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  • September 2019
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Teen Review by Abraham R: Only the Ball was White


This movie talks about three of the most famous African-American baseball players in history- Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson; as well as many other less known players from the Negro Leagues like Cool Papa Bell.

Satchel Paige

The movie talks about how there was a ‘color line’ in baseball that kept black players from playing in the Major Leagues.  Since they were not allowed in the Majors these players had their own leagues called the Negro Leagues, which was only for African American players.  It tells about some of the best players to play in the Negro Leagues like Josh Gibson who was thought to be as good as Babe Ruth and once hit 77 home runs in a year and Satchel Paige who was one of the hardest throwing pitchers in baseball history.

Josh Gibson

This was a really interesting movie and I would recommend it to anyone who likes baseball or history.  It is especially good to watch now because February is African-American history month.

Abraham is a student at Brashear High School in Pittsburgh.

Teen Blogger: Stargirl Review


Today I will be reviewing Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. This is the first book in a set of two books, but it can be read as a standalone novel. Overall I did enjoy this book, but if you are looking for a more in depth review you can read below.


The two main characters of this book were lovable and quirky. Leo, the main character felt a bit bland to me at first, but after the plot picked up I did enjoy reading about him. While most of the book focuses on Stargirl, I really loved his character. Stargirl (yes, her name is actually Stargirl) was really unique and fun character. Her quirkiness might have been a little overplayed, but I loved her message of being your own person. I give this area an 8/10.


I loved the fact his book took place in the desert instead of the typical Midwest town or city. The parts that were the most descriptive, like the part about the desert flowers or the large cacti, were interesting because you don’t normally hear about that kind of beauty in a desert. I do wish the school was described more. I am going to give this area a 7/10.


This book was simply heartwarming. There wasn’t any epic quest or week-long journey across the US.  It was simply a book that made you feel happy on the inside. Plus, the book was so short, (180 pages) I don’t think there could have been a long, involved plot. Normally I don’t enjoy plots lacking complexity, but this book was really sweet and satisfying. I am giving this area an 8/10.

Writing Style

I did enjoy the author’s writing style. While the book wasn’t very long, he did manage to make each and every one of those pages meaningful. I zoomed through the book, and dreaded every moment when I had to put it down. I though overall the writing was pretty good, though it did have a few small issues. I am going to give this area a 9/10 because I did enjoy his style.

The Final Verdict

Once the scores are tallied up, I get a 7.5/10!  I agree with that score, as the book did have a few problems, but overall was put together well. If you enjoy books with a heartfelt message, you will most likely enjoy Stargirl! My one warning is that for some Stargirl might feel too quirky. Please know these are just my opinions. I respect yours too, so why not leave a comment?  Please mark spoilers for new readers.

Happy Reading!


Riptide With Bubbles

Laurel is an overly creative person that is looking for good books to read. While she fills her spare time with crocheting, filming, editing, drawing, sewing, writing, and crafting, she always has a little time to read. She enjoys books that have an intricate plot and fresh new characters, but does not like books with a lot of romance. Hopefully she will find what she is looking for.

The Selection


Today I will be reviewing The Selection, Book One of the Selection Series by Kiera Cass.   Here is a summary of the book for anyone curious:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime.  The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth.  To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels.  To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.  But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare.  It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her.  Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want.  Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.  Then America meets Prince Maxon.  Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.”


This book combined stereotypes with a breath of fresh air. I really loved America, Maxon, and Marlee.  My one complaint is that some of the characters do lack a developed personality and backstory, but this is the first book in a trilogy.  This book was jam packed with interesting character relationships. A secret love interest is unveiled early on, which definitely complicates the plot. I very much enjoyed the relationship between Maxon and America, but you will have to read to see how that plays out. The relationships between America and the other Selected really was intriguing. While some simply don’t get along with her, she instantly makes a few friends. At the same time America is technically competition, so we are never too sure about how things will end up. I really enjoyed this element of suspense.


The setting of this book at first confused me.  After a bit of investigating I learned that this books takes place in America.  While we don’t know how far into the future this book takes place, it seems like it has been at least a hundred years.  Now royalty is the main form of government and rankings determine your income, social class, and job.  It‘s very interesting to read about.  At the same time this author didn’t elaborate on the surroundings well.  It might just be me, but I like a very vivid setting to think about.  I like to know the colors of the walls, the little flaws in the architecture, and that sort of thing.  While we did get small descriptions of the setting, I just feel it could have been stretched out more, especially with the castle.


The plot of this book took old clichés and made them new.  I enjoyed discovering the little details of the government, and trying to figure out what would happen next, yet parts of the book seemed so close to many other dystopian novels.  Mainly the book reminded me of The Hunger Games.  Take out the death in The Hunger Games and replace it with broken hearts, and you have the majority of this plot.  I am not going to complain about this more than I need to, as there were plot twists, original characters, and many events that were completely original, but you might get the same feeling I did when I read it.

