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Has the Internet Become America’s Favorite Storytelling Medium?

By: Sean Ma., Teen Blogger

Gangnam Style from PSY Video StillAs the age of computers has come to dominate how people interact with others, it has become apparent that the Internet has become more influential than more traditional forms of storytelling in American culture, such as television, due to its increased presence in the household.

Many articles online have found that the average amount of views for Internet videos has vastly outnumbered those for weekly television episodes, which intrigued me enough to investigate further, seeking truly how much more influential the Internet has become, compared to television. When researching the most viewed Internet video, and the most viewed television broadcast in U.S. history, the difference was shocking.

The most viewed YouTube video of all time was found to be Gangnam Style, with nearly 2.6 billion views since its release in 2012. As for the most viewed television broadcast in U.S. history, the result was Super Bowl XLIX with only 115.2 million views. However, this information can be deceiving, as the Internet allows for anyone to watch any video multiple times, whereas television broadcasts such as the Super Bowl are exclusively shown once, rarely to be aired again. Due to the availability of endless streaming for Internet videos, it becomes hard to determine the true influence of Internet over television. On the other hand, this availability for audiences to view videos that are uploaded to the Internet at any time may add to the Internet’s power and influence over television.

Personally, I have begun to spend more time viewing media via the Internet rather than looking up shows on TV. The freedom of choice that the Internet gives to viewers may seem more intriguing than television’s scheduled broadcasts that are aired and gone within an hour. As the future of television becomes weaker and weaker with new ways to stream media via the Internet, only time will tell whether the Internet has truly become America’s main storytelling medium.

 

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What I Just Read – Labyrinth Lost

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check Out Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida CordovaIt’s not every day you find a book you devour most of in a day and have a chance to meet the author. Having done both, I think it’s safe to say I’m a little obsessed with today’s What I Just Read book.

What I Just Read: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires.

Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Do I Like It: SO. MUCH.

Thoughts: Oh my goodness. This book, y’all. THIS BOOK. I’d been hearing about Labyrinth Lost for a few months, so when I finally got it checked out right before I left for a conference, I was thrilled. Even better? The author, Zoraida Córdova was at the conference. So I’ll admit, with all the buzz and starting the book literally within hours of meeting the author, I was predisposed to like Labyrinth Lost.

But I was also a little worried about it not living up to the hype. Nothing kills a good reading high like going from something you love to something disappointing. Luckily for me, Labyrinth Lost was all I hoped and then some. Magic, family, adventure, friendship, romance – this book has basically everything I want from my fantasy novels. Add in some dragons and it would be perfect.

At its heart, Labyrinth Lost is a classic “hero’s journey,” but with a few fun twists. Our heroine, Alex, gets a call like any other hero – but also not. Her call is the awakening of her powers, powers she’s known about her whole life, powers her mother and sisters embrace. But although the call is not unique to her, Alex, like many other heroes, rejects it. Unfortunately, rejecting the call is precisely what sets her on the path for her quest, because, as it turns out, banishing her powers means banishing her family. And Alex loves her family more than anything.

I loved that Labyrinth Lost was a familiar quest story, but also that it plays with some of the tropes. Alex is not learning about powers she never knew she had, she’s simply learning to accept a part of her she’s known about all along. And while she screws up plenty on her journey, the story isn’t about Alex getting drawn into an adventure by someone else, Baggins-style, but instead about her taking responsibility for her own mistake and dragging herself off on an adventure.

Like most books I love, Labyrinth Lost excels at portraying complicated, intense relationships, particularly when it comes to Alex’s family. Her father’s gone, she feels distant from her mother, fights with her older sister, and doesn’t quite understand her powerful younger sister. She prefers focusing on school and athletics rather than communing with dead spirits and looking through the Book of Cantos, the heart of her family’s spell-casting. But never, even at the beginning when she resents them, does Alex question her love for her family. She puts them above everything, and even her fear and dislike of her own power is born largely from her love of her family, and her fear on their behalf.

