Teens @ Duluth

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Little Blog on the Prairie – Catherine Davitt Bell

Posted by nancydpl on August 12, 2010

How’s this for your summer vacation: turn over your iPod. Your sneakers and sandals. Your deodorant. Your tank tops, t-shirts and shorts. And step into the world of 1890. For TWO WHOLE MONTHS! In Little Blog on the Prairie by Catherine Davitt Bell, this is what Genevieve Welsh’s family does: spend the summer at Frontier History Family Camp. It’s Gen’s mom’s dream but to Gen it’s just a big pain and she’s let everyone know it. So as a reward the night before they leave for camp, Gen’s mom shows her a cell phone that will be Gen’s…after they return. How exciting is that? That’s Gen’s dream: to have her own phone and be able to text her friends, just like everyone else. It would be OK to take it with her to camp, wouldn’t it? She won’t actually use it. Just look at it. Or maybe just send a sample text… or two. Frontier History Family Camp is way worse than Gen imagined. She can’t keep anything from her real life (sshhh: she hid the phone in the pocket of her “new” long-sleeved ankle-length wool dress), she has to share a bed with her 10-year-old brother, the food is horrible and there’s no indoor plumbing. And to top it off, the daughter of the people who run the camp hates her. To share her misery, Gen pulls out her new phone….and texts her friends. And then does it again. And again. And by then it just seems OK to Gen to go on, letting her friends know about her miserable summer. But after a few weeks, it turns out there are a few things that aren’t so miserable. There’s Caleb… When the crisis comes, how will Gen vote: stay or go? How would you do without any 21st century (or even 20th century!) conveniences? Is this the experience of a lifetime? Or just a summer to forget?


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Checkered Flag Cheater – Will Weaver

Posted by Laura on August 9, 2010

Checkered Flag Cheater is the third in Will Weaver’s Motor novels.  Life is pretty good for Trace Bonham.

1) He is driving for a professional Super Stock racing team.

2) His face is plastered all over the highways on billboards for Blu energy drink.  This means that he is recognizable and can get away with stuff a bit because of his celebrity.

3) His girl back home is still interested, although she is going to the prom with some other guy.

4) His car keeps winning.

Mainly the problem is how others treat him when he wins a race.  Should there really be booing?  But then again, should his engine open up late in a race and perform as good as it does?  Because that’s what’s happening.   His engine all of a sudden gives him more power when he needs it the most.  People in the stands notice.  People in the cars and the pits definitely notice.  That late in a race the car shouldn’t be able to get around the leading cars and get ahead by a few car lengths by the time the checkered flag flies.  Not a legal Super Stock car anyway.

But, the car keeps passing inspection.  Like I said, life is pretty good for Trace Bonham.  And it will stay that way.  If he doesn’t say anything.

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Happyface – Stephen Emond

Posted by Laura on July 21, 2010

Happyface, written and illustrated by Stephen Emond, is the sketch book of a teen boy who is having a seriously bad year.

His parents drink and fight a lot, his brother is in college and isn’t particularly happy when he comes home for holidays, and his best friend is a girl he would really like to date.  Our “hero” soldiers on in his journal, but then there is a change.  His parents are separated, he and his mom move from their house and live in a small apartment in another town.  This means that he changes schools.

Now is the time for him to change his attitude and see if life is better that way.  He puts on a smile at school and things do change.  He is given the name Happyface and he starts making friends.  But, nothing really changes.   A smile can hide a lot.

If you are looking for a light, happy-go-lucky read, this is not the book for you.  The journal is heavily illustrated and the story moves at a pretty good clip.  Questions arise and are eventually answered.   What questions?   Why did Happyface and his mother move?  Where is his brother and why doesn’t his father talk to him anymore?  What is with his best friend?  Hmm?

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The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History – Adam Selzer

Posted by Laura on June 28, 2010

The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History by Adam Selzer is a very brief, snarky look at the history of the United States.  Included are the regular bits you would expect to find out about, but you probably will run across some new stuff, too.

This is not to be mistaken for an in depth exam, in fact, the reader is frequently encouraged to seek more information elsewhere.  The reader is also asked to visit the website for the book which is just as snarky you would expect to find it.

