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  • April 2014
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Shorts!

Brought to you by cuteoverload.com

Aw! I feel like this bunny whenever Spring rolls around. Days get longer, and my attention span does the opposite–just in time for final projects, finals, and if you’re like me–summer classes. Sound familiar?

I’ve resorted to chugging coffee in order to stay on-task, so I can’t help but notice that the lack of mug on that bunny’s desk.

Fortunately, the last day of school is coming up, along with summer reading, because my reading habits change in the Spring, too. Sure, I’ve still got a big pile of books that I think look cool, but unless they have pictures (as many of my favorites do), read to me as the awesome audiobooks on this list would, or are pretty short, I can’t get all the way through.

Summer will be here in a flash, and I know that with it will come more time to read. In the meantime, I’m relying on shorts to get me through the last days of school! Get it? “Cause you wear shorts when it’s hot outsi–yeah, okay. I should never have gone there.

Short stories are a great go-to when you don’t have time or aren’t excited about something longer. Plus, they’re like checking out one book but getting a bunch. Check out the short stories tag in our LibraryThing catalog or one of these. Another idea? Check out the magazine collections at your local branch or–for something with a more personal touch–the zines collection at Main.

   

   

   

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.


Summer Means Graphic Novels

Okay, so I read graphic novels all year.  But I think they’re perfect for those hot, lazy days when a plain wall of text would put me to sleep.  Since half (or more) of the story is in the illustrations, I can usually follow along even when my brain is melting.  I can read most of them in one sitting if I want to, but they’re also easy to pick up and put down.  And they count for Teen Summer Reading, which means that you’re eligible for fabulous prizes for reading them.

Here are some things I’ve read recently, and one I’m looking forward to –

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

Dog wants a friend, so he builds Robot.  Things couldn’t be better… until they go to the beach and Robot rusts.  Dog can’t think of a way to help his friend, so he reluctantly leaves.  And before Dog can come rescue Robot, the beach closes for the winter.  What can they do?

A.L.I.E.E.E.N. by Lewis Trondheim

The author claims to have found this book while hiking in the mountains.  There are no words in it — at least, none from Earth.  And yet you can still understand the  aliens’ weird adventures, including going to the doctor, hunting each other, and running from a tidal wave of alien poop.

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen

I reviewed this on Eleventh Stack last week, but I love it so much I wanted to make sure I told you guys about it too.

“Soon after the original Pinocchio story ended, vampires moved into the area and killed Gepetto.  Of course, nobody believed Pinocchio, so he took vengeance into his own hands, and became a vampire slayer. You see, to drive a stake through their hearts, all he had to do was lie…”

Dragon Puncher by James Kochalka

Dragon Puncher is a cat, and also a knight.  Spoony-E is his baby-faced sidekick.  Together they take on a dangerous dragon.  Not only is this book hilarious by itself, it makes me want to photoshop me and my friends into our own cartoon adventures.

(Dragon Puncher cover photo courtesy of Top Shelf Productions)

21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago

This is the one I haven’t read yet, but I’m looking forward to it.  Everyone I know has been talking it up lately, including Corey’s review on this very blog.  And really, what goes better with summer than baseball?

Do you like graphic novels too?  You may be interested in the graphic novel discussion group at the Main Library in Oakland.  It’s called Out of the Gutter, and it’s for adults and teens who want to hang out with fellow graphic novel fans and talk about independent and new releases.

-Denise

Giving 110%

 

from flickr user TheTruthAbout

from flickr user TheTruthAbout

 

All youth sports now operate on fast-forward. Just about any kid with some ability takes road trips with his or her team by the age of 12, flying on planes and staying in hotels. That used to happen, if at all, only after an athlete was skilled enough to play in college. Now it occurs in just about any sport organized enough to form into a league.”

- from “Allonzo Trier is in the Game”  by Michael S0kolove

Allonzo Trier is a 6th grader (or was when the article profiling him was published in March of this year) who has his own line of clothing, personalized with his signature, motto, and/or initials and basketball number.  College coaches fly him around the country for free.  His school tuition is paid for by a charity founded by an N.B.A. player.  Wish that his life was yours?  Click on the link above and read the New York Times article to see why it may not be a great thing. 

Allonzo is very skilled at basketball, but he has to practice a lot.  A lot meaning for seven hours a day some days.  And imagine having to think about choosing a college in sixth grade.  It is overwhelming even when you are a junior in high school, even without the pressure of coaches recruiting you!

And what effects could so much physical activity have on a teenager’s still-growing body?  Read this article from New York Magazine about a 13 year old pitcher named KB, who plays on an elite traveling league.  The author wonders:

“If it’s hard to imagine how a professional ballplayer can perform under this much pressure, it’s nearly impossible to understand how a 13-year-old can do it.”

Or check out another article from the New York Times, “Arms Control Breakdown”, about what pitching actually does to your arm, and how the Little League isn’t enforcing its rules on how much a pitcher can pitch during a game.  According to the article, one of the players had “pitched in four games and threw 288 pitches — all within league rules. To place this in perspective, last month, over the same time period, the Red Sox star Josh Beckett pitched twice and threw 201 pitches; C. C. Sabathia threw 214 in two games for the Yankees.”

What are your limits when you’re playing a sport you love?  How do you deal with pain and pressure from your teammates or yourself?  Is it possible to find the balance between enjoyment and improvement, especially if you’re trying to win a scholarship?

 

Further reading/watching:

Hoop Dreams: Has been called “the most powerful sports movie ever made” (by a Washington Post movie crtic).  There is also a book version.

Eagle Blue: A Team, a Tribe, and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska by Michael D’Orso: won an Alex Award, which means it was picked as one of the year’s best non-fiction books with appeal for teenagers.  It “follows the Eagles, winners of six regional championships in a row, through the course of an entire 28-game season, from their first day of practice in late November to the Alaska State Championship Tournament in March.” (taken from book jacket description).

Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Peña: is about a foster kid who feels like basketball is his only way to get to a better life. 
The Playgroundz, a website about streetball, says that “there’s really nothing that bothers us more than when someone who doesn’t know ball, who’s never played ball, tries to talk and write like a player would. …De la Peña played Division I ball at Pacific University, and one of his greatest strengths in telling Sticky’s story is that the game action and the dialogue among the characters feels on point.”

 

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