Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Own the Night: Mystery Craft Week

It's hard to believe, but we are in our final week of drop-in programming for Teen Summer Reading: Own the Night!  We will wrap up our summer reading program next Wednesday, August 1, with a Teen Iron Chef competition, and the drawing for our grand prize baskets.  Teens, be sure to turn in your reading logs by August 1 to get your raffle tickets entered for the prize drawing.

This week, we are bringing out some "Mystery Crafts" for the teens -- which is a creative way of saying that we are recycling some of our leftover craft supplies from earlier in the summer, as well as from other teen programs.  Teens who drop in between 1 and 4 p.m. through Friday can make fleece pillows, duct tape crafts, bead magnets, string dolls and more.

For those crafty teens (and parents) who would like more projects to fill up the last few weeks before school, we have a variety of nonfiction offerings that feature handicraft projects. Here is a selection of our more recent purchases:

Beading in No Time:  50 Step-by-Step Designs for Beautiful Bead Jewelry, by Linda PetersonUnique beaded jewelry continues to be popular, but can also be expensive to buy.  This illustrated guide by Peterson features bracelets, necklaces, brooches and more. The projects are arranged by ease and length of time to complete, making this a good resource for both beginners and more advanced beaders.

World of Geekcraft: Step-by-Step Instructions for 25 Super-Cool Craft Projects, by Susan Beal.  This book is simply fun to browse through, even if you don't actually do any of the projects.  A variety of crafting techniques show up in these projects, from beading and quilting to applique and needle felting.  The projects are, again, arranged by ease of completion, from those for crafts who are "Not a Jedi Yet" to those who work at "Warp Speed." Crafters will enjoy creating Star Trek pillows, D&D dice earrings, a Morse code quilt, and more.  

Just Duct Tape It!, by Patti Wallenfang. Our local teens always enjoy duct tape projects; over several years of teen programming, we've created pens, wallets, beach bags, cell phone covers, bracelets, purses, and more.  This book is one of the newer offerings in the world of duct tape craft, but there are several others.  Wallenfang goes beyond simple duct tape creations to add embellishments and detail, creating interesting bracelets, wallets, purses, and even locker decor.

Contemporary Dyecraft: Over 50 Tie-Dye Projects for Scarves, Dresses, T-Shirts and More, by Melanie Brummer.   Tie-dye may be messy, but it seems to be the quintessential summer craft project.  Brummer provides a lengthy introduction to the craft, giving necessary information on dyes, fabrics, and equipment. The projects she explains are simply beautiful, a far cry from the blotchy T-shirts that come back from summer camp sessions. Her designs include zebra and tiger stripes, geometric patterns, coils, and spirals. 

Why not try a new handicraft, or pick up a book that re-introduces an old favorite? Teens who are interested in any of the above books, or in other craft guides, can visit the Young Adult nonfiction collection at CCPL. 




Thursday, July 19, 2012

Own the Night: Crime & Mystery Week

We are well into our second-to-last week of afternoon summer reading activities in the CCPL Teen Room: next week we will feature a variety of "Mystery Crafts" to wrap up that part of our the program.  The following week, on August 1, we will hold our fourth Teen Iron Chef contest to celebrate the end of summer reading, and to draw for our three grand prize baskets.  Gillette teens, be sure to turn in your pages/hours so you can enter the grand prize drawing!

For Crime & Mystery week, our teens have had to test their detective skills by solving short mysteries; taking an observation quiz; finding books; and identifying fingerprints.  We've discovered that some of our patrons have a knack for unraveling mysteries. Perhaps they would enjoy some of the following fiction selections:

What I Saw and How I Lied, by Judy Blundell.  Some of my favorite YA novels are historic mysteries - stories that transport the reader to a different time and place, and offer enough suspense to keep a reader engaged. Blundell has crafted that type of story in this novel.  We first meet Evie as her stepfather is returning from his tour of duty in WWII. Evie and her mother, Bev, feel fortunate to have Joe in their lives, and turn blind eyes to his faults. When he announces suddenly that they are leaving New York City to go on a vacation in Palm Beach during the off-season, even as Evie is preparing to go to high school, the rest of the small family simply accepts his decision. They end up spending several weeks in the deserted Palm Beach, where an old Army friend of Joe's turns up and becomes Evie's first romantic interest.  But is there more to Peter than Evie thinks? Evie doesn't want to admit to herself that her suspicions about Joe, Peter and her mother are well-founded. But as a series of strange events leads up to a fateful boating excursion, Evie finds she can no longer deny the truth. Blundell continues her mystery-noir style with Strings Attached.

