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  • April 2012
    M T W T F S S
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What do YOU believe?

You may have seen some signs on city buses or at the library about the One Book One Community Program.  Now in its tenth year, One Book One Community strives to get everyone in Allegheny County to read and discuss the same book.  The selection for 2012 is This I Believe:  The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman.  The program concludes this week with two keynote events featuring editor Dan Gediman.  It is not too late to be part of the One Book One Community experience.  Pick up a copy of the book at the library.  Listen to the essays read by each author on the audio book.  Find out more about This I Believe, Inc.

This I believe offers a simple, if difficult invitation:  Write a few hundred words expressing the core principles that guide your life–your personal credo. 

~Jay Allison, Editor.

I believe in being a woman–the best that I can be, like my mama said.

~Phyllis Allen

I believe that it’s good to spend time engaged in the present.  I recently heard and admired the phrase ‘wherever you are, be there’.

~Elizabeth Deutsch Earle

I believe I have a personal responsibility to make a positive impact on society.

~Anthony Fauci

I believe that computers are the most incredible tool we can use to feed our curiosity and inventiveness–to help us solve problems that even the smartest people couldn’t solve on their own.

~Bill Gates

I believe that families are not only blood relatives but sometimes just people that show up and love you when no one else will.

~Cecile Gilmer

I believe in imagining a life, and then trying to live it.

~Jane Hamill

I believe that friendship, which grows out of love and true humility, is the most important thing in life.

~George Mardikian

I believe in empathy.  I believe in the kind of empathy that is created through imagination, and through intimate, personal relationships.

~Azar Nafisi

I believe we have no idea what might be possible on this ‘Space Ship Earth’. 

~Gloria Steinem

 Please share your thoughts on what you believe. 

~Marian,  CLP–Mt. Washington 


Teen Review: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June

Tawnya – Hi, I’m sixteen and currently attending cyber school as a sophomore for the first time. I like to try new things and express myself in creative ways. Writing is something I’ve always loved to do in school, and i adore reading, so this volunteer opportunity was a calling for me. It’s great to meet new people, and I’m glad to share a little bit about myself. I’ll be giving you the most honest reviews I can, and i hope you can trust my opinion. My friends tend to call me a bookworm, but you can call me Tawnya :)

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June is a great book. If you like to read books with a teen voice, complete with slang and down to earth personalities, you’ll love the writing style. It’s about three sisters named April, May and June who discover that they have amazing abilities. Throughout the story, you get to experience the perspective of each sister, which is something unusual about the book, but it keeps the reader entertained. This was written for the female teen crowd; so naturally, there’s drama, boys and lessons learned through each sister.

The book also has an element of humor. If you like sarcasm, May is definitely your girl. If you’re smart and responsible, you’ll love April. If you just like shopping and having a bunch of friends, June will feel like a best friend. If you can relate to all three, that’s even better!

I suggest you pick this book up when you have an open afternoon, because I finished it in one sitting.


Whether you love it, hate it, can’t wait for it, or couldn’t care less, prom season is upon us again. For many high school students, the prom is a major rite of passage. Others just like to get fancy and dance with their friends. Maybe you’ve had a date lined up for months, or maybe you’d rather skip the event and do something completely different on prom night. Whatever your plans, there’s no getting around it– prom is a hot topic this time of year.

Missouri teen Maura Pozek made her prom dress out of cardboard and paper bgs.

Wardrobe is, of course, a crucial consideration for those attending the big event. Some families shell out big bucks for runway-worthy gowns and matching tuxedos. Others pull their perfect pieces from thrift stores and clearance racks, and some borrow classics from older siblings, cousins, or friends. Maybe you’re an aspiring fashion designer planning to create your prom outfit from scratch, like Missouri teen Maura Pozek, who made her awesome dress out of cardboard and brown paper bags this year. And don’t forget the annual Stuck at Prom contest, which offers college scholarships to the kids who create the most fabulous formal wear out of duct tape. Whatever you wear, you’ll probably feel like a celebrity when hoards of parents-turned-paparazzi descend on prom night to document the memories, so be sure to smile for the cameras!

