The Teen Scene: GEPL High School Blog

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Straaange Comic Book Characters

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By: Justin A., Teen Blogger

We all know that comic books are the one of the largest sources of weird and unexplainable events. While that is very true, comic books host even weirder characters. Both DC and Marvel have characters that make you question why they exist, why they were made in the first place. I personally love these characters and their strange backgrounds.

Here are my favorites.

  1. Throg (MARVEL)

Picutre of Throg (Marvel Character)At first he was Simon Walterson, a former college football player and widow. So in order to bring his wife back to life he used magic, a source he didn’t understand. A mystic woman offered him a chance to talk to his wife one last time, which he accepted. When he finished the woman asked for payment but he had none. For this, she turned him into a frog. He wandered about and found himself in the middle of a war where he found a chip of Thor’s hammer. When he picked it up he transformed into Throg. (basically a frog Thor)

  1. The Hate Monger (MARVEL)

In WWII Adolf Hitler led the Nazis in the Holocaust. In our world there are many conspiracies over Hitler and his death, but in the Marvel universe, a clone of Adolf Hitler was made and preserved. This clone later traveled the world and came across a hate ray, which, if fired at a person, could raise the hate in that person and make them do bad things out of rage.

  1. Captain Boomerang (DC)

A young boy born of an American soldier and an Australian woman grew up loving and creating boomerangs. He eventually adopted the persona of Captain Boomerang and used his abilities to fight the Flash and commit crimes. While he has no particular powers he is still a tough villain.
Picture of Arm Fall Off Boy (DC Character)

  1. Arm-Fall-Off-Boy (DC)

There isn’t much history to Arm-fall-off-boy. He is an alien known as Floyd Belki. He can detach his arms and use them as club. That’s his only power. Weird right?

  1. Danny the Street (DC)

Picture of Danny The Street (DC Character)Now this is my favorite character of this list. Formally a female, Danny is a street who teleports and has other powers that are very unspecific. He communicates by forming words out of the signs that are on the stores on him. He houses many people and a few heroes. Danny is a very flamboyant street, often found with military and sports streets decorated in pink and other bright colors. He mostly greets people with the phrase “bona to vada,” (“good to see you.”) That’s right, he is a street. A teleporting street that is often found assisting the Teen Titans by spying on people for Robin. And still a street.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: Book Gifts

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

I don’t know about you, but I love to give people books. After all, what can be better than sharing my love of books with others, and finding the perfect gift for someone? But it can be hard to come up with the right book for the right person. You don’t want to give a book someone’s already read or already owns, but you want to get a book they’ll like. So here’s a few quick, easy, and (somewhat) lesser known titles you could give book lovers in your life!

Endangered by Lamar GilesFor Mystery Fans – Endangered by Lamar Giles or A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

For those who can’t get enough of thrillers and modern mysteries, try Endangered, which focuses on the cat and mouse game that teen Panda plays with a stalker who’s caught her stalking. It’s fast paced, has great character development for Panda, and rushes towards an exciting and surprising conclusion. If your mystery lover is more interested in the past, try A Spy in the House, the first in a series of historical mysteries featuring orphan-turned-spy Mary Quinn as she infiltrates the upper levels of society in Victorian London.

For Sports Lovers: Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee or Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

For a sci-fi twist on a sports story, pick up Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee, about a zero gravity MMA fighter who rises to fame and the top of his profession, amidst revelations about his past and growing tensions between Earth and Mars. For a more current take on a sports story, gift Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. The story focuses on teen athlete D.J. as she tries to manage her family’s farm, train the quarterback from a rival high school, find her voice, and of course, keep up with her own sports dreams.

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee Book CoverFor Your Sister/Best Friend: This Side of Home by Renee Watson, Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, or Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

If you have a sister, especially a twin, she might enjoy reading about twin sisters who have to negotiate a new relationship with each other as they find themselves disagreeing about the gentrification of their neighborhood in This Side of Home. In Under a Painted Sky, Samantha and Annamarie are thrown together as they each escape from a dangerous situation and test their luck on the Oregon Trail, and develop a deep friendship along the way. Gabi in Gabi, A Girl In Pieces is dealing with a lot in her life, as are her two best friends. But they are all three there for each other every step of the way, making even the most painful experiences bearable for each other.

