The Teen Scene: GEPL High School Blog

Finals Are Over!

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

You did it!  You made it through finals! If you’re a senior at West or South, you’ve made it through your last ever high school finals. Congratulations! You’ve probably been too busy studying for the last couple of weeks to think about anything else, so now that you’re done, we wanted to remind you of some things going on in library-land that you may have missed in your finals haze.

We’re having an art contest! Details here, and we’re accepting submissions through the end of the month.

We still have hot chocolate for you. Finals may be over, but starting next week, we’ll be back to our regular Tuesday and Thursday Homework Café, which means you can still get hot chocolate and coffee while you study.

We have some cool new toys. New toys like an Oculus Rift and a Play Station VR, which you can come use at our Virtual Reality Showcase on February 4.

We have a new teen librarian! By the time you read this, I will be officially done with my time as your teen librarian here at GEPL. But the good news is, we have a great new teen librarian starting ASAP. Keep your eyes out for Josh O’Shea next time you’re in the library, and have fun getting to know our awesome new young adult librarian.

In true Hannah fashion, I’d like to make my exit and reward your hard work with some of my favorite pictures I’ve posted over the last few years (shocker: they feature cute animals). Congratulations on finishing finals!

A cat, a pig, a rabbit, a duck and a chick sleeping together.
A dog hiding under covers.
A pile of sleeping dogs.
A white dog running in snow.
A piglet in red rain boots.
Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Saying Goodbye

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Sometimes goodbye isn't the hardest word -- especially when the word you're trying to say is hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian.As a rule, I’m not adept at saying goodbye. I mean, sure, I can give my parents a hug before I leave, or fist bump my brothers when they’re heading back to their out of state homes. But when it comes to being real — for instance, saying things like “I’ll miss you” — I’m not so great. In fact, it’s only been in the last year or two that I’ve started telling my parents I love them at the end of a phone conversation. So please bear with me while I try to make a decent go at something I’m bad at.

Next week, I’ll be saying goodbye to GEPL and moving on to a new position. There are a lot of things to be excited about — I’ll have a whole new community to get to know and work with, I’ll have a shorter commute (but still long enough for audiobooks!) and I’ll be managing a whole department. But it’s also hard to be leaving Glen Ellyn. This is a truly special community, and getting to know all of you high school students and teens in particular has been the greatest joy of being here. Visiting your clubs, hosting programs for you, working with volunteers and my teen leadership council, and chatting with you at the desk is something I’ll miss the second I’m gone.

The good news is, I’m here next week — I’ll be serving pizza, petting the therapy dogs joining us for Late Night Study, and generally trying to make your finals experience the best it possibly can be. So when you come for the food, the hot chocolate, and the dogs, keep an eye out for me and see if you can do a better job than I can at saying goodbye.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Speech and Debate

By: Saaniyah S., Teen Blogger

Joined speech and debate club, feel awesome..Efficient communication is the backbone of success in our society today. It lets us form connections, influence change, and express our ideas and viewpoints. Through sharing with others our thoughts on how to benefit the world around us, we truly make a footprint. The ability to cause change through words is an essential skill which can be honed and practiced, slowly making its way into efficiency and perfection.

In the fast-paced world we live in today, getting thoughts and ideas across as quickly as possible is necessary. Throughout school, it’s easy to get away with staying quiet in class and not having a great impact. In the working world however, it’s not quite that simple. Public speaking is a vital skill to acquire. It involves simple, everyday interactions between coworkers, bosses and employees, marketing professionals, etc., and it can have an enormous effect on your career path and your level of success in your industry.

In preparation for the future, it is imperative that teenagers start developing their speaking skills as soon as possible. My school, College Preparatory School of America, takes part in the Illinois High School Association Speech tournaments. Members of the school’s speech team are free to choose one of the many categories of speech these tournaments allow. Choices are made based on personality, which one can use to their advantage.

My category of specialization is Prose Reading, in which I find a piece of literature and convey it to the audience using vocal inflection and facial expression. I find this category quite fitting to my personality, as I am a person who enjoys thinking, and expressing my thoughts. While addressing the audience, I am able to be myself, helping me push away my fears of public speaking.

With all this being said, I encourage all teens, or people of any age, to try out a skill they dread — one they may think is not suitable for them, or one they find themselves feeling insecure doing. You never know what could be on the other side. Use my experience for example. My fears of public speaking haunted me before I made a run at trying out for the speech team. Now, with enough dedication and practice, I am able to tackle my hesitancy about conveying my thoughts to a crowd.

