GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: Trying New Things

Teens Blog Banner9780142410974_JustListen_CV.inddLately, I’ve been on a big realistic fiction kick, with a definite skew towards the romantic.  If it tells you anything, I’ve read three Sarah Dessen books in the last couple months, among many other things.  This is notable because as a general rule, I prefer speculative fiction to realistic fiction, and I tend to avoid books with overtly romantic themes.  The preferring speculative fiction is not surprising – my love of speculative fiction has been developing my entire life, ever since I learned to read on a picture book version of The Nutcracker, all the way through my obsession with dragons and Tolkien, on to my current taste for dragons (yes, still), vampires, the supernatural, dystopias, and generally speaking anything not of this world.  And you know what?  That’s fine.  I like what I like, and there’s absolutely no reason I should have to read anything I don’t like.

Blog Entry 38 - Image 3My mistake, I think, was in ruling things out – like realistic fiction and romance.  I’m pretty sure I’ve always liked some romance with my books.  Not that I need it in every book, but it’s definitely something I’ve enjoyed when it appears.  My prejudice against anything that I knew was “romance-y” was entirely that – prejudice.  My avoidance of realistic fiction was less of a prejudice, and more of a “I know I usually prefer speculative fiction” thought turning into a “why would I pick up a realistic fiction book?” response.  Combine the romance prejudice with my natural tendency to grab books I have a high likelihood of enjoying and my laziness about testing my limits, and you know what?  I was missing out on a lot of good books.

Style: "Porcelain vivid"This isn’t to say I’m suddenly un-interested in reading fantasy or anything like that.  Quite the contrary – I’m actively holding myself back from re-reading a bunch of my favorite speculative fiction series simply because I don’t have the time to commit to reading a whole series at the moment.  But discovering all these new books I’d been missing out on has been delightful.  Unexpected, but delightful.

So I challenge you to pick up something different next time you’re at the library.  Pick up historical fiction instead of something contemporary.  Pick up an action heavy book instead of a calmer, character-centered story.  Try fantasy instead of realistic fiction or something realistic instead of fantastical.  Challenge your prejudices and assumptions about your own taste – you could easily find yourself very pleasantly surprised!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I’m Reading Now – Maggot Moon

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 37 - ImageOnce again I’m reading an awards book – not the winner, but an “honor” book for the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

What I’m Reading Now: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner.

What’s It About (Jacket Description): What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the “train-track thinkers.” So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big…One hundred very short chapters, told in an utterly original first-person voice, propel readers through a narrative that is by turns gripping and darkly humorous, bleak and chilling, tender and transporting.

Do I Like It: I think this is a phenomenal book and I can’t put it down…but I also can’t say I’m exactly enjoying it.  I’ll have to get to the end to see if this goes on the re-read shelf!

Thoughts: The short answer is to see what I said about “do I like it.”  Maggot Moon is unquestionably a great book – original, compelling, immensely readable, and extremely well-written.  The alternate history/dystopia setting is reminiscent of Nazi Germany and Cold War Russia, but with details that are uniquely its own.  Despite the 1950s flavor, this dystopia feels like it could exist at any time and in any country.

Standish is an interesting narrator.  Despite his unique voice and turns of phrases, his character takes a while to begin coming through.  I’m about halfway through, and Standish’s character is finally starting to appear.  He daydreams often about escaping the prison-like Zone 7, but is caught in a tension between a passiveness that allows him to keep existing and a dangerous stubbornness and fearlessness that could threaten his life.  He’s an interesting character, but I’m still not fully invested – I’ll have to see how the second half of the book plays out.

This book is incredibly readable.  The chapters are short, the questions that I hope to have answered are many, and I am RACING through it.  Standish’s gramps, in particular, is a character I’m dying to know better, and I’m hoping we learn more soon.  The action is harsh and violent, but definitely keeps things moving.  And I’m desperate to uncover even one or two of the secrets the regime is holding.

So for many reasons, this is a really good book.  I think what’s holding me back from enjoying is the straight-up bleakness and brutality of the world Standish exists in.  Even as a reader, it’s hard to really see a way out or a way to fight back.  This world is people disappearing around you with no notice, near-starvation in winter, reporting on your neighbors to feed your children, teachers beating children to death, and on and on.  It’s a difficult world to be immersed in, so “enjoyment” is a hard state to reach.  That said, so far it’s absolutely worth it, I have high hopes for the rest of the book, and I can unequivocally say I would recommend this to a lot of different people with a lot of different tastes.

