Saturday, January 24, 2015

Coolest Snowman

Frosty vs. Olaf
Who is the 
Coolest Snowman?

Winter is in full swing, and it's time to answer that all-important question! No, it's NOT "Do you want to build a snowman?" It's: Who is the Coolest Snowman?

The contenders are:

Representing the Old School Class of Snowmen, and here to defend his title, we have Frosty the Snowman. This character has been THE quintessential snowman for decades and is to winter what Rudolph and Santa are to Christmas. He even has his own theme song. 

In the other corner, representing the New School, we have newcomer Olaf of Frozen fame. Who doesn't love this adorable character who likes warm hugs, dreams of summer, and always seems to be happy!

We've got a ballot box set up in the Teen Area above the curved Fiction shelf. You can cast your vote from now until February 27. The winner will be announced March 2.

Here's the best part: Everyone who votes has the chance to win a cool prize (winner will be chosen by random drawing).

What A Pair! Fiction/Non-Fiction Pairings

Ever finish a book and think to yourself, "I'd like to read more about that topic!"? We in the Teen Department have anticipated this and put up a What A Pair! Fiction/Non-Fiction Pairings display in the magazine room window. Now you can John Green's Paper Towns and follow it with a biography on Woodie Guthrie, whose music is a key plot point in the story. Or read a memoir about the girl who inspired the near-cult favorite, The Fault In Our Stars. And much more! 

Also, if you haven't already, stop in and check out The Way We Worked, the traveling Smithsonian display OPL has been hosting since early December 2014. Hurry, though. This display leaves on Saturday January 31. You don't want to miss this!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Fashion Book

Looking to update your wardrobe for the new year, but not sure what direction to go stylistically? Look no further than The Fashion Book, dewey # T746.92B in the non-fiction section

This colorful and fun book is divided into short chapters which details fashion trends by decade and talks about the famous people who helped popularize them (everyone from Cleopatra to Marie Antoinette to Madonna and beyond). Following each chapter are tips on how to modernize these trends for today's world, because wearing a ginormous hoop skirt or 10-inch platforms are just not practical or comfortable (obviously)--unless, of course, it's Halloween. Either way, you'll find some awesome ideas in this book!

Other topics covered are fashion trends around the world, a day in the life of a runway model, and what's next for fashion. Would YOU wear a color-changing mood shirt, a skirt where you could change the pattern with only a few clicks of your Smart Phone, or accessories (or even entire outfits) printed on a 3-D printer? 

According to The Fashion Book, anything goes (and anything is possible) when it comes to crafting a signature look! Just have fun with it!

As for me? I'm totally going to hit up the thrift stores and vintage boutiques to hunt for some 60s & 70s-era styles! --AJB

Staff Favorites

You've been reading reviews of some of the books we, the Oxford Public Library Teen Staff, read and liked (or, in some cases, didn't like). But what about our favorite books? 

Here are lists of Top Five Favorites we read last year, in 2014:

Head of Teen Services, Sian Marshall's favorites trended toward realistic, somewhat edgy fiction:
1. The Brothers Torres, by Coert Voorhees (2008)
2. Homeless Bird, by Gloria Whelan (2000)
3. Dope Sick, by Walter Dean Myers (2009)
4. The Roar, by Emma Clayton (2009)
5. Night of the Howling Dogs, by Graham Salisbury (2007)

Teen Librarian Alissa Bach's favorites leaned mostly toward magical realism--with a bit of humor and romance tossed in:
1. We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart (2014)
2. September Girls, by Bennett Madison (2013)
3. Wanderlove, by Kirsten Hubbard (2012)
4. The Wrap-Up List, by Steven Arnson (2013)
5. The Eye of Zoltar, by Jasper Fforde (2014)

Reference Librarian Jessie Ciccarelli is a lover of fantasy, but also enjoyed reading many dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels.
1. Birthmarked, by Caragh O'Brien (2010)
2. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner (2009)
3. Graceling, by Kristen Cashore (2008)
4. City of Bones (Mortal Instruments), by Cassandra Clare (2008)
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling (1998)

