The Middle: GEPL Middle School Blog

Ode to Festivals

By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

Picture Overlooking A Carnival Scene

Carnival season is upon us! Unfortunately, I never get to go to the Taste of Glen Ellyn. It always coincides with my nerdy weekend. It’s a shame, because I LOVE festivals! They’re like farmers markets with rides.

I enjoy seeing the shows and just soaking in the carnival culture. Funnel cake is a must. Growing up, my favorite rides were the spinning teacup type rides and the swings. Now that I’m older, my body has turned against me and I feel sick just looking at them.

Hot Air Balloons Taking Off During Eye To the Skies Festival, Lisle 2013

Eye To the Skies Festival, Lisle 2013

Stick Figure Scarecrow With Pumpkin Head at the Scarecrow Festival, St. Charles 2012

Scarecrow Festival, St. Charles 2012

What I do enjoy are free samples, fortune tellers, demolition derbies, live music and animals. It’s a great way to get outside and see what life has to offer. Festivals sometimes show different ways of living life, so go out there and expand your horizons!To find even more festivals to attend this season, go to Festing.com.

Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

National Poetry Month

By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

April is National Poetry Month, and I think that it’s important to respect and embrace poetry. Good poetry can be difficult to write, even if it doesn’t rhyme, but there are other ways to reflect your creativity.

Now, I’m not saying I’m good by any means, but I did try to get my poetic hands dirty by creating some of the different types of poetry.

Found Poetry
Picture of Page of Tom Sawyer Hilighting Words To Create Found Poetry
Found poetry is kind of like a “literary collage,” gathering bits of existing written word and converting it to something else.
 
“agony
had ceased
and
melancholy
disturbed him
a single
mewo
went
half and hour
and the village
staggered
no longer”

 

Spine Poetry
Books Stacked on A Shelf So Titles Create Poem
Spine poetry is made with… book spines! It’s pretty much a different type of found poetry. Those are some crafty goats!
 
“Look Both Ways
The Goats
Bottled Up
Scorpions
Downriver
Powerless
Hero
get well soon”

Haiku
Haiku Poem On A Chalkboard: flowers are blooming | the gnome travles at midnight | watch out for the slugs
Remember, I never said I was good at this poetry thing. This haiku was featured on our chalkboard wall in The Middle!
 
“flowers are blooming
the gnome travels at midnight
watch out for the slugs”
 

Write your own poetry using magnetic words, or on our Poe-tree during Crafternoons! For more poetic inspiration, check out this video!


Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

It’s Spring Break

By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

Spring Break Written In The Sand with a Pair of Red Sunglasses

IT’S SPRING BREAK!!!!

While some of you might be thinking that the year has been going by too fast, others think spring break couldn’t have come quick enough. Spring break is a time to set down the textbooks and catch up on a little R&R. If you’d like, you should totally take advantage of the lack of commitment and sleep in.

Looking for things to do? If you want to have fun outside, you can fly a kite or take a walk around Lake Ellyn. We’re supposed to have a few days of sun, so be sure to rock last year’s swag glasses! If you’re looking for things to do indoors, why not play a board game or see a movie? I’m dying to hear how Batman vs. Superman is!

You probably already know this, but you can totally come hang out at the library. We have games and crafternoons in The Middle and, of course, LOTS OF BOOKS!

Need a suggestion? Here are some great books you’d be sure to get through in a week:

 

Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

St. Patrick’s Day

By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

Saint Patrick’s Day is coming. This holiday reminds us of the Irish, shamrock shakes and luck. I personally am a firm believer in luck. So much, in fact, that it skews my perception of statistics. I focus less on the science of what’s likely to happen, and more about all the possibilities that could happen.

There are a lot of strange good luck charms used around the world. Alligator teeth are believed to bring you good luck when gambling in Africa. Some Asian cultures think it’s bad luck to kill a cricket, even accidentally. In Middle Eastern cultures, an Evil Eye amulet wards off the Evil Eye curse. Even ladybugs are a sign of good luck.

I believe in the ladybug, the horseshoe, the wandering eyelash. When I was a kid, I always looked for a four leaf clover. I avoid the risk of breaking mirrors, walking under ladders and opening umbrellas inside. I annoy my coworkers all the time by knocking on wood whenever something is said that could jinx us.  You might say that I’m superstitious.

