Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oz, Revisited

In the months following her return home to Kansas, Dorothy finds she can't forget her trip to Oz. She begins catching glimpses of a blond girl in mirrors and finds a rusty key in the farm's chicken coop. Dorothy becomes convinced (obsessed, even) that these are messages from Oz and that her friends there are in trouble. Her naturally worried aunt and uncle take her to a terrifying old-school mental hospital where she's to stay until she's cured of her delusions.  Just as Dorothy is being prepped for electro-shock therapy, there's a thunderstorm and the power goes out. Dorothy escapes with the help of another patient--and magically finds herself back in Oz. Here, she learns her fears are true: The Munchkin village is in ruins and the Emerald City has been taken over by a villain so evil she makes the Wicked Witch look like a sweet old lady in comparison. After narrowly escaping with her head intact (watch the movie, this'll make sense), Dorothy embarks on a quest to find the lair of the evil Gnome King, where the Scarecrow is being held captive. Joining her are some quirky new friends. Dorothy saves the day and helps restore order to the Emerald City and to Oz (spoiler: Oh yeah, that blond girl Dorothy kept seeing? She's pretty important!). But not before enduring some truly terrifying ordeals that will likely scar her for life.

New to the Teen DVD Collection, Return to Oz, while a still considered a children's movie, is much, much darker than its predecessor. Claymation special effects that may seem quaint by today's digital standards help give the film its creepy feel. A word of warning: If you're expecting more of the original Oz movie (singing and dancing and cute winged monkeys), you'll be disappointed. But if you seek an unusual dark fantasy, this film is for you. Watch along with Coraline for a Creepy Kids Movie Double Feature --AJB

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Graveyard Book

One dark, foggy night, a mysterious man carrying a knife sneaks into a house while the family sleeps. The only survivor is the baby--who gets away only by chance. The child, then a nameless boy, crawls up a nearby hill and through the gate of an old graveyard. The ghosts residing here rescue the child from certain death, name him Nobody ("Bod" for short), and raise him as their own. Bod has many adventures growing up among the ghosts and tombstones. The only condition is Bod must not leave the graveyard, for surely the man who disposed of his family is still hunting him down, hoping to finish the job. And this is true. But, sooner or later, Bod must face this terrifying past if he is to have a future.

Neil Gaiman proves once again he is a master storyteller with The Graveyard Book. Recently chosen as one of our 6th Grade Battle of the Books books, this combines fantasy, mystery, suspense, and humor. Quirky black and white illustrations enhance an already excellent story. This one's definitely worth checking out. You'll be glad you did! --AJB

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dream On

In Dreamhunter: Teens Laura and Rose live in a world very much like this one--except that it boarders The Place, a mysterious location where dreams are born. Only a small number of people (called Dreamhunters) are able to access The Place. It is the duty of the Dreamhunters to collect dreams and then broadcast them to high society at the legendary Rainbow Opera. When the girls come of age, they, like all young people, are given the opportunityto see if they are able to enter The Place and earn the coveted title of Dreamhunter. Only Laura, daughter of history's greatest Dreamhunter, is successful. But when her father mysteriously vanishes, Laura suspects foul play. She enters The Place to search for him--and learns the terrible secret behind the dreams found there. Not all dreams are pleasant.

Dreamhunter is an unusual, but well-written dystopian. And if you like it, try the award-winning sequel, Dreamquake. --AJB

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have

Andrew never felt like he fit in: Not with his family, not with the popular clique, not into his size 48 pants. Andrew is used to being at the bottom of his school's food chain, and mostly he just rolls with it. But then a new girl joins his class and everything changes. April is just the sort of girl Andrew could date (not that he has dated). She's just the sort of girl he could fall in love with. But the awkward fat kid never gets the girl, right? When uber-popular jock Douglas saves Andrew from a bully's wrath, Andrew sees a way into April's heart: He tries out for the varsity football team--and makes the cut. Does Andrew get the girl? Maybe. You'll have to read the book to know for sure. Does Andrew's self-esteem get a huge boost? You bet!

