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A letter to Lauren Oliver, Pandemonium (a Book Review)

Dear Lauren Oliver,

I stayed up all night last night reading Pandemonium; I laid in bed and read every glorious word and thought about what it meant to be free, to make your own choices about how to think and what to feel and who to love.  I read with anticipation as Lena talked about growing and changing and running and what it meant to be a zombie. I read and I thought, I wish that every teen and their parents would read this book – this series – and think about what it meant to be a thoughtful person who chose love.  Not just the love between a man and a woman, but the love of family, friends, those people that you choose to draw into you and share your sacred self with.

Today more than ever dystopian fiction reigns and I think it is because you can hear the drum beat of fear and oppression beating through our land.  Beat beat beat, the end is coming its cadence seems to say.  Beat beat beat, we are full of fear.  Beat beat beat, the economy is




collapsing.  Beat beat beat, we are at war and considering more war. I think often of what it must be like growing up as a teen with that constant drum beat as the soundtrack of your life.  What is the price of war?  What sacrifices does it demand of us?  Can you become the very enemy you are trying to bring down?  These are all important questions asked by Lena in Pandemonium, questions that we should be asking of ourselves.

Two days ago a young man walked into a high school in Ohio with a gun and killed some of his class mates.  The press keeps asking why and the answers are the same as they were the last time it happened: too many guns, too much anger, too much bullying, too much selfishness, too much mental illness.  I don’t know the answer, but often when I read books I think about how they have the power to move us and remind us that we are just one part of a bigger story.  I think that when we remember this, when we allow ourselves to open up and truly grasp the bigness of the world around us, we develop compassion for one another.  We are all struggling to find ourselves.  We are all struggling to find a place of peace and comfort and joy.  We all want to know that for a moment, we matter somewhere to someone.  If we took away our capacity to feel love, would that be the answer?  Is it a sickness?

No, love is the answer.  To love one another.  To care. To look at your fellow human beings and say they are just like me, different in the details but the same at the core.  I love how through the two novels Lena slowly realizes this truth and allows herself to be responsible for it.

Some girls are out there swooning and thinking that they want to be Bella.  Others are out there thinking to themselves that they want to be Katniss.  But it is Lena that I hope young girls everywhere would admire the most; Lena whose journey rings most true.  Lena who takes the most daring and honest journey.  Each time she gets new information, she allows herself to shift her being accordingly.  She makes active decisions and takes responsibility for who she becomes and who she chooses to be.  She chooses to love, knowing that it is true that love often comes with a cost: “I feel a sharp stab of sadness.  I have had to give up so much, so many selves and lives already.  I have grown up and out of the rubble of my old lives, of the things and people I have cared for . . . ” (Lauren Oliver, Pandemonium).

You write beautifully, the way you can turn a phrase is a beauty unto itself.  When Lena stands in the wilds talking about freedom, you understand in your core what freedom truly means.  When Lena plunges into the icy water and it rips through the very core of her, you feel an icy dagger stab for a moment at your skin.  And when Lena runs, you feel the desperation of what she is running from and sense that perhaps Alex is standing in the corner of your room and you see flashes of him hiding in the shadows.  The words come dripping off the page with life and meaning.

What does it mean to be free?  I think that is a question we have been asking ourselves as a nation for the last 10+ years?  What are you willing to sacrifice for your freedom?  But in making those sacrifices, are we truly free?  Just as choosing to love means choosing to sometimes have pain, choosing freedom means that we must also choose to suffer the consequences of the choices of others.  As much as we may want, there is no cure from our humanity.  We will never be free of mistakes or wrong choices.  We can never put enough rules into place or tame the human spirit enough and dull the senses to the point where we can not think or feel.  And I hope we never get to the place where we want to.  There is no cure for the human condition, we must just keep working together to find a way to embrace it and live it fully.  We must embrace one another.

I think that every teen and adult should be reading Delirium and Pandemonium and talking about them.  I think that we should all take heed of the warning drum beats and make a decision that we will embrace our humanity and learn to live in peace with it, and one another.  Great literature does more than entertain, it inspires and challenges and reminds.  This is great literature.  I have been inspired, I have been challenged, and I have been reminded . . . thank you.

You have done your job well, I have been moved and I will stand on the roof top and say please, please read this book and let it remind you to treasure your freedom to choose who you are and what you think and feel and who you love more than all.
Sincerely,
Karen

Pandemonium is the sequel to Delirium and is the story of a society in which teens are forced to undergo an operational procedure that alters how they feel.  Love is considered a disease, the disease that has brought down mankind and destroyed the past.  In this future, society is controlled and devoid of emotion.  Perfection of thought and feeling is the goal.  And then there is Lena, who meets and falls in love with Alex.  There are rumors of a resistance, of people living in “the wilds” who have forsaken the cure.  They are called invalids.  Delirium and Pandemonium tell the story of Lena and how her eyes slowly open to the truth and realizes that the bill of goods that she has always been sold may be all lies.  It is the truly moving story of a girl deciding who she is and what she is going to be, as all teens must.  It is well written, belieavable, and thoughtful.  If you haven’t read it, you should. 5 out of 5 stars
Lauren Oliver talks about Pandemonium at Harper Teen

Book Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

“It’s been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. But three ordinary teenagers are about to change that – and their lives – forever.” (Back cover blurb)

A secret meeting is held and it is determined that in order to help generate new interest in the space program there will be another trip to the moon and this time, 3 teenagers will have the chance to participate. But in this meeting it is also clear that something horrific happened in a previous moon trip.  A secret station exists on the moon that has never been used, and there are good reasons why.  There are concerns, but those concerns are pushed aside and the plan goes forward.

First lines: “Gentleman, it’s time,” . . .

It would be the opportunity of a life time: the chance to travel to the moon.  Millions will enter, but only three are selected.  Meet Mia, Midori and Antoine.  Mia is in a punk rock band and a trip to the moon just may take her band to the next level, if she makes it back alive.  Midori is a teenager living in Japan and she wants out, desperately.  Well, you can’t get farther away from home than the moon.  And Antoine has a broken heart and wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.  Again, the moon = pretty far away.

But in a nursing home somewhere a man sits trying to remember why this trip is a bad idea.  He wants to warn them not to go, but he can’t remember why.  And he can’t speak so the words don’t come.  As each teen prepares for their journey, they too have portents of bad things to come, if they only knew how to see the signs.

