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  • July 2020
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Teen Review-Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba

abryanaHi my name is Abryana, I am 13 years old and I go to the west end library in Pittsburgh. I love anime and manga, and I want to share it to you:)






Death Note-Tsugumi Ohba



I love this anime series!!

It is about a straight A high school student named Light Yagami who finds a notebook outside of his class room. Being curious, he picks it up and finds what it was about. It said Death Note in the front. He skimmed though the beginning of the notebook, and he thought that it was a sick prank. But even though he thought that, he brought to his house to read more about it. It said that “The person’s name that is written in this book shall die.”

Half disbelieving, he watched the news and found out a criminal was holding hostages in a nursery home. He wonder what would happen if he wrote his name in the notebook. So then a few minutes later thinking hard about it, he decided to put his name in the note book. In exactly 40 seconds later the criminal dropped dead!

Light was stunned but still he thought it was by luck. Later on in the day he did the same thing with another criminal and the same results happened! Now he believes that the Death Note is real, and he is using it to purify the world. He said that he wanted to be the “god of the new world.”

Suddenly, Light started to write the names of criminals who are the most notorious in the world. He started to kill 5 criminals a day then later on he started to kill 25 a day!! A  Shinigami (a god of death) showed up and warned Light what will happen to him when he dies. The public started to notice and the police too.

The police are doing everything in their power to stop it, but now they are desperate and begged a legendary detective nicknamed L. Now the battle between Light Yagami and L begins.

Teen Blogger: Wei Interviews Jesse Andrews, author of Me & Earl & the Dying Girl

Hello, my name is Wei. (Before we go further, it’s important for you to know that it’s pronounced like “WAY.” I mean, how awkward would it be if you came up to me & called me “WEE”?) I’m a senior, a vegetarian, I read ALL THE TIME, I can lick my elbow, and I believe I am searching for a “Great Perhaps.”

Wei interviewed author Jesse Andrews at the 2012 Teen Media Awards held on August 2, 2012. Special thanks to Jesse and Wei for a great interview! (Awkward transition at about :40 is totally my fault – corey)

Teen review: The After Life by Daniel Ehrenhaft

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 After Life by Daniel Ehrenhaft

The After Life is a very unique novel for many reasons. First, it is told in a 4/5 day time period. The novel also has an interesting plot which includes very heavy issues. Will, a kid who dropped out of high school is now trying to get back into school while also being an alcoholic. Will’s father abandoned him as a child and has two children of his own, who Will ends up meeting finally after 18 years. Not only is Will dealing with his uncle’s fairly recent death, but after meeting his long lost siblings…Will, Liz, and Kyle’s father suddenly dies.

Now the three siblings have to go out of state for the funeral and are forced to get to know each other when they find out they have to drive back to New York from Florida together.

The author of this novel, Daniel Ehrenhaft, used humor throughout the whole book to lighten up on the tough issues. It was very funny and easy to relate to. I would rate The After Life a 4/5 🙂

Teen Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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 Book Thief by Markus Zusak

When I first started The Book Thief I was skeptical as to whether I would like it or not, because I heard mixed reviews. But don’t let the negative reviews fool you, this book is brilliant to say the least!

The book technically is narrated by Death. Throughout the book, readers learn about Death and his feelings. But Death introduces the readers to a girl named Leisel Meminger. The book basically jumps back and forth from Leisel’s viewpoint and Death’s viewpoint. In the very beginning of the book, I was a tad confused about how this book was written but it’s surprisingly easy to follow.

This book’s setting is in Nazi Germany during WWII. Another reason this book is unique is because it is told from the German’s viewpoint during the war, not the Jews. Zusak proves to readers that not all Germans were horrible people through the main character Leisel and her family and friends.

One important thing to realize about the characters: you will fall in love with them. The characters in The Book Thief are SO loveable. Leisel, a 10 year old girl, moves in with her foster family in the beginning of the book, and she changes everybody’s life. Her papa, Hans Hubermann, is her best friend and closest confidante. Her mama, Rosa Hubermann, completely personifies the phrase ‘tough love’. Another character that will become a readers’ favorite is Rudy Steiner, Leisel’s best friend. Readers will be touched when they see just how powerful and sweet a friendship could be. Leisel will pull readers into her world of hiding Jews, book stealing and word loving, and how hard it is to be happy in Nazi Germany. This young girl could most definitely teach adults valuable life lessons with a mind like hers.

