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  • May 2010
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Memorial Day

Like most American holidays, Memorial Day has evolved into Memorial Day Weekend, a grand holiday weekend full of parades, picnics and pool openings.  Memorial Day also marks the unofficial start of summer.  Many of us will be taking our first trip of the summer season to the beach or to the woods. 

When I was a kid, we always visited the cemetary over Memorial Day weekend.  For the Memorial Day parade, we would decorate our bikes with red, white and blue crepe paper.  All the kids would ride their bikes at the end of the parade behind the fire trucks. 

According to The World Book Encyclopedia, The first Memorial Day or Decoration Day as it was known, was held in 1866 to honor soldiers killed in the American Civil War.  Memorial Day is now celebrated on the last Monday of May.  It became a federal holiday in 1971. 

 For more information about Memorial Day, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website.   For free Memorial Day images and clip art like the photo below, try the Public Domain Clip Art Blog.

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army, Photo by Kathleen T. Rhem

Photo by Kathleen T. Rhem







Charissa Hamilton-Gribenas is a Pittsburgher who lost her husband to Hodgkins Lymphoma.  He was only 31, and she realized that there was a need for real stories and support for young adults fighting cancer.  With the help of the Sprout Fund, she was able to publish a book of 15 stories about young adults and their experiences with the disease.

On her blog she describes the beginning of her project:

“In the 3 short years I spent with Rick I learned a lot about cancer, the injustices of our healthcare system, and how few resources are dedicated to addressing the basic needs (and ultimately the survival rates) of young adults diagnosed with cancer in their 20s and 30s. After Rick’s passing I knew that we had worked too hard for too long for me to keep all the little bits of knowledge I had learned to myself. My desire to help young adults with cancer did not end when Rick’s life did, but rather was fueled by it- I knew that now more than ever I needed to dedicate the exhausted and frazzled remains of myself to fighting this fight, and that by doing so I could make something positive come out of this experience. One key lesson that I learned from my husband was that every experience, even the negative ones, had value. They can all teach you something if you let them. This is to be no exception.”

Charissa and the BRICKS books

Her organization and the book are called BRICKS, which stands for Building Resources in Cancer Knowledge & Services.  Free copies can be had just by contacting Charissa.  A recent article in Tonic Magazine describes the kinds of stories that are shared in the book:

“’The Assless’ tells how a young man customized his bicycle to let him ride to and from hospital visits without risking the spread of the disease. ‘Cancer Free, Ohio OR Second String Friends’ tells of a young woman suffering from an ‘old man cancer,’ renal cancer. ‘A Chemo Story’ tells of 20-year-old Luke Ferdinand’s fight against not only non-Hodgkin’s B-cell lymphoma, but also the rigid institution of cancer treatment: ‘As I was not yet 21, I was admitted as a pediatric patient, given a pediatric chemo course on the children’s floor of the hospital and generally treated like, well, a child.’ Ferdinand remembers watching the series finale of Seinfeld at the Ronald McDonald House while everyone around him ‘seemed younger, sicker.'” – Sam Brand

Hamilton-Gribenas has also done Roller Derby and dance party fundraisers, a bike ride and talk with a cancer survivor (Ezra Caldwell–also a contributor to the book), and other events around the city to promote and support the organization.

Poster for the release party by Mike Budai

photos used courtesy of Charissa Hamilton-Gribenas

If you’re fighting a disease (cancer or another health problem), or know someone who has cancer or has fought cancer, this could be a great resource for you.  Click on the links to find out more, or become friends with BRICKS on Facebook..

And you can also check out these books from the library:

Teenage Cancer Journey by Kathleen Gill:

At times both humorous and heart-wrenching, Teenage Cancer Journey describes the author’s personal struggles with philosophical questions (“Why me?”), as well as with practical dilemmas (“Will my wig stay on while I’m riding a roller coaster?”).

Teens with cancer by Gail B. Stewart ; photographs by Carl Franzén. : Four young cancer patients talk about how they were diagnosed with cancer, the support they received, and their chances for recovery.

After ever after by Jordan Sonnenblick : Although Jeff and Tad, encouraged by a new friend, Lindsey, make a deal to help one another overcome aftereffects of their cancer treatments in preparation for eighth-grade graduation, Jeff still craves advice from his older brother Stephen, who is studying drums in Africa.

Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen: When Johanna shows up at the beginning of summer to house-sit next door to Finn, he has no idea of the profound effect she will have on his life by the time summer vacation is over.

Summer Songs, Past and Present

You know what’s on the way?  Summer!  You know what’s great about summer?  MUSIC.  For as long as pop music has dominated our ears, summer has been the time to listen to more music.  So I’ve scoured the Internet for the best summer songs from the past 50 years or so.  Enjoy!  (Or, if you don’t enjoy, leave us your favs in the comments.)

