Subscribe to SLJ
Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

October #ARCParty

October #ARCParty// The Teen and The Bestie take a look at some upcoming and newly released books. And Thing 2 who is now officially a Tween takes a look at some new Middle Grade books because she doesn't want to be left out of the fun anymore.



  1. Some October 2017 new #mglit and #yalit coming your way #ARCParty

    Some October 2017 new #mglit and #yalit coming your way #ARCParty


  2. Because I really, really like outer space

    Because I really, really like outer space


  3. Coming March 2018 from Bloomsbury  #BookMail #ArcParty #yalit

    Coming March 2018 from Bloomsbury
    #BookMail #ArcParty #yalit


  4. Explores the aftermath of an alien encounter. Coming Feb 2018 from Bloomsbury #BookMail #ArcParty #YALit

    Explores the aftermath of an alien encounter. Coming Feb 2018 from Bloomsbury
    #BookMail #ArcParty #YALit


  5. If you could splice your DNA with an animal to get animal characteristics, would you? What animal and why? That's the premise of this speculative fighting title where splicing is banned and those who have been spliced are discriminated against. The Mr and I both read this and it's interesting. #ARCParty #YALit

    If you could splice your DNA with an animal to get animal characteristics, would you? What animal and why? That’s the premise of this speculative fighting title where splicing is banned and those who have been spliced are discriminated against. The Mr and I both read this and it’s interesting. #ARCParty #YALit


  6. A teen is taken back in time to 1988 to the Berlin Wall and discovers a plot to change history using dark magic. Now she must risk everything to stop them. #ARCParty #YALit

    A teen is taken back in time to 1988 to the Berlin Wall and discovers a plot to change history using dark magic. Now she must risk everything to stop them. #ARCParty #YALit


  7. This is one of my most anticipated releases of September 2017, one of my fave books of the year, and an important feminist read #YALit #ARCParty

    This is one of my most anticipated releases of September 2017, one of my fave books of the year, and an important feminist read #YALit #ARCParty



  8. Some new #yalit titles coming out in September and October 2017

    Some new #yalit titles coming out in September and October 2017


  9. New #yalit coming out in March 2018 #BookMail

    New #yalit coming out in March 2018 #BookMail



  10. New Mindy McGinnis! The queen of dark and twisted. A boy claims to know Sarah in ways she doesn't understand or remember. #yalit #arcparty

    New Mindy McGinnis! The queen of dark and twisted. A boy claims to know Sarah in ways she doesn’t understand or remember. #yalit #arcparty


  11. Dallas author Samantha Mabry takes on a cursed ranch, forbidden love and horrible accidents in this new #yalit

    Dallas author Samantha Mabry takes on a cursed ranch, forbidden love and horrible accidents in this new #yalit


  12. Bullying, sisters, grief #yalit #arcparty

    Bullying, sisters, grief

    #yalit #arcparty



  13. Justice is on his way to the Ivy League until he is arrested by the police. He looks to the words of MLK for understanding. Then a confrontation with the police happens and Justice finds himself fighting to understand. #yalit #arcparty

    Justice is on his way to the Ivy League until he is arrested by the police. He looks to the words of MLK for understanding. Then a confrontation with the police happens and Justice finds himself fighting to understand. #yalit #arcparty


  14. Twitter's favorite book boyfriend tries to write his own book - a how to guide to becoming a book character. The teens LOLed hardcore reading about this one.#yalit #arcparty

    Twitter’s favorite book boyfriend tries to write his own book – a how to guide to becoming a book character. The teens LOLed hardcore reading about this one.#yalit #arcparty


  15. New Maggie Steifvater. Set in Colorado. A family has the ability to perform miracles. There is a renegade radio station. #yalit #arcparty

    New Maggie Steifvater. Set in Colorado. A family has the ability to perform miracles. There is a renegade radio station. #yalit #arcparty


  16. #GLBTQ Hunter and Vanilla have been in an openly Out relationship, now in high school they face new challenges as they both begin to change and develop new and different interest. #yalit #arcparty

    #GLBTQ Hunter and Vanilla have been in an openly Out relationship, now in high school they face new challenges as they both begin to change and develop new and different interest. #yalit #arcparty


  17. One of the best book covers ever! "Secrets lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of privilege" #GLBTQ #yalit #arcparty

    One of the best book covers ever! “Secrets lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of privilege” #GLBTQ #yalit #arcparty


  18. Frazzled is a fun #Mglit series and book 2 continues the story of life in middle school #arcparty

    Frazzled is a fun #Mglit series and book 2 continues the story of life in middle school #arcparty


