GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: Great Character Alert – Nyx Triskelion

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 77 - ImageWhile I’ve read a lot of books I’ve really enjoyed over the past few months, it’s been a while since I’ve wanted to write so much about a specific character (or in this case, since there’s an honorable mention, two characters) but it was worth the wait.  I was completely hooked by Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge from the first page, and it just got better as I got to know Nyx Triskelion better.

First off, here’s a description of the book (from the GEPL catalog): “Betrothed to the demon who rules her country and trained all her life to kill him, seventeen-year-old Nyx Triskelion must now fulfill her destiny and move to the castle to be his wife.”

Nyx is not a nice person.  To me, this is a huge part of what makes her so compelling.  She’s not a bad person, she’s just not very nice.  She is bitter about her fate, hateful towards the father and aunt who seem to feel no sorrow about sending her to it, and immensely resentful of her sister, Astraia, who will be safe.  She is angry and often cruel, and unable to keep all her rage and pain and nastiness inside her.

That said, she tries to do good.  She has been trained her whole life to defeat the demon she is being sent to marry, and she really does want to accomplish this for the sake of her country and especially her sister.  She really does love Astraia, despite the bitterness.  And she has compassion in her that makes her pity and care for one of her demon husband’s enslaved minions, and even at times pity the demon himself.

On top of all these complicated stuff, Nyx is strong.  Not in an action oriented way – don’t be fooled by the description.  Nyx is not a physical fighter.  But she is mentally tough, she is willing to try to be physical when she needs to be, and she is incredibly strong internally.  You’d have to be, to spend half your life knowing you were being sacrificed to a monster and would likely die attempting to defeat him.  And it is growing up with this fact that makes all of Nyx’s cruelty and nastiness so understandable – her anger, her bitterness, it all feels so real and realistic.  It all makes sense.  It would feel unreal, and boring, for her to be all sunshine and roses about her fate.  I think this blend of goodness and cruelty, of strength and fallibility, is what makes Nyx such a riveting, fascinating, and wonderful character.

Before I finish, I want to give an honorable mention to Nyx’s sister, Astraia.  Although she is a supporting character and we don’t get her viewpoint, I also found her to be fascinating.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but it turns out that Nyx and Astraia have some unexpected commonalities, and that Astraia is also a fascinating and captivating blend of seemingly non-compatible personality traits and very real emotions.

Thanks to these two incredible characters, especially Nyx, plus the darkness, magic, and entrancing qualities of the castle, the demon, and the world they all exist in, Cruel Beauty is one of my favorite recent reads.  I can’t wait to see what Rosamund Hodge does next (and re-read Cruel Beauty in the meantime!)

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Not Everyone Loves The Hunger Games

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 76 - ImageUpon reading the negatively written article (you can read it here), “What’s Wrong With The Hunger Games Is What No One Noticed,” I was disgusted by how much hatred the author of this review has for The Hunger Games. Evidently, The Hunger Games Trilogy is well admired among teens and even older adults. The two Hunger Games movies (soon to be three), have soared in popularity and box office sales. According to http://www.boxofficemojo.com, the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire, is ranked #10 in domestic gross in movie history and #1 out of 688 movies for top movie in the last 365 days (beating Frozen!)

Meanwhile, the author of the article I perused was clearly an antagonist of The Hunger Games. I respect people’s opinions on whether they liked a book/movie or not because really, even I don’t believe every book/movie I read or watch is fantastic. Opinions are created because not everyone agrees on the same thing and have divergent tastes. There will never be one book/movie that EVERYONE will love no matter how amazing people think it is. However, there’s a difference between having logical reasoning and just plain ignorant reasoning to back up an opinion.

