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  • April 2012
    M T W T F S S
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Truth and Myth of Paul Revere’s Ride

courtesy of paulreverehouse.org

On April 18th, 1775, 237 years ago today, a man known to modern America as a patriot took what some would call a “midnight ride” through the Massachusetts countryside in order to warn his fellow rebels that the British were marching their way.

So, on the anniversary of Paul Revere’s Ride, immortalized in American legend via a timeless poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, let’s breakdown a few of the myths that arose due to the artistic license taken with this patriotic tale.

  • Revere, in fact, did not ride alone that night, leaving separately but traveling the same route into Lexington as another man, William Dawes, with both men later being accompanied by Samuel Prescott further on towards Concord.
  • All the events described in the poem did not happen exclusively on April 18th.  Preparation for sending news of British troop movements was made days in advance, and the dead bodies mentioned in the Old North Church courtyard were caused by the battle of Lexington, which began a day later.
  • Revere did not arrive safely in Concord to warn the rebels there, but was captured–along with his fellow riders–by the British just outside the town and was questioned at gunpoint for several hours.  Exciting stuff!

For more information on the truth and the myth surrounding this and other revolutionary events, check out some of the following books:

The Secret of Sarah Revere by Ann Rinaldi.

Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer.

Don’t Know Much about History by Kenneth C. Davis.

~Morgan, CLP-Main Teen

Will this be the Pirates’ year?

Can the Pirates end their infamous losing streak this year?  In two words- probably not.  In the early part of the season, there has been a glaring weakness for the team- they CAN’T HIT the ball!  They rank near the bottom of almost every hitting statistic in the league.  They are last in batting average, home runs, and on base percentage.  And they are not even last by a point or two.  It’s a pretty big gap in almost every stat between them and the next worst team.  Their power hitter of the future, Pedro Alvarez, is batting around .050 and is on pace to break the alltime record for strikeouts by a better in one season!  On the bright side, the pitching looks pretty good, Andrew McCutchen is signed to a long term deal, and PNC Park is still a great place to watch a game.  But to me, that is not nearly enough to end the Pirates‘ 19 year losing streak.  It looks like they will make it two straight decades of losing.

Dive in…

Maybe you’re fascinated by the upcoming anniversary of the Titanic sinking.  You might be curious about tsunamis, like the one that contributed to the Fukushima disaster.  Or maybe this summer weather is just making you daydream about the beach.  If you’re obsessed with the ocean, reel in one of these books and start exploring the deep.

Oceans: Exploring the Hidden Depths of the Underwater World
by Paul Rose & Anne Laking

Journey Into the Deep: Discovering New Ocean Creatures
by Rebecca L. Johnson

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion
by Loree Griffin Burns

Going blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands
by Cathryn Berger Kaye

Careers for Aquatic Types & Others Who Want to Make a Splash
by Blythe Camenson


PS: Don’t forget the Free FAFSA Assistance workshop this Saturday at CLP – Main from 12-3!

Black Cats and Broken Mirrors, How Will You Celebrate Friday The 13th?

It’s Friday the 13th!  So on this day devoted to being very superstitious I thought we could spend a little time looking at some of the world’s craziest superstitions.   Some superstitions are observed moment by moment, while others are connected to a specific holiday or religion.  All superstitions revolve around the idea that doing or not doing certain things can bring bad luck.  Many of our common superstitions like black cats or tossing salt over your left shoulder are related to ancient Christianity but others are built up by individuals or communities over time.

The sports world is particularly dependent on superstition.  Many people know that Michael Jordan wore his college (North Carolina) team’s shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform throughout his career for good luck.  But did you know that in Nascar driving a green car is considered bad luck?  Or that in Detroit throwing an octopus onto the ice before the beginning of a playoff game helps to guarantee a championship win for the Red Wings?Although good luck on game day is pretty important it’s not quite as important as good luck on your big day.  That’s probably why there are so many superstitionssurrounding weddings and marriage.  Did you know that most people wear wedding bands on the 4th finger of their left hand because it was believed that a vein leading straight to the heart could be found in that finger?  Or that a groom traditionally carries his new bride over the threshold of their home to prevent evil spirits from entering along with the bride. The tradition of the Groom not seeing Bride before the wedding came from ancient times when marriage wasn’t much more than a business contract.  The father of the bride would want to marry his daughter off to the most successful man he could find and if his daughter wasn’t exactly the fairest in the land he would try to keep the groom from seeing her until after the deal was made.Almost everyone is a little superstitious.  Just ask someone who is growing a playoff beard or anyone who says “Bless you” after you sneeze.  Just to be safe (at least for the rest of the day) I’m going to keep my eye out for cracks in the sidewalk and be really careful around mirrors.


Teen Review: The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

Hey! I’m Goda, a high school junior who loves photography and, of course, reading. I also enjoy acoustic music, and I hope my insights help you find your next favorite book!