Alex’s interactions with her best friend, Rishi, and her guide in Los Lagos, Nova, are also really well-done. Nova is something of a mystery, and Alex (and the reader) are unsure of his motivations or how much to trust him. But he’s also charismatic and likable, and puts himself in great danger for Alex, and watching her try to balance how much she likes him and is drawn to him with how much she distrusts him is fascinating. As for Rishi, the best friend who accepts Alex fully no matter what, she’s kind and magnetic, and it’s easy to see why Alex falls for her. But the romantic element of their friendship never overpowers the fact that it is also a friendship, and a great one. I love that Córdova doesn’t make the romance and friendship mutually exclusive; after all, are any of our relationships just one thing?

On top of all this great characterization and relationships, there is a page-turning adventure with some immersive world-building. Elements of Los Lagos and bruja magic reminded me of this mythology or that, this trope or that, but without ever being clearly based on just one thing. That gives the world of Labyrinth Lost both the comfort of familiarity, and the excitement of a whole new world and magical system.

If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, I loved Labyrinth Lost, and I can’t wait for the sequel. If you like magic, otherworldly adventures, quests, or great relationships, I highly recommend this book!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Speak Your Mind, But Keep It Civil

By: Amy Waters, School Liaison

Kids smiling at the camera.There was an election this week. If you’ve listened to radio or TV, or if you have spent any time on social media, you know that people are stressed out, angry and anxious. And if adults are feeling this way, kids are going to be worried and anxious, too.

As I write this, I do not know the results of the election. But we all know that it has been contentious and we have heard difficult things from both sides. As we exercise our right to vote, let’s also exhibit our best behavior toward one another, the children are watching.

In a 2012 Psychology Today online article (written long before this election!), Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D. talks about civility like this: “The foundational virtue of citizenship, civility is behavior that recognizes the humanity of others, allowing us to live peacefully together in neighborhoods and communities. The psychological elements of civility include awareness, self-control, empathy, and respect.”

So, how do we help our children navigate some of these complex feelings and relationships, which are essential to who we are in community with one another? I believe that books can be great gateways to difficult conversations with kids of all ages. Take time to snuggle up with your sweet child, offer a hug and share a story. Here are a few books that may help foster discussion, empathy and respect for the world around us. Ask at your library for help finding more titles.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Mad Men Review

By: April G., Teen Blogger

Mad Men PosterThe 1960s were a very complicated time in the United States. There was an ongoing war in Vietnam, women were expected to be housewives, and every teenager was infected with Beatlemania. Mad Men is a period drama that takes place in this intense decade, and the show covers the smoke-filled building of advertising firm Sterling Cooper on Madison Ave. in Manhattan.

Donald Draper, a very successful ad man, is the main character, and he has the world at his fingertips. Don, as he is called throughout the show, is married to Betty Draper. Together, they have a beautiful girl and a bouncing baby boy. Betty is a housewife who believes she is happily married and has a perfect life, while Don is an unfaithful husband behind her back.

The show is worthy of obsessing over because of all the twists and the variety of characters. The 60s were life changing for every single American, whether they were poor or rich. Of course, sexism and alcoholism are a big part of the show, but at the time it was normal to drink at work and treat your secretary like rubbish and a second wife.

Even though Mad Men takes place in the 1960s, people fell in love instantly when it premiered in 2007. America was placed in a different world every Thursday night for eight years. As Mad Men came to a close after 92 episodes, an era came to an end. Mad Men has received 16 Emmys and five Golden Globes, which goes to show that it is significantly important and will forever be remembered.

 

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Crossovers

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

A teenager checking out books in the Young Adult section, while short old man checks out books in the old child section.It may have become very clear, if you’ve read more than two of my entries on this blog, that I read an awful lot of young adult fiction. I love it dearly, and it’s one of the reasons I love my job so much. But even I, who spend my days reading reviews of YA books and my nights reading books themselves, occasionally like to shake it up. After all, who wants to read the same thing all the time? And while YA isn’t a genre in the same way that fantasy, romance, literary fiction, etc. are, it is still a category of books that all have certain things in common (usually teenage characters). And as much as I love reading these books, sometimes I’m in the mood for something different. Sometimes I want to read about the problems that come with adulthood or parenthood, or a relationship that’s 10, 20, 30 years old, or other things that just can’t be found in YA books. And here’s the thing – I’m guessing you all sometimes want that as well, despite the fact that you actually are teenagers.