The author states that Katniss is identical to the princess, Cinderella, and is not a powerful and independent female role model that numerous critics claim she is. “Hmmm, here is a surprise: Katniss never kills anyone. That’s weird, what does she do to win?  Take as much time as you want on this, it’s an open book test. The answer is nothing…Other than the initial volunteering to replace her younger sister, Katniss never makes any decisions of her own, never acts with consequence– but her life is constructed to appear that she makes important decisions.” First of all, Katniss does kill four people in the first book; the murderer of Rue, the two when she dropped a wasps nest of them, and Cato for her own advantage. Secondly, Katniss also makes a multitude of decisions throughout the novel such as volunteering for the Games, becoming allies with Rue, staging attacks against other tributes, making a defiant gesture that targeted the Capital after Rue’s demise, and threating to destroy the purpose of the Games by deciding she and Peeta should kill themselves resulting in no winner. Katniss begins to completely rebel against the Capitol in the later books and stands up for what is moral. This woman is definitely one to look up to.

“So this is why we have a book about a post-apocalyptic killing game that spends zero pages describing how Katniss kills anyone but spends countless pages on how she is dressed, how everyone is dressed.  What will she wear? What kind of jewelry? Hair up?  Will the ‘sponsors’ like her better this way or that? Her chief weapon isn’t a bow, it’s her appearance.”

This excerpt taken from the article is quite invalid. It was not Katniss’s choice to dress up fancifully, but the Capitol’s. The reason why Katniss’s looks and clothes matter so much is because that’s how everyone else in the Capitol is dressed. Katniss doesn’t care for her appearance, it’s only for the entertainment of the Capitol. If it was her choice, she would be wearing her father’s worn out jacket and boots and would not bathe often. She may have an advantage in gaining sponsors and people rooting for her, but once Katniss steps into the arena, there is no one protecting her. She must manage to survive from the other tributes. Katniss’s chief weapon IS a bow. She has been a hunter all her life, and it makes sense for her to use her shooting talent.

Overall, I believe Katniss is nothing like the fairy tale princess, Cinderella. Unlike Cinderella, Katniss doesn’t search for her beloved Prince. She does have her love interests, Gale and Peeta, but the book indicates that the boy isn’t the most essential thing to Katniss. The most important thing that matters to Katniss in life is her family. She teaches young girls to be courageous, strong, and determined. Instead of putting on a girly dress and glass slippers, why not wear jeans, braid you hair, and explore nature? Katniss Everdeen is not like most women in the fiction world; she actually makes an impact in the story. Seriously, did the author of this article even read the book?

-Geraldine

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Welcome Freshmen!

Teens Blog BannerToday, I’d like to take a moment from this blog’s busy “raving about great books” schedule to say hello to all the recently graduated eighth graders who are now officially part of GEPL’s Teen Scene and teen programming.  Hi freshmen!

I particularly want to invite anyone reading this who is about to start their freshman year to come to the library tomorrow, July 23, at 11:30 a.m., for a program called “So You’re Going to Be a Freshman.”  We have a great panel of teens who just finished their freshman year, along with a counselor from Glenbard West, who are ready and waiting to tell you about what to expect and answer your questions.  Plus, there will be pizza!

But of course, I can’t possibly make it through a whole blog post without talking about books a little. So after you come and get the scoop tomorrow, if you’re still looking for a way to prepare yourself for what’s coming, you can read one of the books below.  Some of these books are fun and light, some of them deal with some heavier topics, but all of them focus on characters navigating their freshman year of high school.  So good luck to all of you, and welcome to the Teen Scene!

Blog Entry 75 - Image 1The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 2Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda’s freshman year in high school. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 3The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot – Fourteen-year-old Mia, who is trying to lead a normal life as a teenage girl in New York City, is shocked to learn that her father is the Prince of Genovia, a small European principality, and that she is a princess and the heir to the throne. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 4The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – A haunting coming of age novel told in a series of letters to an unknown correspondent reveals the life of Charlie, a freshman in high school who is a wallflower, shy and introspective, and very intelligent. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 5The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier – A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school’s annual fund-raising drive and arousing the wrath of school bullies. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Blog Entry 75 - Image 6Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon – In her first year at a suburban New Jersey high school, Mary Elizabeth Cep, who now calls herself “Lola,” sets her sights on the lead in the annual drama production, and finds herself in conflict with the most popular girl in school. (Description from the GEPL.org catalog)

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 74 - ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Book Title: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Description: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. (Description from Goodreads.com)

Review: The Fault in Our Stars: An emotional roller coaster that no reader will get tired of riding. The story starts off with a 16 year old girl named Hazel. She has Thyroid cancer and she’s basically alive because of a medicine the doctors are experimenting with on her. Even though she has a serious and a deathly situation, this story is about how she starts to live not die. As her cancer is getting to her, she starts to feel alone and isolated and that’s when her mom and doctor really encourage her to start going to a cancer support group. As she starts going to this group, she meets Augustus. When these two teens meet, sparks start to fly. Augustus is determined to get her even when she pushes him away.