When the group finally lands on the moon, the tension really starts to build.  There are broken hatches. Power failures.  And that slowly creeping feeling that they may not be alone.  Will they be able to find a way back home?  And if they do, what will they be bringing back with them?

172 Hours on the Moon is a classic sci fi story with a Japanese horror movie twist.  The tension is at its peak when the teens are on the moon, though it takes a little while to get to that point in the story.  It has an interesting twist that some readers will like and others won’t know what to do with.  In many ways 172 hours reads like an outer space version of The Ring or The Grudge, it has that slow build of tension with the little tidbits of terror dropped in to keep you invested.  Then they land on the moon and all proverbial hell breaks loose and the terror really amps up.  The question of what exactly is happening was not at all what I was expecting, and days later I am still not sure how I feel about it.  Although I am not sure how I feel about where the story went, I enjoyed the journey as many teen readers will.  At some point in our lives many of us dream of being astronauts and going to space and this is like a fantasy come true; well, more like a nightmare as it turns out.

This book was originally written in Norwegian and is translated into English and I wonder if that accounts for some of the – lack – that takes places in the first half of the book. There is just something missing in the first part, an excitement and tension that should be present. I have very mixed feelings about this book and reading through the Goodreads reviews I find that I am not alone. In the end I give it 3 out of 5 stars, although it certainly fills a collection need for those looking for more traditional science fiction that actually takes place in space.

Pinterest

Pop Quiz: What fairly young social media site has gained over 10 million users in less than 2 years and generates more actual purchases and traffic than any other social media sites out there?

Answer: Pinterest

Pinterest is a social networking site that allows its users to “pin” their favorite websites, pictures, information and more onto pin boards and create a virtual bulletin board. It strength is how visually appealling it is, plus it is easy to use and invites a sharing of ideas.  Many people use Pinterest to store recipes (food porn it is often called), hair styles, “thinspiration” (they store photos and quotes to help them on their weight loss journey), craft ideas, organization ideas, and more. How you use Pinterest is completely up to you.  Pinterest would be a great tool for creating and sharing booklists with teens with enhanced information including websites on particular topics or crafts to go along with the board topic.  For example, you could create a board for Steampunk and pin pictures of books, websites on the topic and links to craft projects.  You could do the same for paranormal

romance, science fiction, etc.  Be careful when using Pinterest, it is addictive and can be a major time suck.  At the end of the day you end up with a variety of personalized boards that look like this:

Like many out there, TLT is on and enjoying Pinterest.  I love the visual aspect of it.  I have been workign on using it to help basically create a visual index for the TLT blog.  And for uploading and arranging some of the visual elements that are on the TLT Facebook page.

Here are some of the ways that TLT is using Pinterest . . .

The 2012 Project: As you know, we are on a mission to collect 2,012 pictures of teens using their libraries in 2012.  Pinterest works great for this project given its visual nature.  Some information is already up on the project pin board. If you want to share pictures as part of #the2012project let me know and I will make you a collaborator and you can upload your pictures directly to the board.

Craft Ideas: Sarah Dessen recently tweeted that one of the best uses for Pinterest is food porn.  Us librarians would argue it is also great for craft porn.  Here you can pin all those craft ideas that you may one day want to use with your tweens and teens. In addition to the TLT Craft Ideas page there is a great Teen Programming in Libraries collaborative board started by Heather Booth.  Right now 178 teen librarians are collaborating and sharing craft ideas and it is pretty awesome. In fact, it is awesomesauce (that’s my new favorite phrase). There are 1,246 items pinned in this board so if it is easier for you to manage, you can create your own board and repin those items that are of particular interest to you and create a smaller more personalized board.

Autism and Libraries: If you read the TLT blog (which, since you are reading this I am going to assume that you do), you know that I have a particular passion for discussing how we can better serve teens with autism in the library. I don’t have great answers or a multitude of success stories in my pocket, I just think it is a discussion that we need to be having.  So I created an Autism and Libraries board to share articles, books that you may want for your collection, and great resources to help facilitate that discussion.

I also have created boards for some of my favorite authors and publishers, blogs, library stuff in general and more. You can check them all out here. I have some great ideas that I am going to take to my branch manager about how the library can use Pinterest to do things like share storytime books and crafts, teen programming pics and staff picks.  I think that Pinterest is a tool that can have tremendous positive impact for our libraries.  In addition, if you already have a library social media site such as Twitter or Facebook you can link your Pinterest pins to those accounts so that your information shares across platforms making it easy to update all your social media tools with one fell swoop.

Some things you can do with your Pinterest boards:

  • Create booklists around themes and include enhanced content like craft projects and support sites.
  • Share pictures of past programs.
  • If you have a particular program, you can upload pictures plus craft resources and support sites on that particular topic.
  • If you are having an author visit, share a variety of resources about that author including past interviews, books, and more.
  • Have teens create and share library memes, posters, and more formally or informally. Teens are always doodling so let them know you have a space they can share their artwork.
  • Share new book releases
  • Have a board for booktrailers so teens know where to find them

Lots of publishers, websites and libraries are using Pinterest and there is some good information out there on the topic:
Library Journal: Use Pinterest to Promote Your Programs and Services
iLibrarian: 5 Ways to Use Pinterest in Your Library
Snap Retail: Why You Should be Using Pinterest

How are you using Pinterest? Please share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments!

ALA Midwinter: The ARCs (May 2012)

Today we take a look at some of the ARCs handed out at ALA for books that have a May 2012 publication date. As noted previously, these are not reviews (unless otherwise stated), but a sneak peek at just some of the titles coming your way in May.  I can say that two of the books have been read and are recommended, so read on to find out more.

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

Back cover blurb: “A reminder that Doyle is one of the best writers of dialogue there has ever been. A Greyhound of a Girl has all that Barrytown strut and swagger. No, not swagger – sway. It dances. It dances on the grave.” – Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of Millions
First lines: She hated the hospital. She hated walking through it. She hated everything about it. Exept for one thing. Her granny. She hated the hospital, but she loved her granny.


Roddy Doyle is a Booker Prize winner and known for his books for adults.  Here, Doyle tells the story of four generations of women in an Irish family.  On the way home from school on afternoon, Mary meets the ghost of her great grandmother who enlists her help to deliver an important message.  What ensues is a “glriously eccentric road trip to the past. Four women traveling on a midnight car journey: one of the deam, one of them dying, one of them driving, and one of them just starting out” (from the back cover. Road trips are always fun, especially when a ghost is involved, and this is a read that skews to the younger end of YA (it is listed as ages 9 and up).

