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GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Rebel Belle

Teens Blog BannerBy: Sara A., Teen Blogger

Blog Entry 159 - ImageThey say never judge a book by its cover, but looking at Rebel Belle’s, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Automatically, it was piled on to the stack of books building up in my arm. When I began this book, however, I did have doubts that this wasn’t my type of book. The main character, Harper Price, was the type of girl who needed everything perfect, from her Homecoming makeup to her high school transcript. I, personally, preferred something more action-packed, but Hawkins’ writing kept me hooked and, I found, didn’t fail me. This book has possibly one of the strangest plot lines I’ve encountered in a while, which I found enjoyable. It involves evil history teachers, ninjas, and sparkly shoe defense, sprinkled with classical humor.

The different personalities of characters in this book highlighted different people in a typical high school environment. You have the incredible best friend, Bee, the jock boyfriend, Ryan, and the mysterious nerdy boy, David, who has more to do with Harper’s life than she could ever imagine. The character development in this story has quite an arc, as you begin to see Harper revise her priorities, and balance ninja life with high school. Towards the end of the book, she is faced with a choice as she struggles to maintain the balance she really wants to uphold. I found that characteristic relatable because it’s not fantastical, it’s real. And up until the action, Harper was looking like a typical teenager in her junior year of high school. Right until the end, this book had me absorbing the words off of its pages and eager to grab the next book, Lady Mayhem, from the shelves.

-Sara A.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: National Camping Month

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By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

CampingIt’s National Camping Month! I love camping. It’s kind of like living off the land, but I know I’d never last if I went on one of those wilderness survival shows. I like using the camping gadgets, researching new tin foil recipes on Pinterest, and sleeping under the stars in the fresh air. Sure, you come back smelling like smoke and missing your bed, but I’ll never pass up the chance to go camping.

There are a lot of tips and tricks for new campers to make life a little easier out in the great outdoors. While I haven’t had much luck with the lint in toilet paper rolls as fire starters, I have found a few useful tricks that actually do work.

Fabric Softener

Maybe I’m using the wrong fabric softener?

To save space in your cooler, freeze gallons of water instead of loading your cooler with ice. As the gallons of ice melt, you’ll have ice cold drinking water, and a lot of dry space in your cooler.

Christina Camping

Long Story

Headlamps are a great investment. They’re not the best for area lighting, but great to use when fumbling around in the dark to find the bathroom. They were a lifesaver when my husband had to hobble around in crutches in the middle of the night. Yea, we’re that hardcore.

A very important tip is to clean up your campsite before going to bed. Make sure all of your food items are high up in a tree, or safely in your car. We made the mistake of forgetting a sealed package of walnuts on the picnic table overnight. Paw Prints

The raccoons were in heaven. They broke open the container and munched for hours, not to mention wreaking havoc all over the site. Also before going to sleep, put next day’s clothes at the foot of your sleeping bag. Then you don’t have to change into a chilly outfit when changing in the brisk morning temperatures.

Packed CarPacking for camping is an art. Be sure to remember to bring clothing layers, pillows, flip flops for showering and the rest of your bathroom essentials. Some showers are operated by quarters, so stock up on those too.

Here are some books to get you in the camping spirit:

 

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Shadowshaper

Teens Blog BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Blog Entry 158 - ImageOnce again, I took advantage of my #LibrarianPerks and snagged a chance to read a pre-publication version of a book I was really looking forward to. This book will be out next Tuesday, June 30, and it should be hitting our shelves ASAP. But of course, if you want to be the first to get your hands on it, you can place a hold right away!

What I Just Read: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in Shadowshaper, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent.

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

Did I Like It: For sure!

Thoughts: Before this, it had been a long time since I had read a really good urban fantasy – especially one that was actually set in a big city, and I’d forgotten how much fun it can be! Having a real-world city settings, complete with its mass transit, graffiti, and crowded streets, and then combining it with the secret and mysterious world of the paranormal is just a great way to get readers completely immersed in a book. And Shadowshaper does just as good a job of bringing the city and Sierra’s neighborhood to life as it does at making the mysterious powers and horrifying creatures of the Shadowshapers’ world seem real. I felt like I was wandering the hot city streets along with Sierra, or visiting the dusty basements of a university library, or running from terrifying re-animated corpses and multi-mouthed, multi-spirited abominations.