The Final Verdict

I really enjoyed the authors writing style!  I thought dialog was realistic and humorous.  The actions the characters took were interesting to read about, and were described in a way that I felt like I was witnessing them.  My one complaint was sometimes it was hard to figure out who the speaker was.  I get a 7.5/10!  This falls right in-between decent and good for me, but you should make up your mind for yourself.  I recommend this book to anyone looking for a book that has interesting characters and plot, with the warning that any Hunger Games fan might find themselves bored with the story.  And if you like love stories, you will like this much more than I did!  The book itself isn’t all that long (only about three-hundred pages) so I recommend you get at least halfway through before you decide.  The beginning can be hard to follow, but it picks up towards the start of the actual Selection.  Thankfully the library systems has lots of copies in print and digitally.  Please let me know what you thought of it! I’m always interested in hearing opinions.  But please, mark spoilers for anyone trying to see if they are interested.

Happy Reading!


Laurel is an overly creative person that is looking for good books to read.  While she fills her spare time with crocheting, filming, editing, drawing, sewing, writing, and crafting, she always has a little time to read.  She enjoys books that have an intricate plot and fresh new characters, but does not like books with a lot of romance.  Hopefully she will find what she is looking for.

Interview with Amelia Kahaney, author of “The Brokenhearted”

AmeliaAuthorPhotoSome of yinz might remember an interview published here about a year ago with one of my college roommates who is now a big-time teen author.  Well, lo and behold, yet another person from my college circle of friends has published an amazing, new book for teens that is sure to become the next big thing!  “The Brokenhearted” by Amelia Kahaney is a completely original, dark, gritty novel with a strong female protagonist and a superhero twist.  Amelia was kind enough to take a moment out of her crazy, busy book tour schedule to answer some questions for CLPTeensburgh.

What inspired your book “The Brokenhearted”?

I knew I wanted to write about a girl superhero, but the details of that took forever for me to flesh out. When I began to think about what kind of world she would need to save, I looked around my city (New York). The banking crisis had hit recently and Occupy Wall Street was just becoming a huge movement. I took a ton of inspiration for the city of Bedlam from the headlines, many of which were grappling with the stark and shocking differences between rich and poor in New York and in the country overall. Bedlam is just an extreme version of what I was seeing all around me – corruption and greed on one side, and needless suffering on the other.

As far as Anthem’s heart, I was reading a book called The Wet Engine, which is sort of a poetic meditation on the heart as an organ and a symbol. In it, the author, Brian Doyle, writes beautifully about animal hearts, from whales to hummingbirds. I was fascinated by how fast hummingbird hearts beat, and by how close hummingbirds are to death if they become too still or go too long without food. Their hearts are high-powered, delicate machines. So I gave Anthem’s new heart some hummingbird DNA.

What interested you in writing for a teen audience?

I started writing for teens a few years ago, after landing a ghostwriting job for a popular tween series. It was so fun to play with plot, so different from the writing I’d done before. Once I caught the bug, I couldn’t stop at ghostwriting.

When did you start writing?

I took my first creative writing class in high school, but I was writing long before that. I still have an epic poem about burning my homework that I wrote when I was six or seven. There’s a talking cat in it.

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

Once you’re published, there’s a chance you can get published again. Right now, I’m really enjoying thinking about future projects and trying to envision a life for myself as a writer. The prospect of continuing to write is intoxicating to any writer, but publication has made it that much easier to envision this as a long career and not just this weird thing I do when I find the time.

What were your teen years like?

Alienated, broody, moody, a little bit wild. I was shy and introverted one year, a maniac who sang in the hallways the next. That’s the great and scary thing about the teen years – you don’t really know who you are, and tbrokenheartedhings can change so quickly if you let them.

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

I loved 1984, Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Lord of the Flies, so maybe it makes sense that I’ve written something that’s been called dystopian. I also went through a huge Stephen King phase in junior high and high school. But I liked most every novel I got my hands on, from trashy romances to The Bell Jar to Kafka’s short stories, which I read constantly all through junior and senior year of high school.

Will you share some secrets from the follow up to “The Brokenhearted”?

Book two in the series features a new villain I’m a little in love with, while also exploring Anthem’s roots. We learn where her name comes from, and a dark secret in her family is revealed over the course of the book. I just finished a draft, and I’m so excited about this secret that it’s all I can do not to spill the beans right here. Alas, you’ll have to read the book to find out more.

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

The failed boxer Ford was written with Taylor Lautner in mind, so I’d be okay with him doing it, or whoever the new version of Taylor Lautner is these days. Someone beefy and sweet-looking. Gavin would be played by Ezra Miller, who is a phenomenal actor, or by Richard Harmon, who did a great job as the creepy ex-boyfriend in The Killing. As for Anthem, I’d love a fresh, undiscovered actress. And if not a total newbie, Chloe Grace Moretz, who I loved as Hit-Girl in the movie Kick-Ass, will soon be exactly the right age to do the job.