It’s imperative that every teenager should try a speaking-related activity. For as long as anyone can remember, it is youth that have been at the forefront of the battle lines, the brinks of changes, the birth of ideas. Who knows? One day, with the words you pick and choose to convey to the world, you could spark an enlightenment and inspire those who wish to come out of the shadows.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

This Year’s Book Gifts

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

It’s that time of year! Many of us are thinking about gifts, and as you may recall from previous holiday seasons, I am a big fan of giving books. I’ve already covered why books make great gifts, and some good choices for book-lovers in your life. This year, I thought I’d go a little more personal — here are some books I’m planning on giving to the book lovers in my life this year!

Check Out Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire SáenzTo my mom: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Aliré Saenz (audiobook)While I could think of a number of great books for my mom — Sorcerer to the Crown for the woman who introduced me to Jane Austen, X: A Novel for the person who taught me that learning history could be fun — I think the winner has to be Aristotle and Dante. Mom will love the lyrical language, and the sweet story of love and friendship at the heart of it. As a children’s librarian, this will give her a great, much-lauded book to recommend to older patrons who have outgrown kid’s books. Plus, the Hamilton fan in her will appreciate Lin-Manuel Miranda’s narration.

Check out Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi CoatesTo my dad: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi CoatesWhile my dad certainly enjoys reading (hello, we’re related) he tends to read shorter books and non-fiction. Luckily, I’ve read a great, short, non-fiction work this year — Between the World and Me. This 2015 Alex Award book’s relevance to current events will only make my dad like it more, and I confidently predict he’ll be filing away some quotes thanks to the excellent writing.

Check out The Paper Bag Princess by Robert MunschTo my niece: The Paper Bag Princess by Robert MunschI don’t care if you’re practically an adult now, if you haven’t read this picture book classic, get thee to the library! While my niece (6 months old) is a little young to read this one yet, I can’t think of a book I’d rather give her. When I was a kid, Princess Elizabeth and her adventures taught me I could be happy without a prince and defeat the enemy with my own smarts, plus this book is probably responsible for my life-long love of dragons. I can only hope my niece appreciates it as half as much.

Check out Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoTo my youngest brother: Six of CrowsWhile all three of my brothers are readers, the one whose taste is closest to my own is my youngest brother. We’ve bonded over the immersive world-building, compelling characters, and exciting plots of a number of high fantasy books. I know he’ll appreciate all these aspects, as well as the fun of a heist and touches of humor, that make Six of Crows such a joy to read.

Check out Modern Romance by Aziz AnsariTo one BFF: Modern Romance by Aziz AnsariAziz Ansari’s book (print or audiobook) is sure to appeal to my Parks and Rec loving best friend. The research and numbers will appeal to her smart side, while the humor will hold her interest. And in the life of a busy grad student, a non-fiction book with no can’t-put-it-down plot is definitely better in terms of graduating on time!

Check out The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae CarsonTo my other BFF: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (audiobook)My busy lawyer best friend listens to a lot of audiobooks while she works, works out, and multitasks, so the excellent narration for this series will be a big plus. She’ll also love Elisa’s smarts and bravery, and revel in the political intrigue. Add in a swoony love interest, and I think this will be a big hit.

Check out Year Of Yes by Shonda RhimesTo everyone: Year Of Yes by Shonda RhimesYear of Yes was one of my favorite reads (and listens — I can’t recommend the audiobook enough) of 2016. I can’t think of anyone on my list who wouldn’t enjoy this book, whether for the humor, the inspiration, or the inside look at the life of a TV producer.

Are you giving any books this season? How do you pick the right book for the right person?

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Oblivion by Sasha Dawn

By: Ally K., Teen Blogger

Oblivion by Sasha DawnLet me start by saying that this book was very well written. This psychological thriller was full of romance and mystery which kept me hooked after each page. As I uncovered the secrets of the main character, Callie’s, life, and her graphomania (an impulse to write), I found myself more and more invested in the story. Oblivion messed with my mind and constantly kept me on the edge of my seat.

One thing that I loved was how Dawn portrayed the relationships in the book as flawed but real. She did not glorify love, but made it messy, which drew me in as something different than most novels that I have read.  Not only were the relationships flawed, but so were the people. I loved how every character had their dark side and I especially loved going deeper into the mind of every character, darkness and all. Dawn left no character perfect but kept everyone imperfect and real, which contributed to the authenticity of each character’s personality.

