Monday, July 31, 2017

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers

Reluctant reader. Two words that concerned parents will occasionally present me with. For whatever reason, little Johnny or little Susan just does not like to read. Is something wrong with them? Several years back, a friend of mine (fellow librarian, at that) found herself in this exact plight. Her daughter, early elementary age at the time, gravitated in the opposite direction of books. “How can this be? I work in a library, after all!” uttered my exasperated and confused associate. It wasn’t until another year had passed before a ‘switch was flipped’, as it were. Instead of shunning the notion of reading, the child became voracious for the written word. So what had changed?

Sometimes it comes down to locating a genre, author, setting, character, specific story, that completely resonates for an individual. This one discovery can be a domino that sets off a wave of interest, a “where’ve you been my whole life” feeling. Part of my passion is to provide a helpful nudge to those searching for their elusive literary white whale. The misfortunes of Captain Ahab aside, I truly believe that our collection at BPL offers something for everyone. Let’s take that journey together!

My capabilities aside, our good friends at YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) generously provide their sage expertise to assist the reluctant reader. For over two decades, committees have convened to weigh in on recommendations for young bookworms in training. Labeled as ‘Quick Picks’, their choices for referral are derived from a host of criteria. Included, but not limited, in this evaluation: sufficient plot to sustain attentiveness, emotional appeal for teenagers, high interest "hook" in first 10 pages, clear writing that easily communicates, enticing artwork, and demonstrated diversity.

Here are several Quick Picks for 2017:

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Sixteen-year old Jessie, still grieving over her mother's death, must move from Chicago to "The Valley," with a new stepfamily but no new friends. That is, until an anonymous fellow student emails and offers to help her navigate the school's treacherous social waters.

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

At cheerleading camp, Hermione is drugged and raped, but she is not sure whether it was one of her teammates or a boy on another team.

Plutona by Jeff Lemire

Five kids discover the body of the world's greatest super hero, Plutona, in the woods after school one day. This discovery sends them on a dark journey that will threaten to tear apart their friendship and their lives.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Minutes after the principal of Opportunity High School in Alabama finishes her speech welcoming the student body to a new semester, they discover that the auditorium doors will not open and someone starts shooting. Four teens, each with a personal reason to fear the shooter, tell the tale from separate perspectives.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds

Accused of shoplifting and resisting arrest, Rashad is beaten by a police officer. Racial tension runs high as friends take sides and a community is divided.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Amanda is facing a lot of challenges, but nothing is as big as starting over after being relentlessly bullied for her transgender identity.

The Geeks Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

Graham has realized he is in love with his best friend and partner in comic book creation, Roxy. What better place to declare his feelings than New York Comic Con?

This readers advisory brought to you by YA Librarian, Chris.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dog Days

We’re now officially immersed in the dog days of summer. Bow-wow, yip-yap, and all that jazz. Even the pups are feeling over-heated under this blanket of humidity. For those not soaking up rays at the pool, instead seeking the respite of air conditioning, a perfect remedy is the cool confines of your local theater. Plenty of great blockbusters to wet your whistle these next couple of months -- Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes, and The Emoji Movie, are just a few that should keep fans oohing, ahhing, and laughing until school is back in session. School? Don’t even mention that word, Mr. Scandling!

Can’t make it to the cineplex, or prefer the convenience of viewing movies from upon your comfy sofa? We have plenty of titles at BPL to keep even Fido content. Let’s take a look at some of the popular YA-friendly titles gracing our shelves. Whether you’re watching it for the first time, or tenth, make sure the popcorn is fresh and the soda has extra ice.

Recommended by Emma, age 12:

Napoleon Dynamite 
Napoleon is a new kind of hero, complete with a tight red 'fro, sweet moon boots, and skills that can't be topped. Napoleon spends his days drawing mythical beasts, duking it out with his older brother, Kip, and trying to avoid his scheming Uncle Rico. When two new friends enter Napoleon’s life -- shy Deb and mustachioed Pedro -- the trio launches a campaign to elect Pedro for class president and make the student body's wildest dreams come true. But if Pedro is to beat stuck-up Summer, Napoleon will have to unleash his own secret weapon.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
It opens in 1926 as Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident, were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt's fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

Recommended by Johanna, age 15:

Freedom Writers
A true story about a teacher in a racially divided school who gives her students what they've always needed, a voice. Erin Gruwell comes to a southern California high school bubbling over with naive optimism. She quickly discovers that her unruly classroom is not easily won over by her good intentions. After a few floundering attempts to connect with her students, Gruwell gives them the assignment of keeping journals about their own lives. This assignment is something that the class can bite into with relish, eventually bonding them together and pushing aside racial rivalries.