For the Romance Fan: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCouer

In To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Lara Jean Covey must untangle the threads of her romantic life after every letter she has written – but not sent – get delivered to her previous and current crushes. Along the way, she has to navigate family, friendships, and her own self confidence. If your romance-loving friend is a little more excited by Hollywood glamour, they might enjoy Everything Leads to You about 18 year old set designer Emi, who spends the summer after graduation rooming with her best friend – and getting to know the beautiful and talented Ava.

Huntress by Malinda Lo Book CoverFor Fantasy Lovers: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho or Huntress by Malinda Lo

If your fantasy loving friend or family member goes for the more light-hearted side of reading, they’ll probably love Sorcerer to the Crown, set in an alternate historical England. This book features title character Zacharias trying to solve England’s magical crisis, with the help (or hindrance) of the powerfully magical and powerfully determined Prunella. The combination of hijinks, spells, manner, and mayhem is irresistible. For the more serious-minded, Huntress takes inspiration from Chinese mythology, and follows the quest of Kaede and Taisin, who must try to end the endless winter their country is suffering with a visit to the fairy court and the undertaking of a quest.

For Those Who Follow Current Events: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely or All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Neither of these books is for the faint of heart, but both tackle some of the big issues we’ve seen in the news and discussed with our friends over the last few years, and both of them are powerful, maybe life-changing reads. In All American Boys, Rashad is brutally beaten by a police officer while trying to buy a bag of chips at a convenience store, and must struggle to recover in body and mind. In the meantime Quinn, who witnessed the beating and thinks of the police officer as family, must determine where his loyalties lie and what his conscience tells him. In All the Rage, Romy is bullied and ostracized after accusing a town golden boy of rape. While she is desperately trying to recover from her trauma and keep her life going, another girl in town goes missing, and Romy must decide whether to come forward all over again.

Pointe by Brandy Colbert Book CoverFor the Dancer in Your Life: Pointe by Brandy Colbert, Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz, or Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

Pointe shoes, rivalries, eating disorders, auditions – these elements and more appear in all three of these ballet books. In Pointe, Theo is on track for a promising ballet career after high school, when her best friend returns after being abducted three years ago, and Theo must once again face their shared past. Etta in Not Otherwise Specified has quit ballet, is recovering from her eating disorder, and struggling to find her place in the world. When on top of it all she is rejected by her lesbian friends for not being lesbian enough, she starts to think she might not fit in anywhere. In Tiny Pretty Things, three elite high school ballerinas struggle and scheme for top roles and a chance to make it at the world-famous American Ballet Theatre. Revenge, drama, ambition, and romance abound.

For the Non-Fiction Fan: Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw, Rethinking Normal by Katie Rain Hill, or Taking Flight by Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince

All three of these memoirs feature someone overcoming the odds to fulfill their dreams, but that’s a pretty reductive way to describe these great reads. Laughing at My Nightmare truly is a laugh, and Shane Burcaw describes his life with muscular atrophy with wit, grace, and a fair amount of bathroom humor that many will enjoy. In Rethinking Normal, Katie Rain Hill tells readers, in her real teen voice, of her childhood struggling to fit in and feel at home in her skin, and her eventual realization that she was transgender and transition to show her true gender. Taking Flight chronicles the life of ballerina Michaela DePrince, who was orphaned in the war ravaged Sierra Leone at a young age, but adopted at four by an American couple and given the chance to develop her immense talent and passion for dance.

No matter who you have in your life to buy for, you can probably find a great gift for any reader in these suggestions. If none of them seem quite right for your bookish friends and family, don’t hesitate to visit the library for more suggestions!


Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Hamilton

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By: Britta J., Teen Blogger

Hamilton An American Musical PosterIf you ever want to sound well cultured and slightly pretentious all you have to do is mention one of Braodway’s most successful original musicals: Hamilton. I personally am completely fangirling over this musical, and I’m not even involved in theatre. Just this past week the soundtrack of this hip hop interpretation of the life and accomplishments of Alexander Hamilton has topped Billboard’s rap charts.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hamilton’s story here is a quick summary. He was born in poverty in the Caribbean and by the age of 10, he was orphaned. He was super smart and hardworking, so he earned passage on a ship to New York where he earned a scholarship to what is today known as Columbia. He was Washington’s right hand man in the Revolutionary War and later during his presidency. Hamilton created our first National Bank and Financial system and married Elizabeth Schuyler, a woman of social prominence.

Hamilton has everything a great musical could need: war, epic rivalries, an interesting love story, scandals, and murder. Even better, it’s all set to catchy hip hop themed music – an intentional choice according to its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. He claims that Alexander Hamilton’s rise to power embodies the rise to success that defines the Hip-hop genre. After all, Hamilton “got a lot farther/ by being a smarter/ by being a self-starter.”

And it’s not just about catchy rhymes, although those are enough to make you listen through the entire soundtrack. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also plays Hamilton on Broadway, explained the intricacies of the relationship between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, the man who eventually kills him: “The engine of my new musical is the fact that Hamilton and Burr both hear that ticking clock of mortality at a very young age, and the way in which they choose to live in the FACE of that knowledge puts them in a collision course from the moment they meet.” Hamilton chooses to charge forward and take what he wants while Burr waits for the perfect opportunity. In a commencement speech at Wesleyan, Miranda told his audience that Burr and Hamilton represent two radical responses to life which eventually causes their downfall. In reality we’ll “be rushing and waiting at the same time,” and through Hamilton, Miranda teaches us the importance of this balance.

So, go listen to the Hamilton soundtrack and maybe after, you won’t think I’m so crazy when I tell you that the only thing I want for Christmas are Hamilton Tickets. With such an entertaining yet deeply intricate musical, who wouldn’t want to see it? I’d say that I can’t wait, but Aaron Burr has taught me better.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli Book CoverI often worry when reading a much-buzzed about book that it will disappoint – especially if I’m late to the game and have been hearing about it for months. Luckily for me, that wasn’t the case with this edition of What I Just Read!

What I Just Read: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Do I Like It: To a squeeing and hugging my Kindle degree

Thoughts: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – sometimes it’s good to read something a little lighter (though not without its depth) and something that makes me super happy in the end. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was exactly that book for me. It was SO CUTE. Simon was hilarious, and the romance made me melt a little. The conflicts were real and meaningful, even if they weren’t exactly life-threatening. While I never went through exactly what Simon does during the book, I could sympathize with so much of his story. I think anyone who is a teenager or has been a teenager, anyone who has had a crush, who has balanced new friendships with old, anyone who has loved their family but struggled with them as well, anyone who has experienced any number of normal life experiences could connect with this book. The relatability of Simon’s experiences is what makes this book so special. Well, that and the adorableness.

Simon of course is wonderful, but I actually thought the secondary characters equaled him, and occasionally even outshone him in some ways. Which isn’t a bad thing – after all, we’re supposed to relate to Simon, so it makes sense that the people around him would shine a little brighter than himself from his perspective. The dynamic between Simon and his best friends Leah and Nick was comfortable and familiar, and the intensity of his new friendship with Abby was almost like a romance, though completely platonic. Simon’s family members were all likable as well – his parents and sisters all had distinct personalities, and as someone close to my siblings, the relationship between Simon and his sisters delighted me. And of course, there’s Blue – a good romance is nothing without a good romantic interest, and Blue was great. His e-mails were quirky, smart, funny, and showed off his personality so well. It was easy to see why Simon would fall for him, even before we knew who Blue was.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda has a lot going on in its pages – friendships, character growth, drama, family, and, of course, romance. But despite the ups and downs within it, Simon was a very up book for me, and I loved that. So if you’re looking for something to keep you engaged and warm your heart during this cold December, I highly recommend Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Book to Movie Adaptations

