*Lets out a long, loud sigh, which contains several months’ worth of stress, as well as various dates, facts, and figures that I will never be required to know again* Summer. It is finally here. And if you are anything like me that means one thing: you have no idea what to read. Seriously, the entire school year you are probably making it by on a book a week, if you're lucky, and those are probably presets: sequels that have just been published, or favorite authors who have finally released a new book. (Shadow Scale and Hellhole, I am looking at you.) But now it is summer, and you are not constrained by tedious projects or dry textbooks. You are free!
So, now what?
I'll tell you: Kid's books. That's right, kid's books. Don't forget about all of those J Fiction books out there, just because you have technically, probably, aged out. (And we all know that secretly, at least some of the time, we are all still six. Or five. The point is, you never actually grow out of the J Fiction section.) So, if you are in that awkward phase where you look to old to be looking in the kid's section by yourself, but not quite old enough to have your own kids to be looking for, here are some recommendations.
1. Don't forget about your old favorites. No, I'm not talking about Harry Potter, we all know you probably re-read that once every few years anyway. Well, most of you anyways. I'm talking about books that you read in single sittings, laughing, getting weirdly attached to characters, but for some reason you never picked them up again. For me, this brings to mind A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Seriously, these were great books as a kid, but now reading them after a few years, they are almost funnier. They are extremely dark, but with a sort of humor that I imagine was directed towards teenagers. I liked them as a kid, but now…I have to say that I am even more impressed. I might not be able to speak for all kid's books, but I guarantee that if you go back and read some old favorites, you are going to have a great time, not only in remembering why you loved them in the first place, but also likely in discovering some tidbits that make more sense in your older, wiser* brain. Definitely give these (or any of your old favorites) 5/5.
*Wiser, mostly in the sense that I am using it in a cliché phrase. I'm not sure that any of us should actually ever be considered wise.
2. Now, for some recent finds on the J fiction shelves. If you like fairy tales, especially those that seem to combine stories from all sorts of backgrounds, you might want to try The Sisters Grimm. And I do apologize if you have already read these. Sometimes I am behind on the times. Back when moving to the "New World" was a thing, the Grimm Brothers packed up all (most) fairy tale creatures and moved them to the East Coast, a town called Ferryport (formerly Fairyport, haha, so clever), which allows no one to leave its borders. (Holy cow, I never realized how much this sounded like the show Once Upon a Time before.) Now, I will warn you that the first book is not the best written, but the story intrigued me enough to read the second. The writing does seem to improve, and the story seems to get more interesting. My favorite part: Puck. Such a sassy little fairy, who believes he rules the world, but he is really still a child who, eventually, somehow gets talked into coming and living with Granny Grimm. How do you think that is going to work out: the trickster king being, for lack of a better word, domesticated? I certainly wouldn't want to live with him. So, pretty much an easy read with some rewritten fairy tale characters, who keep butting into each other's universes (also each other's business, but that's sort of obvious). This may not be my number one recommendation, but it only takes a couple of hours. I'd give these ones 3.5/5, though do note that the low score is lower because of the first book.
3. New find: The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch. I'm not really sure about you, but I am willing to read this book just based off of its title, and the name of the author. I mean, how awesome is the name Pseudonymous for a pseudonym (or nom de plume, or penname, or alias, or whatever)?! Also, the back cover is written entirely in backwards words. Like, if weird word jumbles are not your favorite thing, you might actually need a mirror to read the cover of this book. So, apparently I am in fact, telling you to judge a book by its cover. Well, more specifically, all of the writing that appears on said cover. And if all of that isn't enough for you to want to read this awesome book, it has one of those narrators who aren't supposed to be telling the story. And (s)he keeps talking to you! I find those narrators the best. Fourth wall? What fourth wall! I feel like I should tell you more…but it's a secret, right? Nah, I'm not scared of any super-secret organization (well, maybe, we will get to that later). There is a missing magician, and a mysterious box called the Symphony of Smells. Mmm…synesthesia. One of my favorite literary thingy-mabobs. It just makes all the descriptions so much better. I mean, how can you taste the cold? How can you hear the color blue? Seriously, the next time you write, try to use some synesthesia. The style of this book probably fits right in there with anything written by Lemony Snicket. Less morbid, but still that same wit and great narrator. Definitely a 5/5.