This book was exciting in part because I’d never read about any sort of paranormal world or powers quite like that of the Shadowshapers. Their powers are based on spirits that can infuse art – visual, musical, or any other kind – with their energy, minds, and ability to move. The idea of using art to bring to life real, tangible powers and spirits was fascinating, and made me feel as exhilarated as Sierra by the paintings, graffiti, songs, and stories that helped give life to the shadow world.

Another standout feature of this book for me was Sierra’s relationships. Her complicated but loving relationship with her mother and her ailing grandfather, her deep closeness with her brother, and her love and friendship with her godfather, were all beautiful to read about. She also has interesting relationships with the people who made up the core of her neighborhood, like the domino players at the empty lot where she paints or her schoolmates. But the absolute highlight as far as I’m concerned was her group of friends. Sierra is part of a tight-knit circle of friends who laugh, fight, banter, love, and support each other like the best groups of friends I’ve ever seen or been part of. Although Shadowshaper was a fast read, by the end of it, I felt like I too was friends with Sierra, Bennie, Tee, Jerome, Izzy, and the rest.

While Shadowshaper certainly stands on its own and didn’t end at a cliffhanger, there were plenty of threads that could be followed up into a sequel. And with such an expansive and breathtaking world to plunge into – both in terms of the New York setting and the world of the Shadowshapers – I’m desperately hoping for a sequel!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Tween Music Review – 1989

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What’s your first name and school?: Samantha, Hadley

What are you reviewing?: 1989

What did you review?: Music

What did you like about it?: 1989 is a wonderful album. I think it is one of Taylor Swift’s best. The music in this album is for all people who like pop. Her voice is amazing and will make you want to get up and dance. Especially if you’re listening to Shake It Off. If you’re feeling sad listen to Clean. Clean has very low beats and her voice is very soft. I think all pop lovers will like 1989. You should go listen to it.

Who would like this?: Someone who likes Ariana Grande.

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 – Paper Towns

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What’s your first name and school?: Samantha, Hadley

What are you reviewing?: Paper Towns

What did you review?: A book

What did you like about it?: Paper Towns is an amazing book. It is really suspenseful and mysterious. The main character Quentin has to follow clues to find his crush Margo who has disappeared once again. This storyline will keep the reader interested and they won’t abandon the book. This book also has good word choice. The word choice in this book is easy to understand so you will not be confused. Paper Towns is a really great book and you should definitely check it out.

Who would like this?: Someone who likes The Fault In Our Stars.

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 Movie Review – Toy Story

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What’s your first name and school?: Samantha, Hadley

What are you reviewing?: Toy Story

What did you review?: A movie

What did you like about it?: Toy Story is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen! it has humor for all ages and is perfect for little kids. The story line is perfect for a Disney movie. It is about two toys that are fighting over their owner. If you like animated comedy movies you will definitely like this one. It made me laugh out loud and will make you laugh too.

Who would like this?: Someone who likes Disney or Pixar.

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

Posted in GEPL Tweens, Tweens Reviews

GEPL Kids: Neighborhood Story Club

By: Bari Ericson, Youth Programming Associate

For several summers my porch became the destination for our neighborhood kids. Twice a week my children and I made popcorn and juice, and then set out scratch paper and markers or colored pencils. At 1:30, the kids came on foot, bikes and scooters. They snacked and drew while I read aloud. We progressed through a few chapters of a book each afternoon, stopping after about half an hour, unless the story invited us to go longer.

It was, frankly, a Mayberry kind of moment (if you are old or nostalgic enough to catch the reference.) The ceiling fan hummed, the markers rubbed, the popcorn crunched and I was able to share some solid literature with an assortment of kids who otherwise would not know each other or the books we read.

And once they had been gathered, the children would often play together outside afterwards.

Story Club was easy and inexpensive. It provided a respite of art and literature to contrast with our otherwise busy, screen-oriented days. Grateful neighbors would occasionally send along a plate of treats. And the kids still talk about the friends and characters they met on those peaceful afternoons.

Whether you decide to give Story Club a try in your neighborhood, or just want to curl up with your own child on a warm afternoon, here are a few ideas for classic read alouds that appeal to a wide range of ages.




