Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Mark Your Calendar: At the Movies

Yes, I love to read. But if I’m going to be honest, I love going to the movies and watching TV almost just as much. They are, to me, another version of storytelling and if it has a good story, then I’m on board. And as someone who constantly has to come up with programming ideas, popular movies can be a great programming foundation. If my teens are going to be excited about an upcoming movie, chances are they will be excited about a program that celebrates that movie as well. So here’s a look at some upcoming movies that may make spark some great programming. But even if you don’t decide to do a program, you may also want to do related book displays. Or heck, maybe you’ll just want to put it on your calendar so you can go see the movie when it opens. 


Sept 19: The Maze Runner

Sept 26: The Boxtrolls (based on the book Here Be Monsters)

Nov 7: Big Hero 6

Nov 21: Mockingjay, part 1

Dec 19: The Hobbit, Battle of the Five Armies

Dec 19: Night of the Museum, Secret of the Tomb


February 20: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

March 13: Cinderella (live action)

March 20: Insurgent

June 1: Avengers 2

June 12: Jurassic World

July 3: Minions

July 31: Paper Towns by John Green

Comic Con is July 8-12

Nov 20: Mockingjay, part 2

Movie Review: Divergent

One of the book-based movies that I’ve been looking forward to this year, That Guy and I met up with some of my former workers and a bunch of my teen volunteers to see Divergent opening weekend. Our group was a very mixed bunch- some of us (myself included) had read the entire trilogy, while others had read only one, and still others hadn’t read any of them at all but still were anxious to see the movie. 


After letting go of all my expectations of the movie matching the book (something that I have learned for all book based movies), I was entranced with it. To me, the movie is Tris’ transformation from who her parents want her to be to who she is actually is inside.

There are a ton of reviews of the movie already, but I think that these three really say things extremely well:


1. I adore Shailene.

I’m sorry, all the press that is comparing her to Jennifer Lawrence can suck eggs, because they are both awesome. In fact, there’s this:

 She’s perfect as the searching Tris, and grows into the character well. I can’t wait to see where she goes from here.

2. “Supporting” Casting

The supporting cast rocked, and I really wish they had more of a role. I can’t believe that with Maggie Q and the rest of the cast they only had small bits and pieces.

3. Fearscapes

I really got what they did with the fearscapes and the testings, and was worried how that was going to play out. I could completely see it going weird, hokey, and all bad CGI and everything, and it didn’t- the scenes were real and drew you in, and played on the emotions (in good and bad ways) so that the audience felt what the characters were feeling as well.

4. Costuming

I loved the costumes and the attention to detail- that the Erudite were meticulous and sharp edges while Abnegtion was greys and homespun. Dauntless was black and hard materials, while Candor was white and black and crisp and sparse. I wanted clothes from the various factions, which is saying something because if you know anything about me, I am NOT a clothes person. My fashion choices run to sarcastic t-shirts.

5. Fighting

The attention to the fight scenes were extremely choreographed and thought out, and were well-played, especially making you believe in the real fights. You could tell (as did some of my teens who are actually taking martial arts) what type of fighting styles the training came from, what type of moves they were going to make, and the fights actually MADE SENSE most of the time. Note- if you were in my theater, I do apologize, because we were the group yelling about how you should always pull up your hair in a fight.


1. The lack of diversity among the factions

I noticed it, That Guy noticed it, and my teens definitely noticed it when we talked about it afterwards- they were joking around that they had to be Dauntless because no other faction would take them based on their skin tone. There impression, and mine, and That Guy’s, is that all the other factions were white- everyone who was a POC was Dauntless- including the final scenes in the simulation room, the bodyguards I peg as Dauntless, not Erudite.

I’d have to go back and watch the movie for sure, but it made a huge impression that the only faction that even remotely had POC was Dauntless. It was huge for my teens, and if they picked up on it and joked on it, how does it effect others? I know a huge debate has been ongoing about the casting of Theo James, and I still come down against it because this would have been a huge chance to have a main character be a POC and show teens they have a place.

2.  Will/Peter/Al

The casting of Peter and Will were too similar to my whole group. It was hard for the non-readers to tell them apart, and everyone was extremely confused as to why Peter and Al had it in for Tris in the first place. They weren’t sure whether they were Divergent-born or not, and it just confused everything. In the book it’s extremely clear (and completely relates to themes that were dropped from the movie) yet it’s murky enough to confuse non-fan movie goers.

