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  • July 2011
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Recent Books That Caught My Eye

Summer is the best time to read because you can read anything that you desire.  It is not too late to sign up for Teen Summer Reading.  Don’t forget to add the books that you have already read this summer to your book log.

500 Health and Fitness Tips

I just completed a ten week fitness walking program, so Seventeen Presents 500 Health and Fitness Tips:  Eat Right, Work Out Smart, and Look Great!  attracted my attention right away.  Sorry guys, but this book is for girls.  This is not a diet book!  This chunky (no pun intended) little book is chock full of great tips on how to get into shape and how to eat to stay healthy and fit.  Tip #399–don’t ditch cookies (I love this book!), but stick to made-from-scratch cookies, and add in healthy nuts and dried fruit for an even better treat!  Check out these two great sections:

  1. Work out in the park:  tone your whole body and get some fresh air with this strength routine by celeb fitness trainer Radu Teodorescu.
  2. Get ready for tryouts:  start this pre-season workout also by celebrity trainer Radu Teodorescu 3 weeks before your sports tryouts and you’ll run faster, jump higher–and make the team!

The next book is The Accidental Genius of Weasel High by Rick Detorie.  Larkin Pace is a 14 year old aspiring (and frustrated) filmmaker that is working on a project for his English class.  This book can be described as part regular novel and part graphic novel.  Some have called it an illustrated novel.  I will declare it as super funny with lots of great pop culture and film references.

Here is Larkin’s  list of “TEN THINGS THAT BUG ME ABOUT MY SISTER” (pages 70-71).

10.  She goes ballistic whenever I touch her stuff.

9.  She leaves the stuff I’m not supposed to touch everywhere.

8.  She borrows my stuff without ever asking.

7.  She rolls her eyes at everything I say.

6.  She and her friends giggle whenever I pass by.

5.  She pasted little heart stickers all over my skateboard.

4.  She put lime gelatin in my favorite shoes.

3.  She posts dorky pictures of me on the Web and forwards them to her friends.

2.  She always gets her way.

1.  Actually, everything about her bugs me.  Seriously.

The Accidental Genius of Weasel High

Consider the scenerio where you are a senior in high school and looking forward to heading off to college.  “It’s Daisy Crispin’s final semester of high school, and she plans to make it count.  Her long-awaited freedom is mere months away, and her big plans for college loom in the future.  Everything is in control.  Or is it?”

Check out Perfectly Invisible by Kristen Billerbeck.

“I miss Gil.  I want men in my life who know how to get what they want, who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in, even if it makes them unpopular.  I wish I knew if either Chase or Max was that kind of guy.  But right  now, they both seem like luminous wimps to me.  Which makes looking forward to college all the more important to me.  Somehow I hope that everything will be different there, that my life will change with a new venue.”  (page 123)

Perfectly Invisible

I was also intriged by Eva’s recent book suggestion: How They Croaked:  The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous.    A great and fun book for browsing this summer.

~Marian, CLP–Mt. Washington

Please share your favorite books that you have read this summer!

More Than a Dream

I had the pleasure these past few weeks to spend some evenings reading with a neighborhood middle school student. As we read aloud from two books centered around slavery and civil rights, I realized that I also had the responsibility to provide answers to questions like “What is segregation?” and to explain “Why is segregation bad?”

Mr. Paul from Mississippi Trial, 1955 responds to the question “What wrong with people keeping to their own kind? Grandpa used to say that’s the way God wants it.” in this way: “Maybe God put different kinds of people on earth so that we could all learn to get along.”

I agree that the world works better when all people work together just like the body walks better when both legs walk together. What do you think?

Day of Tears by Julius Lester

A book written in dialogue, Day of Tears, makes it easy to read aloud.

On March 2 and 3, 1859, the largest auction of slaves in American history took place in Savannah, Georgia. More than 400 slaves were sold. On the first day of the auction, the skies darkened and torrential rain began falling. The rain continued throughout the two days, stopping only when the auction had ended. The simultaneity of the rain storm with the auction led to these two days being called “the weeping time.”

Among the characters that we hear from is Emma, a slave owned by Pierce Butler and caretaker of his two daughters, and Pierce, a man with a mounting gambling debt and household to protect. Emma wants to teach his daughters—one who opposes slavery and one who supports it—to have kind hearts. Meanwhile, in a desperate bid to survive, Pierce decides to cash in his “assets” and host the largest slave auction in American history. And on that day, the skies open up and weep endlessly on the proceedings below. (From Product Description)

Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe

In Mississippi in 1955, a sixteen-year-old finds himself at odds with his grandfather over issues surrounding the kidnapping and murder of a fourteen-year-old African American from Chicago.