Posted in GEPL Teens

S.T.E.A.M. Fair Spotlight: Elgin Paranormal Investigators

news-blog-bannerWho you gonna call? E.P.I.!

Ever think your house is haunted? Elgin Paranormal Investigators have been searching and documenting paranormal activities since 2007. Allowing facts and evidence to guide their investigations, E.P.I.’s main goal is to collect scientific data that contributes to the debate of the existence of paranormal activity.

Elgin Paranormal Investigators’ booth at the Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead Fair will encourage members to get a hands-on experience with real ghost hunting equipment and to watch footage from some of E.P.I.’s investigations.

For more information about GEPL’s March 8th Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead Fair, please visit: gepl.org/steam.

Posted in GEPL Kids, GEPL News, GEPL Teens, GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: S.T.E.A.M.punk

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 36 - ImageWe’re still thinking S.T.E.A.M. here at GEPL (remember to come to our S.T.E.A.M. Fair tomorrow!), and this month I’m turning that into a whole display…in a manner of speaking.  This month’s display is Steampunk!  I’m still learning about Steampunk myself, but I’m finding my first forays into this genre pretty awesome, and I’m excited to highlight some great books.

“Steampunk” is something I’ve been vaguely aware of for a long time, mostly based on the look.  I really didn’t know what it was though.  And then someone recommended the author Gail Carriger to me, I picked up one of her adult books, and I was hooked.  I was thrilled when I found out she was venturing into the young adult world with Etiquette & Espionage!  Steampunk – at least what I’ve read and seen of it so far – is an incredibly fun mash-up of old-fashioned manners and fashion (Victorian, in the case of Carriger’s books) and all the techy goodness of classic sci-fi.

So whether you like action and adventure, manners and period clothes, sci-fi or historical fiction, steampunk has something for everyone.  Shadowhunters fans can check out The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare for steampunk-flavored demons.  If you have a taste for classic literature or graphic novels, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will be right up your alley.  For a crash course in the genre, try Kelly Link’s Steampunk! anthology.  Me, I’m hoping to check out all of these (when you’re done with them) and more.  They have a lot to live up to after Etiquette & Espionage, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy finding out how they compare!

Posted in GEPL Teens

S.T.E.A.M. Fair Spotlight: Vulcan Materials

news-blog-bannerThe Glen Ellyn Public Library is excited to announce the Vulcan Materials Company will participate during our Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead Fair on Saturday, March 8th from 10:30am to 2:30pm.

Vulcan Materials Company, the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregates—primarily cushioned stone, sand and gravel—works to actively grow STEAM learning among the nation’s school children.

David Clement, Senior Vice President, Central Region says that Vulcan Materials “deploy STEAM learning every day to manufacture high-quality materials in a socially and environmentally responsible way. That’s why we partner with local schools and organizations to help make STEAM learning exciting and relevant.”

To help improve student learning and develop the workforce of tomorrow, the company deploys its engineers and personnel into the community and uses its mining and production facilities as real-life classrooms to bring STEAM learning to life for teachers and students.

For more information about the Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead Fair, please visit: gepl.org/steam.

Posted in GEPL Kids, GEPL News, GEPL Teens, GEPL Tweens

S.T.E.A.M. Fair Spotlight: SciTech Museum

news-blog-bannerThe Glen Ellyn Public Library is thrilled to announce that the SciTech Hands On Museum will participate during our Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead Fair on Saturday, March 8th from 10:30am to 2:30pm.

SciTech Hands on Museum is an educational resource providing first-class educational programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Established in 1987 by Fermilab Physicist Ernie Malamud, SciTech offers 200 hands on exhibits designed to intrigue and excite the whole family.

During GEPL’s Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead Fair, SciTech will teach the community about air pressure, encouraging children to create their own flyers and launch them through the air using their giant wind tunnel.

SciTech Museum is one of 18 exhibitors participating in the Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead Fair, a family-friendly event featuring interactive exhibits showcasing the latest innovations in science, technology, engineering, arts and math designed to support the initiatives established by Glen Ellyn School District 41. The fair aims to introduce children to rewarding S.T.E.A.M. careers while igniting a passion for these emerging fields among the entire community.

For more information about the Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead Fair, please visit: gepl.org/steam.