  19. The sequel to THE FORGETTING by Sharon Cameron comes out October #yalit #arcparty

    The sequel to THE FORGETTING by Sharon Cameron comes out October #yalit #arcparty


  20. #GLBTQ Christopher has super conservative parents who are not okay with him being gay, but that doesn't stop him and Marley from falling in love. #yalit #arcparty

    #GLBTQ Christopher has super conservative parents who are not okay with him being gay, but that doesn’t stop him and Marley from falling in love. #yalit #arcparty


  21. A girl named Sparrow wants to find a friend. This is a story about a quest for connection and survival. #yalit #arcparty

    A girl named Sparrow wants to find a friend. This is a story about a quest for connection and survival. #yalit #arcparty


  22. We love Kate Messner! She writes great #military  This book is about a boy who loves electrical circuits and gizmos. #STEM #arcparty

    We love Kate Messner! She writes great #military
    This book is about a boy who loves electrical circuits and gizmos. #STEM
    #arcparty


  23. This great series has great covers! Book 3 - The scarecrow queen - comes out in October. A teenage girl is death herself. #yalit #arcparty

    This great series has great covers! Book 3 – The scarecrow queen – comes out in October. A teenage girl is death herself. #yalit #arcparty


  24. Friends involved in the theater are invited to a commune. Cults #yalit #arcparty

    Friends involved in the theater are invited to a commune. Cults #yalit #arcparty


  25. This fun book which has been our nightly re aloud of late tells The Wizard of Oz from Tot's POV #mglit #arcparty

    This fun book which has been our nightly re aloud of late tells The Wizard of Oz from Tot’s POV #mglit #arcparty


  26. Coming in November #yalit #arcparty

    Coming in November #yalit #arcparty


  27. Monsters, adventurers - I'm in! #arcparty

    Monsters, adventurers – I’m in! #arcparty


  28. Norse gods! Powers. Curses. Hannah's gift is a murderous gift - which may help her survive the American frontier. #yalit #arcparty

    Norse gods! Powers. Curses. Hannah’s gift is a murderous gift – which may help her survive the American frontier. #yalit #arcparty


  29. "Knowledge has always been the enemy of faith". A new generation seeks answers from the technology of the path, which the ministers of the Descendancy find blasphemous. #yalit #arcparty

    “Knowledge has always been the enemy of faith”. A new generation seeks answers from the technology of the path, which the ministers of the Descendancy find blasphemous. #yalit #arcparty


  30. Sasha pretends to be a boy online to protect her best friend, Xavier, and is surprised by who she becomes. #yalit #arcparty

    Sasha pretends to be a boy online to protect her best friend, Xavier, and is surprised by who she becomes. #yalit #arcparty


  31. This is the most fascinating concept for a book! #bookmail Coming April 2018 #SocioEconomicDiversity

    This is the most fascinating concept for a book! #bookmail
    Coming April 2018
    #SocioEconomicDiversity

 

View from the Director’s Chair Part II: Narrative Filmmaking by Lynette Pitrak

Since its inception in the fall of 2014, Downers Grove Public Library’s teens have been busy creating in our Media Lab! Teens have created documentary films in our Viewfrom the Director’s Chair workshop, photography in our Viewfrom Behind the Lens workshop, and music demo recordings in View from the Sound Booth. The creativity, passion, and talent of the participants has been so inspiring each time! In response to requests from teen patrons, IT staff member and filmmaker Ed Bromiel and I created a new filmmaking workshop, focused on narrative films. This workshop began in June and has continued for ten weeks this summer.

View from the Director's Chair Part II, Myself and Instructor in Media Lab-1

Throughout these ten weeks, Ed and I have taken the teen filmmakers through the steps involved in creating a narrative, fictional film from start to finish. We began with camera basics such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings and artistic concepts such as rule of thirds, horizon line, and contrasting colors. We then moved into lighting and sound; Ed had each student practice setting up three-point lighting and camera microphones while I sat as a practice model and interview test-subject. That was a fun exercise, because I was able to answer questions about my favorite Harry Potter character and go-to meal to cook while the students set up lighting equipment around me!