If you’re looking for a book to read while sipping on your delicious shamrock shake, or eating corned beef and cabbage, why not try one of these books?

Lucky by Rachel Vail Book Cover
Lucky by Rachel Vail
It’s all good . . . and lucky Phoebe Avery plans to celebrate by throwing an end-of-the-year bash with her four closest friends. Everything will be perfect–from the guest list to the fashion photographer to the engraved invitations. The only thing left to do is find the perfect dress . . . until Phoebe goes from having it all to hiding all she’s lost.
Lucky 13: Survival in Space Richard Hilliard
Lucky 13: Survival in Space Richard Hilliard
In April 1970, three astronauts aboard Apollo 13 launched into space on a mission to explore the surface of the moon. But that mission was never completed. As they began the routine procedure for landing the spacecraft on the lunar surface there was an explosion. Astronaut Jim Lovell radioed Mission Control with the now famous words, “Houston, we have a problem”. All over the world, people followed the plight of the astronauts and their race against time.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage Book Cover
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now eleven, and her best friend Dale turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a café and co-parent of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder.
Ship out of Luck by Neal Shusterman Book Cover
Ship out of Luck by Neal Shusterman
In honor of Old Man Crawley’s eightieth birthday, the Bonano family has been invited to celebrate with a weeklong cruise to the Caribbean aboard the world’s largest, grandest ship. But whether on land or at sea, Antsy can’t manage to stay out of trouble: He quickly finds himself the accomplice of stowaway and thief Tilde, whose self-made mission it is to smuggle onto the ship and across the U.S. border illegal immigrants from her native Mexico. When Antsy steps in to take the fall for Tilde, he becomes the focus of a major international incident and the poster child for questionable decisions.

As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins Book Cover
As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins
A teenaged boy encounters one comedic calamity after another when his train strands him in the middle of nowhere, and everything comes down to luck.
Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

GEPL Tweens: Technology

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By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

March 6-12 is Teen Tech Week. Even if your age doesn’t end in “teen,” this is a perfect time to discover and embrace new technologies that can affect your world. Technology is all around us. For starters, you’re using tech to read this blog post right now!

If you’re looking to learn about a new technology, the library can help you out. We try to stay current on all the technology trends.

Be sure to also check out our Digital Media Lab (with a grown up) and see even more tech toys like our green screen!

Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

GEPL Tweens: Christina Check Up!

Tweens Blog Purple BannerBy: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

Hi guys. I know what you’ve all been thinking – “What’s Christina been up to these days?” You want to know what I’ve been reading and playing, and I get it! Well, this is your chance to get a sneak peek at Christina behind the scenes.

What I’m Reading

I have quite a few books checked out right now, and I’m working my way through all of them.


What I’m Watching

I have Spectre checked out (finally!) I also need to check out more Dr. Who seasons since Netflix took them away from me. I’m also super stoked that Venture Brothers are back!

Spectre

Spectre Movie Poster

Venture Brothers

Venture Brothers Poster


What I’m Playing

I’ve been digging the Goat Simulator, and Ark for a bit now. I also have been hooked on a digital card game called Star Realms for quite a while.

So, yes, right now I’m hogging the library’s copies of these. If you’re interested, you can a) put them on hold or b) wait until I’m done with them. Then once you’re finished, be sure to stop by the library and tell me what you think!

What are you reading, playing, or watching? Make sure you write a review on our website!

Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

GEPL Tweens: Mardi Gras

Tweens Blog Purple BannerBy: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

Mardi Gras Parade It’s Mardi Gras season! I spent a large portion of my childhood years in Louisiana. My grandparents live very close to a few parade routes, and my family would walk from their house to see the parades.

Up until a few years ago, I had giant garbage bags filled with all the beads I collected over the years. I even met John Goodman early one morning. He lives in New Orleans and is a part of a specific parade each year.

Even though I don’t live in Louisiana anymore, I try to celebrate Mardi Gras in some way now. I have bought boudin online and it was shipped in a Styrofoam box with dry ice, but still delicious. I haven’t gone so far as to make king cake on my own, but I have looked up recipes. Last year I made beignets and they were delicious!

