The Teen Scene: GEPL High School Blog

GEPL Teens: Abe Lincoln Awards

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award LogoIf you’re a reader, you may remember voting for the Bluestem and Caudill awards as an elementary or middle school student. If you don’t remember, here’s a quick primer: these awards are given by the Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA) to authors of great books, based on votes from students around the state. It’s a great way to get kids actually involved in choosing what books win awards and accolades.

What you may not remember, or may never have known, is that there is a similar ISLMA award based on votes from high school students – the Abraham Lincoln Award. Like the other ISLMA awards, the Abe Lincoln Award is given to the author of a book deemed the best, based on the votes of high school students. In order to vote, teens just need to have read four of the nominated titles (there are twenty nominees this year). Titles are nominated by teachers, librarians, and students, so the award is centered around high schools and high school students right from the start.

Why am I telling you all this? Because voting for the Abraham Lincoln Awards is going on now, and will end on March 15, and I want you all to vote! You still have time to read more, if you haven’t read quite enough to qualify – you can see all the nominees here. And you can vote by checking in with your high school librarian, or attending Abe’s Books in the Glenbard West library during PLC on March 14.

This of course leads me to Abe’s Books! Abe’s Books is a reading club sponsored by the library’s Teen Leadership Council and the Elliott Library at Glenbard West. Teens read and discuss the nominated books, and the year will culminate with a voting party on March 14 (yes, there will be snacks!) You can learn more about the awards and how to vote at the school here.

So what’s the takeaway from all this?

TL;DR: You can vote on which books win a big prestigious award! Just read four of the nominated titles (some of which you may already have read) and check in with your high school librarian. It’s that easy to give a book or author some love!

If you have any questions, check in with me (Hannah) at GEPL, or with one if your high school librarians. And, because you read this whole blog entry without getting one stupid joke or picture of a cute animal, I’ll conclude with a kitten cuddling with a fawn.

Cat Laying On Top of a Fawn

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – None of the Above

Teens Blog Orange BannerBy: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio Book CoverI’m going to indulge myself a little today and talk about one more of my wonderful vacation reads from earlier this winter. There were so many good ones, I have to talk about at least one more!

What I Just Read: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

What’s It About (Jacket Description): What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

Do I Like It: Enthusiastic yes!

Thoughts: None of the Above was an engaging, emotional read almost from the very start. Kristin was a very likeable, realistic protagonist. Sure, most of us aren’t scholarship-level athletes, but I could definitely relate with Kristin’s passion for her sport, her close relationship with her two best friends, and her relationship with her father, so she was easy to connect with right away. Despite being in her head, it took a little bit for her flaws to expose themselves, which was actually nice for me as a reader – I already liked her before I started seeing any reason why I shouldn’t. And don’t get me wrong, flaws and all, Kristin is still super likeable and relatable the whole book.

This was also a very emotional read though. In large part, this was because of Kristin’s struggle to figure out her identity and who she is after being blindsided by the truth about her body. But it was especially emotional after her secret gets revealed to her classmates. The bullying she experiences felt very visceral, and very real – there was nothing so extreme it wasn’t believable, which made Kristin’s pain all the more relatable, and the bullying all the more ugly. And because the bullying centered around something very new to Kristin as well, it just made her question herself even more, which was sad to see.

As usual for me, one of my favorite parts of the books was Kristin’s relationships to other people – particularly to Faith and Vee, her two best friends, and to her father. Each of these relationships is complicated in some way. With Faith and Vee, Kristin has to deal with the betrayal of one friend, and the inability of the other to help her in any meaningful way. But she is also tied to both of them by a long history and deep mutual affection, so watching them find their way through a difficult situation was really satisfying. And Kristin’s relationship with her father was everything it should be – complicated but loving, occasional difficult but usually a support system, and tinted with their shared grief over the death of Kristin’s mother. Kristin’s relationships weren’t always easy or simple, but they were all realistic, layered, and compelling to read about.