The Shadow Collector’s Apprentice by Amy Gordon

Back cover blurb: Would you let someone collect your shadow?
First lines: For the hundredth time, I’m wondering why Jack ran off.

Amy Gordon has appeared on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List for her book The Gorillas of Gill Park. Apprentice is historical fiction that takes place in 1963.  In the town of Medley peculiar things are happening:  Cully’s father has disappeared and people aren’t quite acting like themselves.  the owner of the Batty’s Attic antique shop has a bizarre hobby, he collects people shadows.  He says it is safe, but what if it is not?  The cover and description sound sufficiently creepy to get young teens/middle grade readers intersted.

First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky

Back cover blurb: Like his name, Gray is dark and stormy. Dylan is the exact opposite – full of light and life. It’s definitely not love at first sight for these two. But slwoly, fascination turns to admiration, which turns to caring, until finally these lone souls find love. But staying in love is not as easy as falling if love. If Dylan and Gray want their love to last, they’re going to have to learn that sometimes love means having to say you’re sorry.
First lines: (Gray) Out of the corner of my eye, I’m watching a girl.

I flipped through and browsed parts of this title and it seems like a well written, slow simmering love story.  The parts I read, I liked. And I liked the characters, too.  This will probably be a hit for teens looking for a contemporary romance. Ages 14 and up.

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Back cover blurb: This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroin, will aptivate fans of steampunk and fantasy.
First lines: “There’s no mistaking what your father was, not when you’ve got feet and hands like those.”

When Lena Mattacascar turn 18, she leaves the comfort of her home to find the northern wilderness knows as Secree, and hopefully her father.  Secree is an “untamed and mysterious regions, said to be inhabited by Peculiars – people who unsual physical characteristics make them unacceptable to moder society.”  Lena can’t help but wonder, was her father a Peculiar? Is she? On her journey Lena meets a wider variety of characters whose motives are uncertain, but if she is going to find her father she is going to have to confront her darkest fears.  My co-worker borrowed this ARC and read it and she liked it a lot and recommends it.  It sounds like it would be a good pairing with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

All the Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers

Back cover blurb: Who’s on top of the social food chain? How do you get ahead? Who makes the rules? Who needs to follow them?
First lines: “Police!”
                  I cursed under my breath and felt around in the darkness for my table lamp, found it, and check the small travel clock on the end table. Three o’clock. Nothing good ever happens at three o’clock in the friggin’ morning.

When looking for gritty, urban reads for teen males, Walter Dean Myers can usually be counted on to deliver the goods.  For 2012 he was named the Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.  Paul is working in a soup kitchen the summer his father is killed.  Here he spends time with a soup man named Elijah who spends a lot of time talking about “the social contract”.  “Philosophy, conspiracy theories, and the culture of Harlem come together in one of Walter Dean Myer’s most thought-provoking nvoels to date.”  This title has a discussion guide and teacher and library blog feature at www.thepageturner.com.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Back cover blurb: October 11, 1943. A British spy plan crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lot the game before it has barely begun.
First lines: I am a coward. I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending.

“Verity” is captured by the Gestapo and living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogator gives her a choice: reveal her mission or face the firing squad. Laurie Halse Anderson says “This astonishing tale of friendship and truth will take wing and soar into your heart.” Again, I read snippets of this book and it is a thrilling tale that should fly off of the shelves.

The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Back cover blurb: How do you rise above when you’ve always been left behind?
First lines: I don’t know how you can see things before it’s actually there, but you can.

 The Downside of Being Charlie is a touching contemporary tale that I highly recommend for older teens and you can read my full review here.

Wuftoom by Mary G. Thompson

Back cover blurb: A mesmerizing tale of transformation

Everyone thinks Evan is sick . . . Everyone thinks science will find a cure. but Evan knows he is not sick, he is transforming. Evan’s metamorphosis has him confied to his bed, constantly terrified, and completely alone. Alone, except for his visits from the Wuftoom, a wormlike creature that tells him he is becoming one of them.
First lines: Evan sat on his bed with his back against the pillow. The light was so low that the room was bathed in shadows. They fell from the cutter, making dark shapes on the worn hardwood floor. But Evan was so used to the darkness that he saw the shapes making the shadows, even the pain peeling off the once-white walls.

This book has a stunning cover and an interesting premise based on the back cover pitch, but I can’t even begin to say anything about it without reading it.

Sway by Amber McRee Turner

Back cover blurb: Sway (noun) 1: The action of swining back and forth; a sweeping motion
                                                      2: Power; influence. With a little sway, everything might change.
First lines: Being awake all night long is not such a good thing when it comes from eating spoiled mayonnaise or hearing raccoons fight over garbage outside your window.

Cass and her dad set off on the road in an RV named The Roast looking to stir up a little home spun magic, the amazing power of “Sway”.  On their mysterious summer adventure there is one person in particular Cass would like to share this magic with, her mom. This is technically middle grade fiction, but everyone can use a little Sway in their lives . . .

Flora’s Fury: How a girl of spirit and a read dog confounded their friends, astounded their enemies, and learned the importance of packing light by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Back cover blurb: The anticipated final book in the trilogy hailes as “Weird in the best possible way” by Salon.com
First lines: Dear Mamma Butcher Brakespeare Azota Tiny Doom: Everyone thinks the Birdies killed you, sacrificed you to one of their gods, whose priests ate your body while he ate your soul.

This is the final book in the stunning Flora Segunda trilogy, and I think that is all I should have to say about the matter.  But in case you need a little more, Diana Wynne Hibes calls the adventures of Flora “highly original, strange and amusing.”  Still need more? Wilce has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science fiction and Fantasy. You’ll want to read the first two books, Flora’s Dare and Flora Segunda, first.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think of these May releases.

Ways to Participate in #the2012project, the February 25th update

Now more than ever, advocacy matters. I am an advocate for libraries. And for teens. And for reading.  I believe that amazing things happen in the lives of teens when they use their libraries: they learn, they grow, they are empowered. This is especially true in communities that support their libraries and their schools.  The best communities are those that value their teens and their libraries.  When these two elements come together you have communities where education works and teens experience a sense of value and hope that lead them to follow more positive paths (please see the 40 Developmental Assets). And yet we are here facing a crisis in our libraries, a crisis of funding and a crisis of support – which is why now more than ever we must be advocates.  We must rise up to the challenge and show our communities that libraries have value and still matter.  Thus, The 2012 Project.