One of the most fun and inspiring classes was our scriptwriting session. Ed and I created three short exercises which would allow the students to practice scriptwriting:  writing dialogue; writing a one-paragraph scene from either a horror, romance, or comedy movie (complete with lighting, sound, and stage directions); and writing character descriptions as if for a casting call. The teens were so inventive and their writing absolutely came to life on their pages. Once this session was finished, it was time for students to get into groups to begin writing their own final scripts. The class divided into four groups of three to write and then storyboard their own original film scripts. The result has been the following amazing scripts: an action-comedy, a horror-comedy, a science fiction thriller, and a psychological mystery. These scripts are unique, imaginative, and polished—more amazing examples of the talent middle school and high schoolers have for creating works of art!

111

The groups had the last three weeks of classes to shoot and edit their films; all put in a tremendous amount of work both in and out of classes. At our final class, we screened their rough cuts, discussed as a group, and gave the teens one more week to make any final edits. Then, four films were screened on our library program room’s big screen. We had food, drinks, and a fun photobooth complete with props such as feather boas and fake moustaches. Best of all,  the audience was given a chance to ask the filmmakers questions at the end of the screening.

The students have shot all of their films on Canon EOS Rebel DSLRs and are using iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premier to edit their films. For a full list of our library’s Media Lab equipment, please see our website. To view all teen Media Lab projects, visit our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/DGPLnews. For any libraries interested in creating a workshop like View from the Director’s Chair, please feel free to contact me at lpitrak@dglibrary.org at any time. Thank you for this opportunity to share!

Lynette Pitrak is the Teen Services Coordinator at the Downers Grove Public Library. Reach her at lpitrak (at) dglibrary.org

Book Review: Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G.

Publisher’s description

ra6What happens when an evil queen gets her hands on an ancient force of destruction?

World domination, obviously.

The seven kingdoms of Dreamside need a legendary hero. Instead, they’ll have to settle for Cucumber, a nerdy magician who just wants to go to school. As destiny would have it, he and his way more heroic sister, Almond, must now seek the Dream Sword, the only weapon powerful enough to defeat Queen Cordelia’s Nightmare Knight.

Can these bunny siblings really save the world in its darkest hour?

Sure, why not?

Adapted from the popular webcomic series, Cucumber Quest, The Doughnut Kingdom is the first graphic novel of a clever, adorable, and hilarious four-volume heroic adventure that is sure to make you hungry for sweets and action.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

cucumber questThe colors in this book are just bonkers. So bright and dramatic and thematic. I can picture this flying off the shelves simply because of how vibrant and dynamic the illustrations are.

Cucumber just wants to go to school, but suddenly his father NEEDS him to go on a big, important mission. Cucumber doesn’t want to and is not equipped to. Good thing he has a precocious and skilled little sister who doesn’t listen to everyone saying that girls and little sisters are not heroes of stories. Almond sure is. Cucumber, Almond, and some new friends they make along the way go off in search of certain items and people, and while practical Cucumber finds a way very early on to just be done with the whole scenario, Almond knows the fun is in the quest. The joyful illustrations of confectionery lands and characters add so much to this whimsical story of adventure. Good fun.

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781626728325
Publisher: First Second
Publication date: 10/10/2017
Series: Cucumber Quest Series , #1

Book Review: Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

Publisher’s description

ra6Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared — for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; or for death in the theater.

Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater — and then another — especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole — and cast lantern light on two young women, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

 

 

Amanda’s thoughts

echo after echoThere are loads of teens this book will appeal to, like theater fiends, fans of mysteries and thrillers, readers looking for a good romance, and teens in search of good LGBTQIA+ rep (specifically lesbian and bisexual here), or a Jewish main character, or a Latina character. The downsides of this book are that the story drags a bit in places and there is sometimes just too much of the play and its rehearsal and not enough exploration of the characters. But those are minor quibbles. I loved this book because I really had no idea what to think about the mystery part for most of the story.

 

When Zara gets the opportunity to star in Echo and Ariston, a play she has loved since she was 12, she packs up her life, leaves her senior year after only a few weeks, and moves to New York. She’s quickly thrust into the world of the Aurelia Theater, with a creepy genius director (Leopold) who is prone to visions showing him how to direct his plays, and a close-knit group of people who have worked together for years. There relationships are all complicated, full of break-ups, secrets, betrayals, and more. Zara is drawn to Eli, a 19-year-old assistant lighting designer, though it takes the girls a while to be bold enough to show one another how they really feel. Eli is sort of Zara’s saving grace in all of this. The play is demanding, starring with movie star Adrian Ward is complicated (he’s not against playing up their relationship for publicity, but Zara, not yet used to the spotlight, isn’t interested), and Zara increasingly feels like she can’t trust anyone around her. After two deaths occur, Eli and Zara start digging for answers, but it’s hard to know who to believe in this world full of people who play pretend for a living.