None of the Above was wonderful on any number of levels, and a great read for anyone trying to figure out who they are, anyone dealing with a sudden change in their lives, anyone who has been bullied, or anyone who enjoys a great, complex realistic fiction novel.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: African American History Month

By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

As you almost certainly know already, from school if nothing else, February is African American History Month. Now, if you’re anything like me, you know this month celebrates interesting, important, and often overlooked people and events in history. But if you’re anything like me, you also prefer reading novels to textbooks or lectures. Luckily for us, historical fiction exists! While of course these books are fiction, good historical fiction is always rooted in great research and real events, so it’s a wonderful way to learn a little while still immersing yourself in a good book. With that in mind, here’s a few of the many books you could read to help you celebrate African American History Month!

Copper Sun Copper Sun by Sharon Draper Book Coverby Sharon M. DraperStolen from her village, sold to the highest bidder, fifteen-year-old Amari has only one thing left of her own: hope.

Amari’s life was once perfect. Engaged to the handsomest man in her tribe, adored by her family, and living in a beautiful village, she could not have imagined everything could be taken away from her in an instant. But when slave traders invade her village and brutally murder her entire family, Amari finds herself dragged away to a slave ship headed to the Carolinas, where she is bought by a plantation owner and given to his son as a birthday present.

Survival seems all that Amari can hope for. But then an act of unimaginable cruelty provides her with an opportunity to escape, and with an indentured servant named Polly she flees to Fort Mose, Florida, in search of sanctuary at the Spanish colony. Can the elusive dream of freedom sustain Amari and Polly on their arduous journey, fraught with hardship and danger? (Description from Goodreads.com.)

Willow by Tonya Cherie Hegamin Book CoverWillow by Tonya Cherie HegaminIn 1848, an educated slave girl faces an inconceivable choice — between bondage and freedom, family and love.

On one side of the Mason-Dixon Line lives fifteen-year-old Willow, her master’s favorite servant. She’s been taught to read and has learned to write. She believes her master is good to her and fears the rebel slave runaways.

On the other side of the line is seventeen-year-old Cato, a black man, free born. It’s his personal mission to sneak as many fugitive slaves to freedom as he can. Willow’s and Cato’s lives are about to intersect, with life-changing consequences for both of them. Tonya Cherie Hegamin’s moving coming-of-age story is a poignant meditation on the many ways a person can be enslaved, and the force of will needed to be truly emancipated. (Description from Goodreads.com.)

X by Kekla Magoon and Ilyasah Shabazz Book Cover X by Kekla Magoon and Ilyasah ShabazzI am Malcolm. I am my father’s son. But to be my father’s son means that they will always come for me. They will always come for me, and I will always succumb.

Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s nothing but a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer.

But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory when what starts as some small-time hustling quickly spins out of control. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever.

X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today. (Description from Goodreads.com.)

Invasion by Walter Dean Myers Invasion by Walter Dean Myers – Walter Dean Myers brilliantly renders the realities of World War II.

Josiah Wedgewood and Marcus Perry are on their way to an uncertain future. Their whole lives are ahead of them, yet at the same time, death’s whisper is everywhere.

One white, one black, these young men have nothing in common and everything in common as they approach an experience that will change them forever.

It’s May 1944. World War II is ramping up, and so are these young recruits, ready and eager. In small towns and big cities all over the globe, people are filled with fear. When Josiah and Marcus come together in what will be the greatest test of their lives, they learn hard lessons about race, friendship, and what it really means to fight. Set on the front lines of the Normandy invasion, this novel, rendered with heart-in-the-throat precision, is a cinematic masterpiece. Here we see the bold terror of war, and also the nuanced havoc that affects a young person’s psyche while living in a barrack, not knowing if today he will end up dead or alive.  (Description from Goodreads.com.)

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley Book Cover Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin TalleyIn 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it. (Description from Goodreads.com.)

These books cover just a few moments in American history, but there are many more out there. Check out other books by these authors, or come by and ask a librarian if you need more good historical fiction suggestions this month!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Ink and Ashes

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani Book CoverI only just returned from a vacation, and being the book nerd I am, that means I read a lot over the past couple of weeks. I got through many great books, so you may be getting a few editions of What I Just Read in the next few weeks, but I wanted to start with my first vacation read, a super exciting and engaging mystery.

What I Just Read: Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met.

Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life. Ink and Ashes, winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, is a heart-stopping debut mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

Do I Like It: I couldn’t put it down!