The 2012 Project (also #the2012project on Twitter) is an attempt to collect 2,012 pictures of teens reading and using their libraries in order to make a visual statement: Teen use (and love) their libraries.  Here I present you with 10 fun, creative ways to get your teens involved in the project – and have some fun programming.

 1.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

If you have read Miss Peregrine’s Home, then you know that the story centers around a group of mysterious black and white photographs.  I spend a lot of time photographing my littles and once (no seriously, it has only happened once) accidentally took a photo that was completely framed and lighted just wrong and it came out looking quite peculiar.  This led me to develop a whole program and book discussion around this book, which I love by the way and recommend.

2. March is National Craft Month

Have a craft program in March and submit pics of your teens being crafty. The pictures can even be a part of the craft as you can decorate picture frames or do some program using apps or digital photography.  You can use pictures to make posters, bookmarks and more to decorate your teen space.  Or make crafts that your teens can take home.  Visit the TPIB TOC for a wide variety of photograph themed crafts that you can make. Also be sure and check out the TLToolbox and Teen Programming in Libraries Pinterest boards.

3. April is National Poetry Month: Book spine poetry

Book spine poetry is where you make a poem using the spines of books (see below). You can have teens create their own book spine poetry and take pictures of them holding their poems to submit.

 4. Discover The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Debut YA author Jenny Torres Sanchez has written a moving book about a young man named Charlie whose life is spiralling out of control; he uses photography to help tell his story.  Jenny has graciously agreed to support #the2012project by offering a generous prize donation of a Book Club Kit.  The school or public library that submits the most pictures for #the2012project during the month of April will be selected to win this kit which will include 20 copies of The Downside of Being Charlies, a Skype author visit with Jenny Torres Sanchez and some other swag.

 5. Summer Reading Clubs

You know you’re going to be doing a summer reading club of some type, so be sure to take plenty of pictures to submit.  The greater variety we have the more clear our message is.

6.  Banned Books Week

In September of every year libraries celebrate and promote Banned Books Week.  Put up a BBW display and take pictures of your teens reading Banned Books. Intellectual Freedom is an important part of library services, as is the idea that we let individuals decide for themselves what reading material is best for them.  How great would it be to have pics of teens with the statement “I read banned books”?

7.  Memes

The Somerset Public Library group made signs with their self created memes. I love these, what a great idea.  For those of you concerned about privacy issues, this is a great way to get your teens involved (although please note, no names are ever used to protect teen privacy).

8.  Zombie Teens

Without a doubt, zombies are very popular right now in pop culture and teen fiction.  If you are having a zombie related event, be sure to take a picture (or lots of them) and submit them in October.  Author Jonathan Maberry has graciously agreed to offer a signed copy of Rot & Ruin (and amazing zombie series that you should definitely read) for zombie themed pics in the month of October, just in time for Halloween.

9.  Photobooth Me

Want to make some fun strips that look like a photobooth strip? It’s easy if you have an iPhone, there’s an app for that.  If you don’t have an iPhone, you can still create photo booth strips with a little bit of lay out and design.  But you can take some fun photobooth strips of teens in your library.  Fun for you and create a powerful visual that shows your library is the place to be.  Be sure to check out the previous article on iPhone apps for more ways you can creatively use your iPhone to take great #the20120project pics.

10.  Get Caught Using the Library

Don’t forget to just randomly catch your teens using the library.  I have asked many a teen just casually in the library if they would mind my taking their picture and using it for #the2012 project and all but one have said yes.  The reason: teens really do use (and love) their libraries.  And I think it is important that we show teens engaged – on their own – in the daily use of the library and its resources.  Take pictures of teens reading, using the computers, browsing the stacks, doing homework and more.  This is what the daily business of the library is. This is what we want our communities to understand: yes, we offer amazing programming (and we do), but teens use our libraries every day to be successful in school, to read on their own, to get online because despite what everyone thinks not all teens have computer access and smart phones.  Teens need their libraries. They use them.

Why Participate?

Imagine what an impact it would make to be able to show your staff, your administrators, your community and yes, even your teens, a photo album of 2,012 pictures of teens using their libraries across the nation.  We live in a visual world and we need to make a strong visual statement.  We need our communities to know that teens are using their libraries. And we want to let our patrons now that we are working hard to engage our teens and provide quality materials, services and programs that matter.

To date, we have 300 #the2012project pictures.  You can see them all at the locations listed below.

The 2012 Project photo album 1
The 2012 Project photo album 2
The Lima Public Library 2012 Project photo album

You can email your pictures to me at kjensenmls@yahoo.com, you can upload them yourself to the TLT FB wall, or you can share them via Twitter @tlt16, #the2012project.

Q&A with Daisy Whitney

“Three things I know this second: I have morning breath, I’m naked, and I’m waking up next to a boy I don’t know.” – Daisy Whitney, The Mockingbirds

Alex’s first time wasn’t what she expected at all. In fact, she can’t really remember it and she is pretty sure that she didn’t want it.  As the pieces begin to come together she realizes that she was date raped.  Alex decides that she is going to tell no one, but she does have one option . . . The Mockingbirds. At Themis Academy, a boarding school, there is a secret group that upholds its own form of law among the students.  The Mockingbirds are the law.  When they give a judgment, and pass down a punishment, all the students know they must obey.

The Mockingbirds is a gem of a novel that I had the pleasure of reading when it first came out.  It is a heart wrenching tale of a young lady trying to deal and heal with the fact that she was date raped.  It is also a compelling tale of life at a boarding school with a secret society of students that enforces its own code of laws.  The sequel to the Mockingbirds, The Rivals, has just been released and I had the pleasure for doing a Q&A with author Daisy Whitney to share here with you at TLT.


Q: Why did you choose to have your series setting in a boarding school? How did you go about developing the world of your school?
I went to a public high school in Miami that has its vending machines locked up behind grates so I was always very drawn to boarding school settings because they’re so different from my school background. I also knew a lot of students in college who had gone to boarding school
AND there is such a rich tradition of boarding schools in literature, so The Mockingbirds was a great vehicle for me to explore this world. As for research, I spent a lot of time studying the elite boarding
schools in this country to get the feel right.