I suggest reading it when there is someone sitting near you.  That way you can annoy (educate) them with seemingly random facts (in chronological order).  Oh! This would make a fantastic road trip book!  And then you could play Billy Joel’s We didn’t start the fire before, during and after reading chapter 10.  But, you will have to find your own copy of the song.

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Teens’ Top Ten Nominees for 2010

Posted by Laura on June 16, 2010

The Teens’ Top 10 books are nominated by teens nation-wide.

Vote for your favorites between August 23 and September 17, 2010 at www.ala.org/teenstopten/

Abbott, Ellen Jensen. Watersmeet

Born into a colony of religious fanatics, Abisina is persecuted for her appearance and kept alive only because her mother is the healer. When a new leader arrives and rids the colony of the “outcasts,” Abisina escapes and sets out with a dwarf named Haret to seek the father she has never met in a place called Watersmeet. (YA Fic SF Abbott)

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Wintergirls

Lia sees her eating disorder as a way to avoid so much: her stepmother’s pressure to be a role model for her new stepsister, her parents’ divorce, her mother’s constant hounding over her eating habits. Most importantly, she sees it as a means to escape the death of her best friend, the one she ignored the day she died from the same disease Lia is fighting herself. (YA Fic Anderson)

Brown, Jennifer. Hate List

Valerie and her boyfriend Nick are constantly picked on by other kids at Garvin High. They write a Hate List, and Nick participates in a Columbine-type killing. After, Valerie struggles to integrate herself back into high school life, unsure whether she was a hero or a villain. (YA Fic Brown)

Carter, Ally. Heist Society

Katarina wants to get out of the family thievery business. When her father is suspected of stealing priceless artwork from an Italian mobster, she has to steal them back to save his life-and she has no idea where they are. (YA Fic M Carter)

Cashore, Kristin. Fire.

In a kingdom called the Dells, Fire is the last human-shaped monster, with unimaginable beauty and the ability to control the minds of those around her, but even with these gifts she cannot escape the strife that overcomes her world. (YA Fic SF Cashore)

Clare, Cassandra. City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)

Still pursuing a cure for her mother’s enchantment, Clary uses all her powers and ingenuity to get into the forbidden country of the secretive shadowhunters, and to its capital, the City of Glass. There with the help of a newfound friend, she uncovers important truths that will not only help save her mother but all those that she holds most dear. (YA Fic SF Clare)

Clayton, Emma. The Roar

Mika’s world appears to be based purely on mystery and lies, though he seems to be the only one who senses it. After his sister vanishes and a new government program that targets children rises, Mika decides that the only hope of finding his sister may be in beating the government at their own game. (Juv Fic SF Clayton)

Collins, Suzanne. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)

Katniss is faced with the challenges of being a victor of the Games, from keeping up the image of a romantic relationship with Peeta to trying to prevent rioting in the other districts. When the Capitol announces a twist that will affect Katniss forever, will she be able to survive re-entering the world of the Games? (YA Fic SF Collins)

Dessen, Sarah. Along for the Ride

When Auden impulsively goes to stay with her father, stepmother, and new baby sister the summer before starting college, all the trauma of her parents’ divorce is revived, even as she is making new friends and having new experiences. (YA Fic Dessen)

Fisher, Catherine. Incarceron

In a distant future, criminals are dumped in a vast, living prison called Incarceron, with live forests and mechanical animals, climate-controlled weather and everlasting dark walls that stretch to nowhere. To free herself from an upcoming arranged marriage, Claudia, the daughter of the Warden, decides to help a young prisoner escape. (YA Fic SF Fisher)

Fitzpatrick, Becca. hush, hush

Nora has always been cautious in her relationships, but when Patch, who has a dark side she can sense, enrolls at her school, she is mysteriously drawn to him, despite warnings from her best friend, the school counselor and her own instincts. (YA Fic M Fitzpatrick)

Forman, Gayle. If I Stay

After a drive with her family, Mia wakes up to find the car in pieces and the bodies of her family by the side of the road. Although she is in a coma, she can see everything happening around her, almost as if she were a ghost. With her family gone, Mia has to decide if she should stay among the living or the dead. (YA Fic Forman)

Garcia, Kami and Margie Stohl. Beautiful Creatures

Lena isn’t like the other girls in Gatlin, South Carolina: she is a Caster. Ethan wants to be different; he hates life in Gatlin. So when he runs into Lena, something just clicks. Can an ancient curse, a shut-in uncle, and certain doom keep them apart? (YA Fic M Garcia)

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd. Edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci.