Thoughts: Ink and Ashes was the perfect book to read on an airplane, because from the moment the mystery began to appear in the first few chapters, I didn’t want to put it down. It kept me absorbed from take off until I finished it, and made me forget I was crammed in the middle seat next to two strangers while functioning on way less sleep than usual. But while the excitement and captivating nature of the book were definitely highlights, there was more to love beyond that as well.

Claire was a great main character, especially for a mystery. She was smart, ultra-curious, athletic, and sometimes made really dumb decisions (that of course just helped the plot thicken.) She was surrounded by supportive friends and family, and her concern and care for them heightened the stakes when things started to get ugly. I loved that she was flawed but strong and powerful, and her need to keep digging at a mystery was great for me as a reader, since I was dying to figure things out almost as much as she was. Another small element that I loved was the way Claire, who has mainly been friends with her brother and other guys her whole life, came to realize how much she valued her friendships with other women as well as with her group of guy friends.

Another element I liked was that a lot of what was going on was different from anything I’ve read before. I’ve never read or seen much involving organized crime, and I knew nothing about the yakuza going in to the story, so everything – from the significance of tattoos to the concepts of honor that govern the eventual climax – was new to me. It was fun to benefit from Claire’s knowledge, as well as to learn new things alongside her. It’s not like this book made me an expert on Japanese organized crime, but it was fascinating to get even a small glimpse into a world I knew nothing about before this book.

Overall, I think Ink and Ashes was a great, gripping mystery that was strong in both plot and character. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Claire, her family, and her friends, but even if there is no sequel planned, I’ll be eagerly looking forward to whatever Maetani writes next!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – See No Color

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

See No Color by Shannon Gibney Book CoverI seem to be on a kick lately of reading books featuring baseball, which is strange, since I don’t really like watching baseball all that much. Lately though, it seems to be an indicator of a book that I definitely will like!

What I Just Read: See No Color by Shannon Gibney

What’s It About (Jacket Description): For as long as she can remember, sixteen-year-old Alex Kirtridge has known two things:

  1. She has always been Little Kirtridge, a stellar baseball player, just like her father.
  2. She’s adopted.

These facts have always been part of Alex’s life. Despite some teasing, being a biracial girl in a white family didn’t make much of a difference as long as she was a star on the diamond where her father her baseball coach and a former pro player counted on her. But now, things are changing: she meets Reggie, the first black guy who’s wanted to get to know her; she discovers the letters from her biological father that her adoptive parents have kept from her; and her body starts to grow into a woman’s, affecting her game.

Alex begins to question who she really is. She’s always dreamed of playing pro baseball just like her father, but can she really do it? Does she truly fit in with her white family? Who were her biological parents? What does it mean to be black? If she’s going to find answers, Alex has to come to terms with her adoption, her race, and the dreams she thought would always guide her.

Do I Like It: Absolutely! Despite (or because of?) the baseball.

Thoughts: See No Color was one of the first books I read in 2016, and boy did it start the year off right!
This was a fast read, but I felt like I really go to know Alex and understand some of what she was going through. After all, all of us can understand what it feels like to question who we are and where we fit in – it’s just that for Alex, these issues are even more overwhelming and impossible to avoid.

One thing I loved about Alex as a character was that she started out not even thinking about the issues she faces of race and identity – she buries them under academic excellence, baseball, and her family. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and it’s clear from little things she thinks even right from the beginning that burying these things in her subconscious hasn’t made them disappear. It’s such a realistic discovery, that these things were bothering her that she didn’t even know were bothering her, and it makes it cathartic to read about her finally trying to figure things out, even when it’s tough as well. I also love that she was a hugely flawed character. There are reasons for the things she does (mostly notably, lying – a lot – to people who don’t deserve it) but that doesn’t make them right, and that doesn’t stop them from having consequences.

I thought Alex was incredibly compelling and relatable to read about, even though I have never been in her position. Again, part of this is that issues of identity and finding your place are so relatable to anyone, but also because I loved getting a glimpse into an experience that was so totally different from my own. From adoption to baseball to race to Alex’s impulsive personality, there was so much there that was different from my lived experience, and it was great to have a chance to empathize with her. And the parts that I could relate to – Alex’s anxiety, her relationships with her parents and siblings, her struggle to figure out who she is – just made it easier to slip into her world. Add in a swoony romance, and this book was a home run for me (bad pun totally intended.)