Reference Librarian Julie Kwon enjoyed a mix of generes. Her favorites ranged from realistic to fantasy.
1. If I Stay, by Gayle Forman (2009)
2. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher (2007)
3. Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (2012)
4. Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell (2013)
5. Paper Towns, by John Green (2008)

There you have it! OPL Teen Staff favorites from 2014. Check them out, if you like. Maybe one or two of these books will become YOUR favorite too!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

A book can transport you to the middle of the jungle as you sit reading it in the busy cafeteria at school or take you back to the middle ages with jousting knights and damsels in distress as you ride the crowded bus home after school. Some authors even use their words to create vivid, life like- pop off of the page characters. Reading can be magical- we all know that. That's the number one reason why we all search and look for those books and stories that can carry us away. After reading Inkheart by Cornelia Funke you will have even a lager passion for that feeling thanks to the incredible story and characters that she has created. You will want to read even more and possibly fill up you house with books even like Aunt Elinor.

Inkheart is a story that starts off simple enough. Meggie and her father, Mo, move around a lot thanks to his job as a book "doctor" and his passion for books which he has passed on to his daughter. Their somewhat normal and quite life changes when a man name Dustfinger shows up on their lawn. As Meggie comes to find out Dustfinger is not from their city or even their world. Nine years ago her father read aloud from the book Inkheart and he truly made the characters pop off of the pages. Dustifinger, along with several other characters from the story, were transported from the pages of the book into our world. With Capricorn as their leader they want to do no good for this new world they have discovered. With kidnappings, fires, and a bit of magic we discover more than just a passion for reading has been passed down from father to daughter.

I would defiantly recommend Inkheart to all teen readers. Even though it is labeled as fantasy (which may push some readers away) the fairy and troll elements are kept to a minimum. It is an amazing story and will make your passion (and physical care) for books even deeper.


P.S. The even better news is that Inkheart is a trilogy! I look forward to reading the next book, Inkspell!

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why is one of the most compelling books I have ever read this year. I have to say this book is very realistic and it is an eye opener as it describes a true portrayal of teen suicide. When I was a teenager, I have never dealt with the sensitive subject like suicide but I know in this day in age, it is something we don’t want to ignore or take things too lightly. I am sure everyone goes through some ups and downs and especially girls at this age go through various levels of emotions that often need to be under guidance by an adult.

In this novel, we listen to audio tapes recorded by Hannah describing thirteen reasons why she committed suicide. These tapes were sent to thirteen people that caused her to feel like there was nowhere to turn but to lose her life. Each person that impacted the cause of her death had to listen to the tapes and pass it along to the next person. Clay, the main character in the story listens to Hannah's tapes and the narration goes back and forth between the tapes and what Clay is doing/thinking. Clay who had a crush on Hannah wondered if he had to do anything with her suicide.

The story has a lot of deep, intense emotions and the suspense gradually builds up which can make you stay up at night a few times. The story also reminded me of how important our actions are –like what we do and say. Our actions can have a huge effect on others even if it is something so small that we are not aware of. I wonder if I came across someone like Hannah who has so much emotional damage, what would I have done to save her life?


Monday, January 12, 2015

Impossible, by Nancy Werlin

Ok, so I loooove the cover of Nancy Werlin's fantasy about curses, family, and true love.  And I admit this is why I originally picked up Impossible. This book is something I tried reading several years ago, but got distracted from the task by life and other shiny things. And maybe, then, I wasn't in the mood for something of that genre (it does, after all, involve magical creatures...and I'm not always in the mood for magical creatures).

I recently revisited the story after downloading Simon & Garfunkle's version of Scarborough Fair (you'll remember I'm a big classic rock fan) and, naturally, remembered this story. Why, you ask? Easy--the song's lyrics are a major plot point of the story. 

Impossible centers around Lucy Scarborough, a 17 year old girl who is soon to be the latest victim of a terrible curse that's plagued the women in her family for generations. According to the curse, Lucy will have a child by the time she turns 18. She will then go insane, and the curse will be passed to her daughter (it's always a daughter). The only way to break the curse is to complete the three seemingly impossible tasks outlined in the Scarborough Fair song before her next birthday. But since the beginning, not a single of her relatives has been successful at this. So Lucy is not very hopeful for her own future. 