3. Lack of Explanation

The movie fast-forwards up to the Choosing Ceremony and right into the politics of Tris’ choosing without really explaining WHY there’s huge politics behind it. Yes, Abnegtion is under scrutiny, and yes, Marcus has issues, but why is that taking down the whole faction? (Notice you never heard about his wife, who deserted him and Tobias- and she’s huge in the next two books). Why is Erudite trying to take over? Why not Candor? Why now? Why are people looking to Tris and her brother as political fortune tellers? It’s murky, and not well explained.

4. Merging of the Transfers and the Divergent-Born

There’s this gigantic thing about how being Divergent-Born gives the initiates an advantage over the Transfers, and that’s why the Transfers (Tris, Christina, Will, and others) have to trained separately for the first stage of Initiation. It’s mentioned in the movie when the Transfers are handed over to Four. It’s a major plot point in the book, and fuels a number of sub-plots in both the book and movie (including people learning whether or not she’s Divergent, Peter’s jealous, and the attack on Tris). Yet, after that first mention, it’s a non-issue in the rest of the movie. Never mentioned again. Poof.

5.  Mom

Yes, I get that when you get a big name actress they need more screen time, yes, meeting up with her mom clandestinely means more tension, and yes, I get to hammer home the point that it’s Faction before Blood they cut the Family Reunion time after the first stage of Initiation. However, during the Family Visiting Day in the book is when Tris learns that her mom was Dauntless, not when she was shot. And when she was SHOT is when she learns that she was DIVERGENT. IMPORTANT POINTS TO BUILD PEOPLE.

So, did you see it? What did you think? Agree? Disagree? Share in the comments below!


It’s no secret that I adore book based movies. (Really, who doesn’t?) I’ve gone opening night to both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, and I saw Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I really liked Beautiful Creatures (once I let go of the fact that it was based on the book). I’ve seen both Percy Jackson movies (I like the second better than the first, and will admit that I read the series AFTER the movies). I yelled in theaters at some of the changes they did to the Harry Potter movies. I did miss Vampire Academy, but that was more my schedule than anything else.

And I love hearing that a book is being picked up for a movie, so when they’re picked up BEFORE they’re even released, it’s even better! And we at Teen Librarian Toolbox are sharing our excitement with you! I have ARCs of TWO books that have been optioned to Hollywood, and you get your chance to win them before SCRIPTS are even made.

Are you ready?

SO, to win, mention in the COMMENTS your FAVORITE book based movie and WHY, along with a contact (email or twitter address). One winner will be randomly selected to receive BOTH ARCs. Giveaway ends Saturday, April 5 (International Tabletop Gaming Day, BTW).

Readers Advisory: World War Z and Israeli Female Soldiers in Teen YA

A friend and I went and watched World War Z over the weekend. I haven’t read the book by Max Brooks (all of the copies in our system have been “lost” for a while now, so unless I go out and buy it for myself I won’t be able to) but I enjoyed the movie- I liked the way the zombies moved, and the twist of how they solved the crisis. One thing that I especially enjoyed was that, while in Israel, they portrayed the Israeli soldiers realistically.  

Israel is the only country in the world that has a mandatory military service requirement for women. They have to serve at least 24 months, and generally serve during their late teen and early adult years (17-24 years of age). More information can be found here and here.

In a movie like World War Z, you expect to see men fighting all over everywhere. And you saw that in the American soldiers- I don’t remember a single female field soldier anywhere, except those on the naval ship. However, when Brad Pitt was going throughout Israel, he was surrounded by young, female soldiers of the Israeli army- including one who plays a huge part in the movie later on. It so accurately portrays what female fighters do on a daily basis it made such a striking impression on me, mainly because you don’t often see that in any of our mainstream movies. Unless they are the main character, we’ll get one or two token females, and that’s it. And it’s extremely hard to find in teen books.  I’ve found four- if you have more, share in the comments.


Aggie is eighteen and getting ready to do her service for the Israeli Army. She could get a cushy assignment—maybe pushing paper somewhere—or she could just take her chances. Only, Aggie isn’t like that. Despite her small size and the fact that she needs to gain weight even to make the grade, and despite the total disbelief of her entire family (except her grandmother, who is an old freedom fighter and don’t you forget it), Aggie is trying out for an elite combat unit.