Q: What do you hope teen readers take from the character of Alex and her experiences as a victim of date rape?
I truly believe every reader takes away something different. For some, it may be that taking a stand is cool. For others, it may be that they can turn to their friends for support. Still others, might see that
it’s possible to heal after bad things happen.

Q: Where did you get the idea of having a secret student group that takes on the idea of justice come from? Is that something you have heard back from readers exist in boarding schools around the country?
Good question! I haven’t heard of any groups like The Mockingbirds. I devised the idea because I very much wanted the book to be a law & order and a trial type of story — sort of Law & Order meets Dead
Poets Society. Once I knew there was going to be a trial, I needed to take it underground to be authentic, and the Mockingbirds were born from that need.

Q: How did To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee influence you personally? How did it influence The Mockingbirds?
To Kill a Mockingbird is a great work of literature but also the canonical story of justice and doing the right thing, especially when it’s hard. It was a natural fit!

Q: In the end of The Mockingbirds Alex is given the opportunity to be a part of The Mockingbirds, how does this influence the story line in The Rivals?
Alex must move on in the second book from victim/survivor to leader and enforcer and deal with the challenges of her new role.

Q: Do you think The Mockingbirds have a correct notion of the idea of justice? Do you see it evolving as the series evolves?
I believe the Mockingbirds, as a group, are doing the best they can. I believe they are idealists and they want to do the right thing. It’s not easy though to do the right thing with a student-run justice group
and the Rivals digs into the challenges even more.

Q: The Rivals touches on the topics of cheating and prescription drug use, what other topics do you think the Mockingbirds could foreseeably take on? Is it your goal to have the series continue?
I’m happy with a two-book series, though I could see this group taking on any number of cases from hate speech to bullying to theft to more.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to write? What steps did you take to fulfill that dream?
I’ve been making a living as a journalist for my entire career so writing was always part of my daily routine as an adult. For the longest time I thought I would be quite content to write non-fiction
news articles, but alas, I was bitten by the fiction bug as so many journalists are and started writing novels! My first three novels are unpubbed, but I kept writing and kept at it every day until I broke
through. As for steps — it’s simple – sit down, open computer, bleed words.

Q: Why did you choose to write YA literature?
The teen years are full of firsts — first kiss, first dance, first love, first heartache. There is a tremendous intensity to being a teen and that’s great fodder to tap into as a writer.

Q: What 3 words would you use to describe your series?
Intrigue, justice, power

Q: What are you currently reading?
Paris, My Sweet! (A memoir of living in Paris)

Let me say this, if you have not read The Mockingbirds – you should. It is a remarkable tale about healing while also being a thrilling tale about justice and power.  Alex is a moving character.  It is also an important tale as it empowers survivors and provides great material for group discussions.  This is a great contemporary novel that stays with you long after you have turned the last page.  That’s why today is your lucky day! Leave a comment to this post and you will be entered to win a copy of The Mockingbirds, the first book in the series – you have to start from the beginning.  Tell us what you thought of the book if you’ve already read it, or tell us what you thought of To Kill a Mockingbirds by Harper Lee (if you haven’t read that, well – you really should).  Or just drop us a line to say hi and enter.  The contest will be open to comments all next week.

And special thanks to Daisy Whitney for writing this great novel and taking the time to share it with us today.

Don’t wake up. Don’t wake up. Don’t wake up.” – Daisy Whitney, The Mockingbirds

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Book review: Starters by Lissa Price

What are you willing to do to save the ones you love?

As a reader, as a human being, it is hard to think of someone coming up with a concept more horrific then sending teens into an arena to fight to their death (think The Hunger Games), and yet Lissa Price has managed to do just that with her novel Starters.  Starters has been getting a lot of pre-pub buzz and it turns out is for a good reason: Starters is a thoughtful, thrilling, well-written book that answers the questions “what do I read after The Hunger Games?”  This.

First lines: Enders gave me the creeps.

A massive war has ravaged the nation and there are only two kinds of people that remain, the young – Starters – and the very old – Enders.  These two groups of people were lucky enough to get a vaccine before deadly chemical weapons were used to annihilate a large portion of the population in the Spore Wars.  Unclaimed minors, those with no living adults to care for them, have no legal rights, can not
work, and are forced to squat and steal to survive or they are placed in institutions that make little orphan Annie’s orphanage look quite posh.

Callie is a starter and the only two people she has left are her younger, and quite ill, brother Tyler and a friend named Michael.  Callie has heard that there is a program where the Enders rent the bodies of the Starters.  For a large sum of money she could let someone use her body, right? This would give them the money they need to find a home, eat for a year, and get medicine for Tyler. But nothing is ever what it seems and it is a good idea to never let nefarious organizations put microchips in your brain.  In fact, as a general rule, it is a good idea to basically never let anyone mess with your brain.

It seems simple enough, a chip is placed in your brain allowing the Ender to take over your brain function while their body sleeps in a warehouse.  You have to rent your body 3 times and then your contract is done, if you can believe the contract.  “It’s as easy as going to sleep.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvNUsW1CItY]

But something has gone horribly wrong with Callie’s chip. Her renter has had it altered so that she can achieve her own personal goals, which include murder and a plan to reveal Prime Destinations real plans. As Callie passes in and out of consciousness into her own body, she has moments where she awakens in a room holding a gun and realizes that all is not what it seems and her body is in grave danger. But she is in more danger than she realizes; in fact, all starters are.

This is a world where people are never whom they seem and in any moment you can be betrayed, because the person you met yesterday can now be inhabited by the mind of another.  As Callie races to save herself and her brother, she become involved in a much greater struggle: In order to save starters from being kidnapped off of the streets and made to be hosts against their will, she must not only take down a greedy corporation but work to change the views of a society that cares nothing for its poorest and youngest citizens.

Starters has everything that a good thriller is made of and more.  Callie is a strong heroine, compassionate and moral in a world that fails to be both.  The voices in Callie’s head come and go and it is terrifying to think that she now lives in a world where she will never have complete control over her mind again; she gave up that control for a noble purpose but what will it end up costing her?  And the bad guy, The Old Man, is a terrifying individual who wears a holo screen for a face that changes as you speak to him: mummy, dying woman – it changes from horror upon horror.  I am enjoying some really well imgained and written bad guys is teen fic these days (check out the bad guy in BZRK by Michael Grant for some additional creepy bad guy action) and Price really rises to the challenge with Starters.