See No Color is fantastic realistic fiction that I recommend for any high school age teens. Between sports, self-identity, self-discovery, romance, and family, there’s something in this book for everyone.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: Morris Awards 2016

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

As you may or may not know, earlier this month, the American Library Association announced the winners of their Youth Media Awards – famous awards like the Newberry and Caldecott, or the Printz award for young adult literature. But they also announced the winner of a slightly less famous award, but my own personal favorite: the William C. Morris YA Debut Award. I love that this award honors new authors in YA, and I’ve rarely read a finalist or winner of this award that hasn’t been fantastic.

This year’s finalists were no exception – five excellent books, each of which I loved for different reasons. I truly cannot wait to see what each of these authors does next. I’ve already written about the winner, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, but I did read all four of the others before the announcement of the winner, so I wanted to share some mini thoughts on each of the other finalists.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas Book CoverBecause You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Description (from goodreads.com): Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine. 

Thoughts: Because You’ll Never Meet Me was one of those books I might never have picked up if it hadn’t been a Morris finalist – and I would have been missing out! While I’m usually not drawn to epistolary novels, the unique voices of Ollie and Moritz, along with the length of their letters, made this book feel like a more traditional narrative. It still kept a lot of the fun of epistolary novels though, like how each boy getting to choose how much to reveal, and the back-and-forth of their interaction with each other. While Because You’ll Never Meet Me falls solidly into the sci-fi category, despite the fact that the world its set in is our own, it was its realism that particularly drew me. The way each boy dealt with their disabilities and their guilt differently, the relationships they had with their parents and friends, and the way they helped each other find the strength to discover the truth and explore the world around them. And to top it all off, this book was funny, as well as sincere, emotional, and impactful.

Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert Book Cover Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Description (from goodreads.com): Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host, has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in the upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four-mile-per-hour pitch al- ready has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

Thoughts: This is another title that I would probably never have chosen to read without the Morris, and I am so grateful that I had a reason to pick this up. Conviction was a stunning story, and so masterfully created that I could hardly believe that it was Gilbert’s first novel. It was exciting, captivating, powerful, and character-driven. I was hooked on the plot, waiting to see what else Braden would reveal, even as I started to put the pieces together. I was riveted by Braden’s struggles with his religion, his guilt, his game, and his relationships. I found Braden, Troy, and their father such realistic, complicated characters. Gilbert expertly revealed bits from the family’s past, as well as the events of the night of the accident, that never contradicted each other, built tension, and slowly made me realize what lay beneath the surface. I already know I want to read this novel again, just to see what details and complexities I missed the first time around. But don’t think that means it was a difficult read – I raced through Conviction. I’m not usually drawn to stories about sports, religion, or father/son relationships, but Conviction was probably one of my favorite reads of 2015, despite being all those things (and so much more as well.)

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes Book Cover The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

Description (from goodreads.com): The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself. 

Thoughts: This book was getting a lot of buzz from other librarians I know even before the Morris nomination, and when I started reading, it was immediately clear why. From the very first words – “I am a blood-soaked girl” – Minnow Bly kept me riveted. I expected to find the flashbacks to Minnow’s past in the Kevinian cult fascinating, but as it turns out, I was almost equally interested in the pages dealing with Minnow’s life in prison and her adjustment to the world away from the Kevinians. Watching Minnow’s growth as a character – through her youth and in her prison life – was one of the highlights for me. There were also a lot of interesting elements dealing with being a woman, religion, finding meaning in life, and so much more, but the book never felt preachy or dull. Rather, I was completely gripped and couldn’t wait to turn the next page. And despite how different Minnow’s life was from mine, her story felt relatable and relevant.

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore Book Cover The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

Description (from goodreads.com): For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.