Prom is more than just a fashion show, though– it can stir up some major controversy. Last week, Tennessee teen Texanna Edwards was denied entrance to her school’s dance when she showed up wearing a custom-made confederate flag dress. The rebel flag has a long history of controversy– some see it as a proud emblem of the southern states, while others view it as a racist reminder of the pro-slavery Civil War south. Texanna’s fashion choice ignited debate across the country about offensive imagery and freedom of expression.  Meanwhile, a high school here in Pennsylvania has created a rule that bans students without dates from attending the prom, and many schools still don’t allow same-sex couples to attend as dates. Exclusionary policies like these have prompted groups across the country to throw their own alternative, inclusive proms.

If you’re intrigued by the politics of prom, check out one of the new books about teens navigating the high school social order and challenging the status quo as they prepare for prom night. In Julie Ann Peter’s new book It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It), high school senior Azure turns the prom committee upside down to help plan an inclusive event that will appeal to everyone at the school. Not everyone is happy with Azure’s plans, and she encounters many ups and downs on the path to the perfect prom. Anyone who’s ever walked the fringes of high school society or suffered from an unrequited crush on a close friend will appreciate the characters in It’s Our Prom. 

In Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom, seventeen year-old Luke works up the courage to ask his best friend Tessa to the big dance, only to get rejected. It turns out Tessa already has a date in mind– another girl. As her plans to bring a same-sex date to the prom become public, a small-town scandal is ignited and Luke must decide whether he will support his best friend, in spite of the rejection. Pick up a copy today to find out what happens, and head to the library for more tales of prom drama.

So there you have it. Prom 2012. Will you go with friends? Find a date? Stay home and watch zombie movies? No matter what you decide, may your prom night be light on drama, full of fun and friends, and free from wardrobe malfunctions and other disasters.

Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably noticed an ongoing love hate interest in all things ZOMBIES!

So here is a short list of some zombie favorites available at your local library. There is something for everyone!

How can you have a book list about zombies without the book on how to survive a zombie attack? The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks is the perfect book for anyone looking for tips on how to survive a zombie apocalypse!

How to be a Zombie by Serena Valentino is pretty self-explanatory. As the back cover states: How to be a Zombie is the essential guide for anyone who craves brains. Dig in!

Filming the Undead by Rod Durick is a must have guide to making a zombie movie. Not interested in film making? The book is filled with tips and tricks for zombie make-up and undead clothing. Halloween is months away but it is never too early to plan your costume.

Anyone up for some zombie romance? Then check out I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It by Adam Selzer and You Are So Undead To Me (Megan Berry Series: Book 1).

If action packed zombie hunting is your cup of tea then check out Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry and Z by Michael Thomas Ford!


-Michael, CLP Hazelwood

The Miss Teen Dreams in All of Us

I had no idea how much I was going to love Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens, until after I had read it.  You know how, sometimes, when everyone’s talking about something, whether it’s a new book, movie, or whatever, sometimes you’re just a little afraid to pick it up?  It’s like this secret little fear that you’re not going to like it, and you’ll have to justify your dislike to a pretty rabid fan base.  Well, anyway, I really lucked out with Beauty Queens, because I absolutely freaking loved it.

So, it’s the story of what happens after a plane of Miss Teen Dream Beauty Queens goes down on a deserted island.  After recovering from the initial shock, the Queens (well – most of them) capitalize on their ingenuity, innovation, and leadership skills in order to survive and even thrive.  Oh and, also, there’s a ship full of reality television pirates (yes, I’m serious) that wash up on their island, but in the spirit of not spoiling anything, I won’t go into it much further, but just know that what follows is absolutely hilarious and a little heart breaking.

Reading fiction that has an obvious connection to feminism, always gets me thinking.  Why is this premise so intriguing to us?  What is it about a bunch of beauty queens surviving in the wildnerness that would make such a funny story?  It’s stereotype.  It’s our idea that a bunch of beauty queens would have no CLUE where to start when it comes to survival like this – an idea that Libba Bray just destroys with this book.

The Queens learn that they can be beautiful – and love to wear make up and high heels – and still be more than able to take care of themselves, despite what they had been told in the past.  The make up and high heels and fake beauty queen waves are not what makes them who they are.  And so, in honor of the Miss Teen Dream Beauty Queens, I leave you with a booklist filled with other strong female characters – peppered with some titles on beauty how-tos.  Enjoy!

