Tag Archives: teen

Another Trip Through Another Kind of Monday

As per my reading resolutions, I’ve been revisiting books I read in my childhood. My latest trip down memory lane took me back to Another Kind of Monday by William E. Coles, Jr.

anotherkindofmondayThe Pittsburgh-set young adult novel opens at the fictional Moorland High School library.  Our protagonist, Mark, finds three crisp hundred dollar bills in the library’s copy of Great Expectations. Along with the money is a note from a mysterious benefactor inviting Mark on a scavenger hunt that takes him all over the city—a steel mill in Braddock, the observatory on the North Side, an abandoned church in East Liberty.  As the clues become more difficult to solve, the amount of money that Mark is rewarded increases.  Eventually, the clues request that he enlist the help of a “co-quester,” someone of the opposite sex and with whom he is not already friends. I remember the ending confused me when I was a high schooler reading it.  I won’t spoil it, but it still confused me, almost ten years later.

Just the dreamy quality of the title has stuck with me ever since I read it in high school.  It’s possible that part of my enjoyment comes from the fact that I know every location mentioned, from Highland Park to Morningside.  I instantly wanted to go to each place and dig for buried treasure.  Maybe I’ll reread it with a pen and paper handy to map out each site go on my own scavenger hunt. It’s almost like if John Green’s Paper Towns had been set in Pittsburgh.

Reading it now, however, gives me another added delight as CLP – Main is featured heavily as a place Mark goes to research and decipher the clues left behind by the benefactor. The Pennsylvania Department and CLP – South Side make appearances as well.

Aside from the mystery aspect of the book, it also serves as a mini-history lesson; it touches on all aspects of Pittsburgh’s past, from the Homestead Steel Strike to the life of John Brashear to the story of Katherine Soffel and Ed and Jack Biddle, which was popularized in the 1984 movie Mrs. Soffel.

Published in 1996, some of the book is dated (there’s a Michael Jordan reference). If it were published today, Mark could just search Google—or any of our fine databases—to solve the clues.  But I liked the fact that he had to do physical research. He is assisted by a friendly librarian—is there really any other kind?—cleverly named Mrs. Harbinger.

As far as young adult novels set in Pittsburgh, I’d rank it behind The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.  Still, it’s a quick read and it’s the perfect book to elevate a boring Monday to another kind of Monday.

Have you read the book or do you have a favorite Pittsburgh-set young adult novel? Let us know in the comments!

–Ross

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Into the Woods We Go Again

I’m gearing up to see the Hollywood adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. I’m excited for this. I like musicals. I like that one in particular, ever since my college theater troupe put it on while I was living with half the cast. And even though I know they’ve made changes (they even announced a lot of the changes being made, unusual for Hollywood), I’m still going to enjoy it. I like a good fairy tale with a twist.

Given that this isn’t a movie I’m likely to see with a dozen friends in costume at midnight (ahem, Harry Potter, ahem, The Avengers, ahem, my friends are really nerdy), what does it mean to gear up to see a movie? For me, it’s all about those fairy tales. Because Into the Woods involves an array of fairy tale characters, with a few original inventions to move the story along, I’ve been focusing on just one—Cinderella. Sondheim’s Cinderella follows the Grimm version of the tale rather than the familiar Perrault/Disney, so she is aided by forest creatures and the spirit of her dead mother inhabiting a hazel tree rather than a fairy godmother. This Cinderella is more self-aware than most—even after catching the attention of the prince, she recognizes that escaping her life of drudgery by attaching her fate to a complete stranger won’t necessarily lead to a happily-ever-after ending.

The classic cover of Ella Enchanted, before the movie release went and spoiled everything.

Some of my favorite stories are these clever Cinderellas who direct their own lives. First and highest on my list is the children’s novel Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. The character list is what you’d expect—Ella, dead mother, unattractive stepfamily, fairy godmother, charming prince. But Ella isn’t just a comfort-to-rags-to-riches girl. She has a knack for foreign languages, a sense of humor, and a tendency to trip over her own feet. Her prince is not a distant stranger, but a confidante and pen pal. The story elapses over years, allowing for real character development. As the title implies, Ella has been under a spell since birth, and her great moral struggle comes from understanding and fighting this spell. If you want a fast read with fairies, friendship, and banister-sliding, I’d recommend picking this up.*

A rear view of Danielle in her ball gown, with massive fairy wings.

The second recommendation is the film Ever After, starring Drew Barrymore. Our heroine is Danielle, living in an entirely non-magical 16th century France. She reads Thomas More and befriends Leonardo da Vinci. She is aggressive, crafty, and—like Ella—a defender of the weak and disenfranchised. The prince is an elitist, burdened by the demands of his station. The stepmother (played by Anjelica Huston) is conniving and self-serving, and gets some great dialogue. As a costume drama lacking in fight scenes and special effects, the movie ages well.