Valerie begins her story as she finishes her exams, breaks up with her boyfriend, and leaves for service with the Israeli army. Nothing has prepared her for the strict routines, grueling marches, poor food, lack of sleep and privacy, or crushing of initiative that she now faces. Offering a glimpse into the life of a typical Israeli teen, even as it lays bare the relentless nature of war, Valerie’s story is one young readers will have a hard time forgetting.


In a relentlessly energetic and arresting voice marked by humor and fierce intelligence, Shani Boianjiu, winner of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35,” creates an unforgettably intense world, capturing that unique time in a young woman’s life when a single moment can change everything.


Photographer Rachel Papo, who was Serial No. 3817131 during her service in the Israeli Air Force from 1988–1990, reveals these young girls caught in transient moments of self-reflection and uncertainty, as if stuck in a state of contradiction. Rather than portraying the soldier as heroic, confident, or proud, Papo’s photographs reveal the soldier and the teenage girl in constant negotiation, caught between two extremes: a soldier who lives on an army base surrounded by hundreds just like her, but underneath her uniform, there is an individual who wishes to be noticed.

From Page to Screen and Coming to a Theater Near You

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a movie junkie. Even more, I love movies that are based off of books- the best of both worlds, right? Except not when there are huge parts that *I* think may be important parts that are left out for editing reasons (think Harry Potter 7) or a change in the ending (The Firm).  At any rate, as more and more studios use books for their inspirations, I have more chances to enjoy (or rant) about how the conversion went.  Here are some that are coming up for this summer- are you going to see them?
One that I am super excited about (even though I haven’t seen a trailer yet) is Judy Blume’s Tiger Eyes.  Set to come out June 7, I am buzzing that one of my favorite books is making it to the big screen!  I can only hope that it makes it to theaters nation-wide- I was so bummed that Fat Kid Rules the World was never playing anywhere near me (and I am in a HUGE metropolitan area).
I also want to see Geography Club. Based off of Bret Hartinger’s book, the trailer looks really good.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQb2-a685sw?rel=0]


Midnight’s Children based from Salman Rushdie’s book….

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6T35sFH_as?rel=0]
Star Trek: Into Darkness, which while not based off of any *current* book that I can find, has TONS of book tie-ins, so I am completely counting it.

The Great Gatsby (directed by those who brought you Moulin Rogue– and I  may have to get the soundtrack if the music in the movie lives up to the trailer)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN183rJltNM?rel=0]

World War Z, which I’ve not read the book yet, and won’t before the movie because I want to be surprised….

 [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EC7P5WdUko?rel=0] 

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the second in the series….

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KoOtiuSjuI?rel=0]

 Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, based of the first in the Mortal Instruments series (which has 5 books so far and the 6th set for publication in 2014)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHlwRsl2uFk?rel=0] 

Carrie, based off of Stephen King’s work, and evoking the memories of the movie with John Travolta…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkjVoW3WZdI?rel=0]

Which ones are you looking forward to?

Movie Discussion: Beautiful Creatures

So now, it’s been a whole week since Beautiful Creatures has come out to the big screen, and we here at Teen Librarian Toolbox have been very patient with you readers in waiting for you to see it.  If you haven’t, then go see it, and then come back, because after the break, we’re going to be discussing the movie and what we liked and didn’t like about it.

If you haven’t read the book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, then chances are you will love the movie and not have really any qualms.  Beautiful Creatures is not doing too well in the box office, possibly for a number of reasons.  Talk around online outlets seem to say that the trailers made it out to be the next Sparkly Vampire Movie, when the movie wasn’t about that at all.  The books also supposedly don’t have as great a readership as those Sparkly Vampire Movie books,  which may have hurt chances as well.  It also was released during the weekend that Die Hard and Safe Haven were released, and Warm Bodies was still out, splitting up the potential audience.  

