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New Schools and Next Steps

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

First Day At A New School And Trying To Make Friends? Scream And Run Away Every Time Someone Says Hi.As August draws to a close, it’s back-to-school for everyone (ugh.) While many of you are returning to the same high school you were in last year, for many of you, this month heralds a new beginning.

Maybe you’re an incoming ninth grader and getting your first taste of high school life. Maybe you’re moving in to college over the next couple of weeks. Maybe you moved, or transferred, and have to integrate into a whole new environment midway through high school.

And no matter who you are, a new school is probably some combination of exciting, scary, fun and nerve-wracking. How could it not be?

But even for those of you who aren’t starting at a new high school or college, you probably have some transitions on your horizon. You could be heading off to study abroad. You could be deciding what to do after high school–college?  No college? Which college? What will you do if it’s not college? Whatever is changing in your life, the end of August certainly seems like an appropriate time to contemplate the next steps.

In this month’s display, New Schools and Next Steps, located just outside the Teen Scene room, you’ll come across main characters facing all sorts of transitions, fresh starts, and yes, new schools. In Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry, Brooklyn is off to a theater camp that she hopes will transform her into the performer she’s always wanted to be. In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Junior is leaving the reservation to start at a new–mostly white–school and facing the unfamiliar. Cath from Fangirl is nervous not only about starting college, but about doing it more separated from her twin than she has ever been.

And even characters in speculative fiction face the same transitional challenges–from Dove in Karen Bao’s Dove Arising who embarks on a tough military training program to help her family, or Iolanthe from The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas who comes from a magical world and must pretend to fit in to a boarding school in our world. So whether you’re struggling with keeping a secret from your new school like Amanda in If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, or feel a kinship with Marcelo’s struggles to move into a world that doesn’t understand him in Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, or are moving to a new place and the new school that goes with it like Lea in Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings, you’ll be able to find a character going through the good and the bad of transitions similar to your own in our New Schools and Next Steps display.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School


By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

There’s something amazing about the Olympics. Every four years athletes from around the world gather to compete as the rest of the world watches. The 2016 Summer Olympics are in Rio. It’s the first time South America has hosted the games.

Some really great moments have come out of Rio. Like Fiji winning its first medal ever—and it was gold. Or that time when Andy Murray reminded a television reporter that women can win gold medals, too. And two Team USA athletes have more in common than just their name (Simone).

I’m obsessed. Can you blame me? NBC plans to produce 6,000 hours of TV footage. It’s almost always on TV. And my social media feed has been full of hilarious re-tweets, memes and video clips. Remember Gymnast McKayla Maroney’s not impressed face from 2012? Now we have #PhelpsFace.

Like father, like son. #PhelpsFace

I’ve been craving sports books because of the Olympics. Here’s a round-up of some fiction and non-fiction titles perfect for Olympic fans or aspiring athletes. You can find them here at the library.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

TV vs. Movies (Take Three)

By: Ashley H., Teen Blogger

Picture of an old TV on one side and a movie reel with film streaming off it on the other.I love storytelling. I love the concept of creating characters that are relatable to an audience and plots that keep everyone on their toes. As time and people change, the presentation of these stories evolve. From cave paintings to campfire stories, storytelling continues to adapt.

In today’s society we see storytelling in books, graphic novels, movies and TV. Though all are great ways to portray engaging stories to an interested audience, it has been brought to my attention that for visual storytelling one method is gaining more popularity with the public.

Typically, we assume that movies are the visual outlet for great storytelling given that Star Wars, Titanic and Pirates of the Caribbean are household titles. But recently it seems that television is becoming the greater storytelling medium. Personally I can understand why TV is becoming the more popular style of visual storytelling because it can reach a wider audience (depending on if they have cable or not) without the cost of movie tickets or the need to leave one’s home.

TV also offers longer screen time to develop plot and show character development, which is not always possible in 2 hour movies but is common in twenty-four 40-minute episodes. Though it has the possibility of having more to develop and explore, television does not offer the same budgets or popular actors that can be found in movies. But this doesn’t mean that television does not create stories that are addictive to watch. From the viewpoint of a 17 year old fangirl, I love TV. It is our generation’s way of sharing stories in the digital era. Yes, movies create stories that will become legends, but television creates stories with characters that we can relate to and see grow within their own crazy environments. For me, TV is the way to make stories come to life.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What I Just Read – A Torch Against the Night

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check Out A Torch Against The Night Usually when I talk about books I’ve read on this blog, I stick with the first book in the series, or a whole-series review. But I’ve been fortunate enough to get an advanced reader copy of a much-anticipated sequel, and I am way too excited not to talk about it! Warning, Spoilers Ahead for anyone who hasn’t read An Ember in the Ashes.

What I Just Read: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

What’s It About (Jacket Description): A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.

In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.

Do I Like It: Loving it so far!