At first Hiram is excited to visit his hometown in Mississippi. But soon after he arrives, he crosses paths with Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago who is also visiting for the summer, and Hiram sees firsthand how the local whites mistreat blacks who refuse to “know their place.” When Emmett’s tortured dead body is found floating in a river, Hiram is determined to find out who could do such a thing. But what will it cost him to know? Mississippi Trial, 1955 is a gripping read, based on true events that helped spark the Civil Rights Movement. (From Product Description)

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Actually, it’s not. At all.  I’m writing this post a few days in advance, and it’s currently 88 degrees with a heat index of 96.  That’s not cold.

The Library I work at, CLP – Lawrenceville, has closed down early twice this week – we don’t have air conditioning, and when it gets that hot out it’s at least as hot inside.  I’m spending as much time as possible in air-conditioned buildings. I seriously considered buying myself a slip-n-slide while I was out shopping yesterday.  Right now, I’m sitting at the CLP – LYNCS location at the Pittsburgh Public Market (have you been here yet? If not, you should come check it out) and channeling the Wicked Witch of the West: “I’m melting, I’m melting!”

So, how do you beat the heat? One can only eat so many popsicles, and pouring ice water over your head isn’t always practical.  My new theory is that I need to THINK myself cold.  Repeat my new mantra: frigid, freezing, positively polar.  And get into a chilly state of mind with books that are set in cold climates!

Chandler, Kristen. Wolves, Boys and Other Things that Might Kill Me.

KJ Carson lives an outdoor lover’s dream. The only daughter of a fishing and wildlife guide, KJ can hold her own on the water or in the mountains near her hometown outside Yellowstone National Park. But when she meets the shaggy-haired, intensely appealing Virgil, KJ loses all self-possession. And she’s not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that they’re assigned to work together on a school newspaper article about the famous wolves of Yellowstone. As KJ spends time with Virgil, she also spends more time getting to know a part of her world that she always took for granted . . . and she begins to see herself and her town in a whole new light.

McCaughrean, Geraldine. The White Darkness.

Sym is not your average teenage girl. She is obsessed with the Antarctic and the brave, romantic figure of Captain Oates from Scott’s doomed expedition to the South Pole. In fact, Oates is the secret confidant to whom she spills all her hopes and fears. But Sym’s uncle Victor is even more obsessed-and when he takes her on a dream trip into the bleak Antarctic wilderness, it turns into a nightmarish struggle for survival that will challenge everything she knows and loves.

Mills, Tricia. Winter Longing.

When Winter’s boyfriend is killed in a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, she’s robbed of the future she’d only just allowed herself to believe might be hers. Winter and Spencer had been destined for one another. And after his death, Spencer’s presence continues to haunt her. But when her next-door neighbor becomes an unlikely friend, Winter begins to accept all that she can’t change. Can she open herself to a new future . . . and a possible new love?

Mourlevat, Jean-Claude. Winter’s End.

Four teens, determined to escape the tyranny responsible for the deaths of their parents years before, flee their prison-like boarding school pursued by a terrifying pack of dog-men sent to hunt them down, in this award-winning story of courage, individualism, and freedom.

Reiss, Kathryn.  Blackthorn Winter

With her parents on a trial separation, the last thing fifteen-year-old Juliana wants is to be dragged by her mother to an artists’ colony in England. Halfway across the world, Juliana misses her father terribly. But soon she has bigger worries when the sleepy town of Blackthorn is set on its heels by the murder of one of its own. Juliana feels compelled to solve the crime, but she is shocked and frightened when she uncovers clues that have chilling parallels to her own mysterious past. Can she figure out who the murderer is before anyone else–herself included–gets hurt?

Stay cool, everybody!


CLP – Lawrenceville

Gross. Interesting, but Gross

So I just read this book.

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg

It’s chock-full of disgusting facts about how famous historical figures died. Even though I was majorly squicked out by some of the gory details it was hard to look away. In fact, I read it cover to cover in one sitting.

Here are some samples of what you might find out:

George Washington: We all know he was our first president, but did you know he had really nasty teeth? Read how his rotten chompers, a bloodletting blade, and poisonous beetles all contributed to the founding father’s death.

Beethoven had something that at the time was called “dropsy”, now referred to as “edema”. What that means is the body retains fluid that it shouldn’t and swells up like a balloon, and Beethoven’s body was retaining fluid like it was going out of style. He got so swollen that the doctors, without taking any steps to prevent infection, drilled a hole in his abdomen, drained the gunky fluid off with a hose, then stuffed the hole with rags. So was it the dropsy or the dirty doctors that led to his ultimate demise?

I’m sure you’ve heard that Edgar Allan Poe was a creepy guy. Just read any of his short stories. Even his death had an eerie quality. It started with him disappearing for six days. It ended with him in a hospital, deliriously going on and on about someone named “Reynolds”. No one is sure what really killed him. People assumed for years that it was alcohol poisoning, but could it have been something else?