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By: Peter F., Teen Blogger

The Hunger Games Katniss Movie Poster "The World Will Be Watching"It seems that ever since The Hunger Games came out on the big screen, more and more people have been drawn to books and movie adaptations of them. I’ve watched a few of them, and some of them have been amazing, while others have been huge letdowns. For the most part, I enjoy them and generally look forward to when they come out. I read a lot, so when a movie comes out for a book I like, it’s like being able to experience it in a completely different way. I thought The Hunger Games were great books (except for the last one) and when they were made into movies, they were just as good. The movies were accurate to the books which was great, and they edited in a way that didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment. Same with the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit Trilogies, Ender’s Game, The Life of Pi, and many others.

Life of Pi Movie PosterHowever, there are a couple movies that are so bad, it makes it hard to watch the entire film. Not only the first Lightning Thief movie, but also the second, were such huge disappointments to me that I have given up hope for the third, even though it probably would have been my favorite out of the series. The movie plot strayed so far from the actual book that it made me cry inside. The reasons I look forward to a movie-book is because the book was good. When you change everything that made the book good, you make the movie bad. This is the reason why I am skeptical about book adaptations. Most of the time, the movie turns out great and that would be a cause to celebrate, yet some of the time the producers mess up, and that lowers my expectation levels. But all in all I enjoy book to movie adaptations, and I encourage producers to make more of them.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: Short Stories

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

One Death Nine Stories by Marc Aronson and Charles R. Smith Jr.As a reader, I’m pretty addicted to novels. Non-fiction, poetry, essays, and short stories all tend to get slighted in my reading habits. But I know full well that I’m missing out – which is what inspired this December’s display! Maybe with collections of short stories on display, I’ll be inspired to read some myself. Short stories have a lot to offer, and I would love to explore them more.

Monstrous Affections by Kelly Link and Gaving J. GrantOne of the best things, in my experience, about short stories is their incredible capacity to make you think. With a shorter form to work with, it’s impossible for authors to go in-depth into every aspect of the story or include a neat and tidy epilogue, which leaves a lot of room for us as readers to imagine, interpret, and consider. Short stories also, not surprisingly, can be great for traveling, holidays, and other hectic times. Because they are short and digestible, it’s easy to sneak one in during a medium length drive, or between family events, and still feel like you’ve accomplished something and finished a story. Plus, many short story collections offer us opportunities to read a whole lot of new writers in a short amount of time, or get a great introduction to a genre. While some collections are full of stories by one author, many of them bring in stories by a variety of authors, whether the stories are all related to each other like One Death, Nine Stories, all brought together under a specific theme like My True Love Gave to Me, or all connected by genre, as in Steampunk!

No matter if you are looking to expand your horizons into a new territory, find short reads to slip in between homework, family visits, and travel, or just want to try out a new author or genre, short stories are the perfect way to do it. Come visit our display and explore the world of the performing arts in Starry-Eyed, read about monsters, romance, and fairy tales in Monstrous Affections, or catch up with old friends in Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories. Whether you are a short story aficionado or new to the form, you’re sure to find something for you in the wide world of short fiction.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – Travel Tips

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By: Britta J., Teen Blogger

Baby Making Face: Taking Off On A Long Flight Remembered To Charge All DevicesWinter break is almost here, and if you’re lucky, that means vacation! Of course traveling has its ups and downs, and that saying about the importance of the journey and not the destination sometimes doesn’t apply.  Vacation is of course a special opportunity to relax and have fun, but getting there is difficult. Whether it’s a long flight, or a family road trip, sometimes the journey is downright miserable. As someone who has experienced both, here are a few tips to make your trip a bit more comfortable and enjoyable:

  • Bring snacks. As someone who highly values food, I would advise to prepare yourself with your favorite snacks. That gas station junk food or airplane meals might not be enough and no one wants to be around a hangry passenger. This means that your food is easy to take with you and edible at any time. You will also be the most popular person in your group.
  • Dress in layers or bring a blanket. Especially in planes, you never know whether it will be hot or cold. So, prepare for both! No matter where you’re going, it is always good to make sure that you are comfortable and bringing a sweatshirt along is an easy way to do so.
  • Bring activities to keep you preoccupied. I promise you, at some point, you will get bored. You can bring movies, your favorite TV shows, books, or if you get car sick easily, audiobooks. Especially if you are on a plane and have no internet connection, you will need something else to avoid pestering others. It will make the whole trip much more pleasant.