Thoughts: After I read An Ember in the Ashes last year, I was recommending it far and wide. It was exciting, gritty, pulse-pounding fantasy with dystopian elements, and I couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t a perfect novel – few debuts are – but I enjoyed it and saw a ton of promise for expanding on the world-building, delving deeper into characters and relationships, and giving the incredibly evil, awful, hate-able villain more room to make readers cringe. So it will come as no surprise to anyone that when I had a chance to read an advance copy of the sequel, I jumped on it. And I am thrilled to say that A Torch Against the Night is not only meeting my expectations, but I’m finding that so far, I’m enjoying it at least as much if not more than the first novel.

The sequel takes us on a trip through the Empire, with our main characters Elias and Laia running from the terrifying new Emperor and of course, the ice cold, cruel, and brilliant Commandant. I love the chance to see more of the Empire, and so far the pacing in this book seems even better than An Ember in the Ashes. I definitely enjoy watching Elias and Laia’s friendship – and more? – develop now that they are on more equal footing. Laia’s increase in leadership and power make her more of a match for Elias (and eliminates the creepy slave dynamic from the first book), and that power extends to her other relationships as well. Even the hints of a love triangle are bothering me less than they usually do, since both love interests have a good mix of swoon-worthy qualities and serious faults. And because I’m a sucker for friendships, I’m excited about the return of Izzi, who like Laia, is growing in strength and confidence, and promises to be a wonderful friend and foil for the main character.

But while all of this is great and wonderful, I think my favorite parts of A Torch Against the Night are Helene’s points of view. I found Helene one of the most interesting and fascinating characters in the first book, and getting to see her suddenly gifted with newfound power as she struggles with her warring loyalties to Elias, her family, and the empire, is incredibly compelling. Helene isn’t a “good guy” by a long shot, but she’s also not the same style of heartless villain as we get in the Commandant and the Emperor. She is flawed and fascinating, with her own moral code, and promises to grow a lot as a character in this installment of the story.

On top of all this, I can’t put it down – I read the first 150 pages of this book in two sittings, and am eager to gulp up the rest of it. For fast-paced, dark fantasy, this series is an easy winner. Add in some of my favorite book elements in any book like strong women characters, great friendships, and complicated morals, and it’s easy to see why A Torch Against the Night is keeping me glued to the page!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What Counts as Reading

By: Emily Richardson, Youth Programming Associate

We’re coming to the end of our summer reading program. It’s been a wonderful reading-filled summer, and we’re on schedule to meet our reading goal. In the Youth Department, we’ve stamped and entered hours and hours of reading time. But what really “counts” as reading? What filled up all those hours?

In an oversimplified definition, reading is any formatted words, spoken or written, that cause a response from the reader. This could be emotional—a tie to a certain character or world—or influential—learning more about the history of WWII or the biology of snakes.

Read Interactive Digital Stories with BookFLIXBut, what does reading include? Reading includes audiobooks, graphic novels, non-fiction, magazines, playaway views and online books (BookFlix, Tumblebooks, ICDL), books read outside of a child’s reading level, rereads, any books read to children (storytime, bedtime stories, teacher-child reading, child-to-child reading), and more. If it fits the simplified definition, it counts. Even if it doesn’t fit, that doesn’t mean that the activity is not a useful or fun one. 

Reading aloud is great, because both the reader and the listener are interacting with the same material in different ways. It also allows the reader and listener to talk about the material together and share with each other their personal responses, a challenge that can build communication and reflection skills.

Personally, I love listening to audiobooks while cleaning or driving. Some are simple, just a single person encompassing the personalities of a multitude of characters through changing the tone and inflection of their voice. Some are more complex, with lilting music accompanying a variety of actors as we journey together through the chapters. I experience the same joy, terror and frustration with characters as I might when reading with my eyes.

Read eBooks, Graphic Novels Read-Alongs and More with TumbleBook LibraryLooking at a few of the more common formats, there are lots of great educational reasons to branch out into different formats!

Audiobooks help children learn fluency, vocabulary, sentence structure and word pronunciation.

Graphic Novels help children learn interpretation through pairing text and visual imagery, as well as gain a higher level of visual literacy, a valuable skill.

Online Books, with added video and sound, allow children to learn and interact through different formats.

Magazines convey information quickly and concisely, and can teach children the value of words.

But the most important thing to remember is that any reading is good reading!

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

The Dreaded College Essay

By: Sophie B., Teen Blogger

Keep Calm and Write the EssayAs an incoming senior at one of the “Most Challenging High Schools in America,” as proclaimed by the Washington Post, college has been on my mind since the first day of freshman year. And since I am about to embark on the journey known as my final year of high school, I am almost done with my college process, and am currently working on my college essays to submit with my applications.

While some may believe that narrowing down which colleges to apply to, taking the ACT and SAT, or maintaining my GPA was the most difficult and nerve-racking part of this lengthy process, surprisingly, I found that writing my essays came to be the part I dreaded the most. If not for a few tips I had picked up along the way from friends who had already been accepted into the schools they applied to, I would’ve found myself panicked and scrambling come time to submit my college applications.

