Blogs: Teens

--By the Hollywood Teen Book Council

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2009 TEDTalk is a powerful statement  in how only having one story can perpetuate stereotypes.

We try to read broadly at the Hollywood Teen Book Council and seek out books that will expand our worldview. Whether it is a Chinese immigrant living in Canada, soldiers in an unpopular war, or our preconceptions of cheerleaders, here are three books that surprised us and changed how we saw others.

 

Midnight at the Dragon Cafe Midnight at the Dragon Cafe by Judy Fong Bates

Review by Siena Lesher, sophomore

From clothing to teeth to the food you eat, the cultural differences between China and Canada are one that many don’t even consider unless they’re being made fun of it. Su-Jen, who takes the English name “Annie,” leaves communist China with her mom for a hopefully better life in Canada. As she is very young, she begins to subtly assimilate into Western culture, leaving behind the ideas of her past. I actually read this book twice - the first time focussing on the plot, the second on the pressure for Annie to become “Western.” I thought it was very interesting and well written,  thoughtful and very eye-opening.

 

Sunrise Over Fallujah

Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

Review by Noah Pettinari, sophomore

Do you like plot twists to the Iraq War? Then this book is for you. Birdy is a soldier newly deployed into Iraq and Kuwait from Harlem, New York. As he learns the ropes of Civil Affairs operations in Iraq 2003, he encounters the true embodiment of war. This book is written in such a way as to personify the commonly dehumanized military, and lacks the catchy plots commonly found in YA novels. I would recommend it to any teen interested in the mental toll of war and how much war can change a person's life.

 

Exit, Pursued by a Bear Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston

Review by Elsa Hoover, sophomore

When I picked up this book I didn’t have any idea what it was about. Exit, Pursued by a Bear? A cheerleader? I wondered what this could possibly be about, but then I read the inside of the flap and found out it was about sexual assault and stopped short. Did I really want to read something so sad? But I went on and I am really glad I did. This is a book about a cheerleader raped at camp, and the next year of her life as she navigates this new world. My favorite thing about this book was its realism in the face of a hard subject. Not everything turned out great. It wasn’t cheery and that why it felt real. You could understand where all the characters were coming from. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a short, emotionally charged book.


Here is a list of more books that helped expand our worldview:

--by the Hollywood Teen Book Council

As summer approaches many of us are making plans for future trips. Some will be enjoying summer with  “armchair travel” while others will be finding adventure on the road. Whichever way you travel, here are some suggestions for you:

Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Review by Siena Lesher, sophomore

It seems as though adventure is hard to find these days. We’re all so trapped in what’s expected of us, caught in a web of time that draws tighter with every passing second. But, Let’s Get Lost fights to show that you don’t need to escape to have an adventure, that if you can just manipulate the silk, you can travel within the web. Each character must face their spider, one meeting a sister to whom she  hasn’t spoken  in years, another asking out the person they’ve loved for ages, all stories spun together by a girl on her quest to see the northern lights. I’d recommend this book to those who want to take their own adventure, whether it be traveling to Alaska, or simply seizing the Tuesday.

Also, try one of these:

--By the Hollywood Teen Book Council

We all have those childhood favorites that will forever hold a place in our hearts. Sometimes we come across something that takes us back. If you want to revisit a blast from the past, try one of these suggestions from Hollywood Teen Book Council member Elsa Hoover.

If you once liked: Yertle the Turtle, now try The Big Short

Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss

The rock that Yertle uses as a throne isn’t high enough so King Yertle stacks himself on top of other turtles to see farther and make his kingdom bigger.  He does not, however, think of how this situation is affecting the turtles beneath him.

The Big Short by Michael Lewis

In Michael Lewis’s book, four high-finance outsiders are the first to understand that the mid-2000-era housing market was the equivalent of a throne of stacked turtles.

Eloise by Kay Thompson

Unforgettable Eloise lives at the Plaza Hotel and knows everything about it.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna has her senior year planned out.  Then plans change and she ends up in a boarding school in Paris.  She’s pining for Georgia, so Paris isn’t very magical.  But there’s this guy…

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Claudia and her brother Jamie run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Hiding in the museum is part of the fun, but they also set out to figure out if an angel statue was sculpted by Michelangelo.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Jude and her twin brother Noah were once close and now they aren’t.  Find out what happened when they were 13 and what’s happening now when they are sixteen.

The Paper Bag Princess  Robert N. Munsch

Princess Elizabeth is ready to marry Prince Roland, until a dragon intervenes.

Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore

Princess Bitterblue’s rule of Monsea is complicated by the fact that she can’t leave the castle, and also because the former king was a violent psychopath.  She’s ready to move her kingdom past that stage.  But how?