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci

When transfer student Jane is forced to move from the confines of Metro City to Suburbia, she thinks her life is over. But there she finds her tribe: three other girls named Jane. The four girls form a secret art gang, but can art really save the hell that is high school?

Teen Makeup: Looks to Match Your Every Mood by Linda Mason

 This title says it all!

Alana: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Eleven-year-old Alanna, who aspires to be a knight even though she is a girl, disguises herself as a boy to become a royal page, a learning many hard lessons along her path to high adventure.

The Look Book: 50 Iconic Beauties and How to Achieve Their Signature Styles by Erika Stalder

Love, love, love Kat Von D’s style, or the classic beauty that is Marilyn Monroe?  Check out this book to get some tips on how to recreate their looks!

Poison by Chris Wooding

In this spirited anti-fairy tale, Poison seeks out the Phaerie Lord in order to rescue her sister. Finding him isn’t easy, and the quest leads Poison into a murderous world of intrigue, danger, and deadly storytelling.


Interview with Avery Williams, author of “Alchemy of Forever”

Being housemates with someone in college, you really get to know them.  You share music, clothes, and noodles topped with butter and Parmesan cheese when you’re already stretched-too-thin, part-time, minimum wage pay check barely covers rent, books, tuition.  You stay up all night sharing stories, songs, study notes, and heart to hearts.  You may drift in and out of touch after you graduate, but even if your contact is limited, there’s an intimacy that never really goes away when you’ve lived with someone- especially if you were on the threshold of adulthood.  Now, imagine my surprise and excitement when I learned that my old friend and college housemate- someone I KNOW- Avery Williams was writing a book for teens!  I love the idea that a person who was so personally influential in my late teens and young adult years is now influencing more teens and young adults through her writing.  Avery was kind enough to let me pick her brain with a few questions and share them with you here:

What inspired your book Alchemy of Forever?

The Alchemy of Forever, for me, is fundamentally about the struggle between magic and science. There are so many books about paranormal creatures for whom magic is a given, but what if there was a coven of immortals who thought of themselves as creations of science? They’ve lived for hundreds of years but don’t know any more than you or me about ghosts or the afterlife. What if, for them, humans almost seem magical? Seraphina has lived an amazing life—has witnessed the Renaissance and lived on every continent. But to her, Kailey’s life is far more captivating. After all, Sera never had the chance to grow up. She never got to be normal.

What interested you in writing for a teen audience?

I’ll speak for myself when I say that my teen years were emotionally intense. Everything felt so monumental. I love the idea of writing for an audience that’s passionate and imaginative. When I was fifteen, I believed that vampires were real. And ghosts and fairies and other dimensions. Okay, I kinda still do, or at least I want to. But it’s the combination of ardent emotions and a willingness to believe in the fantastical that makes teens the perfect audience. Look at popular adult novels—tedious stories about middle-aged couples in Connecticut getting divorced and tending a garden. I just made that up, but you know what I mean. Bo-ring!

Did any real life teens inspire the story or characters?

I will admit to stalking some Facebook profiles of friends of mine who are still in high school for characters’ names and descriptions of their outfits. But no, the characters in Alchemy are plucked from my brain. Kailey’s mom was based on my own, however.

When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid—mostly poems, a few short stories here and there. Alchemy was my first novel.

What’s the coolest thing about being the author of a published book?

The best thing is having people actually read what I wrote! I do have pages and pages (hundreds) of poems that have probably been read by fifty people, tops. And although I would keep writing whether or not I was ever published, it’s so gratifying to know that the book has completed its journey and ended up in the hands of readers. I love going online and seeing the reviews people have posted—even the negative ones.

What were your teen years like?

When I was a teenager I dyed my hair purple, wore galoshes to school, and carried my books around in a basket. I also wore several dresses at once. I thought it was quirky and adorable, but I probably looked like a bag lady. I spent a lot of time reading books and writing dreadful poems and hiking in the woods with boys I developed severe crushes on. I believed in magic and tried to cast spells in my bedroom. I was probably impossibly pretentious. I was briefly a theater dork but had no acting skills (to say nothing of singing or dancing—I can barely carry a tune and I’ve never been coordinated). I went to punk shows. I tried to get my friends to act out Bram Stoker’s Dracula—my favorite movie of all time—and they did!