Thoughts: I was lucky enough to see Anna-Marie McLemore at the conference I attended in November, and saw her speak on two different panels. So I was thrilled to hear she had been nominated for the Morris Award and had high expectations for The Weight of Feathers. While the book wasn’t exactly what I expected, it was wonderful. The book was magical, and not just because of characters with feathers growing out of their heads or scales on their backs. The Weight of Feathers beautifully illustrated how our lives are shaped by our stories and our families, and how that can be both a good and a bad thing. Both Lace and Cluck find some of their strongest support and wonderful friends within their traveling families, but they also both suffer from the weight of those families’ expectations. On top of that, both must learn to separate the truths of their own – and each other’s – families from what they have been told their whole lives. But this book isn’t just literary themes and philosophies. It is also a beautiful love story, a simultaneously modern and timeless take on a classic story of forbidden romance, and an incredibly immersive world of magic – whether faked by talented performers, real and surrounding the main characters, or the magic of love and family.

 

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: What To Do With Your Four Day Weekend

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

If you go to Glenbard West or Glenbard South, by the time you read this, you’ll be done with your finals. Congratulations! Before you go back to face your second semester, you have a glorious four day weekend of awesomeness. Many of you will be spending this weekend traveling with your family, but for those who are staying at home, here’s a few ways you could enjoy this wonderful, homework-free four day weekend:

Dog Sleeping in Bed with Stuffed AnimalSleep approximately 50% of the time. Let’s be honest, you probably need a few 12 hour nights of sleep to get caught up, and who doesn’t like sleeping?

Binge watch Jessica Jones or another Netflix series. One of the great things about Netflix (or other streaming services) is that you don’t have to wait for each episode of a series to come out – you can just start and go. Jessica Jones is just one of many new streaming series that you could easily knock out in a four day weekend.

Empire Poster Catch up on your favorite traditional TV show! I haven’t even had finals, but with the holiday craziness still in the recent past, I still haven’t caught up on all the Empire episodes from last fall, but you can bet that if I had a four day weekend at home, I’d get totally up to date!

Visit somewhere close by. Whether it’s a trip into Chicago with your friends to see the sights, shop, or catch a show, or just visiting your friend who moved two towns away, those distances and time spent in transit are a little easier to take without the looming threat of homework.

Ms. Marvel Poster Read a book or three that’s not for class. Class reading takes a lot of time – we get that. But it’s easy to forget how much fun reading is when it’s all assigned. Four days is plenty of time to barrel through a book, or even a few books, on your own. Not feeling big blocks of text? Try picking up a new comic book series like Ms. Marvel and getting yourself up to date.

Play video games until your thumbs hurt. I mean, how often do you have a chance to just immerse yourself in a story-based game, or spend a day improving your first person shooter skills? Take advantage of it!

Picture of Girl Laying On Couch with Three Dogs Surrounding Her Lie on the couch surrounded by comforts. Make a nest with books, TV remotes, blankets, hot drinks, pets (if available), and of course, comfy pants. Curl up and enjoy not having anything you need to be doing.

Any or all of these are not only great ways to enjoy the weekend, but will help you recharge before school starts up again. Have a relaxing weekend, and good luck next semester!

 

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: Great Character Alert – Adelina Amouteru

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

The Young Elites by Marie Lu Book CoverOnce again, it’s time for a great character alert! Today’s great character appears in some equally great books, but I really want to focus just on her wonderful, relatable, anti-hero/villain awesomeness. This will come as no surprise to those of you who have read The Young Elites and The Rose Society, but I’m talking today about Adelina Amouteru.

For those unfamiliar with Marie Lu’s dark fantasy series, The Young Elites takes place in a world where a terrible blood fever has ravaged the land, leaving many survivors – called “malfettos” – marked with scars or strangely colored hair or other signs of their ordeal. And a select few of these malfettos, the young elites, have also developed strange powers. Adelina is one of these young elites, although she doesn’t know it at the beginning of her own story. What she does know is that as a malfetto she is hated, despised, and persecuted, even by those who should love and protect her.

Part of what makes Adelina such an incredible character is her growth over the course of the two novels. She starts out bullied by her father, envious of her sister, and desperately seeking to escape an arranged marriage. But soon after, Adelina’s powers start to show, and she must completely redefine how she views herself. Her slowly growing confidence, her internal struggles as she deals with a power that feeds on fear and hatred, and her changing relationship with her sister and her country are amazing to watch, and completely believable.