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

After skimming the back cover of this novel, I expected a good story with a predictable ending, but I ended up with an amazing page-turner that kept me up waaaay past my bedtime.

Kaelyn is a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in a small town on a small island. The Way We Fall is written as a journal of letters from Kaelyn to her best friend, Leo, who has left the island in order to go to school. Kaelyn and Leo haven’t talked for a while, and these letters are Kaelyn’s promise to reignite their friendship when he gets home.

After a few chapters of Kaelyn reminiscing through when-we-were-best-friends memories, the novel gets quite interesting. A strange virus is sweeping through the town, infecting everyone. Although it starts out small, it breaks out into an epidemic that crumbles the structure of the entire society. The government quarantines the island, and supplies are limited. Kaelyn befriends a former enemy, Gav, and together they struggle to survive. Gangs are hoarding the little supplies that are left, and the local hospital is filled way passed capacity.

Eventually, as expected, the virus infects someone close to Kaelyn (I won’t give away who), and the story becomes a real nail-biter. Throughout all of these event, Kaelyn continues to write to Leo, and this personal format makes her story seem that much more intimate.

The progression of the virus, and of Kaelyn’s panic, is easy to understand through Kaelyn’s journal entries. Like I said, I couldn’t put this book down until I had finished it. Kaelyn’s struggle is so broad: she has to worry about her little sister, herself, and her father, who is a doctor at the local hospital. This, along with the love connection she has with Gav, proves Kaelyn to be a very interesting character who doesn’t get dull. I loved this book, and was ecstatic when I realized it was the first in a trilogy. Can’t wait for the next one. Must read.

Teen Sells Kidney for iPad—Would You?

You want an iPad.  What would you do to get one?  Many teens would get a part-time job: walking dogs, babysitting, working in a restaurant.  Reasonable, socially acceptable options.  Conversely, a 17-year-old in China recently sold his kidney to purchase an iPhone and iPad.  In exchange for his kidney, he received about $3,500—enough to purchase these gadgets.  The teen now suffers from renal insufficiency.  In addition to raising questions about the black market for organs, this exchange has sparked discussions about the ever growing culture of consumerism—both in the United States and in other countries—and the extreme lengths to which we will go to get what we think we want.  These titles explore our obsession with possessions:

Feed by M.T. Anderson

In a future where most people have computer implants in their heads to control their environment, a boy meets an unusual girl who is in serious trouble.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island’s other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

Princess of Neptune by Quentin Dodd

Middle-schooler Theora Theremin and her brother Verbert find themselves whisked from the shores of hometown Lake Philodendron to an intergalactic beauty contest on Neptune.

So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld

Hunter Braque, a New York City teenager who is paid by corporations to spot what is “cool,” combines his analytical skills with girlfriend Jen’s creative talents to find a missing person and thwart a conspiracy directed at the heart of consumer culture.

The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian

Seventeen-year-old Josh, a loner-philosopher who wants to make a difference in the world, tries to maintain his secret identity as the author of a web site that is receiving national attention.

Make your bed! – advice for procrastinators

I’m a world-class procrastinator. Always have been, always will. It was particularly bad in high school when my refusal alter my (late night) sleep schedule to fit the early morning demands of the school day crashed into my monumental denial of looming deadlines. And it didn’t get much better in college. Oh, how I wish I’d learned then the tricks that I found out later – ways to make myself want to start my work earlier. So I’m passing them on to you now, in hopes that they may help you.



vs. THIS.

Beds have nothing to do with how much work I get done! You may be thinking. Not directly, but having a bed that is made just makes a person feel better. I can’t really explain it, it just works.  Some theories include: a made bed does not invite you to take a nap in it for 3 hours. A made bed invites you to sit at your desk and get things done.  Making your bed is like signaling to your brain that you’re ready to be awake and doing things.

RULE #2: Don’t listen to yourself

It’s really easy to rationalize your way out of doing work. Oh, after you listen to this song on YouTube you will be revitalized and you’ll want to do your math.  And after you check Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr or after you clean your room like you’ve been meaning to do. Take the global corporation Nike’s advice and Just Do It.  Don’t think about doing work, just open your book.  Don’t worry about how your personal essay is going to sound and how perfect it has to be to get you into college. Just start writing stuff. You can edit it later.

RULE #3: Start Small

Don’t be paralyzed by the envisioned end product. Don’t think about how many questions you have to answer or how many subjects you have to cover or doing the bibliography RIGHT NOW. Focus on the first thing that needs to be done. Do that. Then move to the second thing.

Those are my 3 best kick starters for re-routing my natural tendency towards procrastination.  But if they don’t work for you, we have a bunch of books that can help. And to make it easy to put them on hold without procrastinating, they are all linked to their library catalog records.:

The procrastination equation : how to stop putting things off and start getting stuff done / Piers Steel.