Sasha Dawn’s writing style was different in the sense that it was jumpy, repetitive, and vague at times. There were points in the story where I would have to go back and re-read in order to make sense of what had just happened, and although her style takes some getting used to, I think that it matches the story very well. The writing style added to the intricacy of Callie’s damaged mind and allowed me to delve deep into her thoughts in order to better understand her character. One thing that I particularly liked about the story is how Callie’s graphomania is used to enhance and unfurl the mystery of the story. It was different and original which is one of the main draw points to the story.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a unique mysteries and messy love triangles.  Oblivion has definitely achieved the title of one of my favorite books.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What I Just Read – Girl Mans Up

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check out Girl Mans Up by M. E. GirardOnce again, I’ve found a great audiobook to talk about in this edition of What I Just Read. Solid contemporary, with relatable (if sometimes infuriating) characters, with my favorite elements of family, friendship, and a pretty awesome main character.

What I Just Read: Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

What’s It About (Jacket Description): All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.

Do I Like It: Totally.

Thoughts: Girl Mans Up is somehow a perfect example of everything contemporary realistic YA books should be, and yet also something totally unique (at least in my reading experience). It has all the elements I want from my realistic fiction — a compelling main character, conflict that is real and not forced, multi-layered and well developed supporting characters, deep and complicated relationships, and some great dialogue. But I’ve also never met characters quite like Pen, her older brother Johnny, or her exceptionally hate-able best friend Colby.

At its core, Girl Mans Up is about Pen learning to exist independently of the people around her. She’s spent most of her life friends with Colby, who has very specific ideas about how friendship works and how to treat women. Her parents want her to be a traditional Portuguese daughter, which runs counter to who Pen feels she is. She leans on her older brother Johnny for companionship, acceptance, and protection from her parents. But as the book progresses, all these layers of influence and shelter are stripped away, until Pen has to learn to stand on her own feet, and make her own judgments. It’s a rocky road, but reading about it was so immersive, and Pen’s journey was so relatable to anyone of any gender who has had a rocky road to independence.

Along the way of Pen’s journey, we get a great supporting cast of character. One of things I think Girard did best was to really show why Pen is friends with Colby in the first place. As a reader, it’s easy to hate him (in fact, it’s practically mandatory to hate him) but we do get glimpses of the fun Pen and Colby have together, the times he’s come through for her, and the things they have in common. It makes it believable that Pen would stick around for so long despite his jerkiness. Pen’s older brother Johnny has his own issues, but his unwavering love and support for Pen are among the highlights of the book, and the Johnny scenes are a huge relief after the frustrations of reading about Colby. Pen’s oldest friend Tristan, new friend, Olivia, and girlfriend, Blake, are also well-developed characters who each have their own story, and their own way of relating to Pen, which makes them interesting to read about.

Girl Mans Up is a great blend of drama, coming-of-age, romance, and family. Add in some almost uncomfortably realistic dialogue and an incredible narrative voice, Pen’s complete awesomeness (despite some flaws like her terminal hot-headedness), and Emma Galvin’s fantastic narration, and I couldn’t wait to get back in my car and keep listening. Girl Mans Up is a perfect choice for anyone looking for a good contemporary read or coming-of-age story.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School


By: Kaitlyn L., Teen Blogger

Trigun Anime PosterHello, my name is Kaitlyn (buddies, and maybe future fans?, call me Kat). I’m 17 years old and I live with my mom, dad and my two year old sister. I’m not scared to say that I have autism and ADHD. Because I know that you are as sane as me. But we are here to hear my point of view, which is that of a teen. Now, teenagers have different tastes in nearly everything, so it is simple for me to understand why you may need my help. Well then, I will gladly give you a hand. Oh, and forgive me if I sound too old or formal for a normal teen, that’s just me.

Today, I am going to review an anime called Trigun. It was made in 1998, the same year I was born. The reason why you should heed my advice is because I am both a huge fan and an expert. I have watched all 26 episodes, watched the movie twice, and I’m also reading the 12th manga book of a 14 book series. Now, I also haven’t mentioned the fan art that is on my iPad.

Some people would say I’m obsessed. I would say that I am passionate over Trigun. But I should start by explaining the plot of the anime (which is different from the manga, so for the sake of time I will discuss only the anime). The story takes place in the future, with humans living on a distant desert planet called Gunsmoke. It’s like a western, only it’s in the future and has no cows or horses. Now this sandy little place is crawling with all sorts of dangers, but the most dangerous gunslinger in the whole universe lives there: The Humanoid Typhoon. The reward on his head is $60,000,000,000. I did the math and that equals to a total of $30,000,000,000 in our world.