The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson.  Another mystery that takes part of its inspiration from history, this novel re-casts the story of Jack the Ripper.  Louisiana teenager Rory has been accepted to an exclusive London boarding school while her parents are conducting research in Oxford. Her arrival, however, coincides with a brutal murder near the school. As all of London watches, a series of grisly killings -- killings that exactly mimic Jack the Ripper's 1888 crimes -- sweep through the city.  Wexford, the school Rory is attending, stands exactly in the center of the Ripper's old territory. No one has any leads -- except Rory. One night, walking back to her dorm, she encounters a strange man who fits the description offered by police; however, nobody else sees the man, not even the roommate walking alongside Rory at the time. Rory must now use all her wits and abilities to discover the killer's identity -- before she becomes his next target. (Johnson will continue her Shades of London series with another title, The Madness Underneath, in 2013.)

The Death Cloud, by Andrew Lane.  A young teenager is dropped off at his uncle's estate for the summer, just as a mysterious cloud passes over the village and seems to cause several deaths. Could it be a recurrence of the plague? The young man, along with his tutor and tutor's sister, are determined to find out the truth. Using the decduction skills that will later make him famous, the teen -- who turns out to be young Sherlock Holmes --  delves into the mystery with the calm dedication and intelligence that made Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original character famous.  Death Cloud is the first in Lane's Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins series, followed by Rebel Fire. 

The Case of the Deadly Desperados, by Caroline Lawrence. 12-year-old P. K. Pinkerton has just been orphaned for the second time, when his foster parents are killed by villainous Wittlin Walt.  Now, P. K., in possession of his mother's deed to a silver mine in Nevada, strikes out for Virginia City to make his fortune. He soon discovers the dishonorable side of the Wild West, where everyone he encounters seems to be after his land! P. K. relies on disguise, and his own wits, to avoid the fate of his parents. The outlaws are closing in, however, and unless P. K. figures out who he can trust, he is done for. 

The Riddles of Epsilon, by Christine Morton-Shaw. Jess is furious with her parents when they decide to move to family property on the island of Lume, just off the British coast; how will she keep in touch with her friends, with society, with her life?  In the midst of her anger, she stumbles upon some very old letters, written by a boy, Sebastian, over 100 years ago.  Sebastian lost his mother to the sea, and seems to be sending a warning to Jess. As if that weren't enough, she also encounters a ghost, Epsilon, who speaks to her only in riddles and ancient rhymes from Lume's history. Gradually, Sebastian and Epsilon help Jess to understand that she must unravel the mystery -- before her own mother succumbs to the same fate as Sebastian's. Morton-Shaw follows her debut mystery with another creepy story, The Hunt for the Seventh.

 Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey. 14-year-old Charlie lives a quiet life with his books in the small Australian town that is the setting for this debut novel.  One night, however, his quiet life changes forever when the town outcast, Jasper Jones, taps on Charlie's window and asks for his help.  He leads Charlie into the bush, where a clearing opens to reveal a dead body.  The boys both know that, for various reasons, Jasper will be blamed for the death. To prevent that, Charlie helps Jasper hide the body. What follows is a cycle of secrets, fear and suspicion in their small town.  Will Charlie ever be able to reveal what he knows? Will Jasper ever be safe from suspicion?  This novel was a Michael Printz Honor Book in 2012.

Again -- some great reading for those hot summer nights when you can't sleep!  Grab your flashlight, a good mystery, and some snacks, and "Own the Night" this summer.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Own the Night: Night of the Living Dead

It's already the middle of July! Here in the Teen Room, we continue to support literacy by offering our teen summer reading program and drop-in activities.  Last week, our theme was "Night of the Living Dead."  Teens were able to participate in shrunken apple-head carving, select items for a zombie-apocalypse survival kit, and test their knowledge about zombies, vampires, and other "living dead" creatures.

Of course, young adult fiction continues to be full of stories of the undead.  Although this niche of YA fiction is not as popular as it was, say, four years ago, it continues to have a large following among both teens and their parents. 