Every college requires that their prospective students submit essays with their applications – whether they are answered with prompts provided by the “Common App” or other topics that the school has already provided for you. Even though writing essays for colleges might seem like the most difficult part in the college process, I have found that there is no need to sweat it. The purpose of writing essays with your application is for schools to see what type of person you are, and what you will contribute to their university. Universities want to get to know who you are, behind your test scores, GPA, recommendation letters, and extracurricular activities. So if you are worried that your ACT, SAT, and GPA aren’t as competitive as you would like, your essay is the place to shine!

When writing your college essays, make sure you start them early. I recommend that you try to get them finished by the time school starts for the fall, that way you won’t feel totally overwhelmed when it comes to doing school work and balancing your extracurricular activities. Also, if you get your essays done early, you will have plenty more time to edit and revise your final product. Whether it be by yourself, with the help of family and friends, or even your teachers once school starts back up again for the fall, try to get as many eyes on it as you can, that way your essay can be the best it can be!

Even though most schools provide prompts, most students find themselves at a loss about what to write about. I recommend that you write about something that schools can’t see when viewing your applications. For example, if you play a sport, refrain from writing about the time you scored the match winning point for your team. For one, the reader may not know any rules about your sport, and two, the school already knows you play that sport from your application. Try thinking outside the box and write about something that will set you apart from the other applicants. For example, if you have a specific hobby such as drawing, you can write about how drawing is an outlet for you when it comes to the stressors of school and other extracurricular activities, and how drawing has made you the student and person you are today. The heart of the matter is, try to set yourself apart from the other applicants applying in addition to relating who you are as a person.

I know the college process is scary, but to all you future seniors, getting your applications done early and thoroughly can help put your mind a little at ease before entering your final year of high school. Good luck writing!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Middle School Reviews: Riding Freedom

Check Out Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz RyanWhat’s your name?: Charlie Morawski 

What school do you attend?: Hadley

What grade are you in school?: 8th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: Riding Freedom

Did you like it?: The reason why I liked Riding Freedom is because it was very fun and exciting book. It is about a girl who leaves her orphanage and becomes a driver for a horse-drawn carriage. She ended up getting kicked in the face by a horse, and she lost her vision in one eye. She become the first woman voter dressed as a man and first woman to drive a carriage.

Who would like this?: Someone who likes fun and exciting books.

How many stars would you rate this?: Four Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

Middle School Reviews: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Check Out Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingWhat’s your name?: Laura 

What school do you attend?: Hubble

What grade are you in school?: 6th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Did you like it?: I enjoyed Harry Potter. As soon as you start reading you seem to never put the book down. As soon as I started I came in sink with the book every spare second I seemed to go to my room and read. That is how munch I liked Harry Potter.

Who would like this?: Someone who likes mystery and magic

How many stars would you rate this?: Five Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

Middle School Reviews: The Land Of Stories (Book 5)

Check Out The Land of Stories An Author's Odyssey by Chris ColferWhat’s your name?: Grange K. 

What school do you attend?: Hadley Jr. High

What grade are you in school?: 6th grade

What are you reviewing?: A book

What’s the title of what you are reviewing?: The Land Of Stories (Book 5)

Did you like it?: I am on chapter 5 but it is really good so far because there is a lot of really good detail about the fantasies in the story. The main characters, Alex and Connor, continue in this book from the series. You MUST read books 1, 2, 3, and 4 before you read book 5 to best understand the story.

Who would like this?: People who like fantasy.

How many stars would you rate this?: Five Stars

Posted in Middle School Reviews

Carnival of Embarrassment

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Summer reading is almost over, and you may have noticed something lacking this summer. Specifically, Middle School Librarian Christina and me making idiots of ourselves and posting the videos online. That’s because we decided to do a little something different this year – rather than ongoing humiliation throughout the summer (which, aside from being extra embarrassment, was really time-consuming) we are instead saving all our stunts for the end of summer reading. Next week to cap off summer reading, you can come see Christina and me undergoing a whole series of humiliations live and in person. We’ll be engaging in a hula hoop contest, a dance off, and more. And for the grand finale if you meet all your reading goals, we will be subjecting ourselves to a dunk tank – along with one of your teachers and some staff and faculty from local middle schools.

Now, while all this is super exciting (I know) there will be more to do than just watching Christina and me look like goofs. We’ll have non-embarrassing games for you to play and prizes to raffle off. Those of you who have read more than 10 books will get to take your turn trying to dunk me, and the rest of you can cheer and laugh when I go under…probably a lot.

But! To make this happen, you all need to read an average of six books each. You blew through your goals last year, so we upped it a little, but I think you can do it. You still have a lazy summer weekend left to get reading, so make sure you finish up a book or two while you relax. And if you’ve been reading but not logging, now is the moment to enter all those books in! I’m not exactly in a hurry to get thrown into cold water, but if it means you all hit your reading goals and helped buy appliances for a Habitat for Humanity family in need? It will definitely be worth it.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School