It’s not just her growth that makes Adelina such a great character though – it is her flaws. And she has many flaws. Even at the beginning when she is struggling to overcome her victimization at the hands of her father, Adelina is far from perfect. She resents her sister to an extreme degree, despite loving her. She hates her father, but still somehow craves his affection and approval. She is mistrustful of everyone, not smart enough or confident enough to outwit an enemy who blackmails her, and still afraid of her growing powers. As the story unfolds, some of Adelina’s faults magnify – her desire for power, her grudge holding, and her mistrust lead her down a dark path. But because we are in her head, because we see why she does what she does, it’s hard for us readers to hate Adelina. It’s obvious early on in the series that Adelina will never be a hero, but whether she will be an anti-hero or a villain is a question that makes her addicting to read about.

A great character isn’t always a hero. Often, they aren’t even people we would want to be friends with. Adelina is one such person – while I admire her love for her sister, her sense of the injustices against malfettos in her world, and her fierce determination and independence, I wouldn’t want to be dealing with her jealousies, her ambition, and her cruelty in my life. But the way she rings so true as a character, and struggles with a variety of physical, moral, and emotional dilemmas, and the incredibly realistic growing and changing of her character make her one of my favorite characters I’ve read about this year. The end of The Rose Society left me desperate for the next installment of the series – and desperate to know what will happen next to Adelina.

If you love anti-heroes, realistic character growth, or complicated, difficult, compelling characters, this great character alert is meant for you! Check out The Young Elites and get to know Adelina Amouteru for yourself.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

GEPL Teens: 2016 Reading Resolutions

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By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Calvin and Hobbes Commic: "Resolutions? Me?? Just What Are You Implying? That I Need To Change?? Well, Buddy, As Far As I'm Concerened, I'm Perfect The Way I Am!Once again, it’s the end of the year and time to look forward to something new. As you may recall, I made three reading resolutions for 2015: Diversify my reading, don’t waste time on books I don’t like, and make time to read. Before I go into new resolutions, I wanted to update you on how I did.

As far as “diversify my reading” and “don’t waste time on books I don’t like” went, I nailed it. My reading this year was more diverse in terms of authors, characters, and genres than I can remember. Through doing this, I found incredible new authors and books, was exposed to new experiences, found out I enjoy a whole new genre (memoir), and generally expanded my horizons. And because I succeeded with “don’t waste time on books I don’t like,” I managed to read over 120 books that I really enjoyed this year. They weren’t all five star reads, but with only one exception (an award winner, thus why I forced myself to finish,) I enjoyed them all.

Where I fell short was on “make time to read.” Yes, I read a lot of books. But there were times when I would go days without physically reading a book. Just a couple weeks ago, I had a whole day off with pretty limited chores or plans, and I didn’t once pick up a book to read. So that’s why this year, my very first resolution is a repeat!

If you need inspiration for your own reading resolutions, or are just curious about what kind of goals another read has set, here are my 2016 reading resolutions:

  1. Make Time to Read

As I mentioned last year, audiobooks are great, but there is something about physically reading a book that I miss when I don’t do it. I read faster, my imagination gets to play a little more, and it’s relaxing and immersive in a way that audiobooks just never quite achieve. So this year, I’m going to try once more to not only read at least a few pages every single day, but also make the choice to read rather than watch the BBC Pride & Prejudice for the 100th time, or instead of turning on whatever silly movie is on the SyFy network, or instead of hanging out with friends, just once or twice. Reading is one of my favorite things, and it’s important to me to make time for it!

  1. Allow Myself to Re-Read More

Diversifying my reading last year was great. I intend to keep doing it throughout 2016, because it paid off big time. But I also miss some of my old favorites. I’ve always been a re-reader, and I did very little of it in 2015. I want to read new things, but I also want to allow myself time to re-visit old favorites without feeling guilty.

  1. Only Buy Books I Love

I work at a library, so this only makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for buying books, gifting books, more books in general. But if you’re on a limited budget (like me) or working with limited space (like me) it doesn’t make sense to spend money on books you don’t absolutely love. After all, that’s part of what libraries are for – giving us access to things without having to buy them ourselves. And if I limit my book buying only to really fantastic books, I save myself money and space, and make sure that what I do spend on books is going to support authors whose work I really care about. It’s a win-win!

Are you making any resolutions for 2016? Do you have any specifically book-related resolutions?

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

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