What was your favorite book/author when you were a teen?

I’m going to list a few. Christopher Pike was huge for me. I think I’ve read every one of his books. Excellent, fast-paced, noir-ish thrillers with heart. Also Douglas Coupland. My copy of Shampoo Planet nearly fell apart from re-reading it too much. And Anne Rice—she’s the one I blame for my staunch belief that I would find real vampires at goth clubs. Much to my dismay, I did not. Finally, Francesca Lia Block. I didn’t read Weetzie Bat till college, so not till I was 18 or 19. I have you to thank for that, Abby! Now I give her books to every teen girl I know.

Will you share some secrets from the follow up to Alchemy of Forever?

Word on the street (okay, actually from my publisher), is that the first few chapters of the sequel will be included with the paperback release this summer, as well as some chapters about the first few days of Seraphina’s life after she was made immortal, in plague-ravaged 14th century London. So look out for that! I can’t say too much about the sequel, but I will tell you this: we’ll get to find out some of Kailey’s secrets and why she was in Jack London Square the night she died. We’ll learn the truth about the newest body Cyrus jumped into. And we’ll see way more about the rest of the coven.

If your book was made into a movie, what actors and actresses would you like to see playing the characters in your story?

My dream cast would require a time machine… I kept picturing Cyrus as Eric Northman from True Blood, but Alexander Skarsgård is probably a few years too old (no offense, Alexander!). And for the original Seraphina I saw Olivia Hussey, circa 1968 when she played Juliet. Kailey was a young Michelle Williams, and Noah is Jared Leto from his My So-Called Life days. A fan actually posted her fantasy cast, and I think it’s pretty good! Here it is:

What is your favorite memory from when we were teens in college together?

The most hilarballs thing was how people were always getting us mixed up, just because we both had blonde bobs and glasses (“the interchangeable blonde units”). Although I think everyone who lived in our house ended up using the same DIY home hair highlighting kit—that might have had something to do with it. Should I tell your patrons about the party we threw in honor of the Hale-Bopp comet’s return (I believe we pasted aluminum foil all over our walls)? Or the other party that culminated in a lit candle being smashed through a window, aimed by a jerky dude at our lovely friend who resembled Marilyn Manson? Come to think of it, those could have happened the same night. But I can’t say more—I’m sworn to secrecy on all counts!

Learn more about Avery Williams and the Incarnation Series:




Watch the Alchemy of Forever book trailer:

They’re Called the Steelers for a Reason: Pittsburgh’s Iron and Steel Heritage at CLP

If you ask someone from out of town what they know about Pittsburgh the sentence they’d reply with would probably contain the word ‘steel.’ That’s because Pittsburgh’s industrial past has played a large part in creating the city’s identity. From the beloved Steelers to Pittsburgh Steel Man and the Steel City Derby Demons ‘steel’ is still everywhere. Using Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s new Pittsburgh Iron & Steel Heritage Collection you can find out why. Click around and explore Western Pennsylvania’s industrial past through six categories made up of over 500,000 scanned pages of historic materials related to Pittsburgh’s iron and steel industry: Histories, Labor Management, Legal Issues, People, Places, Production, Products, Transportation, and Way of Life.

It’s a really great resource for term papers or just to satisfy your curiosity for local history.

Pittsburgh Iron & Steel Heritage Collection is a digital collection of books, journals, photographs, trade catalogs, and other items related to the iron and steel industry in Western Pennsylvania. Dating as far back as the 1800s, much of the collection is too fragile to handle. By saving Pittsburgh’s steel and iron legacy materials in a digital format, the library can make them accessible locally and nationally to students and historians. A selection of the material has been added to Flickr, to enable customers to view, share, and contribute to the collection.

Pittsburgh in 2012 is full of great universities and powered by the tech and medical industries, but the shadow of our industrial past is still all around us. From the Steeltown Entertainment to the still-swinging U.S. Steel we’re still in love with the idea of being the ‘Steel City.’

Corey, Digital Learning Librarian

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