Poor Charles Darwin. He will always be remembered as the guy who came up with the concept of evolution, but while he was alive he was miserable. He had ten children, but three died before reaching adulthood and three were disabled (possibly as a result of Darwin being married to his first cousin–evolution in action). For fifty years he suffered from puzzling health problems such as headaches, insomnia, eczema, and depression. He was such an anxious guy that he barfed multiple times every day for years on end. But when he did die he got to be buried next to Sir Isaac Newton, so that’s pretty cool.

Want more? Then check out How They Croaked. In all honesty, you might regret it. I know I did.

– Eva

Teen review (modern classic edition) : The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My name is Jenna. I go to a high school where I’m part of the marching band and the cheerleading squad. I’m pretty busy, but I always find time to read. I’m also very creative and I like doing little crafts out of random things I find.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I decided to read the Hunger Games because I kept hearing how good of a book it was. When I first read the description, I didn’t think I would even like it or actually end up reading the book. This book definitely deserves all of the hype it’s getting because it’s an excellent story!

Katniss Everdeen is the main character. She lives in District 12, the poorest district of all 12 districts. They are the coal-mining district, and they are looked down upon by the rest of Panem (their country). She is a very independent girl. Katniss is the one who takes care of her mother and sister by hunting illegally in the woods and trading what she hunts for items that she can put on the table at dinnertime. She is rough and probably stronger than most boys in her district.

But, the Hunger Games is right around the corner. Every year, two tributes from each of the 12 districts of Panem, 24 kids in all, are taken from their homes and put into a game where they have to kill each other to win. Whoever is the last person standing, wins, and becomes rich after. And the whole thing is broadcast on television throughout Panem.

Against all odds, Katniss’ little sister is picked to participate in the Hunger Games, and Katniss is so surprised and appalled that she offered to take her sister’s place.

Throughout the book, you are taken on this crazy wild journey to the Hunger Games with Katniss and the other District 12 tribute, Peeta. Read the book to experience the frightening and fast-paced game that these two teens have to go through.

The Year We Disappeared by Cylin Busby & John Busby

My name is Jenna. I go to a high school where I’m part of the marching band and the cheerleading squad. I’m pretty busy, but I always find time to read. I’m also very creative and I like doing little crafts out of random things I find.

The Year We Disappeared: a father-daughter memoir by Cylin Busby & John Busby

John Busby, a Falmouth, Massachusetts cop, was shot in the face in 1979. It was an attempted murder, but he miracously survived. Cylin Busby, his daughter, and John himself wrote ‘The Year We Disappeared’ to tell their complicated and fascinating story.

Imagine your own father being shot…but surviving. You are so happy he is alive, but now you know someone wants to kill him. Now he can’t even talk and doesn’t even look like himself with half of his face gone. This is what Cylin and her two older brothers had to go through when their dad was shot.

As a reader, you are invited into the lives of both Cylin and John in alternating perspectives of that eventful year. You’ll see the pain of Cylin, who had to go to school with policemen guarding her wherever she went, her whole life changing overnight. She once had tons of friends, was able to go outside and play, and live a carefree life. After the shooting, she is isolated at school, she rarely leaves the house, and sleeps with a knife under her mattress. The reader will see the anger of John, who desperately wants to kill James Meyer, who he believes shot him. The reader sees just how bad John’s injuries are, and how he has intense anger that his family has to live like they are.

John also reveals the inside workings of the Falmouth Police Department, and how some policemen are not doing their job. The reader is able to understand that no one helped John Busby and to have justice served for his attempted murder. You will see the complete unfairness of the situation, and feel pain yourself.

This book definitely helped me feel like a part of the Busby family, and I was taken inside to see the pain, anger, and secrecy of this case. This book is great for people to see the importance of family, love, and the ability to remain strong after a hardship.

Is it Winter yet?

Doesn't this look good right now?


I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough 90 degree weather to last me for the rest of the year!  I have decided to focus my energy on cool things- anything that will take my mind off this unbearable heat!  There are lots of options to get you in the winter mindset. 

You could learn about ice cream by making some at home, watching Rick Sebak’s classic video An Ice Cream Show, or learning the history of ice cream

Another way to cool off is to watch a good movie that has lots of snow, ice and cold temperatures.  Some good ones are Fargo, Whiteout, and Winter’s Bone

A last way to cool off your mind is to curl up with a good book that has a winter setting.  Maybe you can imagine that is is a cold winter night and you are curled up by the fire with a glass of hot chocolate and a book.  Some great books for this are John Smelcer’s The Trap, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Forge, and Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver.

I hope some of these suggestions can help you cool off.  If not, my best advice is find a friend who has a pool!

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