Since we've covered several zombie fiction selections in the June 21 blog entry, I'll focus only on vampires this week. After all, they are the original "living dead." Of course, vampire fiction took a huge leap in popularity among YA readers with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. There are, however, many other choices for those readers who have had enough of Bella and Edward. If you are a fan of gruesome stories with varying degrees of gore, be sure you check out some of these selections:

Dracula, by Bram Stoker.  The original vampire story, Stoker's 1897 classic has been adapted to both film and graphic novel versions, partly to ease readers' comprehension. However, for an advanced reader who can handle the rather archaic language and syntax, the original story is still the best. More modern vampire stories tend to include much blood and gore; Stoker's classic, the story of the gradual seduction of Lucy and Mina, and the growing awareness of the threat of Count Dracula, is creepier for what it hints at, rather than describes. 

 Cirque du Freak, by Darren Shan.  An older, but still popular, series, Cirque du Freak (also known as The Saga of Darren Shan), originally appeared on the YA market in 2002. What followed was an instant sensation, particularly among younger teen boys looking for blood and guts. The story follows teenage Darren Shan and his friend, Stevie, as they venture into a local freak show. There, Darren realizes that, while most of the half-human creatures are disturbing, none is as threatening as the frightening Mr. Crepsley, whom Darren recognizes as a true vampire. Steve wants to stay after the show to confront Crepsley, but his motives are dishonest. Darren overhears a terrifying promise, and is fated to be drawn to Mr. Crepsley. Thus begins the saga of Darren's descent into the dark, gory world of vampires.  Shan published twelve volumes in this series, ending in 2006; he's since begun a spin-off series, The Saga of Larten Crepsley.

Vampirates,  by Justin Somper.  What could be better than a series about vampires? A series about vampires AND pirates - vampirates - of course. Somper published his original novel, Demons of the Ocean, in 2006.  It tells the story of teenage twins who live in a post-apocalyptic world where much of the earth's surface has been flooded. The twins' father disappears, leaving them to fend for themselves in this harsh environment. A strong sea storm separates them: the boy, Connor, is rescued by pirates, while the girl, Grace, is saved by a more sinister ship, the home of the vampirates. There are six books in the series, each full of adventure, mystery, and terror.  

Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, and Chronicles of the Slayer, by Heather Brewer.  The first book in Brewer's original series, Eighth Grade Bites, was reviewed in the September 22, 2011 entry of this blog.  It told the story of Vladmir Tod, a vampire who thinks he is alone in the world, until his neighbors and teachers begin to be threatened by something so sinister it could only be another vampire. From this first book, Brewer follows Vlad's story through his high school career.  Her second series, Chronicles of the Slayer, began with First Kill in 2011.  This series backtracks to tell the Vladimir Tod story from a different perspective: that of a teenage boy, Vlad's former friend, who is training to be a vampire slayer. 

Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead.  In the isolated mountains of northwestern Montana, St. Vladimir's Academy offers education for both the elite members of the ruling vampire class, and the half-vampire creatures who serve and protect them. Lissa, a member of the ruling Moroi class, has been on the run with her friend and bodyguard, dhampir Rose, for two years. At the beginning of the novel, they are captured and returned to St. Vlad's against their will. For a while, Rose learns to ignore her uneasiness: after all, Lissa seems to be assimilating to the culture of St. Vlad's rather well. Rose, whose sole purpose is to protect her friend, does not want to alienate herself from Lissa. However, when danger threatens to destroy Lissa and the entire Moroi class, Rose must trust her instincts and find out whether the threat is coming from outside St. Vlad's - or from the inside. Mead follows her initial installment with five more novels, creating a six-volume series for more mature readers.

Drake Chronicles, by Alxyandra Harvey.  In this newer series, whose first title is Hearts At Stake, Harvey introduces Solange, the only daughter to be born in a blue-blood vampire clan in over 800 years; she herself will wake up undead on her 16th birthday. According to an ancient prophecy, she is destined to be a vampire queen, and so is pursued by young vampire suitors. She is also being pursued by vampire-slayer Kieran; it is only the protection of her parents and her seven older brothers that keeps her safe. Rather than all this attention and drama, Solange just wants to live a normal life. On her side is her best friend, Lucy, a mortal teen with enough bravado to stand up to an entire vampire family in defense of Solange's right to be a teenager. Written in a smart, witty style, Harvey breathes fresh air into the vampire fiction genre; Hearts At Stake is the first in a five-book series. 

Hopefully, that is enough of a sample of Young Adult vampire fiction; if not, come by the Teen Room, as we have even more to show you here! 

This week, the Teen Room drop-in activities will focus on a Crime and Mystery theme.  Gillette teens, stop by any afternoon this week from 1 to 4 p.m. to participate!