This year, we’re going to New Orleans! I am super excited, but it’s just dawning on me that it’s coming up very soon. I’ve made a mental checklist while waiting the months between buying plane tickets to actually going on the trip.

  • Have beignets and hot chocolate from Café Du Monde
  • Go to Audubon Zoo
  • Eat at the Lebanon Café
  • Visit the World War II Museum
  • Ride a Trolley
  • See some parades

So the only problem with this list is that we’re only there for 4 days. We’ll have to be very productive with our time. I didn’t put “spend time with grandparents” on there, because I assume they will be doing at least some of these activities with us.

Water Taffy Cart at the Audubon ZooWhen we go to the Audubon Zoo, I’m really looking forward to the salt water taffy cart.

The last time we went, I talked it up to my husband and IT WAS CLOSED! My heart broke. When we go to the zoo, I’m bee lining it straight to the cart. Priorities.

The Lebanon Café is somewhere our family goes whenever we’re in the area. They have the BEST shawarma. I love it, and can’t wait to be eating the deliciousness.

The World War II Museum wasn’t my idea, but I didn’t even know it existed sadly. It’ll be interesting to go, especially since it’s the national museum.

Believe it or not, I’ve actually never ridden on a trolley, or at least not in my recollection. I can’t be held accountable if I went on one as a baby and don’t remember. My family’s so big we didn’t want to spend the money on tickets for everyone. We will be remedying this on this trip.

Of course, we’re seeing some parades. It’s a given! I was sad to find out that we won’t be in town for the parade with John Goodman. That parade is so early, I didn’t think to bring a camera the last time I went. I wanted photographic proof of meeting John Goodman and shaking his hand. Sadly, this will not be the year that this happens.

I’m sorry if this blog is kind of rubbing it in readers’ faces that I’ll be in New Orleans while everyone is up here in the chilly Midwest. It’s actually due to snow on the days we’re flying out and back. But if it makes you feel better, New Orleans is only supposed to be in the 50s.

If you come visit me after I get back, I’ll give you some beads.

Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

GEPL Tweens: The Middle

Tweens Blog Purple BannerBy: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

Have you stopped by our middle school room yet? If not, you should. We christened the room with our Middle School Room Kick-Off Week, which was a lot of fun. Mikey Reif from Glen Crest Middle School stopped by too. Mikey came up with the winning name suggestion for our room, now named The Middle.

Middle School Room Name Contest Winner Mikey Reif

Mikey is an 8th grader from Glen Crest, and also one of the vice presidents of the Teen Advisory Board through the school library. When thinking of a name suggestion, she thought of what it was currently being called – The Middle School Room, and just abbreviated it to The Middle.

When she got the call that her room name suggestion was chosen as the official name, she was very surprised. Or, as surprised as she could have been because she was sick with a cold.

Mikey is currently reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. WOW! Her top three books are the Harry Potter books (I let her count those as one), Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, and Emma by Jane Austen. Needless to say, historical fiction is her favorite book genre.

Her favorite places to be in Glen Ellyn are Danby Station, and the library of course. She plans to visit her grandparents in sunny California this summer. Mikey wants to be a corporate attorney when she grows up. She likes the idea of combining law, paperwork, and business and swimming around in money like Scrooge McDuck.

Make sure you come by The Middle soon, and if you see Mikey, congratulate her on her genius!

Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

GEPL Tweens: New Year’s Resolutions

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By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

It’s a new year, and the time for resolutions. I’ll be honest, I didn’t make a resolution this year. Resolutions are about change, and I don’t want much to change. Anything that needs a little tweaking, doesn’t merit a resolution. In the past, I’ve made resolutions that I’ll keep enforcing this year – do a good deed each day, even if it’s complimenting a stranger, and I try to let things bother me less. Resolutions are great. Even if you don’t follow through all 12 months, it still allows for self-reflection. It makes you think about your life, how you want things to be different, and pick the roads that will get you there.

A new year can mean change. I think everyone in the library can attest to that. The new youth department in the library has opened its doors and unveiled all the changes that we have worked on in the past few months. There are new toys, new displays, new books, and new rooms. The whole department has a new-thing smell. It’s glorious. If you haven’t yet, be sure to stop by and see what we have to offer, including The Middle, a room just for 6-8th grade visitors.