However, Lucy is the first Scarborough woman to have a supportive family (adoptive) and a caring, understanding boyfriend. So there just might be hope for her after all.


Impossible will keep you reading. It's a bit predictable (of course the reader knows she'll break the curse), but it's still worthwhile. A word of caution, though. There are a couple mature-ish topics covered (a character is raped and decides to become a teen mom rather than give the child up), so Impossible might not be the best choice for younger teens or those with conservative parents. 

Just the same, a good story.--AJB

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Valentines for Seniors & Veterans
Teen Department
Now thru February 6

Stop by the Teen Department and use the supplies we provide to make a woven heart valentine. Then write a note to go inside (the note doesn't have to me mushy or long--just something nice). We'll be sending these valentines to area senior citizen homes and veterans' groups. 

Help make someone's Valentine's Day a little brighter!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Let it snow--Make a Snowflake

Remember the awesome paper chain Christmas Tree the teens helped make? 

The next mission (if you choose to accept it) is to help complete the wall of snowflakes. So stop by the Teen Department, grab a snowflake template and a pair of scissors, and get creative! 

Help us decorate for winter! 

Aquamarine, by Alice Hoffman

A few days ago, we reviewed Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. So in keeping with the trend of reviewing adorable girlie books made into adorable girlie movies, we give you Aquamarine, by Alice Hoffman.

I'm not ashamed to admit I love both the book and the movie version of this sweet story. And, like most understated books adapted for the screen, you're probably most familiar with the movie version of the tale (or is it tail?). 

In the movie, a headstrong mermaid (named Aquamarine) washes up on land and is discovered by best friends, Hailey and Claire. Aquamarine has swam away from home with a very special mission: To find true love. She has three days to do this and, if she is unsuccessful, she must return to the sea and honor her father's wishes to marry a merman who she can't stand (like, ew!). The girls agree to help her meet and find love with Raymond, the cute lifeguard every girl on the beach is crushing on. In exchange, they'll get a wish...and they know exactly what they'll ask for (no spoilers here). Despite the time crunch and encounters with mean girl Cecilia and her mean girl posse, Aqua and Ray do get together. But, not unlike in the movie Frozen, the actual love that is so crucial to the plot isn't the romantic sort at all, but the kind one good friend feels for another. The ending is kind of bittersweet, but the audience feels good about it. It feels right. There's lots of bright colors, fun music, cute boys, cool fashion ideas (I've actually tried that T-shirt transformation idea & it works), and a villain you love to hate. In short, it's the quintessential teen girl movie.

That's the movie version.

But I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the book long before learning there was a movie adaption. Had I not... Well, I might not have been able to write so positively about the book.

The BOOK version of Aquamarine is much more understated than it's movie counterpart. And it's very, very different from the movie except for a few bare essentials (actually, I can understand why they changed it so much, because an exact interpretation of the book wouldn't be very exciting to watch). In the book, best friends Hailey and Claire, both 12, spend their days hanging out at a deserted beach club where they don't really do much of anything but hang out. At the end of the summer, Claire will be moving far away, and Hailey will be alone. Then, the day after a nasty storm, they discover a mermaid in the swimming pool of the club (like in the movie). The mermaid falls in love with Raymond, the bookish boy who runs the snack shop, and the girls agree to help the two meet. Claire and Hailey arrange a blind date for their friends, and the date goes very well (there IS some trouble with hiding the tail). Then the mermaid returns to the sea, Raymond leaves for college, the beach club closes forever, and Claire moves away as planned. It's a sweet story, clocking in at less than 100 pages. No mean girls, no wishes, no cool soundtrack, no flash or flare. And not nearly as exciting as the movie. But it has a certain quiet charm to it the movie doesn't possess. And, as with most cases, I actually prefer the book (if I had to pick only one).

If you haven't experienced either the book or movie, read the book before you watch the movie. Then let me know what you think.--AJB

Are You Experienced, by Jordan Sonnenblick

In the past, I've been a fan of Jordan Sonnenblick's novels. Curveball... Notes from the Midnight Driver... These books are the perfect combination of hilarious and heartfelt, real and ridiculous, and sporting a cast of characters that are well-rounded and easy to relate to. Unfortunately, the author's latest offering, Are You Experienced, missed the mark. 