But where Price really excels is in creating a cast of characters both young and old who are struggling to defy social norms and come together to fight the hardest thing in the world there is to fight: power and money.  Not everyone is who they seem and not all motives are understood, but there are some good adults who understand evil when they see it and they rise to the occasion to fight it.  Adults often take a back seat role in teen fiction but that is not the case here.  It would be easy to create a dichotomy of starters good/enders bad but Price doesn’t take the easy way out, she recognizes the complexity of life and thought in us all and creates it in her characters.

Starters is a twisting, unnerving tale. Highly recommended and appropriate for teens of all ages. Teens will be lining up to read it and the sequel, Enders, yet to come.

TPIB: More craft programs than you have time for

Craft programs can be some fun go-to programming for tweens and teens. They are hands on, promote the collection, meet the developmental needs of your audience, and build those positive relationships with our teens that we are seeking. While you are sitting around doing crafts you can talk about books, poke around in their heads for upcoming service and program ideas, and build the relationships that keep teens coming back to the library for more.
The downside, they can be kind of expensive depending on the program. Some take more time than others. And as with all programming, finding the right day and time can sometimes be hit or miss. So, are you looking for some craft ideas?

Many people are now using Pinterest to find great craft ideas and teen librarian Heather Booth has put together a collaborative board called Teen Programming in Libraries that you will want to keep your eye on.  Here are some of the various teen craft programs I have done throughout the years.

Cool to a T: T-Shirt Decorating

  • Tie-Dye
  • Stamping
  • Stenciling
  • T-shirt transfers
  • No sew t-shirt transformations

 Foam Fun (for Tweens)

  • Foam push pins
  • Foam memo boards
  • Foam photo frames
  • Foam memo holders
  • Foam lightswitch covers
  • Foam locker magnets

Doodle and Draw Crafts

  • Journals/Sketchbooks
  • Friendship pencils (wrap in wire and add beads)
  • Book thongs

 Picture Me! Crafts

  • Foam photo frames
  • Wire photo holders
  • Photo keychains
  • Mini scrapbooks (http://scrapbook-crazy.blogspot.com/2011/04/new-mini-scrapbook-tutorial-and-new.html)
  • Mosaic picture frames
  • Decorate photo frames with beads/sequins

 Just Bead It

  • Friendship bracelets
  • Book thongs (http://www.3ddigest.com/crafts/beaded-book-thongs.html)
  • Necklaces
  • Safety pin bracelets
  • Shoelace charms
  • Key chains

 Locker Mania Crafts

  • Marble magnets (http://www.amysfavorites.com/house-aamp-home/74/176-glass-marble-magnets)
  • Tin bins (http://www.squidoo.com/altoids-tins)
  • Magnetic photo frames
  • Mini message boards
  • Magnetic note holders (use laundry pins and foam crafts)
  • Pocket bags

 Go Glam!

  • Body glitter
  • Lip gloss
  • Hip hair clips
  • Various jewelry crafts
  • Eye pillows (Girls World, p. 80)
  • Decorate flip-flops
  • Memory wire necklaces

Renovate Your Room

  • Switchplate covers (paint, mosaic, etc.)
  • CD holders
  • Decorate boxes for organizing
  • Memo boards (Cool Stuff, p. 39)
  • Mirrors
  • Beaded or ribbon curtains (Girls World)
  • Sun catchers (Girls World, p. 48)
  • Chinese lanterns (Cool Stuff, p. 113)
  • Decorate votive holders

Boredom Busters

  • Bubbles
  • Make your own Mad-libs (Fun & Games, p. 46)
  • Flip books (Fun & Games, p. 48)
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Confetti kaleidoscope (Fun and Games, p. 95)
  • Cootie catchers
  • Paper footballs

 BFF Crafts

  • BFF jewelry
  • Picture frames
  • Picture frames zipper pulls
  • Mini scrapbooks
  • Memory boxes
  • BFF photo albums

Get a Clue (Mystery and Detective Crafts)

  • Invisible ink
  • Swiss cheese decoder key (Fun and Games, p. 68)
  • Jigsaw letters
  • Smugglers rocks (Fun and Games, p. 74)

Icky Fun

  • Sparkly slime (Fun and Games, p. 76)
  • Shape shifting goo (Fund and Games, p. 78)
  • Nutty putty (Fun and Games, p. 79)
  • Fake blood (Fun and Games)

 Back to School Cool

  • Any locker mania craft
  • Zipper/back pack pulls
  • Book covers

 Furry Friends Crafts

  • Pet photo frames
  • Placemat for food and water dish
  • Pet collars – beaded/sequined/fake fur

Beach Scene/Summer Fun

  • Decorate flip flops
  • Decorate sunglasses
  • Decorate beach towels
  • Decorate beach bags
  • Blue jeans should bag (Girls World)

Snack Attack

  • Fun snack foods
  • Oreo stacking contest
  • Iron chef/Cupcake wars

Support Your Team

  • Pennants
  • Pep rally signs
  • Foam ball shaped photo frames
  • T-shirts
  • Magnets (foam balls with school name, mascot or name and jersey #)

Grow It!

  • Garden sticks
  • Decorate flower pots
  • Garden stones (paint rocks, mosaics, etc.)
  • Birdfeeders

The Things We Do For Love (Valentine’s Day Crafts)

  • Picture frames
  • Jigsaw puzzle notes
  • Mini scrapbooks
  • Memory box
  • His/Hers keychains

Pimp My Ride

  • Keychains
  • Steering wheel covers
  • Rearview mirror fun (Make fuzzy dice and other things to hang from the mirror)
  • Trash bags for the car
  • Dashboard confessionals (stickers for your dashboard)
  • Lumbar pillows

Game Night Crafts

  • Collectors card holder boxes
  • Make your own board games
  • Make your own mad-libs
  • Make your own bowling (Fun and Games)
  • Make your own twister (Fun and Games)

Express Yourself Crafts

  • Marble magnets
  • Make your own magnetic poetry kit
  • Make your own bumper stickers
  • Doorhangers

Paper Mania

  • Notecards
  • Make your own wrapping paper
  • Make your own gift bags
  • Make marble paper
  • Paper footballs
  • Cootie catchers
  • Origami

Save the Environment Crafts

  • Decoupage using old magazines
  • Plastic bag holders
  • CD clocks and suncatchers
  • Use old jewel cases for CDs to make picture frames
  • Candle holders out of old baby food jars
  • Bottle cap magnets and jewelry