Posted in GEPL Kids, GEPL News, GEPL Teens, GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Hackers!

Teens Blog BannerIt’s S.T.E.A.M. week here at GEPL, leading up to our fantastic Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead Fair this weekend, so I thought I’d do a thematically appropriate booklist!  S.T.E.A.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (you may know it better as S.T.E.M., but c’mon, the arts are awesome!)  There are so many ways I could go with this, book-wise, but for some reason my mind immediately went to hackers.  Probably because I think being that good with computers and tech is awesome, and it’s something I know very little about.  So, in the spirit of S.T.E.A.M. week, here are five books featuring hackers!

Blog Entry 35 - Image 1Little Brother by Cory Doctorow – Marcus is a hacker in a San Francisco of the not-so-distant-future.  When a terrorist attack rocks his city, Marcus and his friends find themselves detained by homeland security in a secret prison.  When his ordeal is over, Marcus is determined to take action against a Department of Homeland Security that is using ever-more intrusive methods of spying, and making San Francisco look increasingly like a police state.  Using his computer skills and a network of other angry hackers, Marcus desperately tries to overcome the odds and make his city free again.

Blog Entry 35 - Image 2Find Me by Romily Bernard – Wick Tate is not particularly interested in obeying the command “find me,” words written on a dead girl’s diary.  But when her sister becomes the next target, Wick is suddenly ready to use all her hacking skills to find a killer and prevent her sister’s death.  With the help of her neighbor Griff, Wick begins the hunt.  Despite complications from the possibility of her father’s return and unwelcome attention from a detective, Wick pursues her quest with a dogged determination.  But will she find what she’s looking for in time?

Blog Entry 35 - Image 3Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks – Cadel was hacking computers at seven.  By fourteen, he is well on his way to becoming a true evil genius.  By taking classes in a World Domination program.  Seriously.  There is humor as well as drama in Evil Genius, as Cadel struggles with morals, his evil genius father, and even some romance when he meets a girl who makes him question whether world domination is really a good goal.  There is action and excitement enough to keep readers turning pages as they wait to see what kind of person Cadel will turn out to be.

Blog Entry 35 - Image 4Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes – Olivia has spent her time in foster home after foster home becoming a great hacker.  So when the mysterious Z from her new school recruits her to be part of his hacker team, she fits right in.  But while Olivia dreams of a better life, Z’s boss Sykes has his eye on her for other reasons.  Loosely based on Oliver Twist, Olivia Twisted centers on a tough main character who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself or her morals – even to people she cares about.  Romance, computers, and suspense combine in this gripping story.

Blog Entry 35 - Image 5Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick – Real life super-hacker Kevin Mitnick spills in his memoir, Ghost in the Wires.  Mitnick avoided the authorities as he hacked into some of the biggest companies in the world.  He hacked phones, computers, and wireless networks.  And he avoided capture for years.  His story is a story of technology and computers, but also a story of crime and exciting escapes, a clever mind playing games with those hunting him, and immense skill and determination.

Posted in GEPL Teens

S.T.E.A.M. Fair Spotlight: SCARCE

news-blog-banner

The Glen Ellyn Public Library is set to host the Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead Fair from 10:30am to 2:30pm on Saturday, March 8, featuring 18 interactive exhibits showcasing the latest innovations in science, technology, engineering, arts and math designed and operated by leading industry pioneers, including SCARCE.

SCARCE (School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education) was started by Kay McKeen as SCRAP in 1990 to educate students about environmental issues. McKeen became inspired by discarded textbooks sitting in schools waiting to be thrown away. She initiated a “Book Rescue” to bring these discarded books to people who needed them.

Since then, SCARCE has won countless awards for environmentalism and continue to strive to “inspire people, through education, to preserve & care for the Earth’s natural resources, while working to build sustainable communities”.

SCARCE offers many workshops, activities and contests for all ages to participate in and learn how to make the world a better place. They award Earth Flags to other organizations that practice ecologically friendly habits and pass a Green Audit. The Glen Ellyn Public Library has earned this flag. It can be seen flying proudly outside the building.

Look for SCARCE’s booth during the S.T.E.A.M. fair to learn how to use your own kinetic energy on a bicycle to power a light bulb grid and to watch a recycled paper making workshop.

For more information about S.T.E.A.M. fair, please click here. 