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have is being featured on this week's Endangered Book display. It's a well-written coming of age story, and readers will relate to Andrew's quest for self-improvement as he learns to stop using his weight as an excuse and start shaping his life into what he wants it to be. Check it out today! --AJB

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Way

If you like cats and Martial Arts, you'll love Varjak Paw by SF Said. Young Varjak, a purebread Mesopotamian Blue cat, lives with his feline family and elderly owner in a large mansion on the outskirts of a great city. Despite his family's closeness, Varjak never felt like he fit in. And he doesn't. One day a mysterious Gentleman and two deadly black cats arrive at the mansion and imprison his family. Varjak narrowly escapes to the city outside. Here, he begins having dreamlike visions of his great ancestor Jalal, who founded an ancient form of feline kung fu called The Way. Varjak is the rare cat Chosen to learn The Way. He must master the Seven Skills, and he must do it soon! Animals throughout the city are disappearing, and Varjak is the only one who can rescue them!
And don't miss the exciting sequel, Outlaw Varjak Paw. The notorious gang leader Sally Bones is invading neutral territories, bullying the cats who live there and causing all the city's cats to live in constant fear. Varjak, along with Holly, Tam, and Cludge, is the only one willing to stand up to Sally and fight for peace. But what if Sally is more experienced in The Way than Varjak?

Both are awesome books! --AJB

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Save A Book!

Their situation isn't as dire as that of the Giant Panda, but they're still at risk! Over the next several weeks, the Teen Department will be featuring a display of Endangered Books, or books that are really awesome but haven't been checked out in a few years and are in danger of being weeded from the collection. You can help by checking out one or more of these books! So stop by the Teen Area and check out the Endangered Books display. You just might discover your next favorite book! --AJB

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Ex Factor

When it comes to girlfriends, self-proclaimed child prodigy Colin Singleton definitely has a type. And that type has nothing to do with hair color, height/weight ratio, interest (or lack thereof) in sports, or the usual things that might attract people to each other. No. Colin is attracted to girls named Katherine (not Katie, not Kathy, not Kat, not Catherine-spelled-with-a-C). He's dated 19 of them to date, and each one has dumped him. Reeling from the crushing heartbreak of his most recent dumping, Colin decides he needs to get away from it all: From his hometown, from his over-protective and success-obsessed parents, AND from Katherines. Joined by his quirky friend Hassan, Colin embarks on a cross-country road trip, on which he hopes to complete a mathematical formula that will predict the outcome of any relationship. The guys end up in Gut Shot, Tennessee, the apparent burial place of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a historical figure who has much significance to Colin. Here, in this unlikely rural town, Colin and Hassan find jobs, friends, and life lessons. There might even be an opportunity for Colin to break his lifelong Katherine streak.

Although not quite as good as John Green's other books (in my opinion), An Abundance of Katherines is not without its charms. There's well-developed and likable characters, there's a fun plot, and there's the author's trademark humor. A warning for those clueless about math: There's quite a bit of math in here, so it's easy for to get sidetracked (and then lost) due to the complex formulas. On the other hand, you math nerds will love this! Overall, this book was entertaining and I'd recommend it. --AJB 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Truth or Myth?

Is it possible to survive being buried alive? If caught in the rain, is it better to run or walk to a dry destination? Do you really test positive for drugs after eating a poppy seed bagel? Does the elusive and messy Brown Note really exist? The mad (scientist) men of the popular TV show Mythbusters, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, put these and many more myths to the test in Mythbusters: The Explosive Truth Behind 30 of the Most Perplexing Urban Legends of All Time. Although these full-color write-ups are taken directly from the far more explosively exciting Discovery Channel episodes, they're entertaining in their own right. Plus there's previously unreleased bios on the show's two hosts, giving readers an insider's account on what makes these two tick. So if you're a fan of the TV show, you'll probably want to check this book out. If you've never seen the show before, what are you waiting for? Check it out!

The final verdict: A Confirmed Fun Book to Read! --AJB

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Game On for Love!

Meet Scott Pilgrim, 22-year-old slacker and bassist for Canadian rock band Sex Bob-omb. Scott's dating high schooler Knives Chau, but is really in love with punk rock delivery girl Ramona Flowers. But there's something Scott must do before he can date this girl of his dreams--besides ditching Knives with as little drama as possible. Scott's got to fight Ramona's Seven Evil Ex's, who include a famous skateboarder, a vegan rock star with super powers, identical twins, and a girl in need of some serious anger management therapy. And, of course, Scott must also own up to his own inner demons. Will Scott defeat the bad guys, win the girl, and save the day? Or will he be KO'd? Or worse, become an Evil Ex himself? 

Based on the gaphic novel series by Bryan O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs The World combines a great storyline, perfect casting, awesome special effects, and elements from old school video games. All this while remaining true to the books (as much as it's possible for a movie to do so, that is). But this movie can be enjouyed even if you're not familiar with the books. Exceptionally entertaining and highly recommended! --AJB