Anyone who has ever been labeled or proclaimed themselves to be “geeks” will fall to the floor laughing and fall in love with these short stories and illustrations by some of the top authors for teens. (YA Fic Geektastic)

Golding, Julia. Dragonfly

A princess from a country formed on rules is forced to marry a prince who just likes to live life. They dislike each other on sight- and then are kidnapped. Can they travel back home, through enemy territory, without strangling each other? (YA Fic SF Golding)

Jinks, Catherine. The Reformed Vampire Support Group

Grumpy vampire Nina is in a support group so that she doesn’t prey on humans. But things start to look grimmer than ever when one of the vampires in the group turns up dead. Will Nina get to the bottom of the crime before another vampire is attacked? (YA Fic M Jinks)

Lieb, Josh. I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President

Oliver Watson has everyone convinced that he’s extremely stupid and lazy, but he’s actually a very wealthy, evil genius. When he decides to run for seventh-grade class president, nothing will stand in his way. (YA Fic Lieb)

Ockler, Sarah. Twenty Boy Summer

While on a beach vacation in California. Frankie and Anna make a bet to attract 20 boys in 20 days. Once Anna meets Sam, she isn’t sure she can finish their bet. (YA Fic Ockler)

Patterson, James. Witch and Wizard

Suddenly pronounced witch and wizard by their oppressive government, siblings Whit and Wisty are sent to prison, where they learn to use their powers and hope to escape. (YA Fic SF Patterson)

Peters, Julie Anne. By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead

Daelyn Rice is determined to succeed in killing herself this time. Using a website for “completers,” she reveals a history of bullying and torment that started in kindergarten. One day, though, a boy sits with her as she is waiting
to be picked up from school. While she makes it known that she wants to be alone, he won’t give up on her. (YA Fic Peters)

Pierce, Tamora. Bloodhound (Beka Cooper, #2)

Having been promoted from “Puppy” to “Dog,” Beka, now a full-fledged member of the Provost’s Guard, and her former partner head to a neighboring port city to investigate a case of counterfeit coins. (YA Fic SF Pierce)

St. Crow, Lili. Strange Angels

Dru’s psychic abilities helped her father battle zombies and other mythical creatures, but now she must rely on herself, a “werwulf”-bitten friend, and a half-human vampire hunter to learn who murdered her parents,
and why. (YA Fic M St. Crow

Stiefvater, Maggie. Shiver

In all the years she has watched the wolves in the woods behind her Minnesota home, Grace has been particularly drawn to an unusual yellow-eyed wolf who, in his turn, has been watching her with increasing intensity. Soon, he must make a life or death decision to stay with the one he loves. (YA Fic M Stiefvater)

Tanigawa, Nagaru. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Haruhi Suzumia is a high-school student who is bored by normal humans. She wants something supernatural to happen, so she starts a club with a boy named Kyon. Little does she know that everyone that signs up for her club is a Time Traveler, Alien or Esper. (YA Fic SF Tanigawa)

Westerfeld, Scott. Leviathan

In an alternate 1914 Europe, Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts. (YA Fic SF Westerfeld)

Yep, Laurence. City of Fire

Scirye vows to avenge her sister’s death and reclaim a stolen treasure for her people by taking on the villainous dragon Badik and the strange Dr. Roland. She and her companions travel to a Hawaiian island created by magic, where a goddess helps them in their quest to stop Dr. Roland from achieving a great power. (Juv Fic SF Yep)

See the winners from previous years

What makes a good Teen’s Top 10 choice?

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Make Waves at your Library – Summer Reading Program

Posted by Laura on June 16, 2010

The 2010 Duluth Public Library summer reading programs began on Monday, June 14 and will run through July 30th.  I particularly like the artwork for the teen program this year and suggest you look here to see some of it.

We are using the punch cards again and, new this year, when you complete your first card you get to choose a paperback book to keep.  Your card will be used to enter the drawing for a chance to win a $75.00 charge card donated from U.S. Bank.  You may enter more than once, but you only get one book.

