cover

To see a list of the final totals, visit: Monarch Final Totals

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

What I Just Read – More Happy Than Not

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera Book CoverI hope you’re braced for another few weeks heavy on book talk, because boy have I been reading some amazing things lately. This is one that actually, I’m still a little unsure on – but it’s a book that’s stuck with me since I finished it almost a month ago.

What I Just Read: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

What’s It About (Jacket Description): In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Do I Like It: Well, as I mentioned above, I’m still not totally sure what I feel about this book. But since I’m still thinking about it and I will probably read it again, I think I’ll go with yes on this one!

Thoughts:  First off, let’s be really clear – I think this was an excellent book in terms of writing, theme, plot, characterization and more. My mixed feelings have to do with a couple of things that could be construed as flaws, but mostly with my own personal feelings about the book. So, let’s get to it.

More Happy Than Not is without question a gripping, super readable book. Thanks to the sense I got of Aaron’s New York and the realistic dialogue, even the scenes or sections where it seemed like not much was happening were still great to read. And when things began to pick up with the arrival of Thomas and strife within Aaron’s friend group, it became even harder to put the book down. The best parts of this book for me were the way the side characters and Aaron’s interactions with them really informed the plot and his character growth, without any of them ever being reduced to only the role they play in Aaron’s story. In fact, I felt like I wanted to read books about Genevieve, Thomas, Evangeline, Aaron’s brother and Aaron’s mother, since they all so clearly had their own stories.  But this was Aaron’s story, and as in real life, it was his interactions with these people around him that really drove it.

There is an abrupt shift in the way the story moves forward about two thirds of the way through, and a development I found really unexpected towards the end, which I think is where my conflicted feelings come from. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – I haven’t made up my mind how I feel about these turns of events, but I do plan on re-reading this book down the road to try and make sense of what I think. And given that my standard for good books is usually whether or not I would re-read them, More Happy Than Not certainly passes that test with flying colors.

If you’re looking for a nearly realistic fiction book (the near-future/sci-fi element is so light it’s almost unnoticeable) that will make you think, an immersive experience into a tightly knit neighborhood and group of friends, a character-driven but still gripping novel or an exploration of some philosophical questions through a great narrative voice, More Happy Than Not is a book I would highly recommend. It’s sure to leave you with plenty to think about and lots of feelings.  And if you do read it, please come talk to me about it, because I’m dying to discuss this one!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Earth Day

By: Leigh Ann Vock, Youth Department Page

What does Earth Day mean to kids? Do they think of our planet as something that needs care? Earth Day is a perfect day to bring attention to the job of being good stewards of our planet. The first Earth Day Celebration was started in 1970 after a massive oil spill in California inspired the need to teach others about our environment. This celebration has reached global proportions and we can all do our part to participate.

Nature walks are a good place to start to begin the appreciation of all that our Earth gives to us. Other ideas might include a technology free day and lights out early to save energy. For school age kids, work together to pack a waste free lunch, no baggies or paper sacks allowed.

Planting can be another way to celebrate Earth Day. Planting seeds or saplings can be a wonderful activity for children and they will enjoy watching the results of their labor. Giving back to the Earth for our generations to come is a practice that we do not want to lose. The Glen Ellyn Park District will host its 2016 Earth Day Celebration at Maryknoll Park on Friday, April 22 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. Admission is free.

There are many resources to expand you and your child’s interest in this special day at the library. Earth day starts with us helping teach our children the importance of caring for our ecosystems.

 

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

If you’ve been by the library in the past couple of weeks, you may have noticed a small (or arguably big) change to my appearance. After nearly a month of agonizing (really) I cut off almost a foot of hair and went from braids and ponytails to a short pixie cut. Can you tell from the picture how nervous I was?

Hannah Before Cutting Her Hair Hannah After Cutting Her Hair
But! As much as this may seem like an excuse to brag about my new hairstyle (which I love) what I actually wanted to talk about was the decision making process. Because let me tell you, deciding to cut off that much slow-growing hair was not easy. And while this decision wasn’t as difficult as some of the ones you are facing right now (AP or honors classes, college choices, friendships and relationships, etc. etc.) it did make me think about how we make decisions. Here are some of the things that helped me make my decision:Research. I read about what are the best cuts for thin, fine hair like mine. I researched how long it would take for my hair to grow back. I read personal stories of people who had cut their long hair short and loved it (and some who hadn’t been happy with it.) I looked at hundreds of pictures of pixie cuts, and tried to find people whose facial shape was similar to mine. By the time I was heading to the solon (decision still un-made) I was armed with everything I could possibly need to know about what I wanted and how to take care of it. Feeling knowledgeable is a great way to make up your mind, and feel confident in whatever decision you make.

Analyze your reactions. This is harder than it seems. I was changing my mind every two hours for a couple of weeks, but things clarified a little when I thought about what I was feeling while I was leaning one way or the other. For instance, when I thought about getting the cut, I was mostly feeling excited. When I was leaning towards not getting my hair cut, I was mostly feeling scared. Now, sometimes listening to the fear response is a good thing (for instance, if you’re considering dropping out of school, trying heroin, and hitchhiking to California, being scared is probably a good thing and you should absolutely listen to that fear response.) But in this case, I was talking about hair. So it made a lot more sense to listen to the excited feeling instead of the scared feeling.