Hazel and Augustus start to hang out and get to know each other, and the readers can tell how Augustus is a person who wants to leave the world with a mark. He’s determined to do something great and incredible, while Hazel doesn’t see much point in that because she thinks everyone is going to end up dead anyways. Augustus creates a tiny and new world for Hazel. He shows her dreams can come true here in this life but Hazel doesn’t want to hurt Augustus when she dies. He always tell her throughout the story that he wouldn’t mind being hurt by Hazel Grace. They have their own special love that every teenager would crave to have in their lives. They experience these intense emotions that we readers are able to feel though their characters. We can feel ourselves dying without really dying.

In 313 pages, you’ll feel a sense of happiness and warmth, a feeling of anger and frustration, a feeling of confusion and wondering why things turned out the way they did in their lives, and the feeling of loss and sadness. The characters will make you feel inspired to make your own mark in the world and let you be hopeful for yourself. Just these words and letters in The Fault in Our Stars have the ability to make us feel these powerful emotions. It touches you and changes your point of view on life completely. It’s beautiful and there is no other way to describe it. I would really recommend this book completely!

-Sabrina

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I’m Reading Now – Anna and the French Kiss

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 73 - ImageOnce again, I’m immersed in the joys of both trying new things and audiobooks, which have combined for today’s What I’m Reading Now post!

What I’m Reading Now: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Note: I personally think this jacket description is really bad.  Please give the book a chance, despite the terrible description!

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Do I Like It: Much, much more than I ever expected to!

Thoughts: I admit, I resisted this book for a long time.  I won’t say I judged the book by its cover, but I definitely judged it by its title, which I still maintain is terrible, and the concept, which I might have been mistaken in judging so harshly.  Clearly, I was wrong about this book.  So, so wrong.  Anna and the French Kiss is delightful.  I was not prepared for how much I am loving this book.

For starters, there’s Anna – easily the best part of the book.  She feels like a friend already.  I love her slightly germaphobic and hyper-neat quirks, her love of movies, her language difficulties (which, at least as far as modern languages go, I can totally sympathize with.)  I even love the bleached streak in her hair.  And Kim Mai Guest, the narrator of my audiobook, absolutely brings Anna to life.  If I didn’t know better, I’d think an actual teenager was narrating this book.  I know it comes up over and over again in my reviews, but in a book with a first person narrator, liking the narrator –or at least feeling like the narrator is a real, interesting person – is so important.  Luckily, Stephanie Perkins nails it with Anna.

I was also resistant to Anna and the French Kiss on the basis of the romance.  Now, I love a good romantic arc in a book as much as the next person, but the plot description made the love story sound super cheesy and melodramatic, and like romance would be all there was to the book.  But as it turns out, the plot description – like the title – is kind of terrible.  Yes, there’s a meet-cute, and St. Clair is impossibly dreamy, but this romance has some legs to it.  Anna and St. Clair are fully fleshed out, flawed, and fabulous characters.  The factors that separate them ring true, rather than feeling forced, and the sparks between them practically shoot off the page (or out of the speakers, in this case.)  So far, the swoons are increasing along with the frustration of their separation, and I am enjoying every minute of it.

But romance certainly isn’t the only thing going on in Anna’s life.  I’m loving getting to know her group of friends in France (and wishing I could see more of her Atlanta BFF Bridget!) and I’m desperately wishing I could be in Paris and getting to know the city at the same time as Anna.  Her whole world comes alive, and I’m finding myself dying to read more just to get into the setting.  I think I’d be happy to read a whole book just about Anna’s Parisian meals with her friends (which is good, because mealtimes are kind of a big thing so far in this book.)