Another important note on this book is that it is extremely sad. If you are one that does not like to get emotional, I would not pick up this book! Since Death is the narrator, he could be rather blunt. In fact, for almost all of the events of the book, Death will tell us the end first, and then fill in the details leading up to the end.

The Book Thief is sure to surprise any reader because of how unique it is. Everything to the main characters, the narrator, and to the way it’s written is different and unique. This book is must-read!!

Teen review: Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy

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.

Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy

A ten year old girl, named Jennifer Jones, (nicknamed JJ), killed her best friend. The young girl then went to prison and six years later, was released. She now goes by the name Alice Tully. Only three people know who she really is, the rest of the world still thinks she’s in prison. For six months now she’s been living a normal life; with a job, boyfriend, and her guardian, Rosie. Alice’s life takes a turn for the worse when she finds out that there is a detective in town trying to figure out who Jennifer Jones is. This novel is about Alice trying to hide and avoid her past, but also learning to understand it.

There’s not many characters in this novel to get to know. Most of them are very dry and not very interesting, which is one of the bad things about this book. The best part of the book is when the reader learns about Alice/Jennifer’s past, but when it’s in present-day time, it could become a bit monotonous.

I would recommend this book just because the character Alice Tully is so different and it comes from an interesting point of view.

Teen review: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

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!

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Although the title of this novel had me singing The Fray on the car ride home, this book was a surprisingly good find. The basis of the story revolves around Jill MacSweeny, a sixteen year old girl whose life crumbles around her when her father dies. In what Jill believes to be an act of grief, her mother decides to adopt a baby through an online no-paperwork agreement from a simple nineteen year old girl from Omaha. The girl, Mandy, comes to live with Jill and her mother, and the story goes from there.

Throughout the novel, Jill is learning to face her grief and allow her friends, and boyfriend, back into her life. While struggling with that, she also has to adjust to a new addition to the household, Mandy, someone she doesn’t really want anything to do with. On the other hand, Mandy is basking in the love she finds at the MacSweeny household, while at the same time learning to deal with her pregnancy. I was surprised at how well the author developed Mandy’s character- I felt like I knew her by the end of the book.  There’s really a lot going on, but Sara Zerr knows how to fit it in and make it work. She creates an exciting page-turner instead of a overwhelming clump of plot lines.

The novel is written in opposing viewpoints, with Jill and Mandy narrating alternative chapters. Although I’m not usually a fan of that style of writing, it somehow worked in this novel. I was expecting a mainstream teen novel, and although certain elements were present, this book was a unique story whose ending was a surprise, at least to me. What I was not expecting however, was the hilarious quirkiness of Mandy’s insights and the way this story drew me in; I was hooked. I laughed, I cried, I was done in two days. Overall, this book was an emotional page turner that was both heartwarming and exciting. Two thumbs up.

Poetry On Wednesday: Winter Stars

My father once broke a man’s hand
Over the exhaust pipe of a John Deere tractor.

That’s how Larry Levis opens up the poem “Winter Stars”.  One of the more gripping opening lines of a poem, it’s also maybe not what you’d expect from a poem so entitled.  Perhaps “Winter Stars” called to your mind a meditation on the quiet stillness of nature, as in Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”.  While Levis doesn’t talk, as Frost does, of “the sweep / Of easy wind and downy flake”, he does explore some of his own conceptions of having “miles to go” before he sleeps.  “Winter Stars”, after all, about Levis’s father, and specifically his father’s dying.

Welcome to Poetry on Wednesday!

The memory that happens in “Winter Stars” takes place in California, another blow to the wintry preconceptions to which the title might lead you, and it explores a memory Levis has of his father.  Levis often writes about California and his conflicted relationship with his dad (another powerhouse of a poem on the same subject in the same collection is “Though His Name is Infinite, My Father is Asleep”). These were subjects that Levis often wrote about – for a good overview of his themes, the Poetry Foundation has something here.

But there is winter in this poem, and not just literal winter.

There’s the winter of death, as when Levis notes that: ” Something  / Inside him is slowly taking back / Every word it ever gave him” and then describes for us the shutting-down city of the mind in night-quiet, lonely detail.