Now, I understand why you may be thinking this guy is scary and no wonder why everybody is so gung-ho about catching him. Now here’s the kicker: his name is Vash the Stampede, or Vash for short, and he’s a die-hard pacifist who refuses to kill ANYONE. Yet here it is: this goofy, tall, skinny, fair skinned, blue-eyed, spike-haired, blonde, flirt-of-a-man is in fact the legendary outlaw that everyone is after. In fact, they are so relentless in their greed that they destroy entire cities to catch Vash. Yet Vash is blamed for the damage. So a solution for one insurance company is this: send two workers, Meryl and Milly, to follow Vash around and report any damage. Of course they quickly find out what we already know: that Vash is really a sweetheart, instead of a psycho.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg though, the rest is up to you if you want to watch. Because I’m not saying any spoilers that might ruin the story. I will, however, say this: over the course of the series, which I began to watch near the end of June, I found myself getting extremely attached to the hero of anime due to the fact that he portrayed this sense of humanity that is unmatched by anyone I have ever known. His message of love and peace is something quite special that humanity, people like you and me, strongly desire. Yet Vash sees this not as an impossibility but as a possibility that we as a whole can improve and achieve love and peace by simply talking out our problems instead of fighting. I know it may sound corny to some of you, but I’m simply saying my advice. You don’t have to take it. But if you want to watch a good anime, then I would highly recommend Trigun. I think I wrote enough for today, so goodbye.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Rebels With a Cause

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Hunger Games: Kidnap 24 children from neighboring districts and force them to kill each other - a rebellion probably won't happen.Teenage rebels – it’s a cliché almost as old as time, and personified in pop culture with books like The Catcher in the Rye or movies like Rebel Without a Cause. But nowadays, there’s more to the rebels of young adult literature than angst or aimless fury. Today’s YA is full of smart, passionate teens who stand up for something – rebels with a cause.

Everyone who’s read the Divergent or Hunger Games series knows the power of strong young women standing up for what’s right. But there are other types of rebels in fiction these days too, whether or not they’re leading a movement. Adelina Amouteru from The Young Elites rebels against a society that spurns her, while Laia from An Ember in the Ashes spies on a government that has long treated her people as second-class. There are more personal rebellions as well, whether it’s Pen in Girl Mans Up refusing to fit into the box of girlhood that she is pushed into, or Maya in This Side of Home pushing to protect her home and the people in her neighborhood.

Real life activists abound these days as well. You can read in I Am Malala about how Malala Yousafzai stood up for women’s right to be educated at great personal cost, while John Lewis lays out his work in the civil rights movement of his youth in a three-part graphic novel, March. From the activists of the past like Carlotta Walls LaNier, whose memoir A Mighty Long Way recounts how she bravely helped lead the charge for school integration, to more modern rebels like Sungju Lee who escaped from North Korea, as written about in Every Falling Star, real life teens have accomplished amazing things. Whether they are real or fictional, leading rebellions or opposing government oversight, part of a movement or simply standing up for themselves, everyone featured in this month’s “Rebels With a Cause” display is working hard to stay true to their beliefs and make their world a better place.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

On the Topic of “Based On” Movies

By: James M., Teen Blogger

Girl reading under a tree with "I've Already READ That Movie." text.In the world of entertainment, one problem which has irked me for quite some time is the increasing number of non-original “based on” movies which reach theaters. These are movies that pride themselves on being based on a true story, or a book, or on a previous movie (i.e. sequels), or any other existing tale.

Now, I call them non-original not because they lack creativity or original elements; in fact, many sequels and book adaptations feel just as, if not more, magical than their inspirations. The Martian, for instance, was an excellent book-to-film adaptation that I would happily watch a dozen times – even if the book had never existed.

However, having read the book, the premise of the movie wasn’t new to me, and therein lays the non-originality of “based on” movies: they fail to present an entirely new story. They don’t present a new intellectual property (IP). Most of the heavy lifting for writing such movies is done before the movie is even conceived. The world, characters, and aesthetics (like the world design and tone) can simply be copied from some existing intellectual property with little to no alteration; if anything, all that remains to be changed is what they all do. However, to use an analogy, if you reprogram your friend’s robot to do something somewhat new, you have not made a new robot. You’ve taken the same robot and made it slightly more appealing.

Now, the fact that these movies exist doesn’t trouble me; as I said earlier, many of these movies provide experiences as incredible as their original counterparts. What troubles me is the sheer number of “based on” movies that are created nowadays, their ratio to entirely original movies, and their implications. To demonstrate this, think of the newest, most popular movies at the time you’re reading this article. Create a mental list of the films that you might find at the Glen Arts Theater or the Marcus Theater.

Now remove all of the true story adaptations.

Now remove all of the book adaptations.

Now remove all of the sequels. (This includes anything in the Marvel or DC universe.)

How many movies are left?

Usually, the number of remaining movies is obscenely small, hovering between two and none; the number of movies removed is usually significantly larger. This trend persists even among lists of top-grossing or highest-rated movies of the last few years, where entirely original IPs are drowned out by adaptations or are entirely absent.