 

If you like Charlotte's WebCharlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Wilbur, the runt of the litter is saved twice, first by Fern Arable and then by Charlotte, a barn spider.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The pigs have grown up!  And this time they are taking over the farm in George Orwell’s allegorical novella.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

The story of a bunny in a great green room saying goodnight to everything.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Jack says goodnight to things, too, though he does it in Room, the tiny shed which is the only home he’s ever known.  Unknown to him, Room isn’t the world, it’s where he and his Ma are held captive by Old Nick.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Annemarie and Ellen’s friendship persists despite the pressures of World War II and the relocation of Jews in Denmark.

Night by Elie Wiesel

A son’s experience with his father in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald
 

 

 

 

Outline of the U.S. and image of a camera lens, with the words "CHOOSE PRIVACY" beneath them.May 1st through 7th has been designated by the American Library Association as Choose Privacy Week, and this year it is just as relevant as ever. A recent Pew Internet study shows many American adults who go online do not have a good understanding of cybersecurity. This spring, we also read about a vote to repeal rules requiring ISPs to protect customers’ privacy. 

What does privacy mean to you? Is it a place where no one is watching you or listening to what you say? Thanks to our ever-connected gadgets (our phones, computers, televisions, e-readers) such places are becoming more and more scarce. Every digital breath we take is noted, collected, and recorded for future marketing or security purposes.

Should we care? After all, we get many benefits by giving up our privacy: we receive recognition from others, we can easily share and communicate with groups of friends, we get free email. But a world without privacy is also a world where you are not free to ask questions or seek information without being monitored.

Libraries care about privacy. Why? Because, according to the American Library Association, "the freedom to read and receive ideas anonymously is at the heart of individual liberty in a democracy.” 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Privacy webpage is a good place to keep up to date with current privacy issues, especially in the online world. To learn more online privacy, take a look at Portland Community College’s Privacy Online guide: it includes videos and links about the ways that privacy is compromised online, and tips for how you can protect it.

Book cover for Intellectual Privacy by Neil RichardsIf, like me, you’re more of a book person, I’ve made a reading list called “Privacy? What’s privacy?” - it includes current books that will help you start to answer that question. If you’d rather get your dystopia in a make-believe format, another reading list, “Surveillance stories and privacy parables,” includes books and DVDs about the privacy-less society that we just might be headed toward.

Are you taking steps to protect your privacy? Or have you already given up on the notion of privacy? Leave your comments below (and please feel free to do so anonymously).

There was a great response to Multnomah County Library's first comics contest for grades 6-12! It was very hard to choose the winners and honorable mentions, and we're grateful to Robin Herrera and Ari Yarwood, editors at Oni Press, for their help judging. 

Honorable mentions:

Broken Hearts, Stephanie S

Copy Cats, Delana Wilkins

Delete, Quinn Plucar

D-exorcist, Thomas Trinh

Zombie Pizza, Abraham Gonzalez

Winners:

A Little Slice of Dumb Life, Naomi Nguyen

Chris and Fishy! Vol. 1, The Wizard's Gift, Daniela Sanchez

Chori and Chester: the Crazy Cats, Humphrey Hamma

Common Ground, Kay Lowe

Growing up in the Garden, Rebecca Celsi

Picture Day Disasters, Hannah Hardman

Would You Rather, Gabrielle Cohn

Parks and Recreation Season OneBy the Hollywood Teen Book Council

It has been a little over a year since we had to say goodbye to Leslie Knope and friends. This is the show that brought us Galentine’s Day, “Treat yo self,” and so many heartfelt and funny moments.  Luckily, the library has all seven seasons available for checkout.

Even if there was no love loss between the Parks Department and the Library, (Leslie Knope did say once, “The library is the worst group of people ever assembled in history. They’re mean, conniving, rude and extremely well read, which makes them very dangerous.”); these are characters that continue to stay with us. Just as we are gearing up for more  time in the great outdoors, recreating in our parks, we thought we’d take a moment and pick books for our favorite characters.

Leslie KnopeMy Beloved WorldAdventures with Waffles

Leslie Knope

My Beloved World By Sonia Sotomayor

Leslie Knope is not someone to let anything get in the way of her dreams, and she is inspired by a league of powerful women. Since she is on her path to  Washington, she would be interested in the paths of other women that have landed key roles in the running of different branches of  government.

Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr

With a strong love of breakfast food, especially waffles, this is a book for Ms. Knope. Where she is all about strong friendships and adventures outdoors, she will delight in the kinship and antics of Trille and Lena.

Hatchet

Ron Swanson

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Ron Swanson is an advocate for self-reliance, and he has his own fantasies of living off the grid. He will enjoy Brian’s story of surviving in the wilderness after a plane crash with only a hatchet to sustain himself.