Change is not unique to one person or place. All of us deal with change at some point in our lives. It can be an experience that bonds people together. My cats decided they will be friends after we moved into our house. The fear of change bonded them together. Since cats can’t read, they can’t enjoy stories about change, but that shouldn’t stop us. Stories about change, or main characters dealing with life-altering events are fun to read because it could happen to us, or it already has.

If you’d like to experience change through someone else’s eyes, pick up one (or more) of these titles.

The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter by Kristen Tracy Book Cover

The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter by Kristen Tracy

After an unfortunate incident at the hair salon, Bessica is not allowed to see her best friend, Sylvie. That means she’s going to start middle school a-l-o-n-e. Bessica feels like such a loser. She wants friends. She’s just not sure how to make them. It doesn’t help that her beloved grandma is off on some crazy road trip and has zero time to listen to Bessica. Or that Bessica has a ton of homework. Or that gorgeous Noll Beck thinks she’s just a kid. Or that there are some serious psycho-bullies in her classes. Bessica doesn’t care about being popular. She just wants to survive–and look cute. Is that too much to ask when you’re eleven?

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano Book Cover

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano

There are two secrets Evelyn Serrano is keeping from her Mami and Papo–her true feelings about growing up in her Spanish Harlem neighborhood, and her attitude about Abuela, her sassy grandmother who’s come from Puerto Rico to live with them. Then, like an urgent ticking clock, events erupt that change everything. The Young Lords, a Puerto Rican activist group, dump garbage in the street and set it on fire, igniting a powerful protest. When Abuela steps in to take charge, Evelyn is thrust into the action. Tempers flare, loyalties are tested. Through it all, Evelyn learns important truths about her Latino heritage and the history makers who shaped a nation. Infused with actual news accounts from the time period, Sonia Manzano has crafted a gripping work of fiction based on her own life growing up during a fiery, unforgettable time in America, when young Latinos took control of their destinies.

Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy Book Cover

Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy

Friendship can be a bumpy road. . . .Lana and Cassie have met only once before, at the wedding of Lana’s Grandpa Howe and Cassie’s Grandma Tess two months ago. The two girls couldn’t be more different, and they didn’t exactly hit it off–but they’re about to spend an entire week together for their grandparents’ honeymoon, road-tripping from California to Maine in the backseat of a Subaru. It’s going to be a disaster.

I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch Book Cover

I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch

The true story of an all-American girl and a boy from Zimbabwe and the letter that changed both of their lives forever. It started as an assignment. Everyone in Caitlin’s class wrote to an unknown student somewhere in a distant place. Martin was lucky to even receive a pen-pal letter. There were only ten letters, and fifty kids in his class. But he was the top student, so he got the first one. That letter was the beginning of a correspondence that spanned six years and changed two lives.

Body Switch by M.G. Higgins Book Cover

Body Switch by M.G. Higgins

A wish comes true in a mysterious restaurant. Two boys switch places. Brian Stark is a normal middle school kid. He is bored with his family. School is a drag. Watching his little sister is a total pain. Jamie Hawk is an international pop star sensation with a ton of money, but he has no normal life. His dad bosses him around. He has no privacy. He never sees his mom. Zap! With a crack of lightning and a selfie, it all changes.

The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days by Michele Helen Hurwitz Book Cover

The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days by Michele Helen Hurwitz

This summer, Nina decides to change things. She hatches a plan. There are sixty-five days of summer. Every day, she’ll anonymously do one small but remarkable good thing for someone in her neighborhood, and find out: does doing good actually make a difference? Along the way, she discovers that her neighborhood, and her family, are full of surprises and secrets.

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly Book Cover

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to Louisiana from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show her how special she really is.

Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde Book Cover

Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Trevor McKinney, a twelve-year-old boy in a small California town, accepts his teacher’s challenge to earn extra credit by coming up with a plan to change the world. His idea is simple: do a good deed for three people and instead of asking them to return the favor, ask them to ‘pay it forward’ to three others who need help.