Tech Zone Crafts

  • Monitor frame
  • Memo holders
  • Bulletin boards
  • Pencil holders

Art Through the Ages

  • Sponge painting cave wall drawings
  • Hieroglyphics
  • Create your own aliens

 Out of This World Crafts

  • Time machines (CD clocks)
  • UFO photo frames (made out of foam)
  • Create your own aliens
  • Celestial suncatchers

Retro Mania Crafts

  • Retro magnets (Retro version of marble magnets)
  • Message in a bottle (Retro Revamp, p. 80)
  • Kindergarten cards (Retro Revamp, p. 101)
  • Bottle cap frames
  • Sock monkeys
  • Fish in a jar/snowglobes (using old baby food jars)

Making Memories

  • Mini scrapbooks
  • Scrapbook pages
  • Time capsules
  • Memory boxes

Around the World in Crafts (Travel Theme)

  • Make your own postcards
  • Travel journals
  • Map bookmarks
  • Map message boards
  • Travel related push pins

Go Global (Multicultural Crafts)

  • Kwanzaa inspired bead necklaces
  • Chinese yo-yos
  • French memo boards
  • CD dreamcatchers 

Duct Tape Mania

  • Duct tape crafts

Luau, Luau

  • Any craft from Beach Scene
  • Make your own leis
  • Hawaiian theme picture frames

Birthday Bash

  • Create your own birthday invitations
  • Decorate goody bags
  • Birthday theme picture frames
  • Mini scrapbooks (fold and fill in later with birthday pics)
  • Guestbook (use make your own journal directions)
  • Make your own birthday fortune cookies

The Princess Is In

  • Tiaras
  • Hair clips
  • Princess photo frames
  • French memo boards
  • Princess push pins
  • Princess door/wall signs 

The Hobby Hole

  • Organizers for collectibles
  • Decorate folders for collecting cards

Gifts for the Grad

  • Photo frames
  • Mini scrapbooks
  • Beaded pin graduation caps
  • Pennants
  • You did it! sign (use foam and wire)

Spatacular

  • Bath salts
  • Body scrubs
  • Eye mask
  • Bath pillow

 Babysitting Bag O Tricks

  • Make crafts bags to do with kids while babysitting
  • Butterflies using footprints as bodies and handprints as wings
  • Macaroni art
  • Make a tote bag to keep ready for babysitting fun and keep all your stuff in it

The Name Game

  • Make bracelets, necklaces, keychains, etc. with your name
  • Make door hangers or wall plaques with your name

 Deoupage This

  • Use old magazines to decoupage boxes, etc.

 Star Struck Crafts

  • Star shaped picture frames of your favorite stars
  • Marble magnets of your favorite stars
  • Decoupage folders, etc. with magazine pictures of your favorite stars

 Investment Op

  • Paper machie piggy banks

None of Your Beeswax

  • Make beeswax candles

Mobile Magic

  • Spice up your room with hanging mobiles – planets, flowers, stars, whatever interests you
  • Disco ball using Styrofoam ball and mosaic mirror pieces

Didn’t You Get the Memo?
Make a variety of memo holders

Haunted Happenings Crafts
Make spooky decorations

  • Spiders
  • Ghosts
  • Tombstones

 Harry Potter Mania

  • Wands – pretzels, frosting, sprinkles
  • Owl messages
  • Wizard hats – Ritz crackers, frosting, Hershey kisses

Chocolate!
Make and decorate your own chocolate candies

We Got the Beat (Musical Crafts)

  • CD Windchimes
  • Make CD holders
  • Disco ball

Bag It!
Make creative gift wrapping, school book covers and more using paper bags, paints, stamps, etc.

Zombiepalooza

  • Zombie make-up
  • Make fun zombie buttons using a traditional button machine or easy acrylic button packs
  • Make a zombie “ugly doll” using old socks or felt, hand sewing required
  • Zombie shadow caster using paper and flashlights; teens create a zombie form or scene and use a flashlight to cast it on the wall
  • Make zombie Barbie dolls out of old Barbie dolls
  • Zombie cookies – break limbs off of gingerbread men and decorate appropriately, make it a contest

Craft Books

Retro Revamp http://www.amazon.com/Retro-Revamp-Projects-Handbags-Housewares/dp/B0009EG4TS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1306971531&sr=1-1

Crafty Girl: Fun and Games (and all titles) http://www.amazon.com/Crafty-Girl-Games-Things-Jennifer/dp/B000H2M9NM/ref=pd_sim_b_3 (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=crafty+girl)

Girl’s World http://www.amazon.com/Girls-World-Making-Stuff-Friends/dp/157990291X/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306971729&sr=1-6

injeanuity http://www.amazon.com/Injeanuity-Planet-Girl-Ellen-Warwick/dp/1553376811/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306971789&sr=1-1

Stuff to Hold Your Stuff http://www.amazon.com/Stuff-Hold-Your-Planet-Girl/dp/1553377451/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b

Stick It: 99 DIY Duct Tape Crafts http://www.amazon.com/Stick-DIY-Duct-Tape-Projects/dp/0762434945/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306971879&sr=1-1

Generation T http://www.amazon.com/Generation-108-Ways-Transform-T-Shirt/dp/0761137858/ref=pd_sim_b_1

Add your favorite teen craft books or crafts in the comments.

TPIB: Poetically Speaking!

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” – John Keating, Dead Poet’s Society

April is National Poetry Month and a great time to get teens thinking about and writing poetry so that they can add their verse. So that they may sound their “barbaric yawp” and “suck the marrow out of life.” You can find some ways to celebrate National Poetry Month at the 30 Ways to Celebrate page at Poets.org. You can also keep reading and find some of the ways that I like to share poetry with teens.

One of my favorites is Poem in My Pocket day which is April 26th this year. The idea is simple, carry a poem in your pocket and when you have a chance to interact with others take it out and read it to them.  Set up a challenge where on this day any teen who comes into your library with a poem in their pockets gets a simple reward with the caveat that they must read it out loud to you.  It could be something as simple as a cookie or their name on the wall of fame, the point is to encourage poetry.