April LudgateStiff The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

April Ludgate

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi

As far as working for the City of Pawnee, April’s interest and personality seems to be a better fit for the morgue than the parks’ department. We think she would be fascinated by both Stiff and Putting Makeup on Dead People.

Andy DwyerA Dog's JourneyThe Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Andy Dwyer

A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

We know that Andy has a soft spot for animals. He will enjoy this tender-hearted tale told through the eyes of a dog.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

We really think that this is Andy Dwyer’s actual secret identity.

Tom HaverfordModern Romance

Tom Haverford

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Even though this is written by the actor that plays Tom Haverford, we know that Tom would appreciate the meticulous research that went into this to show how modern technology is affecting the way that we date.

Donna Meaglefamous-in-love

Donna Meagle

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

Donna has all the men falling for her, just like Paige in this book. Eventually both with have to choose if they want to be with just one.

Ann PerkinsLumberjanes

Ann Perkins

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

Ann is the ultimate best friend. We think that she would enjoy the strong female friendships and the supernatural adventures that take place in the great outdoors.

Ben WyattReady_Player_One_

Ben Wyatt

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Bless the ultimate nerd that is Ben Wyatt. If only this book had some more Game of Thrones references. Still, we know that Ben will love this homage to some of the best things to come out of the 1980’s.

Chris TraegerWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Chris Traeger

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Super fit Chris Traeger will love this contemplation about a shared passion from one of today’s greatest writers. .

Jerry GergichWhat's in a Name Everything You Wanted to Know

Jerry Gergich (...or Garry, Larry or Terry)

What's in a Name?: Everything You Wanted to Know by Leonard R. N. Ashley

Really what is in a name? Come on, Jerry!

 

-By the Hollywood Teen Book Council

Luna Lovegood

"I think they think I'm a bit odd, you know. Some people call me 'Loony' Lovegood, actually.” --Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

There are so many reasons that Luna Lovegood has captivated us. Her airy ways and perceptiveness bring humor  throughout the series. When we first meet her in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling writes, “The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of Butterbeer caps, or that she was reading a magazine upside down.”

Initially, as most of us on the Hollywood Teen Book Council are all avid Harry Potter fans, we wanted to do some sort of a book project around the series. When it came time to get started, none of us could get past wanting to suggest books that we thought Luna Lovegood would love to read.

Here is what we would think she should read, if she hasn’t already . And as Luna says, , “Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure.”

 

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna

Luna’s a little bit quirky and so is Sophie Sophia, the girl with an obsession of music from the late 80’s.  Luna will enjoy Sophie’s attempt to find her father, an eccentric physicist who has disappeared suddenly.  Luna will also be glad that Sophie has a friend along on the quest: her giant shaman panda named Walt.

Rats Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted InhabitantsRats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan

Luna’s interests are varied and thorough, so perhaps she would like this very complete examination of city-dwelling rats and how they have evolved alongside humans.

 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Aside from Harry, if anyone else at Hogwarts is going to go on a quest, it would probably be Luna.  Unlike Coelho’s shepherd boy, she might come to a quicker understanding of what she needs to find the treasure she seeks.

 

The Magicians A Novel By GrossmanThe Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman

Luna attends a school for witchcraft and wizardry, so she might be interested to compare Quentin Coldwater’s school of magic experience in upstate New York to her own.

 

he Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own MakingThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Ms. Lovegood is a solid character who is always up for an adventure so she might like this story of a girl named September who’s adventure involves a quest  to retrieve a witch's spoon from the terrible and unpredictable Marquess of Fairyland.

 

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Luna wouldn’t be surprised to see a circus appear with no warning, and she might also like the struggle and love story of two young illusionists.

 

Gutshot By Amelia GrayGutshot: Stories by  Amelia Gray

With so many interests, short stories might be the right kind of fiction for Luna.  This collection is human and dark, and full details of this strange world of ours.

 

A Pattern Language Towns, Buildings, ConstructionA Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander

Luna’s unique thought process sometimes makes communication with others difficult.  Perhaps this book, which helps build a common language and coherence within systems, will help.  It’s strongly recommended if she ever designs or builds a house.

 

Unflattening By SousanisUnflattening by Nick Sousanis

Luna Lovegood sees things differently than your average Hogswartian, so Nick Sousanis’s experiment in visual thinking would be at home in her hands.  This graphic novel disassembles perception and will help her to find even more understanding.  Though perhaps she is already ahead of the rest of us?

 

I can’t get enough of some authors that I love. I also try to slowly savor authors I discover. I don’t read all their books in one fell swoop: I read one every couple months. I am on my third book by Rainbow Rowell: Carry On. I love how Rowell writes about contemporary life, people, class issues and love through her adult and teen fiction.