Similarly, I know I’m not the only adult who wants to read YA sometimes. In fact, it’s a category that’s increasing in popularity with adults. But I also know that most adults don’t have the chance to learn as much about YA as I do, or become as familiar with the amazing authors, books, stories, and themes you can find in our teen room. So this month, I’ve created a display celebrating some of the adult books that are most likely to appeal to teens, and the teen books that are most likely to appeal to adults.

The best part about a cross-genre display like this is that anyone can find something they love, even within some pretty niche areas. Love historical fantasy, but wanting to read about adults instead of teens? Try Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho or Soulless by Gail Carriger. Are you an adult looking for an exploration of mental illness? You’ll find outstanding writing in The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork and Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. And of course, there’s plenty of great books within larger genres as well – try a memoir like Life in Motion by Misty Copeland, or invest yourself in a gritty YA fantasy like An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirCheck out a take on family life, including compelling teen characters, in the adult title Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, or read a YA title that includes older teen and young adult characters such as Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell or Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. Whether you’re an adult or teenager, you’ll be able to find something for you from our adult and YA shelves on our Crossovers display – adjacent to the Teen Scene room on the second floor.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Snuggle Up with These Series

By: Deanna Siegel, Youth Programming Associate

As we all know, winter is just around the corner. While some may be dreading winter, it happens to be one of my favorite seasons! The time is coming for hot chocolate, mittens, ice skating, and yes, that’s right, Christmas! But I am getting ahead of myself. The chilly air and sprinkling snow presents several opportunities to snuggle up with a good book. And what is better than a good book you might ask? A great SERIES of course! Here are some fantastic series that will make you happy that you have the chance to sip on some hot chocolate and cocoon yourself in blankets.

Check Out A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
A Series of Unfortunate Events
This is an older series, but still a really magnificent read. The completed series follows The Baudelaire orphans—Violet, Klaus, and Sunny—and the terrible Count Olaf, who is after their family fortune.

It is full of adventure, humor, angst, and even vocabulary lessons. This is a great series to snuggle up with this winter (if you haven’t already) and will keep you guessing until the very end. Grades 3 and up.

Number of books: 13.


Check Out Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
Amulet
You’ve probably heard of this graphic novel series. It is extremely popular, and for a good reason. The story follows siblings Emily and Navin, who move with their mother into their great grandfather’s house. The story unravels from there when they discover an old secret and an evil monster that will change their lives forever.

If you enjoy action and fantasy, then this series is for you. Grades 4 and up.

Number of books: 7 (with two more to go!)


Check Out The Grimm Legacy by Polly ShulmanThe Grimm Legacy
This series centers on Elizabeth, a young girl who has just started working as a page at the New York Circulating Material Repository. This place serves as a library of objects, including something called the Grimm Collection. When objects start disappearing from the Grimm Collection, Elizabeth and her co-workers find themselves wrapped-up in a daring adventure.
 
While each book follows a different person, readers will learn more about the overall world in which the characters live. Grades 6-8.

Number of books: 3


Check Out Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Three Times Lucky
This action-packed series centers on Moses LoBeau and takes place in Tupelo Landing, NC. Moses lives with a Colonel and Miss Lana, who own and work at a café. Moses’ world turns upside down when a lawman comes to the café talking about a murder. With the help of her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, Moses embarks on a perilous journey to save her family.

Buckle up as this story keeps you on your toes and has you laughing from page to page. Grades 4 and up.

Number of books: 3.