Posted in GEPL Kids

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Genre Prejudice

Teens Blog BannerBy: Elizabeth W., Teen Blogger

Blog Entry 157 - ImageRecently in an interview, J. K. Rowling, a leading fantasy writer, said that she doesn’t read fantasy or sci-fi novels. Another author, Kazuo Ishiguro, wrote The Buried Giant, a novel set in a fantasy realm involving dragons and monsters. The real point of his story is to deal with topics like memory loss and old age. However, Ishiguro was afraid that readers would be scared off by the fantasy “surface elements” and think the book is a fantasy novel. Both Rowling and Ishiguro seem to have a dislike towards the fantasy genre while using it in their own books. So why are the genres of fantasy or science fiction looked down upon by some?

I think there is a misconception that fantasy books either deal with less serious topics or are hard to read. However, fantasy novels can be used as allegories to our lives and can deal with serious topics such as loss or forgiveness. Fantasy and Science Fiction books are not necessarily of lower quality of writing either. There are a lot of classics that are fantasy or science fiction, which are really hard to read. That’s why I couldn’t get all the way through the Lord of the Rings.

This issue of not respecting the fantasy genre has been with us for a while now. J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, once wrote a work entitled On Fairy Stories to defend why he wrote fantasies. In it, Tolkien said that “Fantasy is a natural human activity. It certainly does not destroy or even insult Reason; and it does not either blunt the appetite for, nor obscure the perception of, scientific verity. On the contrary. The keener and the clearer is the reason, the better fantasy will it make.” Fantasy is not a denial of reality or reason. Instead it can bring out real issues in a way that impacts us differently than realistic fiction would.

Fantasy can be a valuable genre to read even though it may appear unrealistic. The dragons and other mythical creatures may fool you, but inside a lot of fantasy there are hidden truths that can be just as valuable as those that are learned through nonfiction or realistic fiction. If you haven’t picked up a fantasy book in a while I would encourage you to read one. It can be really rewarding. If after this you realize that fantasy isn’t your thing, that’s okay too. The important thing is to not judge a book by its genre.

-Elizabeth W.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Tweens: Space – The Final Frontier

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By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I went to space camp when I was a kid. That, however, isn’t my only outer-worldly experience. As a kid, I moved around a lot. I lived in Seabrook, Texas in fifth and sixth grade.

Christina's House Growing Up

My house via Google Maps. Truck not included.

I was a 7 minute drive from the Johnson Space Center. My fifth grade school was named after the astronaut Ed White that died in a pre-launch test. My fifth and sixth grade education were heavily influenced by outer space themes. One week of fifth grade was spent at Ellington Field, where astronauts train for space by experiencing less gravity inside a really fast plane.

Being so close to the space center, the subdivision I lived in was populated by astronauts. An astronaut that we knew personally was even featured on Sesame Street. Because some of our neighbors were astronauts, we were invited to a few space shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral, as well as a few landings in Houston.

I was here, although not featured in this video.

Space has been a significant part of my upbringing, and I am excited to share a new experience with you. July 1 middle schoolers will be learning about the Earth’s coordinates with a craft, and making submissions to the International Space Station. They will take pictures of the coordinate positions from space and send them back to us. Registration is not needed for this program, so I hope to see everyone July 1 at 1:30 pm!

Posted in GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Nerf Wars

Teens Blog BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Blog Entry 156 - ImageWell folks, you’ve done a great job reaching your first reading goal (you already average well over one book per teen!) which means it’s time for me to face the music. Or rather, face the darts!

As you may know, we have an awesome after-hours program coming up on June 26. From 6-8:30, we’ll be open just for middle school and high school age students participating in our Marvel vs. DC Nerf Wars. There will be pizza and drinks, and a chance to carry on some great Nerf battles throughout the library. High school age teens will be on the second floor, while the middle school students and Christina will be taking over the first floor of the library. But you will all get to come together for one glorious moment, and a chance to take your best shot at Christina and me.

Wearing some impressive facial gear to represent our chosen comic universes (I called dibs on Marvel as soon as we planned the program,) Christina and I will submit ourselves to the fury of your Nerf guns, and film it all for posterity (aka, the internet.)

So not only will you have a chance to play some pretty epic games of Capture the Flag, Humans vs. Zombies, and more, in a library that’s entirely yours for the night, but you’ll get to witness the first step of our summer-long quest for extreme public embarrassment. Be sure to register so you can reserve your spot (and to make sure you get your permission slip, which is the only downside of an after-hours program). Christina and I will see you next Friday!

Posted in GEPL Teens