4. Now…secret organizations. Imagine that there was a school that took the best and brightest of today's children. Geniuses who might be sabotaging Prime Minister's speeches, or who might be world class diamond thieves. Or maybe someone who was simply dared to hack into the government…and did it. These are the kind of people that go to H.I.V.E. The Higher Institute for Villainous Education. (I told you there was a secret organization I might be scared of. Wouldn't you be? All the little twelve year old geniuses in the world being trained to be super-villains?) Also, there is some pretty cool AI (artificial intelligence) going on here--and you know, every time an AI comes around, there are always weird existential questions (feel free to ignore those or not, depending on your mood). And…I actually don't think I need to say more. It is a secret school for SUPER VILLIAN CHILDREN! So, 5/5 for Mark Walden.
Okay, guys, that's all I've got for now! It should keep you busy for at least a couple of weeks (or days, or hours, depending on how fast you read…). Enjoy! There will be another post later this month so check back in!
We want to make YOU a star by showing off your writing, art, and more. All you have to do is be between the ages of 11 and 18 and send us your work. We're looking for:
-Fanfiction (1500 words or less)
Have something amazing that's not on this list? Send it to us anyway! We want to show the world how awesomely talented Jeffco teens are!
Volunteering for the Summer Reading Program was a great experience. I was able to really help out with the young kids by showing them how amazing reading is. When volunteering for the summer reading program I got to know other teens, librarians, and the young kids of the library. Volunteering for the summer reading program was a great way to spend the extra time during my summer break.
And after everyone’s hard work and dedication to the summer reading program all the teens were able to stay at the library after hours and play games with all the other volunteers.
To learn more about being a Teen Volunteer this summer, contact Tana Lucero.
The sky splits in half
This stillness in the air
By roaring thunder
And jagged, blinding light.
In the blink of an eye.
Another bolt of energy,
Another deafening clap.
Droplets fall from the heavens,
Travelling hundreds of miles
To give life.
Once I did dare
To go down the stairs
When everyone was sleeping
I slipped out the door
And then felt the air
Upon my arms and face.
It was cold, that night,
But my eyes, they were bright
With not a bit of sleep.
I looked at the stars
I thought I saw mars
The night was clear and dark
The porch, it was cold
And I felt so bold
As to sit on it at midnight, that time.
The air felt so clear
It hid all my fears
And I felt as if I could sing.
I flung my arms out and began to dance
As if I was in some kind of trance
Beneath the cold and bright moon.
I laughed and I twirled
I thought I held the world
In the palm of my hand at that moment
Then I stopped my feet
In the middle of the street
Not caring for safety or caution
My face turned to the sky
I did not know why
But I felt a compulsion to look.
Then I saw it streak by
Yes, it did fly
Above the moon with its brothers
The shooting star
It was very rare
For a girl like me to see.
Just a blink, then it vanished,
But it was not tarnished
Within my mind filled with wonders.
I closed my eyes then
And again and again
Repeated a wish in my head.
A wish for peace
A wish for joy
A wish for candy and toys
A little girl's wish
A little girl's problems
Wrapped up in one little wish.
I was that small girl
Standing in the road
With stars in her eyes
And moonlight in her toes
She'll never forget that moment, oh no
The wish of a lifetime,
The shooting star.
This is a reminder that any teen between the ages of 11-18 can become a contributor to our teen page! We want to hear from you through your words, pictures, and art!
Check out this inspiring image submitted by Aliyah who notes, "This is a picture of me and Spike. He reminds me to be adventerous with those big eyes!"