Check Out Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett Krosoczka
Lunch Lady
If you are looking for something lighter, and perhaps funnier, then this is the series for you. This ongoing graphic novel series takes place in a school where the hero is the lunch lady. Join her as she serves up justice for the school and its students. Grades 3 and up.

Number of books: 10.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Invincible by Robert Kirkman

By: Peter F., Teen Blogger

Invincible: Volume One Family MattersAs a person who mostly only reads novels or “actual books,” I normally forget to read any graphic novels or comics. They can seem less important or just not as engrossing/intriguing due to the shorter stories and the lack of words. However, due to newer stories and authors that create amazing worlds brought to life through illustrations, the more recent generation of comic books have certainly caught my attention.

The graphic novel titled Invincible tells the story of a teenage boy, Mark, going through high school and living a normal life when all of a sudden, the super-powered genes from his father start to kick in and bestow him with superman-like power. He meets with other high schoolers that, like him, have superhuman abilities and he begins to be a full-fledged superhero who saves the world and conquers evil. The first few issues seem to be a sort of cut and dried superhero story, but Robert Kirkman quickly upheaves the generic story of heroism and reveals a darker and more mature backstory.

The author, Robert Kirkman, was also the writer for the comics The Walking Dead, which had been adapted to TV with extreme success. The classic zombie storyline, intertwined with mature themes that are usually left forgotten, created a comic and TV show that were amazingly popular. I, along with many other people, found older comics to be generic and plain with tired storylines that showed little innovation or risk taking. Once comics turned into graphic novels, however, the stories became exotic and fresh.

Invincible is one of the comics that knows this transformation from generic to exotic, and pokes fun at it as well. The issues are full of humor and satire, yet the authors tackle controversial topics and explore them with a sense of understanding and maturity. The fact that the story is centered around a teenage boy doesn’t mean that the comic is only applicable for teenagers. The themes the story introduces are wonderfully open and accessible for anyone. This comic book series is already popular, and for good reason. This storyline is absolutely one of my favorite graphic novels ever written.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Re-Read Value

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check Out Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire by J.K. RowlingOne of my “reading resolutions” this year has been to allow myself to re-read more books. As much as I love doing this, it’s often hard – there are so many new books that I hear about (and usually, purchase for the library) that I want to read, it’s hard to make room even for my old favorites. But when I do take a moment to go back to something I love, I never regret it. Right now, I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series for the I-don’t-know-how-many-th time.

And while it’s certainly a different experience than the first time around, or even the first couple times around, it’s still fun. I may know exactly what’s going to happen when Harry faces the Hungarian Horntail or gets transported to a mysterious graveyard (why yes, I did just finish Goblet of Fire!) but somehow, I still find myself caught up in the moment and eager to turn the pages, even if they’re turning a little slower than they did the first time through.

Immersing myself not just in a re-read of a book, but of an entire series, has got me thinking about what exactly makes something re-readable. I’ve always said that re-read value is a huge factor in my favorite books. No matter how much I enjoy a book my first time through, if I can’t read it again (and again, and again, and again…) it’s not going to make it onto my list of favorites. But what exactly makes certain books so re-readable for me? One thing is for sure, it’s very personal – what I think of as great reasons for reading a book again may be totally different from anything other people look for in a book to return to. But I think I’ve identified a few things that many of my favorite re-readable books have in common.

1.) A happy ending. Look, I’m not saying everything should always be sunshine and roses, and there are a lot of great books that have dark or straight-up depressing endings. But the books I return to over and over all end with some level of cheer and hopefulness. Spoiler alert, Voldemort doesn’t win. Sure, there’s a battle, and some deaths that sometimes still reduce me to tears, but at the end of the series, I’m left feeling good about the outcome and the characters’ futures. Which brings me to my next point…

Check Out Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz2.) Great characters. I’m always drawn to good characters in books, but it’s an absolute necessity if I’m going to be re-reading something. After all, I know what events are going to happen in these books, so I’m not going to be quite as riveted by the plot the second or twelfth time around. But really great characters never get old. Reading about Aristotle and Dante, Cath Avery, Rae Seddon, Emma Woodhouse, Dorian Gray, Hermione Granger, Keladry of Mindelan, and other beloved characters is like visiting with old friends. I may know what I’m getting going in, but it’s comforting and delightful just to be in their company again. And in anything really well-written, I’m probably finding out new things about the characters and getting to know them better even after half a dozen readings.