The Goonies
Two kids find a treasure map just as they're about to lose their house. They and their friends go on a search for the treasure, but not without trouble from a few ne'er-do-wells.

Recommended by Selicia, age 15:

Young Stanley Yelnats finds himself at Camp Green Lake, where digging a hole a day keeps the warden at bay and "builds character". An ancient family curse still dogs Stanley and he's thrown headlong into the adventure of his life. Stanley and his campmates will have to forge fast friendships to unearth the mystery of what's really going on in the desert.

Evan Almighty
Newly elected to Congress, Evan Baxter has left Buffalo, New York in pursuit of a greater calling. But that calling isn't serving in the illustrious ranks of America's politics, but being summoned by the Almighty himself, who has handed Evan the task of building a new ark. With time passing by and his family belittled by Evan's newfound realization, Evan will have to do the work that God has given him in what promises to be an unusual adventure for a man who just wanted to serve his country. But, Evan might actually be serving all of humanity instead.

Recommended by Ellen, age 19:

August Rush
A charismatic young Irish guitarist and a sheltered young cellist have a chance encounter one magical night above New York's Washington Square. They are soon torn apart, leaving in their wake an infant, August Rush, orphaned by circumstance. Now performing on the streets of New York City and cared for by a mysterious stranger, August uses his remarkable musical talent to seek the parents from whom he was separated at birth.

500 Days of Summer
For Tom, it was love at first sight when Summer Finn walked into the greeting card company where he worked. Summer is the new administrative assistant. Soon, Tom knows that Summer is the woman with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life. Although Summer does not believe in relationships or boyfriends, Tom and Summer become more than just friends. Through the trials and tribulations of Tom and Summer's relationship, Tom could always count on the advice of his two best friends, McKenzie and Paul. However, it's Rachel, Tom's adolescent sister, who is his voice of reason. After all is said and done, Tom is the one who ultimately has to make the choice to listen or not.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Catching Up With Pokémon Go

As of this writing, I personally know of 3 individuals steadfastly dedicated to the joys of Pokémon Go. The game has been recognized for several noteworthy accomplishments, including most downloads in the first month of existence (130 million) and fastest time to gross $100 million by a mobile game (20 days). While its popularity has diminished since launching 1 year ago this month, reports are still showing a healthy 5 million daily unique visitors.

In January I sat down with loyal follower Terrie Bickel for her impressions (it’s featured in the YA blog, don’t ya know) on this addictive leisure phenomenon. Let’s catch up with her for a reunion!

Terrie, you’ve been playing since August 2016. Are you still having just as much fun?
No, not really. I still enjoy the walking, but it gets tiring catching the same things all the time. The 5k and 10k eggs, with more exciting creatures, are harder to come by.

What’s the motivation for keeping at it?
The exercise, plus my son still enjoys playing. When ‘specials’ are released, such as around Christmas and Easter, that’s also exciting.

Approximately how much time is invested each week? Our earlier report had you at 1.5 hours.
Between 2 to 3 hours.

Last we connected, you were on Level 21. How about now?
Level 23. After a winter hiatus, I’m back in the swing of things.

Chrarmander, Squirtle, and Butterfree were a few early-on favorites. Any new ones to add?
Octillery, Ledian, and Spinarak.

Your previous capture of Rhydon featured a CP of 1745. Which Pokémon in your bag currently reigns supreme?
Exeggutor at 1945.

If you could change one thing about the game, what would it be?
I think they should move various Pokémon around more frequently.

Should we plan another reunion in six months to see where you’re at?

This gaming update is brought to you by YA Librarian, Chris.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Getting to Know ... Bullwinkle

Introducing another valuable member of our YA Volunteer Team, Bullwinkle!

AGE: What is age to a moose? 
FAVORITE BOOK GENRES:  Wildlife and nature books
FAVORITE TV SHOWS:  "Newhart" (Unless I'm with Mr. Scandling ... we like to watch "What's Happenin" together.)
AN INVENTION HE WOULD UNINVENT:  The camera, as it sometimes catches me in unflattering circumstances.
ROLE MODEL: Mr. Scandling
HAPPY PLACE: The corner outside Mr. Scandling's office
FUTURE CAREER PLANS:  Library Mascot or Moosebrarian
FAVORITE QUOTE:  "If you can't believe what you read in a comc book, what can you believe?"