If you are inspired by this picture you might like to read, Redwall by Brian Jacques!
Have you ever wondered
Why time seems to stretch and shrink
Depending on the time?
School is long, summer is short,
Vacations have no end.
Events last for years, months just mere seconds,
On the sands of time.
Maybe it's just the people at fault,
The ones who see the things changing.
For some it's short, for some it's long,
And time just stays the same.
Maybe it's the time, maybe the people,
But I think it's different.
I think in some places there is a space
That time is warped and changed.
It's a wormhole, plain and simple,
I hope you understand.
You step right through it, and that's all,
Time is now all relative.
When you leave, the time has not changed,
But you yourself have been aged.
Not a moment has passed, and yet you find
You've been in there for years.
Maybe the people, maybe the time,
But I'm sure it's a wormhole-
What do you think?
* Anglada, Paul, "Eye of the Wormhole", flickr creative commons, accessed Feb 2, 2015.
Has their own Universe
Of wishes, missions, thoughts.
An entirely unique place
That belongs to only one.
Others can peek,
But never see much,
Or get to stay long.
I ask to enter yours
You can’t let me -
By no fault of yours -
Speak your mind,
Expose your weaknesses, secrets,
And trust I shan’t hurt you.
You are right to trust,
For love is trust,
And in return
I give you my heart
And my Universe.
*photo (c) Richard Smith, "Best Laid Plans", September 8, 2014
You have me cornered. I am a
rabbit and you are a fox with
teeth sharp as glass white as
milk. Only your teeth are not
made of glass and milk. They
are made of stories and secrets
and 'I love you' and caring.
And I appreciate your caring
really, I do. Or maybe I don't and
I'm sorry. Or maybe you and I
could stop being predator and prey
for a few minutes and I could run and
not talk to anyone. (That's really what I
want here, didn't I say that?)
(I don't care if it's not what I
need) (You do)
You care with your sharp teeth and
your love and your secrets.
But some things can't be fixed with teeth
and sometimes I am sick of crying
in front of you and I
cannot live as a rabbit.
This is because I am not a rabbit, I
am a girl and when
the fox bites the rabbit will
bleed red, but the girl is
already bleeding guilt and apologies and tears.
But rabbits can run and they don't cry
and they don't speak.
On second thought,
maybe I should be a rabbit.
* photo "Finding Wonderland", Louis Courtney, flickr creative commons, accessed Jan 8, 2015.
Welcome, all you avid readers, all you book-lovers, all you bibliophiles! Okay, so all of these words mean pretty much the same thing, but you get the point. Now, it is suddenly a new year, and if you are like me, you probably have this perpetual problem of not having anything to read. Literally, ANYTHING, even when you are surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books! Okay, so I exaggerate. But, it can still be tough to find new, great books to read. So, out of all of the books that I've read in 2014, here are a few of my favorites, some new, some old.
1. First of all, there is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Of course, most of you have probably read this already, for I seem to have been late to the bandwagon. It doesn't hurt that a movie adaptation just came out in 2013 (it wasn't a complete, total disaster, anyway), so it is still probably pretty fresh on everyone's radar. It's a great sci-fi book, always worth a re-read. (Also, if you feel like looking at it from a new perspective, go do some research on the Cold War. It is really interesting how the conflict between the Buggers and the humans might actually resemble what was actually happening between the Americans and Soviets at the time the book was being published.) But, as amazing as Ender's Game is, that is not the point of this particular recommendation. Several years after his initial publication in the Enderverse, Orson Scott Card came out with another, parallel series, which starts with Ender's Shadow. This is exactly his first story told from Bean's point of view. You do not need any prior knowledge to read Ender's Shadow and it is just as good, and arguably better than the original series. If you loved Ender's Game, or really just sci-fi, you have to read Ender's Shadow.