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Written in Bone: Buried lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland – Sally M. Walker

Posted by Laura on June 14, 2010

Interested in archeology?  How about picking up Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker?  This book, published in 2009, has already won a number of awards (follow the link and scroll down a bit to see the list).

Reading books about how people used to live makes me very happy to be alive in this time.  Such as,  I am happy that the toothpaste on sale today is not as gritty as the toothpaste used during the Colonial period.  I brush too hard as it is, and if I had to use the toothpaste they used I would definitely have worn all the way through to the painful pulp by now.  Ouch.

It really is incredible what can be learned about a person’s life from their skeleton.  Not only can they tell what bones were broken, how old (approximately) the person was,  or how much physical labor they did during their life, they could also examine what the bones were made of and determine where the person lived, or in this case, how long they lived in the area.  Very cool.

There are many interesting pictures and one case of a person being buried in the basement in the garbage heap.  That is not where I want to end up, and I bet that person didn’t think they would, either.

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Stuck On Earth – David Klass

Posted by Laura on June 7, 2010

In Stuck on Earth by David Klass, Ketchvar III has a job to do.  He needs to decide if the human race is worth saving, or if it should be wiped from the face of Planet Earth so that another race can move in.

In order to make this decision, Ketchvar III leaves his protective shell, revealing his snail like body, and enters the nasal passage of fourteen-year-old Tom Filber.  Tom’s is perhaps not the best body to enter.  His family is having money troubles, his father mostly hides in a room upstairs, his sister is a horrid beast, and his mother likes to scream her head off at everyone.

That brings us to Tom’s school life.  All the kids call Tom “Alien,” and when Ketchvar III hears that for the first time, he thinks that his cover is blown.  This isn’t the case, it is just that Tom is an outcast.

Ketchvar III ends up in the guidance counselor’s office, and she suggests that Tom join a club.  An environmental club.  Will the club make all the difference in the world for Tom and Ketchvar III?  Or will this be the end for humanity on Planet Earth?

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They Never Came Back – Caroline B. Cooney

Posted by Laura on May 26, 2010

Cathy decided to go to summer school to learn a year of Latin in just a few weeks.  Two weeks into the session a boy sees her from across the cafeteria and can’t stop staring.

He excitedly crosses the room and calls her “Murielle,” the name of his cousin who has been missing for five years.  The cousin who was taken away from his family after her parents fled the country before being arrested for embezzling money, leaving her behind.

Cathy insists that she isn’t Murielle.  But soon the boy’s parents show up and are so excited to finally have their niece back.  Then the FBI appears.

The book is told in alternating viewpoints.  Cathy gets to tell her story, so does Murielle.  Then there is the girl whose mother took the fall for Murielle’s parents.  In They Never Came Back, Caroline B. Cooney tells a story with blood family and foster family.  The book wraps up very quickly, and I felt a bit cheated, but overall this is a good read.

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Numbers – Rachel Ward

Posted by Laura on May 21, 2010

If Jem looks into your eyes, she will know the date of your death.  She sees the numbers in her head.

As far as she remembers, she has always seen the numbers.  She didn’t know what they were for, until she saw a man write her mother’s numbers down on a piece of paper the day she died.  Jem was six years old at the time.

Since then, she has bounced around foster homes.  She tries to stay away from people, so she won’t see their dates.  And because she won’t look people in the eye, she is a target at school.  So, she skips.

One day while skipping, Jem goes to one of her hangouts and sees that someone from school is already there.  Spider.  A tall  kid with a funky smell, the inability to stay still and a date of death just months in the future.  Try as she might, she just can’t shake him.  But, is it so bad to finally have a friend.  Even if he will die soon?

Ditching another day, Jem and Spider go into London to hang out.  While Spider is ranting about the cost of riding the London Eye, Jem sees that day’s date when she looks in the eyes of a couple in line.  Then, the same date in the next person’s eyes.  And the next.  She convinces Spider to leave with her, NOW, and they run away.  Minutes later the London Eye blows up.

Now Jem and Spider are wanted for questioning.  Everyone in England is looking for the two youths “in hoodies and jeans: one black, very tall; one shorter and white. (p.81)”

Numbers by Rachel Ward, is gritty.  (Language, sex, theft, death…)  This book is also gripping.  And there will be another.

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