 

The mystery of who is behind these deaths, and who might be next, will be enough to propel readers through the slow parts. Zara and Eli’s relationship is intense, drawn-out, and passionate. It’s also threatened by everything going on with the play and the theater’s employees. As detailed above, this novel has a wide appeal, but theater aficionados will relish this deep dive into the intense and complex world of theater. A good choice, too, for readers looking for books on the older end of YA–the main characters are older teens (with Eli being out of high school and Zara not attending) and nearly everyone else is out of their teens. This is a great choice for all collections. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780763691646

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publication date: 10/10/2017

MakerSpace Mondays: The Silhouette Cameo – Vinyl 101

Earlier today,  I talked about the Silhouette Cameo Vinyl Cutter: MakerSpace Mondays: The Silhouette Cameo – a review. So if you buy a Silhouette Cameo, you’ll probably be making a variety of vinyl projects. Not all vinyl is the same, so here’s a little Vinyl 101 brought to you by high school librarian Dani Fouser.

makermondayslogo

Oracal 631- Semi-Permanent

Use for walls, windows and anywhere you want to eventually remove your vinyl.

Oracal 651 – Permanent

Use for car decals, cup decals, etc. This is water proof.

Transfer Paper/Tape

Use to transfer an image onto a surface. In a pinch you can use clear contact self-adhesive shelf liner, though it doesn’t work as well as the Oracal Transfer Tape.

How to Use Transfer Paper with Vinyl | The Pinning Mama

Oracal Transparent Vinyl

Use to get a stained glass look. Best prices at www.craftvinyl.com

Heat Transfer Vinyl/Iron On Transfer Vinyl

Use this to do things like making t-shirts. It comes with transfer tape and you need print it mirrored. There are a few exceptions to this rule (like patterned paper) so be sure and read the specific instructions for the vinyl you are using.

Easy Weed Vinyl

Use this for more complicated designs that will require a lot of weeding.

Easy Weed Stretch

Has a little give in the vinyl making this good for t-shirts.

Brand Names

Siser – Most people prefer this brand

Pro-Vinyl – Comparable to Siser

As always, if you have additional tips and tricks, please add them in the comments.

MakerSpace Mondays: The Silhouette Cameo – a review

makermondayslogo

This past week TLTer Robin Willis came and spent the week with me and visited my library (The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Ohio) and the Teen MakerSpace. Her visit coincided with the exploration and evaluation of a Silhouette Cameo 3 machine which we are considering for the Teen MakerSpace. Here’s what we learned.

But first . . . here’s Robin with the Teen MakerSpace Manual (which you know I love) and her own Teen MakerSpace bag.

robinmakerspacemanual robinmakerspacebag

The Silhouette Cameo is a cutting machine that you program using it’s software and it cuts a variety of things like paper, vinyl and temporary tattoos. It is similar to a Cricut machine which is popular with scrapbookers and t-shirt makers, except you don’t have to buy separate cartridges. This does not mean, however, that there aren’t additional costs, because there are. For example, you can purchase graphics and fonts, though you do so online as opposed to buying cartridges. You can also find a variety of free images and fonts online. In fact, there are Pinterest pages dedicated to this very thing. The initial cost of the machine itself is around $220 and there are some additional tools that you should purchase to help make your projects a success.

Cutting Machine Basics: What You Need To Know To Get Started

silhouetteexample7

In addition to buying images and fonts, you will have the ongoing cost of what ever medium it is you are cutting. Paper, is of course, the cheapest. You can use paper to make things like cards, signs (for example, mod podge them onto a canvas) and more. Vinyl can be used to make a wide variety of things like window decals, drinking cups, and t-shirts. You can buy vinyl at local crafts stores or purchase it at a discount online. Depending on the project, the cost of consumables can get pretty expensive.

To begin with, I first tried cutting some paper projects. The first project I designed using the software. The second project, the Cheshire cat, I found for free online and used so that I could learn how to download a project.

silhouetteexample1 silhouetteexample2

After this initial success, I then tried t-shirts and hit some snags. To begin with, I loaded my vinyl upside down and it did nothing. I found the instructions hard to read on the vinyl itself and had to call a friend for assistance. Then, because I didn’t have the proper tools, I tore my vinyl while trying to pull it off.