And there’s the forever winter of starlight, some it reaching us after the stars have already, themselves died, “Like laughter that has found a final, silent shape / On a black sky. It means everything / It cannot say. Look, it’s empty out there, & cold. ”

To me, it’s a poem about how useless words can feel in life when dealing with a someone whose actions you don’t understand, and how differently useless words can feel in the face of death.  Beautiful and depressing, right?  On the other hand, poetry–words–are what can help us console ourselves when we have to get through grief, and poems are a wonderful way to write about the people who have been important to us (living or dead).  Is this too depressing a poem for the dark days of the year?  I will tell you that the last line turns it around a little bit. But I won’t spoil it for you — go read it for yourself.  And check out more of Larry Levis from the library. You can even hear him read some of his own work thanks to the Academy of American Poets Audio Archive.

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

Teen review: Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston

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.

Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston

Emily Curtis is a simple tomboy that loves to work on cars, just like her father, who owns his own body shop. But when Emily’s mom dies from cancer, their whole lives are torn apart. The two-person family loses everything; cell phones, the company, and their house.

Emily’s Aunt Darlene offers Emily and her father to come live with her family, and Emily is not excited. Her cousin, Whitney, is the same age as her, and she remembers her to be a rich snob. Emily feels like her life is at an all-time low, and to top it all off, she’s lost her faith in God.

But, the longer Emily stays at her aunt’s house, the more happy she becomes. She meets the boy next door, Zander, who has a mutual interest in cars. They spend almost all of their time together. She meets Chelsea, a girl who quickly becomes her best friend. And she becomes involved in the church, even though she isn’t too positive about her faith just yet.

This novel is a story about Emily finding herself again after the tragedy of losing her mother. Emily also learns that there are people that are going to be there for her, she just has to let them in.

I highly recommend this novel! Every reader will love Emily’s character, and won’t be able to put the book down!

Teen review: Remember Me by Christopher Pike

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.

Remember Me by Christopher Pike

Shari Cooper is just a regular teen with lots of friends and parties to go to. Everything literally changes when Shari Cooper decides to go to Beth’s party. By the end of the night, Shari Cooper is dead.

The novel ‘Remember Me’ follows Shari before she dies but the majority of it is after she dies. A lot of the people in the town say she jumped off the balcony willingly, killing herself. But Shari knows that’s not true. Shari wants to find the person that pushed her and killed her.

Shari meets up with Peter, a boy who went to her school and died recently. Together, Shari and Peter investigate the murder themselves, following around the people that were at the party when Shari was pushed off the balcony. They uncover secrets that are so surprising that readers won’t even see coming.

Christopher Pike also uses Shari and Peter as tools to convey the magical and fascinating afterlife. Peter shows Shari all the ropes of being a deceased being. This novel is extremely interesting because it’s from the point of view of a dead person, and it’s also very interesting to see how the author himself views the afterlife.

I liked this book a lot, and I am going to continue reading the other two books in the trilogy!

Teen review: Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel & Acting by Sherri Winston

These reviews were written as part of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Teen Fine Alternative Program. If you have fines and would rather volunteer than give us cash, just ask your local teen librarian for more details!

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

  1. Name two characters and give brief personality descriptions:
    Garth – The main character, everything revolves around him. He’s sweet, but gets into trouble.
    Garth’s Mom – The 1st main character and (obviously) Garth’s Mother. She is worried about her son.
  2. Write a sentence or two about what happened in the plot:
    The main situation in this story is that Garth gets trapped in The Underworld and he has to find a way out, while fighting the dark forces who are trying to enslave the people there.
  3. Write two sentences about what it was that you enjoyed about this work:
    I enjoyed reading this book because, for one, it was a comic book and they are always interesting to me.

Acting by Sherri Winston

  1. Name two characters and give brief personality descriptions:
    Eve – the sister who no one appreciates–they think she’s nothing.
    Al – the sister everyone cherishes and thinks is the best.
  2. Write a sentence or two about what happened in the plot:
    Well…Eve feels very unappreciated by her family because they believe she broke the family up and Al makes a mistake by getting pregnant and everything gets turned around.
  3. Write two sentences about what it was that you enjoyed about this work:
    I loved the conflict in this book. I say this because in this book it makes you wanna keep reading it more and more.

review by Germirah – CLP, Homewood

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