The actual traveling to your desired location can be intimidating. Trust me, I once spent 20 hours wedged between my younger brother and sister on a car trip. Yet if you prepare yourself, the journey can be fun. Don’t worry. As much as you might think that you will never get there, you will, and it will be awesome!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – All American Boys

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely Book CoverSometimes, you read a book that instantly grabs you, holds you, wrings your emotions, and in the end, makes you want to do it all over again because it was that good. This book was one of those for me.

What I Just Read: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

What’s It About (Jacket Description): In an unforgettable new novel from award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.

A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galuzzi, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?

But there were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan—and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team—half of whom are Rashad’s best friends—start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.

Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken from the headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.

Do I Like It: I already bought a copy for myself, that’s how much I loved it!

Thoughts: I read All American Boys in one day – most of it in one sitting on a plane trip. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. Rashad, Quinn, the real-world events, and the powerful prose all kept me glued to the page. But that description doesn’t really describe experience of reading All American Boys. I loved it so much that when I did have to take a break from reading it, I took the opportunity of a bookstore stop to buy it, before I had even finished reading it.

One of the biggest strengths of the book is that both Rashad and Quinn are great and compelling narrators and characters. Neither outshines the other, though of course, Rashad’s experiences take center stage in the book. Rashad’s anger, fear, and sense of injustice are palpable and understandable, but it is his relationship with his family and friends, his difficulty processing what has been done to him, and his courage to face up to injustice that really make him relatable and an outstanding character. And much like Rashad, Quinn is also defined more by his strong loyalty to his family and moral convictions than by his confusion and distress, though he struggles throughout the book with what his morals are and mean, and where his loyalties really lie.

Both boys are smart, unique characters struggling with issues we see every day in the news. But for Rashad and Quinn, the issues aren’t just in the news – they are in their lives, in their bodies, in the community they have grown up in and loved. And that’s what makes All American Boys so powerful. It makes huge, important issues deeply personal for the characters, and by extension, for the readers. And not only do Reynolds and Kiely not sacrifice characterization, plot, or good writing to do this, but in fact go above and beyond with all of these elements. Even without thinking about the big issues, All American Boys is a wonderful book about growing up, strength of character, friendship, family, and community.

Ultimately, I’m finding it hard to write about this book. I still don’t feel like I’m doing justice to what reading this book was like for me. What I will say is that if you want a book that deals with current issues, this is your book. If you want a book with fully fleshed out and appealing main characters, this is your book. If you want a book featuring strong relationships between characters, this is your book. If you want a book that explores a community, this is your book. And if you want a compelling, page-turning read, this is your book. All American Boys was one of my absolutely favorites reads of 2015, and I hope you all get as much out of it as I did!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – No Mythologies to Follow Review

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By: Sabrina A., Teen Blogger

MO: No Mythologies To Follow CD CoverYou wake up at 5 a.m. and go to school. Finally, school is over at 2:35 p.m. but now you have to go to work. After a long day of school and work you find yourself at home, staring at a pile of unfinished homework. You finally finish all your homework and eventually you fall asleep by midnight. You wake up again at 5 a.m. and follow the same steps again. What’s wrong with this routine? There is no time given to yourself. I think a great way to dedicate time to yourself is to listen to music that you enjoy. I personally am a fan of alternative music and enjoy listening to an artist named MØ. I absolutely love the lyrics in her music and her voice is very soothing. My favorite album by her is No Mythologies to Follow, and I believe it holds a lot of emotion.