I don’t know.  Karen and I took her Tween to see it on Saturday, and we both loved it.  Karen hasn’t read the books, I have, and I divorced myself from the series in order to stay in movie world and fall in love with the movie.  If you’ve read the books, this is one of the movies that you’ll need to stay strictly in movie world in order to enjoy.  While Garcia and Stohl gave their blessing on the changes and rewrites, there are huge changes to the story.  CinemaBlend does a really good job of hitting the highlights here.  I do have to wonder if the changes that they made are because they’re not going to make a franchise- I haven’t been able to find anything online about any sequels, even before the weekend takes were online, which is unusual when there are multiple books you can take for subject matter. 


I don’t have my copy of Beautiful Creatures in front of me- our library’s copy is out with about 7 holds on it (yea), but I can tell you what I really liked from the movie and what I really missed from the book.

Seeing Serafine earlier:  Emma Thompson would have been wasted playing Mrs. Lincoln the way she had been written in the book, and seeing her being Serafine much earlier in the script was wonderful.  She got to be the evil and crazy, the ultragood and the mysterious all at once.  I wish she had more screen time.

  Ridley:  I loved how they played Ridley in the movie and the books, and I wish that she had more lines.  Maybe there are extended versions coming in the DVD.  Even though she’s a red-head polished Southern belle, and not the blonde over-the-top anime version from the books, Emmy Rossum nails Ridley like she was in my head.

Magic vs Religion: I really liked how the whole movie treated magic and religion on the Caster and Amma’s view- about how it’s all created by one and the same, and it’s only man who tells you what’s bad and what’s not.  I think it’s a very important viewpoint, not only for magic but for tolerance within our own culture, and one that’s lost.

The Magic:  I really liked how they did the magic- the house, Lena’s writing on the rooms, the snow in South Carolina, Serafine coming through, the fight between Lena and Ridley, the glowing eyes…  it could have come off as really cheesy but it came out really wonderful and special instead.

Amma:  I missed the original Amma.  I missed her cooking in the house, with her talismans and crossword puzzles, and the total immersion into her religion.  This is one of the things that makes me think there may not be more sequels coming- if you’ve read the books, you realize what an important part Amma and her religion and powers play, and how they counterbalance Macon, and we just tiptoe into the kiddie pool with it.

The Kelting and the Song:  Not only do Ethan and Lena not talk to each other mind-to-mind (Kelting), there’s no song telling Ethan and Lena what to do.  If you read the books, the song is such an important part of the plots for *each* of the books, and in the fourth you find out where they were coming from, and to have it taken out completely leaves something to be desired to me.  Not as bad as the deleted scene with Harry and Dudley in the last Potter movie, but still there.

Genevieve and the Book of Moons:  They changed up the whole story about Genevieve and the Book of Moons, and I’m not sure if it’s for better or worse.  Karen will tell you that she couldn’t get through the book for the flashback scenes, but the ties between Genevieve and her Ethan and Lena and the current Ethan are huge in the series.  The fact that the Book was in the library, not in the grave changes things completely.

More Story/Explanation:  It probably doesn’t make any sense to anyone but me, but I wanted more explanation on how things worked.  They never explained how Ethan could break through the protection spells they had worked around Lena; I know because I read the book.  They never explained how even though Serafine couldn’t break through Ethan’s house, Ridley could get into the mansion; I know because I read the book.  They never explained why Ridley was eating everything in sight while doing magic; I know because I read the book.  I wanted to know more about the world- we got mostly surface, and I like to know deeper.

Karen’s POV:
I tried reading the first book when it came out, I really did.  But I didn’t finish (shhh, don’t tell). It just took a really long time it seemed to go anywhere.  But when they started airing the ads on tv my Tween began begging me to take her.  Since this was the first non-animated movie she has ever asked to see, and it is ya lit inspired, and I wanted to see it anyway – we went.  I LOVED the movie.  I would go see it again in the theater to be honest.  Yes, it is a teen movie.  There is romance, there is angst. I loved Emma Thompson’s performance, even if it was over the top.  I loved the way they talked about books and reading and banned books and the desire to escape the small town.  In fact, they capture small town life perfectly.  All in all, I found it to be perfectly entertaining, I liked the message of taking control of your own destiny, and I found the lead characters to be charming and endearing and I wanted them to triumph.  That, in my book, makes a movie successful. Another bonus, it introduced me to Charles Bukowski whom I had never heard of.  Check out some of his quotes here.

Have you seen the movie?  Read the book?  Share your thoughts in the comments!