The next day we had more success. It helps that we stopped at the store and bought the tools we needed. When the machine cuts your designs you have to do a process called “weeding” to pull off the insides of letters and things like the Cheshire cat’s teeth. Robin turned out to be really good – because she is incredibly patient – at weeding. The tool you use looks like one of those horrible dentist devices that scrape your teeth, but it’s effective and necessary. Buy the extra tools.

silhouetteexample9

We then made a variety of t-shirts and book bags.

silhouetteexample10 silhouetteexample6

I then designed my own t-shirt using the software and an image I purchased through the Silhouette store.

silhouetteexample5

Overall, I am in love with this machine. So here’s a look at some of my final thoughts.

Pros:

You can do a wide variety of projects using the Silhouette Cameo; it has versatility.

It does exactly what it says it will do very effectively.

There is a great variety of online resources and project ideas to get you started and keep you going.

The end product looks sharp and professional.

High School Librarian Dani Fouser made this great window display using her Silhouette Cameo

High School Librarian Dani Fouser made this great window display using her Silhouette Cameo

Robin and I made these vinyl window clings for the Teen MakerSpace

Robin and I made these vinyl window clings for the Teen MakerSpace

You can convert and scan in images and transfer them to an .SVG image to use them with your cutter, though I have yet to figure out how. But again, there are a lot of online tutorials.

Cons:

The initial cost of the machine itself is a bit pricey.

The ongoing cost of consumables is also a bit pricey.

The learning curve is a bit steep. I was initially told the design software was similar to Microsoft Publisher but I found it to be more similar to Gimp.

The Silhouette Cameo 3 does not come with a user manual so you have to use online help resources to even figure out the basics. If you know someone who can help get you started, put them on your speed dial.

The machine is definitely more of a one on one machine, similar to a 3D printer.

Some Resources for You:

Silhouette America – Silhouette America

Silhouette America – What Can You Make?

Silhouette CAMEO Project, Tutorials and Free Cut Files

Coconut Love: 43 Project Ideas for Silhouette Cameo

19 Amazing Silhouette CAMEO Print and Cut Project Ideas

The Mother Lode of Silhouette Tutorials for Beginners

Silhouette Cameo Projects | Made in a Day

15 Blogs To Find GREAT Silhouette Cameo Project Ideas

10 Best Silhouette Cameo Projects of 2016 – Simply Made Fun

50+ Silhouette Machine Projects to Try Now – MakeUseOf

Over 200 Free Silhouette Projects, Crafts and Tutorials at AllCrafts!

19 Amazing Silhouette CAMEO Print and Cut Project Ideas

Converting Silhouette Studio Files to SVG (Free & No Extra Software)

Silhouette PixScan Tutorial for Beginners: Part 1 of 2 – Silhouette School

34 Cool Things You Can Do with Your New Vinyl Cutter | Make:

Please share your thoughts, your favorite resources and your favorite projects with me in the comments!

Friday Finds: October 6, 2017

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: When You’re a Teen and a Friend Threatens Suicide

Blog Tour: The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Take 5: A YA Puerto Rico Booklist and the #PubforPR Auction

Book Review: That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston

New and forthcoming YA and MG to have on your radar

Book Review: A Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

TPiB: Ollie Robot Challenges for Teens by Michelle Biwer

Book Review: Cast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky and Anissa Espinosa

Around the Web

140+ YA Books For Your October to December 2017 TBR

Must-Read Young Adult Books of Fall 2017

Program that provides low-cost health care to 9M children set to expire

Don’t say teenagers aren’t ready for dark fiction.

Trump Administration Set to Roll Back Birth Control Mandate

Nominate NOW!

Who Gets to Choose Which Childhood Experiences Are ‘Appropriate’?

“The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.” – George Orwell, 1984

Lambda Literary Opens Submissions for 30th Annual Lambda Literary Awards

 

Book Review: Cast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky and Anissa Espinosa

Publisher’s description

ra6Greg has lived in Lancaster his whole life. The town’s always had its quirks, and being born without a shadow means he’s counted among them. When Greg discovers an old mansion in the woods just outside of town, he didn’t expect to meet a smart, beautiful, funny, and…very dead teenaged girl named Eleanor.

Yeah. He’s in love with a ghost.

And before he knows what’s happening, Greg finds himself at the wrong end of a history lesson when the town’s past, and his own, threaten to pull the two of them apart permanently!