The songs included in this album are, “Fire Rides,” “Maiden,” “Never Wanna Know,” “Red in the Grey,” “Pilgrim,” “Don’t Wanna Dance,” “Waste of Time,” “Dust Is Gone,” “XXX 88,” “Walk This Way,” “Slow Love,” “Glass,” “No Mythologies to Follow,” “Dummy Head,” “The Sea,” and “Gone and Found.” No Mythologies to Follow is emotionally diverse which means it’s an album you can listen to after a rough day or when you want something upbeat to dance to. I think MØ’s voice is exceptionally relaxing and soothing in No Mythologies to Follow. Also I think MØ has a very unique perspective in her music. The newer music that is on the radio is often about drugs, alcohol, and other risky behaviors, but MØ strays far from those topics and brings a refreshing twist to her songs. I believe anyone can find themselves enjoying MØ’s album No Mythologies to Follow and take something away from her lyrics.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: Meeting Authors

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

I’ve mentioned before that being a librarian, especially a teen librarian, occasionally comes with fun perks (like getting advanced reader copies of books!) And of course, there’s my favorite perk, of getting to hang out with and talk to awesome teenagers on a regular basis (seriously folks, best part of my job.) But another part of my job that I always get super excited about is the chance to meet authors! Thanks to the library conferences and professional development that I attend, plus the occasional bookstore signing, I have been lucky enough to meet some incredible authors. And you might think that, after the first couple authors, I would have learned to play it cool and not act like a besotted fangirl, but you would be wrong.

Hannah and The Fault in Our Stars Author John GreenSo even though I am still somebody who stammers and occasionally sweats and can barely garble out an “OMG I loved your book so much and you are so cool,” and therefore hardly an expert on meeting authors, I wanted to share the wealth, and make some suggestions for meeting and respecting authors when you get the chance.

The first step, of course, is finding authors! Bookstores are a great place for this – authors will often go to a bookstore to sign books, or even do a reading from their books. We are fortunate to be near enough to Anderson’s Books to see some of the incredible range of authors who visit their store, but smaller stores and libraries in the area will often host visits from authors as well, so keep your eyes open. If there’s a particular author you want to meet, check their website – most authors will post their appearances well in advance, which gives you time to plan a trip to Chicago or a road trip if you really want to. Hannah and The Weight of Feathers Author Anna-Marie McLemore

Once you’re there, the most important thing to do is respect the author. In my experience, most authors are thrilled to meet fans, sign books, and even take pictures. But everyone is different. Some people prefer not to shake hands, because they are averse to physical contact (or sick!) Some prefer not to take pictures, whether because they don’t like pictures or because they don’t want to hold up the signing line. Some are happy to personalize a book, some have to sign so many books at once that their name is all their tired hand can manage. So by all means, ask away, but be sure to respect what an author says!

Hannah and American Born Chinese Author Gene Luen YangThe second most important thing is, don’t be afraid to talk to the author! Even if you only have a minute or two, it can be really rewarding to tell an author what you liked about their book, or ask a question, or share what made you connect so powerfully to their work. Telling Dhonielle Clayton how reading Tiny, Pretty Things made me realize how much I like reading about cut-throat, ambitious, sometimes mean characters, and having her respond and agree that mean people are indeed super fun to read about, was completely awesome. Even though it was a short interaction so I didn’t hold up the line behind me, it’s something I’ll remember, and an individual moment with an author that belongs to just to the two of us! Along those lines, don’t be afraid to ask for things like a picture, a hand-shake, or a personalized signature. Just remember the most important thing (respect the author!), and don’t push it.

Lastly, enjoy yourself! You’re getting to meet someone who has created a work that you love (or like, or are interested in.) That’s something that should be savored, and remembered. Don’t worry about being nervous or red-faced or awkward. Even if you are, the authors will be thrilled that you are there, interested in their work. Plus, there’s no way you’ll be more flustered than I was when I met Tamora Pierce. Seriously, NO WAY.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School