2. The next book is probably not very well known. I found Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira by accident. But, the premise sounded interesting: a girl is given an English assignment to write a letter to a dead person. So, the novel is told in these letters to Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin, and all of these other dead famous people while, really, Laurel is trying to cope with her own sister's death, which hadn't happened all that long ago. While this book is unlike anything that I've read before, if you liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky, this should be the next thing you read.
3. On a lighter, and fluffier, note, the trilogy that begins with Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins might have just been the most adorable thing I have read all year. Okay, so yes, it is definitely one of those sappy teen love stories. But the sap is minimal, the writing is good, and the characters are real. If you want a light read, basically comfort food, these are the books for you.
4. Now, on a much darker note, there is The Child Thief by Brom. Just Brom, only the one name. This is a darker retelling of Peter Pan, which essentially sprung from the idea that maybe the boys that Peter takes to Neverland don't want to stay forever. It is dark, and it is creepy and it has a few drawings, done by the author, which shows you what is happening in his own re-imagined Neverland. If you like retellings, especially ones that tend to take the stories to darker, more haunting places, or if you just want to see Peter Pan from a drastically different view, I would definitely try reading The Child Thief.
5. Now, I know that one of the most popular series that has been around in the last few years has been The City of Bones (well, it started out as a trilogy, then there were two trilogies in the same series, and a prequel series, and now there are more spinoffs being made, so...) universe. And one of the only (actually, the only) character to appear in all of the published books so far has been the mysterious High Warlock, Magnus Bane. Now, if you would like to know anything more about Magnus, like, perhaps, why he is not allowed in Peru, or what really happened to Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution, or even how characters like Raphael Santiago came to be, you might want to pick of The Bane Chronicles, an illustrious collection of short stories.
6. Okay, dragons. I can't not make a list of books that people should read without bringing up dragons at least once. Because, first of all, dragons are awesome. And, second, with Game of Thrones picking up speed, dragons are becoming more popular anyways. So, for a more unique take on dragons, try reading Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, where the dragons are cold, logical, mathematical beings who can fold themselves into human form, with a few issues with the humans themselves. Also, the sequel is set to come out in early 2015, so what better way to start off the New Year? DRAGONS.
7. Most of you have probably read The Book Thief. Most of you have probably also read Markus Zusak's other book, I Am the Messenger, which is also several different kinds of amazing. If you haven't read the latter, and are expecting it to be like The Book Thief, don't. Ed Kennedy is just a cab driver, until one day he begins receiving mysterious instructions in the mail. It sounds like a bit of a trope, but I promise, it's worth the read.
8. Another book that I found to be unique and interesting is Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Spoiler alert, the main character dies. Okay, that's not a spoiler; it's actually the premise of the book. The main character dies, and then relives her last die seven separate times. It definitely brings up a great question: if you knew it was your last day, what would you do?
9. Here is another supernatural book, where certain people get unique powers: The Diviners by Libba Bray. Also, the sequel comes out in April, so I am very excited for that. But this isn't really just another one of those supernatural books. This one is set in the 1920s, where Evie O'Neill is sent to live in New York City with her uncle, who happens to run a museum for the occult. So, maybe my summary makes it sound like a bit of a cliché. It's not! Also, it is totally the reason I have started to use the word 'copacetic' wherever possible.
10. This is the last book that I read in 2014, and without a doubt, it is also one of the best. I have read pretty much everything E. Lockhart has written in the past, and while I am not a huge fan of her Ruby Oliver series, I love her other standalones, especially The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (note to self, reread that in 2015) but We Were Liars is its own kind of special. It's about a family that spends their summers on a private island, with a core cast of characters, the Liars. I would love to tell you more about this book, but I don't think I will. To borrow the words from the inside jacket: "Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE." The advice is spot on.
So, while the list might not have ten books that you will like, I guarantee that there should be at least one book on the list that you will absolutely love. Here's to another year of reading!
If you are a book lover like Aurora, please send us a countdown of your favorite reads!