I cannot tell you how happy I am that I grabbed Anna and the French Kiss.  Once again, taking a chance and trying something new has paid off in a big way.  If you like great characters, or stories about someone finding their way in a new place, or great romances, or great narration, or any combination of those things, I highly recommend ignoring the lousy title and the cheesy description, and picking up Anna and the French Kiss.  I myself can’t wait to get back in my car and hear more about Anna, St. Clair, their friends, and Paris.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Epistolary Novels Display

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 72 - ImageWhether we’re on vacation, away at summer camp, or heading off to college in the fall, summer is the time when we are constantly texting, writing, and emailing our closest friends and family to keep in touch. Whether it’s a heartfelt letter from a pen-pal, a hilarious text from your parents, or a gossip-filled diary that you’re trying to hide from your siblings, each of these messages can hold so much meaning. A tear jerking breakup can be received from a ping on your phone, and so can that text from your friend that makes it all feel better.

So it makes sense that the stories told by these messages have been put into some amazing Young Adult novels! For July we are showcasing some of these great epistolary novels. Epistolary novels are books written from a collection of documents: such as emails, IM messages, letters, or diary entries.

Recently published was Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira about Laurel, who starts writing letters to people who have passed away after an assignment in English class. She gets a little carried away and soon these letters tell her life story and help her accept her sister May’s death.

Do you still fantasize about being the next Princess Kate? If so, then you can also follow the diary of a high school teenager turned royalty (Mia) in The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot, which was made into a movie starring Anne Hathaway. Or what about the amazing coming-of-age novel Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chobsky? These journal entries showcase Charlie experiencing the difficulties of his freshman year of high school (and it was also made into a movie starring the one and only Emma Watson).

In a more modern setting, you’ll fall in love with the friendship of “zoegirl”, “SnowAngel” and “madmaddie” simply through IM messages in Lauren Myracle’s TTYL. Or journey to the future in Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, where you can read the journal entries of Miranda as she watches the world end when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth.

So if you can relate to writing love letters to your crushes like Lara Jean in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, DJ’s love of football in Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, or if you love classics like Dracula by Bram Stoker then be sure to check out the Teen Scene’s display of epistolary books!

-Amanda

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Fangirling about Fangirl

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 71 - ImageIt’s possible that I’ve mentioned (once or twice…or over and over…) my love for and obsession with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  Yes, it’s true – I’m a fangirl for Fangirl.  This is a book that literally left me dreaming about the characters.  There are tons of reasons for someone to love this book of course – Rainbow Rowell is a remarkably talented author, as anyone who has read Eleanor & Park knows, and there’s not much more explanation than that needed for why someone would feel affectionate towards her work.  And when it comes down to it, I loved Fangirl for the same reasons anyone loves a great book.

But Fangirl for me is something special, and I haven’t quite been able to figure out why.  Sometimes you just find a book that speaks to you, and Fangirl was one of those books for me.  Part of it comes from actual shared experiences with the characters.  Cath, the main character, writes fan-fiction set in the world of Simon Snow (a Harry Potter-type series of books).  It’s her way of escaping what’s wrong in her life, exploring a world she loves in new ways, and honing her writing skills.  I spent many of my teenager years, yup, writing fan-fiction – to escape what I didn’t like about my life, to explore worlds (mostly just one world) I loved in new ways, and to hone my writing skills.  Obviously, I identify with Cath in some pretty key ways.

But that’s certainly not all that made Fangirl touch me so much.  After all, I’m very unlike Cath in a lot of ways too.  She spends the first part of her freshman year of college feeling steadily more betrayed by her sister Wren’s distance, coping with her social anxiety, cautiously making a very small amount of new friends, and discovering the joys and pains of interacting with other writers.  And none of these things is anything like my college freshman experience.  But the beauty of a good book is that it can be just as powerful in terms of people, characters, and experiences that are new to us as those that are comfortable and identifiable.  And for me, Fangirl was a pretty perfect combination of the familiar and the new.