There’s a reason she’s a best seller. She can tell a love story. I am haunted by the amazing and awkward love story of Eleanor and Park. I want to reread Fangirl which alludes to the romance between Baz and Simon in Carry On. Fangirl has its own marvelous, slow paced romance but I don’t want to give anything away.

I grew up working class: my father was a surveyor’s aide, and my mother was a part time key punch operator. The worries of Rowell’s working class characters really resonate with me. For instance, Eleanor worries about clean clothes with her small wardrobe, and Simon just wants enough to eat like many growing teens. These details add to the realistic aspects of the world she is building. She nails it without rubbing it in your face.

I’m so happy to find another author to love! Have you found any new authors to love lately?

Want to shake up your reading patterns? Tired of reading a book from cover to cover in a sequential order? Here are two reading suggestions from the Hollywood Library’s Teen Book Council where you get to choose the order you read the stories, and invites you to pick your own pattern.

 

Ghosts of Heaven Book CoverSiena Lesher, sophomore

Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

True, history goes in chronological order, but that doesn’t mean all stories flow that way. If you were to rearrange the order of certain events in life, you would wind up with an entirely different plot, and The Ghosts of Heaven proves that. A collection of four short tales, you can read them in any order and get a different story each way. It’s a very interesting set of stories, each written in a different style of writing, and I would highly recommend it.

 

 

 

 

Turnip Princess book coverArden Butterfield, freshman

The Turnip Princess by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth

These German fairy tales were lost in an archive for over 100 years, and were recently discovered a few years ago. The stories are fairly short, but there is a large variety in what they are about. The stories are grouped by topic-- tales of romance, of magic, of animals and of banished princes which can make the book feel somewhat monotonous. I would recommend jumping around in this book, instead of reading it cover to cover.

This book is bland. The stories, for the most part, are told without emotion, just matter-of-factly stating whatever happens. While this contributes to the monotony of the story, I also think it makes it feel more dreamlike, in the way that in dreams the wildest things happen completely deadpan. I would recommend it to anyone interested in fairy tales, or interested in German medieval culture.  It isn’t a gripping page turner, but it was very good nonetheless, especially from a historical perspective.

 

Looking for more great reading suggestions? Try one of these picks of the month.

 
 

Feeling a little frozen these winter months? Needing an emotional jolt? Here are three reader reviews that teens from the Hollywood Library’s Teen Book Council think will break your heart open.

I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson - CoverAlisa Folen, sophomore

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is a beautifully written book that weaves together a complex story about friendship, love and a hint of magic. Noah and Jude are twins, but they could not be more different. Noah is an amazing artist, yearning to go to the highly acclaimed art middle school in his town.Jude loves to socialize and hang out at the beach, surfing and arguing with her mother. The story is told from their alternating perspectives, allowing the reader to gain a better understanding of their complex relationship. The language used in I’ll Give You the Sun creates an entire world, and makes an average California beach town seem like the most magical place on earth. Each chapter is told at a different time in the plot, which can be confusing at first. Overall, I would highly recommend to everyone, but especially those who enjoy mystical subplots and figurative language.

 

 

Orbiting Jupiter - Gary Schmidt - CoverElsa Hoover, sophomore

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

 

Orbiting Jupiter follows 6th grade Jack as his family starts fostering Joseph; a 14 year old boy with a daughter. Joseph, after spending time in a juvenile detention center, is left scared of the world and only wants to be with his daughter. Jack soon befriends him and tries to help him in any way he can. The characters in this book are multi-dimensional and  not at all stereotypical, and they are written to have complex emotions and thought processes. The themes are subtle, and help  to keep the book’s realistic feel. The plot is well executed--at the beginning you are dropped right into the middle of an action so the characters, background and setting are introduced throughout the first few chapters. The whole plot was executed beautifully with a slow burn that made you need to keep reading. The characters and plot were so realistic it made you feel like you were reading a news article (in a good way). So it was inevitable to feel for them and their struggles. I would recommend this book if you have three hours, and want to go on an emotional rollercoaster.

 

The Bunker Diary- Book CoverSiena Lesher, sophomore

The Bunker Diaries by Kevin Brooks

Written in the confines of a minute room, six individuals wait for their fate to be determined. They have no control - “he” has all the power there. “He” put them there. “He” holds all the cards. Told from the point of view of Linus, a sixteen-year-old boy. The Bunker Diary is an excellent representation of the many forms of human nature - from addiction to assertion, as the six try to hold onto the hope of escape. This book was a real page-turner, and very complex for such a simple situation. Just a quick note: don’t start this book late at night - you will finish it at 4:00 a.m., unable to sleep, the last events playing over and over in your head.


Looking for more great reading suggestions? Try one of these picks of the month.

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