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

I’m going to go with the fact that there was a year or two where we all—a group of maybe eight or ten of us college girls, spanning three or four or our shared houses—had the exact same haircut. I know you remember our A-line bob haircuts, Abby. A few of us learned to do that haircut in our living rooms and then there was a period of years where we all cut one another’s hair. In my memory, we were a formidable, even semi-intimidating gang of bookish, ironic liberal arts majors, and that A-line bob was like our gang hazing ritual.

Learn more about Amelia by following her on Twitter and check out The Brokenhearted book trailer below!

There’s a Battle on the Horizon, A Battle of the Books.

What do you get  when you mix a super fun quiz contest and the best teen books?


Start planning your team of 4 or 5 members now and be ready to register starting today.   The contest is broken into 3 grade levels, and there will be a new champion after each day of battle.

Today is also the hotly anticipated release of the contest booklist.  I have it from a contest organizer that, “The selected books for 2014 were chosen based on their student appeal, diverse subject matter and characters, representation of a wide variety of genres, and their literary merit.”  Sounds promising…

Pick up your grade level book lists after school at a Carnegie Library location near you and start planning  how to divvy up the list with your team.  Don’t forget to choose an adult to act as your manager.  Their job is to help organize your team and then cheer your on once game day arrives.   Finally, be sure to clear your schedule for the actual battle…

6th Grade Battle

Monday March 3rd, 2014

7th & 8th Grade Battle

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

9th -12 Grade Battle 

Monday March 10th, 2014

Check the website for more details, contest rules, team registration information and booklists.

~Brooke, CLP South Side


Teen Blogger Jayne’s Interview with Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian


Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian are friends and writing partners who have created the Burn for Burn trilogy for teen girls and fans of YA literature. The second book in the series, Fire with Fire, was released in September 2013.  Jenny & Siobhan will take the stage to speak about friendship, collaborative writing, and life as it relates to teens. Both have plenty to say about their own writing careers and will share perspectives from their individual experiences.

Teen Blogger Jayne caught up Siobhan and Jenny for a little preview of Friday night’s main event.

Jayne: How did the two of you decide you wanted to write a story such as the Burn for Burn trilogy?

Siobhan & Jenny: We became friends in a writing program and after years of sharing our work together, we thought it would be fun to do something together. We worked on another idea – a screenplay – before we came up with the Burn for Burn series.  

Jayne: What were the inspirations for some of the characters?

Siobhan & Jenny: We really try to put pieces of ourselves in every character we write. Lillia has a little sister Nadia, and both of us have little sisters, too. I think there are plenty of moments where we both feel quiet and shy like Mary, or confident and confrontational like Kat.

Jayne: Did you incorporate any inside jokes between the two of you in either of the books?

Siobhan & Jenny: Not exactly…but we definitely try to make each other laugh with the stuff that we do write. It comes out a lot in the Kat chapters, because that girl will say almost anything!

Jayne: Do the two of you plan to write together on another series any time soon?

Siobhan & Jenny: We’d love to work together again. After all, we are best friends!

 Books for this event will be available for sale from our local and independent book store, Mystery Lovers Bookshop, before and after the program.

Presented in partnership with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

For tickets click here or call 412-622-8866.

Invite your friends to join you on Facebook!

Your Book to Movie Guide For Fall!

Although Summer is wrapping up and school has begun, there’s an upside to the cold weather that’s coming.   Fall movies are on the horizon and this season is shaping up to be pretty exciting.

One movie I’m really excited about isn’t what you would call a typical Blockbuster although it is filled with stars!  The notoriously reclusive, aloof and wonderfully talented author J.D. Salinger is featured in a new documentary due out in September. Salinger published beloved classics filled with teenage anguish and alienation such as The Catcher in the Rye, Raise High the Roof Beam, Nine Stories, and Franny and Zooey.  The new documentary features huge stars of Hollywood and of the publishing world talking about how Salinger’s work affected them.   It also seems to hint at some answers to the mystery of Salinger’s life…

Meg Rosoff’s amazing 2004 book, How I Live Now is getting the Hollywood treatment this Fall as well!  This Printz prize winner tells the story of Daisy an American teen visiting family in England.  At first Daisy feels homesick but quickly falls in love with her new family.  Her experiences in England start out idyllic but the peaceful countryside is soon shattered by a fictional Third World War.  The film is mostly supported by newcomers but Daisy is played by the talented Saoirse Ronan
I have recommended The Book Thief by Markus Zucak to more people than I can count.  I can’t tell if its the beautiful language and description, the charming and lovable characters or the triumph over dire circumstances that makes it so great but it has become on of my favorite books.  That’s why I’m excited and nervous for the film version to debut.   The singular grace of the book may not be matched by the movie but if its even half as good we’re all in for a good ride. 

I’d tell you to keep a lookout for the second installment of the Hunger Games Series, Catching Fire in November, but I have a feeling the buzz surrounding this one is gonna be huge.  Things get a little more complicated in Suzanne Collins‘ second book and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out on the big screen.  If the trailer is any indication it looks like another exciting ride.

Happy viewing!

~Brooke, CLP-South Side

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