I also loved the way Rainbow Rowell didn’t vilify anybody, didn’t give any easy answers, and explored all kinds of morals and experiences.  Cath certainly makes plenty of missteps, including some in her relationship with Wren.  But then, so does Wren – sometimes I wanted to slap her.  When a potential love interest does something that hurts Cath, I understood her pain – but I also felt like I understood him a little, and couldn’t blame him entirely.  And that’s what’s beautiful about the world Rainbow Rowell has created in Fangirl – just like real life, nothing is black and white, everything has nuances and layers.  I think this, as much as anything else, is what allowed me to immerse myself completely in Fangirl, not just once, but twice in the span of a month.

Of course, I can’t discount everything else that’s wonderful about Fangirl.  The supporting characters are fantastic, and I’m pretty sure I would read a book with any of them as the main character.  The excerpts from the Simon Snow books and Cath’s fan-fiction are delightful, and I know I would read the Simon Snow series if it were real.  The romance is completely and utterly swoon-worthy – I could not get enough of it.   What it comes down to is that I love Fangirl for all the reasons you love a really great book – I loved the characters, the writing, and the world-building, and all I wanted when I finished was to go back immediately and start reading it again.

So whether you’re about to start college and want to read about Cath’s experiences, whether you loved Eleanor & Park and want more, or whether you’re just looking for a great summer read, find Fangirin our catalog and place a hold ASAP!  While you wait for it to come in, let us know – what books are you fangirling about this summer?

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Teens Blog BannerSabrina A Blog 1 ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Book Title: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Description: Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive. (Description from Goodreads.com)

Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a book that will make you feel chills down your spine. There are two teenage boys, Lev and Connor and a teenage girl, Risa. Connor is a really hot-headed boy but starts to change throughout the book. Lev thinks he’s going to be tithe, which is a donation to the church. Risa has been sent to be “unwound” because teachers and the school thinks her potential is done and she is no longer needed in their society.   Risa is also an orphan. They’re all being sent to a harvest camp to be have their body parts taken apart while the teens are alive (“unwinding”). After these body parts are taken apart, they’re given to other people. Everything from their arms, brains, toes, fingers, eyes, and legs can be taken from them. These teens can be sent to be unwound because people can think the kid is not needed anymore. They can also be sent for tithes and behavioral issues.

Unwind has something for everyone. There’s a little bit of love and romance between the characters. This love grows as the book goes on and the teens face more struggles together. Characters in the book show true friendship in a couple scenarios, and show forgiveness. The story has a steady pace and keeps moving at an interesting rate. It is own world with a dystopian society and will keep you reading every second of the day. While reading this book you’ll be questioning about this type of world, and it’s almost terrifying to be thrown into their world while reading this book. Somewhere where you couldn’t imagine, but Neal Shusterman makes it real by painting a world like this for his readers.  I would really recommend this book because it will keep you on your feet.

-Sabrina

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Books to Fuel Your World Cup Fever

Teens Blog BannerThe World Cup is in full swing, and even though the U.S. has been eliminated (boo!) after surprising everyone by making it out of the group stages (yay!), it’s still an exciting time in sports.  Even people who normally don’t care (or pretend not to care) about soccer are invested.  So I thought I would pull together a great list of books and movies that focus on soccer or feature soccer players in honor of the World Cup 2014!

Blog Entry 69 - Image 1High and Dry, by Sarah Skilton – What do you get when you combine noir mystery, drug scandals, ex-girlfriends, and a star soccer player?  You get High and Dry by Sarah Skilton.  When Charlie Dixon, desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend, gets framed for causing a drug overdose at a party, he quickly finds himself embroiled in mystery after mystery, and scandal after scandal.  Between trying to find another ex-girlfriend’s stolen flash drive, being pressured by a friend into throwing a soccer game, and trying to discover what did happen the night he was framed, Charlie has a lot on his mind.  As a narrator, Charlie’s voice is distinct and appealing, and the excitement of High and Dry will keep you turning pages.