See the videos after the jump -

Continue reading

Teen FAP Review: Fade

Following the first book in the series by Lisa Mcmann, titled “Wake”, the most gruesome and intense book about the two teens from Fieldridge High School working for the community in solving crimes with the extraordinary power of witnessing other’s dreams, the next book that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat is “Fade.”

Of course, our most familiar characters, Janie, Cable and the Captain come to play again as they are now in the moment of solving something for their school. The issue will not be spoiled in the review, however similar to “Wake”, when Janie saved her supposed-to-be best friend Cable, in “Fade” these two are going to team up to look for, as they call it, the sexual predator who is targeting kids from Fieldridge High.

The results will be given as it was expected, so good luck readers, continue your journey to the next level of the awesome series.

**The above review was written by Khondaker, aka Sadman, as part of the Teen Fine Alternative Program.  If you’re interested in working off fines owed on CLP materials and are between the ages of 12-18, please contact your local CLP location.**

The Many Hoods of Robin

The latest screen incarnation of the Robin Hood legend begins today, and I read one review recently which pretty much gave it a thumbs down because the movie presents its own interpretation of the ‘prequal’ to the traditional Robin Hood legends, which the review found pointless. In other words, we find out why (or a hypothetical reason why) Robin Hood became Robin Hood. The reviewer says something like “The movie ends with the line ‘and now the legend begins’, so who cares about the prequal?”

Well, I say, why not care? In fact, truth be told, there’s more prequal to the prequal. Similar legends and heroes had appeared in the folklore of the British Isles long before the Robin Hood stories began to circulate in the 14th and15th centuries. The persona of ‘Robin’ has appeared in more than one hood.

Hereward the Wake was (according to the legend) an 11th century revolting Saxon (no pun intended….unless you’re a Norman aristocrat), who lead native resistance to that big bully William the Conqueror in Lincolnshire (the neighboring county of Nottinghamshire) in and after 1066.

Hmmm? Let’s see…Outlaw hero fighting to free his people from oppression in Ye Merry Olde Northe Englande. Now, where have I heard this before?

Before Hereward was a pain in the royal pants, the native (i.e. pre-English) Celtic populations of the British Isles circulated tales of what came to be called the ‘Green Man’, a kind of pagan nature spirit who lived in the forests and wilds of the country. This idea of a benevolent nature spirit may have influenced the idea of a forest dwelling do gooder who protected medieval travelers on the highways and byways.  It is even thought that this type of mythology is what we see in the character of the Green Knight in the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and, more modernly, Peter Pan.

In Gaelic Ireland and Scotland the deeds of Fionn MacCumhail (Fin MacCool) and his band of warriors,The Fianna, are still told by traditional story tellers and have been for the past 800 years.  Most of the stories involve Fionn and his men getting into, and out of, trouble, defeating bad guys, and winning the hearts of the ladies.

 Sound familiar?

Steve, CLP-Lawrenceville

Let Your Voice be Heard about Libraries

As the teen and children’s  librarian in one of the libraries that  almost closed last year, I know very well the power of the collective voice. Last year, people held rallies, sold lemonade or keys, wrote letters and came to meetings to prevent my library and three others from being deep-sixed. But..

It’s not over.

We’re holding public meetings on the future of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and teens should and must be heard. Other library systems like ours are even appointing teens to their boards of trustees to make sure libraries are meeting their needs.

Let our staff and board members know how much you appreciate things like:

  • Teen librarians, books, computers, magazines, DVDs and more

  • Gaming, summer reading prizes and other programs

  • Having a say in what your library does

Hear what sort of decisions need to be made and help set  priorities for the future of the library. Workshops will be at:

* Saturday, May 15 / 10 am – Noon
   Serbian Club · 2524 Sarah Street, 15203

* Saturday, May 15 / 2 – 4 pm
   Sheraden Senior Center · 720 Sherwood Avenue, 15204

* Sunday, May 16 / 2 – 4 pm
   CLP – Allegheny · 1230 Federal Street, 15212

* Monday, May 17 / 6:30 – 8:30 pm
   St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church · 419 S. Dithridge Street, 15213

If you can’t make it to a meeting, you can fill out an online survey and find out more on  the Community Converation web page.

If you haven’t heard yet, the teen summer reading theme is Make Waves @ your library. This is definitely your chance!

                                 Tina Zubak   Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh- Beechview

Not Your Momma’s Book Trailer

Over at the MacKids blog, Jessica Brody shows us what happens when a former worker at MGM Studios becomes an author of a YA novel and decides to produce a book trailer.