From acclaimed comics writer Nick Tapalansky and phenomenal newcomer artist Anissa Espinosa, Cast No Shadow is a teen romance with humor and heart.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

cast noI always love books from First Second, but this one was not nearly as engaging as I had hoped it would be. The premise is cool—boy with no shadow falls in love with girl ghost only he can see—but the execution is lacking. A lot of things are kind of glossed over entirely or not fleshed out enough to really make an impact. Greg, who has no shadow, is best friends with Layla, who enjoys punching people. When she starts to date a boy Greg loathes, the two grow apart a bit. He can’t understand how she can like that guy and Layla thinks that Greg has just made up a ghost girlfriend (Eleanor) out of jealousy. Greg is also coping with his feelings about his dad’s girlfriend moving in. A ghost girlfriend whom Greg falls into insta-love with seems to be just the ticket to help him feel less crappy, but when they kiss, his shadow pops out and escapes, bringing chaos to Greg’s life and the town at large. Greg has to figure out how to stop his shadow and how to help Eleanor move on—to wherever it is she needs to go.

 

I definitely did not need the “this house was built on an Indian burial ground!” part of the story, even if the characters call out racist and inaccurate depictions when dealing with this fact. The inclusion of the “magical” burial ground is lazy, offensive, and nearly enough to make me want to skip this book altogether. 

 

While I dug the art and the concept of the story, I just wanted more from it. It kind of felt like we were just supposed to go with the story, without thinking harder about the plot holes or completely absent explanations. I had to go back and make sure I didn’t miss things, because I was often left wondering, wait, what? Readers who don’t mind a not fully fleshed out story but are into the concept may still find this interesting, but those looking to understand more about the relationships and the nuance of the plans carried out will be left dissatisfied. A surprising miss from a publisher that usually churns out really great graphic novels. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781596438774

Publisher: First Second

Publication date: 10/10/2017

TPiB: Ollie Robot Challenges for Teens by Michelle Biwer

tpib

At my library we have a few Ollie robots and the SpheroEdu app which controls the robots installed on our programming iPads. I purchased the Ollie robots for a few reasons:

  • Special tires so robots can also be used for fun, outdoor programming
  • Move up to 14 mph, much more impressive to most teens these days than something with a lot of functionality but slow like Lego Mindstorms
  • Can be driven easily with an app or can be programmed with text and block based coding (fun and educational!)
  • Access to a large collection of educator activity plans and coding, which can be easily edited to suit your needs

ollieAt the beginning of my last teen robotics event, I used a “Get to Know Ollie” program from Sphero’s database. This code programs Ollie to narrate all its functionality, from user control over lights to the accelerometer and sensors. Playing this demo code gave the teens an idea of what they would be able to control when programming their robots, and introduced them to the block based code system used by the SpheroEdu app.

I asked the teens whether they had experience with Scratch or any kind of block based coding. They were all familiar with Scratch so I skipped going over the basics of writing your own code. I assigned them their first robot challenge, to program the Ollies to move in the shape of their choice. I handed over the iPads with a basic code for movement preloaded so that they would only have to edit the code and not start from the beginning. I was delighted to see that not only did they successfully manage to make the Ollies move in their preferred shape, but they also programmed their robots to change color and say hilarious shaped-based jokes.

For their next activity I asked the teens to program Ollie to dance to their favorite song by changing the robot’s color and moving it to the music. I showed them this awesome Imperial March dance code as an example of what they could program. They really enjoyed this challenge and were most proud of finishing this activity. Since only middle schoolers attended the program they made sure to grab their parents before they left the library to show off their robot dance!

Teen made Ollie dance to Shooting Star!

Completing these two activities ended up taking us an hour to complete, so we ran out of time for the last activity. I was going to ask the teens to create an obstacle course for their robots to race. Instead I have scheduled that as a separate challenge for another day.

– Michelle Biwer

Book Review: A Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

long way downPublisher’s Book Description:

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Karen’s Thoughts:

Written entirely verse, Reynolds explores the life of a teen boy as he seeks to exact revenge after watching his brother shot down in the street. In his life, revenge is about duty and honor and respect; it’s what he owes his brother. It’s the code, not an option. The next day, with a revolver in his waistband, Will gets on an elevator and as it descends each floor a new person from his life gets on and drops some wisdom and perspective on him. It’s a brilliant device for exploring complex ideas, and a surprisingly quick read which proves that brevity can pack just as much punch as a multi-tome story.

A Long Way Down is one of the most brilliant novels I have ever read. As the elevator descends and we meet a new person from Will’s life, the cycle of violence is explored in very nuanced and gut wrenching ways. I do not have enough superlatives in my vocabulary to recommend this book, but it is a must have. Readers will turn the last page but they will not stop thinking about this book for a very long time.

Coming October 24th from Antheneum