Blog Entry 69 - Image 2Bend it Like Beckham – Yes, this is super obvious, but who cares?  Bend it Like Beckham is one of my favorite movies.  It’s fantastic, combining friendship, relationships, family drama, classic coming-of-age, and all the excitement of a great sports movie.  Jess loves soccer, but when she joins a serious team in her suburban London neighborhood, her love of the sport comes into conflict with her traditional family, and her feelings for her new soccer coach comes into conflict with her new best friend’s feelings for him.  Although I personally love the focus on Jess and Jules’ friendship, there’s something here for everyone, no matter what you normally like in a movie.  This movie has it all and I highly recommend it!

Blog Entry 69 - Image 3Out of Nowhere, Maria Padian – Star soccer player Tom Bouchard barely notices when Somali refugees start flooding into his hometown after the events of 9/11.  But when four of them join his soccer team, he starts to notice.  Especially when Saeed starts dominating play and leading the team to victory.  But when Tom finds himself performing community service by tutoring some of the refugees, he gains a new perspective.  Tom must navigate his girlfriend, his budding friendship with Saeed despite his jealousy about the new player’s talent, his new cultural education, and of course, his on-field performance.

Blog Entry 69 - Image 4Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor – Sunny lives an in-between life.  She loves soccer, but her albinism means she can’t face the sun to play it.  She lives in Nigeria with Nigerian parents, but her American birth and upbringing make her feel like she is not at home.  She is African, but her albino white skin makes her subject to taunts at her school.  So when she discovers previously unknown magical talents, and a group of young magic-users all learning to use their skills, with her Sunny is excited to find a place where she belongs.  But as her knowledge increases, so do the dangers of the magical world she is now a part of.  Akata Witch is a hugely imaginative, exciting read, and Sunny is a releatable and likable main character.

Blog Entry 69 - Image 5She’s the Man – I pretty unashamedly love this movie, even as an adult.  Amanda Bynes is at her charming best.  The fun Shakespeare plot line is a classic for a reason.  The addition of a pre-21 Jump Street Channing Tatum and exciting soccer sequences complete the package.  When Viola finds out that her high school soccer team is being disbanded because of funding issues, she fights for her right to play on the boys’ team.  When she is denied that, she disguises herself and takes her twin brother’s place at an all-male boarding school, planning to prove that girls can play the sport just as well as boys.  Being a Shakespeare comedy plot, of course hijinks ensue, and they are delightful.  Seriously, this movie is just cheerful, entertaining fun, perfect for a hot summer afternoon!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Books and Musicals

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 68 - ImageWith summer getting into full swing, some of us may find ourselves humming tunes like “Summer Nights” from Grease and “Our Last Summer” from Mamma Mia! or, for those hardcore theatre geeks, “Too Darn Hot” from Kiss me, Kate and “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. Yes, the sun has made many have musical theatre on our minds.

However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that so many of our favorite musicals are actually based on books. Generally, most know that Les Miserables, the tragic Broadway show and now award-winning movie, is based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. But even I, a show tunes aficionado, just recently learned that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats is based on T.S. Eliot’s  Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. We’re talking about the second longest-running show in Broadway history here!

These are some of the highlights of literature-based musicals:

  • Wicked – from Gregory Maguire’s Wicked
  • Oliver! – from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist
  • Man of La Mancha – from Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote
  • The Phantom of the Opera – from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood – from Charles Dickens’ unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  • My Fair Lady – from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion
  • Kiss me, Kate – from William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew

There are, of course, too many to list here (some hits, some flops), but some digging around should lead you to the realm where music meets books. What all of these shows did, regardless of quality, is amazing: they took literature that may be tough to swallow and turned the books into fun, music-filled shows that clock in at about two hours while maintaining incredible emotional depth.

For those of you hooked in by musical adventures and show tunes, I definitely recommend checking out the books that inspired the theatrical masterpieces. You already love the story, so take time to explore it in another medium. Naturally, composers have taken liberties and smoothed the sharper corners of the novels, but don’t let this stop you. Just keep an open mind. Happy hunting!

(Cue humming of “Do you Hear the People Sing?”)

-Rafaela

Posted in GEPL Teens