Still procrastinating : the no-regrets guide to getting it done / Joseph R. Ferrari

End procrastination now! : get it done with a proven psychological approach / William Knaus

Eat that frog! : 21 great ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time / Brian Tracy

The war of art : break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles / Steven Pressfield

The procrastination workbook / William Knaus

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

photos by flickr users anjakb and duncan

CLPTeaser Tuesday – The List

It’s time again for Teaser Tuesday.  What’s Teaser Tuesday?  It’s a game.  (Based on pageturnsblog.)  How do we play?  I try to convince you to pick up and read the book I’m currently reading by posting two “teaser” sentences.  You in turn try to convince me to pick up the book you are reading by posting two teaser sentences from your book.  Here are the rules:

  • Pick up what you’re reading.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Post two sentences from somewhere on the page.  (Don’t choose sentences that will give away too much, you don’t want to ruin it for others.)
  • Include the Title and Author so that others can start reading it.

My teaser this month is:

The List by Siobhan Vivian

“For as long as anyone can remember, the students of Mount Washington High have arrived at school on the last Monday in September to find a list naming the prettiest and the ugliest girl in each grade.  This year will be no different.”

Now, it’s your turn.  Post two sentences along with the Title and Author of the book.


Just for fun: F in Exams

I found this humorous book about students that have provided funny, clever and just plain wrong answers to questions on tests and quizzes.  Have you ever done that?  If you didn’t know the answer, did you make something up?  Did you hope to at least get a chuckle from your teacher?

Here are a few sample questions and answers from F In Exams: The Very Best Wrong Test Answers  by Richard Benson. 

Q: Is the moon or the sun more important?

A: The moon gives us light at night when we need it.  The sun provides light in the day when we don’t.  Therefore, the moon is more important.  

Q: What does a transformer do?

A: It can go from being a robot to a sports car in three seconds.           

Q: Explain the meaning of the word ‘magma“.

A: Japanese Cartoons    

magma (Wikipedia)

Q: “Powerful aftershocks rocked the city, fires burned out of control, streets were full of debris and ruined buildings.  At least 30 people were injured.”  What type of natural disaster is being described in the report?

A: The end of American Idol. 

Q: Name six animals that live specifically in the Arctic.

A: Two Polar Bears
Three Four Seals

Arctic Fox - Thinkquest

There are tons more zany and crazy answers to exam and test questions in the book.  Pick one up @ your library!

~Marian, CLP-Mt. Washington

Writerly Writing Habits

If you’ve ever obsessed over an unfinished story or spent hours trying to perfect a poem or English class essay, you know how tricky and tedious the writing process can be. To master the craft, many professional writers develop their own quirky working strategies to help them stay productive and keep their ideas flowing.  Readers have always been curious about the physical process behind great works of literature. When it comes to the development of your own unique writing habits, you might want to take some tips from the pros.

Some writers work during very specific hours, and others simply wait until inspiration strikes. Stephen King gives himself a strict daily output requirement—ten pages every day, even on holidays. Then there are writers like James Joyce, author of mind-boggling 20th century novels like Ulysses and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, who often worked for hours just to complete a sentence or two. John Green (who wrote An Abundance of Katherines, Looking for Alaska, and other awesome YA books) has confessed that he ends up deleting about 90% of everything he writes.

Ernest Hemingway at his standing desk.

Do you sit at a desk when you write? Ernest Hemingway preferred to stand. He perched his typewriter on top of a high shelf and eventually designed a standing desk for himself. Then there was Truman Capote, the eccentric writer of the infamous true crime novel In Cold Blood, who said “I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down.” He preferred to work from bed.

Some writers need peace and quiet; others can’t think without music playing. When Junot Diaz is working on a particularly tricky passage, he locks himself in the bathroom and sits on the edge of the bathtub. Author Jonathan Franzen believes the Internet is the most productivity-killing distraction of all, so he writes on an old laptop with no wireless card and has actually destroyed his Ethernet port so he will never be tempted to connect to the web. When J.K. Rowling was finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she checked into a hotel room so she could write for days without distraction.

Nowadays, most writers use a computer, though some still prefer to draft their work on paper, from college-ruled notebooks to multi-colored moleskines. Vladimir Nabokov wrote his novels in fragments on index cards, in no. 2 pencil. He liked to shuffle the cards around to decide what order worked best. Legendary Beat generation writer Jack Kerouac glued pages and pages of paper together into long winding scrolls and fed them through his typewriter so he never had to stop writing to change the paper. And don’t forget the necessary refreshments. Coffee, tea, Code Red Mountain Dew, beef jerky…whatever keeps the words flowing.

Maybe you only write between the hours of 4:00 and 5:00 o’clock in the morning, in a special writing fort, on Post-It notes, with your eyes closed, while spinning around in circles. No matter the method, it’s the work that counts! Don’t forget to submit your original poetry, short fiction, or creative blog post to the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest. The deadline is May 7th, so there’s still plenty of time to hone your writing process and get to work. And be sure to check out one of the teen writing workshops happening at various CLP locations this month—you can find all the dates & times here.

Happy writing!


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