At first, I was elated to learn this new novel was set at Woodstock. I'm a huge fan of classic rock, and the time period of peace and love has always held a particular fascination for me. Then I heard the story also had a time travel twist. Time travel is a literary aspect that is extremely difficult to write about without sounding completely cliche. Still, I was intrigued...

The premise of Are You Experienced is as follows: Richard, a teen boy whose parents (dad in particular) are so strict he can't even chew gum, discovers an antique guitar in his father's office. A guitar signed by none other than the Late, Great Jimi Hendrix. Of course he tries it out...and is mysteriously and magically transported to Woodstock, where he meets his 15-year-old father, his uncle (who died of a drug overdose), and his uncle's "hot" girlfriend. Yes, it sounds a little Back to the Future. But I love Back to the Future. Richad MUST have been sent back for an important reason! Perhaps even to save his uncle? Sounds like it could be awesome, right?


Are You Experienced read more like the author's fantasy than an actual, fully-fleshed-out story. The characters (who were cliches of hippie teens) were flat, uninspired, and spent most of the time listening to music and "tripping out" on various illicit substances. Dialogue was all over the place. Sometimes they spoke like groovy 60's kids, and other times like modern-day teens. The setting (rain, mud, people getting high and dancing around, mentions of various bands that performed) was also vague, like something gleaned from looking at old photos. Didn't even try to put me, the reader, in the story. Telling instead of showing. There was, really, no sense of place at all.

Then, if Richard's time warping back to Woodstock isn't unrealistic enough, the characters also just happen to meet Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, John Sebastian, and a few other famous people from back in the day. Aside from that, there really wasn't much of a plot. Nothing even really came of Richard going back in time: He didn't save his uncle--or change the future in any way. There really wasn't much of a point to his journey. Then, once back in modern times, there is a much-much-too-long (3 chapters) explanation of why things are as they are that was about as realistic as a chance meeting with Hendrix. I mentally rolled my eyes several times. But by then I'd pretty much lost interest anyway.

With Are You Experienced, it seemed like the author was more interested in writing about Woodstock than telling a good story. I was disappointed all around.

If you're interested in reading one of Jordan Sonnenblick's books, I recommend skipping Are You Experienced

Read Notes from the Midnight Driver instead. --AJB

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Teen Craft Satruday!

Make Your Own Tie Dye Tote Bag
Today- Saturday, January 3rd
Noon- 3PM

Come into our teen area and make a tote bag using a fun tie dye method. Once dry your tote bag will be a great way to hold all of your great library books and movies! All materials will be supplied! No registration needed, just drop in and put your creative skills to work.

The craft runs from noon until 3PM (or until supplies run out).

See you then :)

Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine

Giants, elves, ogres, oh my!

Once upon a time in the land of Frell a beautiful baby girl was born. Upon Ella's birth a fairy bestowed her with a magical gift, the gift of obedience. Ella must do everything that is given to her as a direct order- Clean up your room. Wash the dishes. Jump up and down. If she were ordered to take her own life she would have to. All is well until Ella looses her mother and her father looses their fortune. He seeks out a new wife that has two cruel daughters of her own. Ella must now deal with her stepsisters that have found a way to use Ella's "gift" to their advantage. She must overcome her "gift" and the manipulation of her step family in order to reach her happily ever after.

There are many Cinderella stories in all sorts of forms, Ella Enchanted is by far my favorite. This is one of the stories I can remember reading when I was younger. Ever since I have made the reference of "fairy feet". Ms. Levine's words and writing style have never left me. As a librarian her words still make me fall into the magical world of Frell and wish I was standing among fairies and elves. If you have not read the book, do NOT compare it to the movie. (Yes, there is a movie starring Anne Hathaway). The movie version is a (cheesy) musical that may have catchy tunes, but does no justice for the book. In this case, as in many, the book is much better than the movie.

I highly recommend Ella Enchanted. It is an easier read and a great light hearted story that will make you feel young again! Even if you are not an avid fantasy reader it has a little bit of everything (swords, true love, and human eating ogres) for everyone.