3.) Companions/friendships/critters. This is a broad category, but what it really comes down to is the side characters. There is very little I like reading about better than a great friendship, a relationship that grows into respect and trust, or an animal BFF (“critter”). It’s what drew me to Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series so long ago, it’s what makes the main trio of Harry Potter so iconic, and it’s what makes me eager to read about the same characters, plot, and worlds over and over again.

These are just a few of the reasons I re-read a book (it should go without saying that “dragons” is also a good reason to return to any book), and I’m guessing they differ from your reasons. Do you re-read? If so, what do your favorites have in common? What keeps you coming back to the same books time and again?

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Preschool Fair

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

Picture of four preschool aged kids with arms around each other's shoulder.Do you have a preschooler at home? Or maybe you have an almost preschooler? We know that thinking about sending little children to preschool for the first time can be intimidating. Believe it or not, now is the time to start thinking about preschool enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year.

Don’t know where to start? Well, if you’re like me, you probably headed right to Google. A quick Google search will pull up great lists of qualities to consider and questions to ask preschool directors. It will provide distinctions between the different educational approaches, from Montessori to Reggio-Emilia. It can also help you decide whether or not preschool is right for your family. But what Google can’t do is provide face-to-face opportunities to interact with preschool directors and educators.

That’s where the Preschool Fair comes in. The library will host a Preschool Fair on Wednesday, November 2 from 6-8 pm. Think of it like a college fair but for preschool. Glen Ellyn Preschools have been invited to host an informational table at the library. Preschool directors and educators will be on hand to meet prospective families, answer questions about their program, and share specific information about curriculum and enrollment. It’s a great opportunity for families to come and explore all of Glen Ellyn’s fabulous preschool options in one place.

We hope to see you there! Questions about the Preschool Fair or the library’s preschool services can be sent to Early Literacy Librarian Katy Almendinger at calmendinger@gepl.org.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Korean Dramas

By: Hafsa A., Teen Blogger

Korean Drama W - Two Worlds PosterMany people might not watch Korean dramas, but for me it’s like enjoying any other TV Show. Korean dramas don’t usually have multiple seasons and typically have around 16 to 20 episodes. A drama’s episode is 1 hour, or even more, depending on which show you watch.

The reason I like watching Korean dramas is because they are interesting and also they have subtitles. I’m not much of a reader, but I like reading subtitles because it helps me improve my reading. There are many genres of Korean dramas but I mostly watch some fantasy shows, and a lot of comedy, romance, romantic comedy, and suspense.

The Korean drama that I recently watched and that I recommend to others is called W – Two Worlds. The genre of the drama is fantasy plus romance. The drama starts off with a young boy who is an Olympic Gold medalist. After a small celebration of the main character (Kang Chul – Actor: Lee Jong-Suk), he goes home to his family but experiences a tragic accident. Through ups and downs in his life, Kang Chul tries to get revenge. But, the only thing wrong is that the character is made up and he is part of a web cartoon created by the main girl lead’s (Oh Yeon-Joo – Actress: Han Hyo-Joo) father. Throughout the drama the fantasy plays a role by having two worlds, a web toon world and a real world. Both characters are dragged together by fate and romance and suspense builds on. It gives a perfect but confusing twist that makes you want to watch more.

I recommend others to watch Korean dramas if they have nothing else to watch because they are really interesting and have various plots that differ from American TV Shows. Many people might think that they wouldn’t be interested in watching foreign dramas. For instance, my first reaction to the idea of watching Korean dramas was, “Ew, why would I watch something foreign that I can’t even understand?” But one day, I told myself I would try to watch a drama, and ever since then I love them.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School