Keep in mind worst scenarios. I don’t mean this as a way of being pessimistic, but as a way to put your decision in perspective. For instance, in the drop-out, drugs, hitchhiking scenario, the worst case outcomes include death, prison, addiction, etc. – pretty bad stuff. In the hair-cutting scenario, the worst case outcomes include…a not-so-great haircut for a few months until it starts to grow back. Which is really not so bad.

Flip a coin. Really. I did this right before I went into the salon. Not that you have to do what the coin flip says. But flip a coin, see what the result is and go with your gut. If the coin says “yes” to the haircut/college/class/relationship and your gut clenches and you’re disappointed, then don’t go with that decision. If the coin says “yes” to the haircut/college/class/relationship and you start to smile and get excited, then go with that decision! Coin flips, magic 8 balls or other randomized decision makers can sometimes be the best way of getting right to the heart of the matter and figuring out what you really want amidst all the noise of overthinking.

So whether or not you are considering a dramatic haircut, what college to go to or even what book you read next, I hope some of these steps that helped me make a small but hard decision might help you too!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Poetry: The Short and Long of It

By: Amy Waters, School Liaison

“If not for the cat,

and the scarcity of cheese,

I could be content.”

Whether you like your poetry short and to the point like this haiku by the first Children’s Poet Laureate, Jack Prelutsky, about the mouse’s yearning for the content life, free of cats and with abundant cheese in If Not For The Cat

or if you like your verses in many different forms in page after page of a complex story like the one that unfolds in the beautiful autobiography “brown girl dreaming” by the multi-award winning author Jacqueline Woodson

Poetry has something for everyone. Silly or serious, short or long, one voice or two, poems that celebrate sports or pets or poems that can be read from the top to the bottom and back again, all can be found on the shelves in your library. And if you can’t find a poem you like, then write one. April is the perfect time to find out you’re a poet, even if you didn’t know it!

Feast your ears and eyes on these and ask at the youth desk for help finding more:

 

 

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

National Poetry Month

By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

April is National Poetry Month, and I think that it’s important to respect and embrace poetry. Good poetry can be difficult to write, even if it doesn’t rhyme, but there are other ways to reflect your creativity.

Now, I’m not saying I’m good by any means, but I did try to get my poetic hands dirty by creating some of the different types of poetry.

Found Poetry
Picture of Page of Tom Sawyer Hilighting Words To Create Found Poetry
Found poetry is kind of like a “literary collage,” gathering bits of existing written word and converting it to something else.
 
“agony
had ceased
and
melancholy
disturbed him
a single
mewo
went
half and hour
and the village
staggered
no longer”

 

Spine Poetry
Books Stacked on A Shelf So Titles Create Poem
Spine poetry is made with… book spines! It’s pretty much a different type of found poetry. Those are some crafty goats!
 
“Look Both Ways
The Goats
Bottled Up
Scorpions
Downriver
Powerless
Hero
get well soon”

Haiku
Haiku Poem On A Chalkboard: flowers are blooming | the gnome travles at midnight | watch out for the slugs
Remember, I never said I was good at this poetry thing. This haiku was featured on our chalkboard wall in The Middle!
 
“flowers are blooming
the gnome travels at midnight
watch out for the slugs”
 

Write your own poetry using magnetic words, or on our Poe-tree during Crafternoons! For more poetic inspiration, check out this video!


Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

Throwbacks

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros Book CoverI don’t know about you, but I have a hard time keeping up with all the great new books coming out. I read reviews as part of my job, so I’m always learning about books being published that immediately go on my “to be read” list, and even though I’ll never catch up, I valiantly keep trying. It would be so easy to make it a decade or more without reading anything older than a few months or years. But things are always slipping through the cracks, and if I only read brand new books, I’d miss out on a lot of older titles.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer Book CoverYou all may not have quite the same problem, since I’m guessing you aren’t reading book reviews by the dozen, but there’s still a lot of hype and buzz around new books. Plus (and I don’t mean this in a bad way) you’re young. A lot of great young adult books were published while you were still too young to read them, or even hear about them. Heck, Twilight was published over 10 years ago! And while that one is still popular, there are many more wonderful books that were published around the same time or before then that have faded out of our consciousness. They don’t fade because they’re not good, just because they’re old. And that doesn’t seem quite fair to me.

Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac Book CoverSo this month’s display, Throwbacks, is dedicated to all those older YA titles that can be every bit as good as the newer ones, but that maybe you haven’t heard of or had a chance to read. Stop by this month to find out what you’ve been missing. Whether it’s the classic Forever by Judy Blume, a book you might have missed when it was assigned like The House on Mango Street, or an exciting adventure that you may never have heard of like Code Talker, you’ll find all kinds of books in our display. You might reconnect with some old favorites while you’re at it – several of Sarah Dessen’s novels were written over ten years ago, and the much-acclaimed Walter Dean Myers wrote plenty of his best work well before the last few years. So this spring, find a comfortable place to enjoy that warm weather and get a blast from the past with one of our YA Throwbacks.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School