Posted in GEPL Kids, GEPL News, GEPL Teens, GEPL Tweens

GEPL Teens: Great Historical Fiction

Teens Blog BannerHistorical fiction is a funny thing.  I find when I read it that a lot of times, it feels a lot like reading fantasy.  Not because all fantasy is based in historical times (although much of it is,) but because often the time period I’m reading about is so different from our own times that it might as well be another world.  That said, historical fiction does offer something fantasy can’t – a fresh look at a real event.  Fantasy can offer perspective on human actions, and sometimes even re-write history.  But the historical fiction perspective is something different.  Good historical fiction thrives on good research, but is of course fiction, which allows for this new perspective.  And speaking for myself, historical fiction almost always teaches me something or makes me interested in learning something about the period.

But of course most importantly, good historical fiction – like any good fiction – is fun to read.  So check out these historical fiction novels set in Tudor England:

Blog Entry 34 - Image 1The Perilous Gard, by Elizabeth Marie Pope – This is the book that made me think of the Tudor period for this list.  The Perilous Gard is one of my absolute favorite books, and Kate is one of my absolute favorite heroines.  When Kate is banished at Queen Mary’s order, she is taken to a house arrest of sorts at the Perilous Gard, an isolated castle in the forests of England owned by the Heron family.  There she finds a mystery surrounding her host and his brother, as well as rumors about an ancient and dangerous race of fairies.  Before she knows it, her curiosity gets her much more deeply involved with the Herons and the Fair Folk than she could have imagined.

Blog Entry 34 - Image 2Tarnish, by Katherine LongshoreTarnish is one of admittedly many takes on Anne Boleyn, looking at her life at court before she became queen, and her relationship with courtier Thomas Wyatt.  Anne is an outcast when she first comes to court, and struggles to find a place.  When Thomas Wyatt takes her under his wing, he assures her that if she plays his game, she will find acceptance at court.  Anne agrees, but what neither of them count on is that the stakes of their game will be raised when they start to fall for each other…and Anne attracts the attention of King Henry VIII.

Blog Entry 34 - Image 3VIII, by H.M. Castor – This book is another story involving King Henry VIII, but this time from his own perspective.  VIII introduces us to Hal, the young Henry before he became king.  He is a good fighter, an idealist, and determined to not rule like his family has.  But as Hal grows into all his powers and privileges as King Henry VIII, it will be harder to escape his past – and harder to control his future.  Like BBC’s The Tudors, VIII starts with a Henry very different from the fat balding man with a string of deserted and dead wives behind him that most of us are used to thinking of.  But throughout the novel, Castor shows us how he became that man.

Blog Entry 34 - Image 4The Fool’s Girl, by Celia ReesShakespeare in Love gave us one suggestion about the inspiration for Twelfth Night, but The Fool’s Girl gives us a wholly new one.  Violetta is the daughter of Viola and Orsino, the lead characters in Twelfth Night.  She arrives in England, accompanied by the fool Feste, to try and stop a plot of the villainous Malvolio.  There she meets Shakespeare, who hears her story – leading to him writing his famous play – and assists her and Feste.  Combining characters from Shakespeare’s plays and historical figures of his time, The Fool’s Girl will appeal to fans of Shakespeare, fans of historical fiction, and fans of engaging and awesome heroines.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Announcing Homework Cafe

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 33 - ImageNew program announcement!  Late Night Study was awesome you guys.  At least for us.  And I hope, despite the studying, for you all.  You certainly seemed to enjoy it, based on the amount of pizza eaten and hot chocolate drunk.  So much so, that I started thinking it seems unfair to only offer that twice a year.  Plus, I noticed how many teenagers come to the library every day after school, and how you’re usually working your butts off.

So going back to my old “how to make anything in the world better” standby, I decided that hot chocolate and caffeine are obviously the best way to make the daily homework grind better.  So a couple weeks ago, we launched “Homework Café” – your one-stop shop for study space and hot drinks after school.

Every Thursday afternoon from 2:30-4:30, we will be serving coffee and hot chocolate in the Teen Scene for teenagers.  Like Late Night Study, you can take your drink anywhere in the library (as long as it’s covered!) or stay in our awesome teen room to study, chat, or whatever else you’re whiling away your after school time with.

I’m excited that this program has already gone smoothly twice in a row, and I’m looking forward to fulfilling your chocolate and caffeine needs for the rest of the semester!

Posted in GEPL Teens