My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros Book Cover

My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros

If Life Was Like a Song….Nina Simmons’ song would be “You Can’t Always Eat What You Want.” (Peanut allergies, ugh). But that’s okay, because as her best friend Brianna always said, “We’re All in This Together.” Until the first day of the seventh grade, when Brianna dumps her to be BFFs with the popular new girl. Left all alone, Nina is forced to socialize with “her own kind”–banished to the peanut-free table with the other allergy outcasts. As a joke, she tells her new pals they should form a rock band called EpiPens. (Get it?) Apparently, allergy sufferers don’t understand sarcasm, because the next thing Nina knows she’s the lead drummer. Now Nina has to decide: adopt a picture-perfect pop personality to fit in with Bri and her new BFF or embrace her inner rocker and the spotlight. Well…Call Me a Rock Star, Maybe.

Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

GEPL Tweens: The Christina Awards

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By: Christina Keasler, Tween Librarian

Everyone, let’s applaud the coolest Middle School Librarian you know: Me. I have officially read all of this year’s Caudill nominees. All. Twenty. Titles. I know, pretty impressive. I’m also nearly finished with the Bluestems, so stay tuned.

And now, it’s time for…. THE CHRISTINA AWARDS!

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage Book Cover

Coolest Book I Read Before the Nominations:
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

I love this book; and I loved listening to the audio a couple years ago. I didn’t want this to win any more Christina Awards since it’s not a new book for me.

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson Book Cover

When Harry met Steampunk:
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

I really liked this book, even though I’m not a huge fan of Steampunk. I enjoyed reading it, and looked forward to solving the case. The ending was great, and I can’t wait to read the next one. That being said, it’s not a completely new story. Boarding school fiction is not a new idea, but again – this was still a fun read.

Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan Book Cover

Biggest Surprise:
Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan

This book hasn’t been super popular with checkouts. It always has the most copies on the shelf. They’re not all there, but still the most copies. This book seemed like heavy subject matter, and it was one of the last books I read from the list. I’m kind of sad I waited so long to try it. Don’t get me wrong, it WAS heavy subject matter, but not for the whole book. I was surprised when the book took a happy turn half way through and Habo, the main character made a friend and got a role model from the same person. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will give this book another Christina Award: Most Overlooked Caudill Nominee.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer Book Cover

Close Second in Big Surprise:
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

So this story isn’t overlooked like Golden Boy, but I was still reluctant to read it. I thought, “I already know Cinderella. I don’t need to read this.” I was wrong. The story is VERY loosely based off the tale. Cinder is a cyborg, and I knew that going in, but she’s a mechanic, which is refreshing, and the evil queen is FROM THE MOON! I have been converted to read the rest of the Lunar Chronicles – eventually.

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen Book Cover

Funniest:
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

I’ve read one of Hiaasen’s adult books before, but I liked this one more. I think Wahoo’s dad is my favorite literary character at least of this year. He was the best. I would read any book with him in it. The whole book was incredibly entertaining. If you haven’t read it yet, and like funny books, pick this up NOW!

See You at Harry’s by Johanna Knowles Book Cover

Saddest:
See You at Harry’s by Johanna Knowles

When I told Glen Crest sixth graders that this book was super sad, copies started flying off the shelves. I don’t know what’s with you guys and sad, but if that does it for you, read this book! There were a few other sad books this year, but nothing was as sad as this book in my opinion. It also has me super paranoid about my toddler.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness Book Cover

Most Interesting Back Story:
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

“She had the characters, a premise, and a beginning. What she didn’t have, unfortunately, was time.” – Patrick Ness. A Monster Calls was an idea by Siobhan Dowd. Sadly, she had died of cancer before being able to finish her story, so Patrick Ness finished it. Make sure to get the version with the creepy illustrations.

Second Place in Most Interesting Back Story: Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus

The reason I chose this book as a second place in this category is because while the main character Espen wasn’t a real person, he was based off a very real child spy. The end of the book tells all about the author’s real-life inspiration.

A Monster Calls Movie Poster

Book I’m Most Excited about Seeing at the Movies:
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Dude. Check out the teaser trailer and tell me you’re not pumped, even if Liam Neeson’s voice is a little weird in it.

And that’s it for the Christina Awards! Thanks for reading!
Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School