However, what bothers me even more than that is the implications this carries for the current mindset of Hollywood. Rather than taking the time and energy to create interesting new worlds, most studios now take the easy way out and ride the coattails of existing works for publicity. In the case of sequels, this is more respectable, as such a hypothetical studio would be reaping the harvest of their own work; however, as studios are shifting from sequels to adaptations of books and TV shows (e.g. The Peanuts Movie), Hollywood seems to be getting lazier and lazier, retelling stories that have already been told by others (and, in the case of the latter, that have already been shown in video form). I understand that, in most cases, it appears more profitable to studios to recycle existing content than to create new content, as the risk involved is minimized, but the result is that audiences are robbed of actual new content.

I know that I’m an individual voice lost in the sea of the Internet and, as a result, my opinion carries next to no weight here. I don’t intend to change the workings of Hollywood or inspire new, original films with this blog entry. My point is to show people how saturated Hollywood has become with “based on” movies and to shine a light on a bothersome pattern that’s emerged alongside them. But, who knows. Maybe if enough people read this text and show some love for original movies, the world will change. Only time will tell, though, and time hasn’t been the most helpful with this case so far.


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Happy Thanksgiving!

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! As I’ve mentioned before, this is my favorite holiday. Part of this is because it’s my mom’s favorite holiday, plus I always celebrate with my extended family at my parents’ house, and part of it is because there’s a LOT of good eating involved. But part of it is because it always reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for, and for me at least, gratitude goes a long way towards happiness. But rather than focus on the big things that I’m grateful for, like family, my work, etc., today I wanted to focus on a few of the small things that I’m feeling gratitude for this year!

Netflix LogoNetflix. Because honestly, being able to binge on Parks & Recreation, Master of None, Gilmore Girls, etc. whenever I want is a treasure. It makes cooking more fun, it gives me an endless supply of amazing quotes, and is a great distraction when I’m feeling exhausted or down. And that’s not even getting into the fact that I can watch Clueless, Bring It On, and Kung Fury as often as I want. Thanks, Netflix.

Picture of Hermione Granger DollHermione Granger. I recently re-read the entire Harry Potter series, and remembered all the reasons why Hermione is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. I identify with her, I strive to be like her, I love that she has realistic flaws while still being a powerful woman (who does an awful lot of saving the day for someone who isn’t the main character). Having Hermione in my life makes that whole life better. Thanks, Hermione.

Bluetooth. As you may know, I spend a lot of time in my car. A lot. That’s what happens when you commute from Chicago to Glen Ellyn. And this year, I got a car with Bluetooth, and it opened up a whole new world of audiobooks. I now have a much wider selection of audiobooks to choose from, and I can download them any time, and just go. No waiting for CDs to come in, no changing them out while trying to merge, no finishing a book on the commute home and having to wait till the next day for a new book, just listening. Added bonus? I can also now talk on my phone safely and hands-free, and use those commutes to catch up with family and friends as well. Thanks, Bluetooth.

A long fall. Fall is my favorite season, and we got an extra-long one this year. Being able to spend November mornings and afternoons outside walking along Lake Michigan enjoying fall colors for longer than the usual two-ish weeks was a real treat, and helped me brace for a winter that, like every winter in the Midwest, will feel much longer than is comfortable. Thanks, fall.

A Dog in a TuxDogs. Especially in clothes. I am, without a doubt, a dog person. Yes, this might be because I have a slight cat allergy. But it’s also because I find dogs fun, loyal, big enough to wrestle with and give hugs to, endlessly goofy and entertaining, and much more. One of my favorite things in the world is going home to see my parents and getting to roughhouse with, be shed on by, and give big hugs to their German Shepherd. I’ve also received endless giggles and hours of entertainment from the @dog_rates Twitter, which literally just…rates dogs. Add in some goofy outfits, and I’m starting to wonder if dogs are too big for the “small things” I feel gratitude for category. Thanks, dogs.

Green Day LogoGreen Day. Okay, so for me, this another one that pushes the boundaries of “small things” to be grateful for. When a band has been your favorite as long as Green Day has been mine, they start to take up a lot of space in your life. And a new album from Green Day this fall, plus an amazing intimate concert, helped re-ignite my love of music, helped me remember the pure joy of experiencing a great live concert, and gave me lots of fantastic new songs to belt off-key in my car during the aforementioned long commutes. Thanks, Green Day.

So those are just a few of the small things I’m feeling extra grateful for this year, although there are many, many more. What are some of the small things you’re grateful for this year? What about the big things?

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School