Normally book trailers are still pictures and text, with an overlay of music and/or narration. 

The trailer for Wake by Lisa McMann is a particularly good example of how effective this can be:

Neil Gaiman narrates the book trailer for The Graveyard Book and the illustrations in this not-quite-animated trailer look like they are taken from the book itself.  All in all, a good showing:

The trailer for Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld takes this concept a step further to good effect:

And finally, the book trailer for Graceling (by Kristin Cashore) tries to go for the full movie trailer treatment, but just comes off as cheesy Plus, starting with a full 30 seconds of one shot is not going to make the viewers stick around for the rest of it.  And I’m saying this as someone who loved the actual book.

The book trailer for Karma Club is a step up in book trailer evolution, if you will.  Where Graceling‘s trailer required maybe two sets and 10 people at most and has questionable lighting, Jessica Brody’s trailer for the Karma Club is like watching a commercial for The Hills… only more interesting:

I want to go see that movie!  I mean, read that book.

Good job, Jessica!

And don’t forget, if you want to try your hand at making a book trailer, our librarians and teen specialists will be only too happy to help you out with the project.  Most branches have a Flip Camera and Windows Movie-Maker available for you to use. We can even post your work here on CLP Teensburgh!



Do you find yourself sneezing a lot lately? Do your eyes itch and water? Tree pollen season (March, April and early May) is winding down, and grass pollen season (April, May, and June) is just gearing up.

Allergies are inappropriate immune responses to foreign substances (often proteins). Many people have allergy symptoms in the spring and fall due to allergic reactions to pollen from plants and trees. Check out pollen.com for local and national pollen counts if you have seasonal allergies.

As if suffering from seasonal allergies isn’t bad enough, some teens suffer from such severe food allergies that even kissing can be dangerous.

According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, food allergies have doubled over the past decade, particularly allergic reactions to peanuts.

If you or someone you know has a food allergy or intolerance, check out a cookbook with safe recipes:


Sara Dora, CLP-Hazelwood

What are you afraid of?

I am afraid of falling through the sewage grate. Do I really think that the metal will break under my weight? No, but  do I still make a point of walking around? Yes. Irrational fears such as these are called phobias. I take comfort in the fact that there are many crazier phobias than mine. For example, there is caligynephobia (fear of beautiful women), sesquipedalophobia (fear of long words), and even *gasp* bibliophobia (fear of books).

Fictional characters have phobias too. The following is a random sample. Enjoy!

Acrophobia: Fear of Heights

Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce

Keladry (Kel) wants to become a knight, the first Lady Knight since the legendary Alanna, and she is not going to let anything stop her: Not training Master Lord Wyldon and definitely not her fear of heights.

Musophobia: Fear of Rats

1984 by George Orwell

The story of Winston Smith’s nightmare odyssey as he pursues a forbidden love affair through a world ruled by warring states and a power structure that controls not only information but also individual thought and memory (adapted from Product Description).

As if he didn’t have enough problems, Winston Smith also has a fear of rats.

Cheloniophobia: Fear of Turtles

Love Hina by Ken Akamatsu

When Keitaro Urashima fails his university entrance exams for the second time and his parents kick him out of his house, his grandmother hires him as the caretaker for the Hinata Lodge. To his surprise, the lodge is actually a girl’s dorm, and he’s the only guy in a quirky bunch of teenage girls including Motoko Aoyama, who has a fear of turtles.

Agoraphobia: Fear of Open Space or Crowds

Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Still moping months after being dumped by her Arizona boyfriend Leo, fifteen-year-old Stargirl, a home-schooled free spirit, writes “the world’s longest letter” to Leo, describing her new life in Pennsylvania with her new friends: five-year-old motormouth Dootsie, angry Alvina, agoraphobic Betty Lou, grieving widower Charlie, and developmentally disabled Arnold.

Cut ‘em up! How to alter your t-shirt!

When I got dressed this morning I put on one of my favorite accessories.  It’s a necklace I made out of an old T-shirt. 

I cut the shirt into strips, pulled on the ends of the strips to create ropes and tied the ropes together.  I wrapped another strip around the necklace to make a tube and hot glued it.  Then I hot glued a fabric flower onto the tube. 

Pretty isn’t it? I love it!

Want to know what else you can do to your old t-shirts! Check out these books! They tell you how you can turn a transform your t-shirt into a halter top, skirt, bag, scarf, necklace, pillow, skirt…you get the idea.

Generation T: 108 ways to transform your T-shirt

Generation T: beyond Fashion: 120 new ways to transform your T-shirt.

99 Ways to Cut, Sew, Trim & Tie Your T-Shirt into Something Special


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