In the past I have had a yearly poetry month contest, which has always been quite successful (and also incredibly angsty).  The trick, I have found, is to work with your local English teachers and ask them to collect and submit the poems.  I always had teachers coming in with manilla envelopes full of poems written by a variety of their students.  Some of the teachers even provided extra credit for submitting which increased participation.  I have also found it works better to have a middle school/junior high and high school category because their skill levels are so different. And I recommend having a wicked cool prize, preferably a substantial cash prize (which you can deliver in the form of a prepaid gift card since most libraries can’t give cash and need a receipt to turn in).  I always have teens fill out a submission form and ask them not to put their names anywhere on the poem itself for judging purposes. And I ask that all submissions are typed in order to make sure I can read everything.  You can then either have teens vote on their favorite poem or put together a panel of judges to help you select a winner in each age category.  Making sure teen names do not show to the public can help eliminate any bias in judging.  You can invite the teens to a poetry slam and announce the winning poems there. You can also make sure and display the poems on your various web sites, in your teen area, and in your library newsletter if you have one.  As part of my submission form I always had teens sign a statement saying it was an original work and giving permission to reprint the poem.  I am impressed every year by the various poems that my teens write.

There are also lots of fun poetry themed activities that you can do to inspire poetry writing.

Make Your Own Magnetic Poetry Kit
Supplies: Magnet tape strips, Discarded magazines, Scissors and glue (bonus if you have tins such as used mint tins)

Simply have teens cut out words from various discarded magazines and glue them on to magnet strip tape cut to the appropriate side. Here teens will collect for themselves a wide variety of words that they can use to create their own magnetic poetry kit.  You can store the words in old magnetic tins and larger tins can be double as storage and a canvas to create their own poems. Oriental Trading has a design your own lunch box tin that would also be a good idea for storage and an additional craft.

The Exquisite Corpse

I have mentioned the exquisite corpse a lot in my various activities, but it is also a great way to get teens working together to make fun poems.  Simply fold a piece of paper multiple times and pass it around having each teen write one line of a poem.  The rule is that they can’t read any of the other lines so they don’t know what others have written.  In the end you unfold the paper and read the poem and it is often quite amusing.  You can also do this as an online activity (although they will see the previous lines) and use your social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, to write a group poem.  You could also do this by having teens tear headlines out of those discarded magazines.

Book Spine Poetry

Take a cart of just returned books, a full one, into your program room and let teens use the books to create book spine poetry. This is also a fun way to create displays on the end of your shelves. The idea is simple, you place the books spine out on top of one another to create a poem using the various book titles. I love this activity and you can see a fun gallery of book spine poems at 100 Scope Notes.
 
Sidewalk Chalk Poetry

Teens still love sidewalk chalk and this is a great way to create some fun art around your library on your sidewalks; they become a blank canvas that teens can share poems they love or write their own to share with the world.  Bonus, supply are low but creativity is high.

Decoupage

There are a variety of things that you can purchase or re-purpose and decoupage with poems, again by using words and sentences torn from discarded magazines. You can do spiral bound notebooks to create poetry journals, boxes to store your magnetic poetry tiles in, etc.  You can also have teens creates poems to frame and hang on their walls, or decorate your teen space with them.

Poetry Wall

Create a space in your teen area where teens can create or leave poetry.  You can get magnetic chalk board paint and create a space (either directly on the wall or by using plywood and affixing it to the wall. Or you could just buy a magnetic dry erase board).  Be sure to have a variety of magnetic words available for teens to use the space.  Or you can use cork board tiles and teens can simply pin up the poems that they write (you’ll want to check in periodically to make sure you are not having anything put up like advertisements or content inappropriate a public display.)

Special Delivery

Have teens decorate pizza boxes (ask a local pizza place to donate) and write poems on the inside. This is a great way for a teen to deliver a poem to someone they love. Or if you are in a school, deliver poems to your classrooms.  You can also do this activity using Chinese food style take out boxes that you can find at most craft stores.

Have a Poetry Exchange

Many people have a favorite poem. Have your teens bring in a copy of their favorite poem and have an exchange party. You can switch out poems and have teens read them and then try and guess whose favorite poem it is.  Or have teens put them together in unique presentations (wrap them as a present, do a video, etc) and share them with each other.  This takes the concept of the open mic reading and allows teens to get creative with their presentations and include tech or art if they so choose. Plus, every teen will walk out of the room with a new poem.  You could even swap poems in a way similar to the traditional white elephant gift exchange.

Mad Dash Poetry Scramble

Think relay race and puzzles, kind of Survivor style. Print out the words to a poem and cut the paper up into single lines.  Have teens assemble in teams at one end of the room and have the poem set up at the other.  One by one each teen dashes to the end of the room to grab a line, comes back and tags the next teen, and then in the end they try to unscramble the lines and put the poem together.

Other simple things you can do include:

  • Random Readings: during the day (if at a school) or during your library program, stop all activity and have a random poem reading. Everything just stops and everyone must freeze while you read the poem.
  • Or play a game of poetry freeze tag and you set up a signal where you tag a teen at the program and they must bust out a poem and everyone freezes during the reading.
  • Show the movie Dead Poet’s Society
  • Have a make your own fortune cookie craft where your fortunes are lines from your favorite poems.
  • Have a poetry contest
  • Have a poetry slam
  • Have a poetry scavenger hunt and provide teens with snippets of poems and have them find the title, author or next line.

Don’t forget that Teen Ink, Figment and VOYA are all places that encourage teens to write and create so be sure to share them with your teens.  VOYA has a yearly teen poetry contest and the winners appear in the April edition, it is also a good place to find additional poetry activities to do with your teens.

Whatever you do, be sure to take some time to get teens thinking about poetry during the month of April. If you have some fun poetry activities you have done in the past or are thinking about doing this year, please share them in the comments.

Today’s Tidbits

Head on over to BookBrats to read my guest post Sometimes it is Among the Dying that We Remember to Live, a reflection on death in teen fiction with some of my favorite book quotes.

There are new pics in The 2012 Project photo albums on Facebook.  One of my faves: Yesterday a young man came into my library wearing a t-shirt and bow tie. I love how teens often feel so free to be themselves.  And I love that he loved the library so much he had to get all dressed up to come visit us :)

All The 2012 Pics are located on the TLT Facebook page in The 2012 Project photo album and The 2012 Project photo album #2
Speaking of The 2012 Project, we have some cool contests happening now and coming up throughout the year. I am also looking to organize a Banned Books Week contest; I think pics of teens reading Banned Books would be a great addition to the project.
And finally, I am a little excited to that the Teen Librarian’s Toolbox was nominated for an award for Most Fascinating Blog of 2012 in the Librarian Blog category.