The final recommendation is Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. It’s more of a soft science fiction story than the usual fantasy, and our eponymous leading lady is actually a cyborg, who leaves an entire prosthetic leg behind at the prince’s ball. The setting is New Beijing, in a world with android servants, mysterious plagues, and hostile alien forces. Linh Cinder was adopted as a child after a hovercraft accident destroyed two of her limbs and all memories of her birth family. She works as a mechanic for hire, enslaved by her adoptive family and the limited rights granted to cyborgs. She is independent, sarcastic, and dreams of freedom rather than love. Cinder is actually the first book in an in-progress series, currently including Scarlet (Red Riding Hood) and Cress (Rapunzel), with Fairest due out next month.

Cinder and the first two sequels, with references to the classic tales on which they are based.

If you’re interested in more non-traditional Cinderella stories, here are some worth looking up:

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix, a children’s novel exploring life in the aftermath of the ball

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire gives us a kind stepfamily to a bratty girl who chooses the kitchen hearth, set in Holland during the tulip craze

Ash by Malinda Lo is a dark teen romance with a servant girl torn between the powerful magic she’s dreamed of saving her and the real world friendship/romance that allows her true freedom

Bella at Midnight is another teen adventure, with prince as childhood friend and heroine who refuses to be a damsel in distress

Fables is a graphic series wherein the stars of fairy tales are exiled from their magical world into modern day New York City, full of espionage, intrigue, and well-developed female characters.

Once Upon a Time is a television series with a suspiciously similar premise to Fables. Now in the middle of its fourth season, it borrows from not only the “Disney Princess” canon but also Mark Twain, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, and Mary Shelley.

*I don’t recommend the film version of Ella Enchanted, however. The plot has been changed enough to be almost unrecognizable, and it lacks most of the charm of the original.

– Bonnie T.

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Branches are people too.

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Come visit us!

With all of the amazing activities taking place at the Mothership Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Main (language lessons, poetry, author visits, crafting) it is easy to forget that CLP has 17 neighborhood branches and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. And we’re all busy little bees, planning awesome programs for all ages, all year round. But since I’m the manager of CLP-South Side, let’s talk about me!

Every Week

TeenLoungeTeen Lounge
Mondays 4-6 pm
The South Side Library is the place to be every Monday afternoon. There’s tons of fun happening at Teen Lounge from gaming, snacking and crafting, to working on projects around the Library and around the South Side. Come and kick it at Teen Lounge.

Crochet & Knitting Club,
Wednesdays 5:30-7:30 pm
Join us for our Crochet and Knitting Group. We are a group of friendly crochet and knitting fans, looking to teach and learn from other friendly crafters. Bring your current projects or start something new!

Storytime
Thursdays 11 am – 12 pm
All kids are welcome at these storytimes designed for children 18 months to age 5. Get up and get moving with stories, songs, rhymes and silly fun! In these 30-40 minute storytimes, children and adults will actively explore books that expand the imagination and inspire self-discovery.

Gaming
Saturdays 12-3 pm
Feel like getting your game on? Head down to the library for an assortment of video and tabletop games for all ages! Meet new people to challenge, or bring a friend along for gaming fun.

Special Events

All Day Movies
Thursday, 11/28- Family Blockbusters
Saturday, 12/13- Holiday Favorites
Friday, 12/26- Holiday Favorites
Join us at the library for an all day movie marathon! Each month we’ll feature a day long celebration of films on a fun theme.

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The Labs
Monday, 12/8
3:30 pm – 6:00 pm
The Labs is the place to make and learn with art and technology. During this workshop, teens can explore a variety of processes with the help of mentors. Mentors will provide equipment and expertise related to music/audio production, design, circuitry/robotics and photo/video. Stop by and make something cool with us!

IMG_20141111_142113 (1)Work. Nights.
Thursday, 12/4
6 pm-midnight
Scott talked about Work. Nights. in a previous post, but I wanted to remind everyone that it is taking place at CLP- South Side!
Accelerate. Collarborate. Innovate.
Stay up late at the Library. Network. Get stuff done. Connect with other innovators. Research your ideas and jumpstart your ingenuity! Come to the library for:

  • a creative co-working environment
  • guidance from library professionals well-versed in technology, entrepreneurism and more
  • late night snacks and coffee

GingerbreadGingerbread Houses
Saturday, 12/6
11 am – 1 pm

Add a sweet touch to your holiday with edible arts and crafts! We’ll supply the gingerbread, icing and decorations—everything you need to make a delicious gingerbread house. Due to limited space, registration is required. 412-431-0505 or southside@carnegielibrary.org

Book Sale
Saturday, 12/13
10 am – 5 pm
Browse our new and gently used books. Homemade baked goods will be available for purchase, as well as gifts made by our Crochet and Knitting group. All proceeds benefit the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh- South Side Friends group.

MakeAndDoMake-and-Do
Saturday, 12/13
2:30 – 3:30 pm
Be social, Be spontaneous and Be artistic! Check out this program dedicated to cooking, crafting and technology based making for teens.

Whew! This is only one month of one branch’s activities! You could probably find something to attend every day of the month if you tried. Hope to see you here!
suzy

 

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Banned Books Week: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

credit: ala.org

In celebration of Banned Books Week, we’re highlighting a few our favorite books (and authors) that have been challenged in schools and libraries because of content or appropriateness.

“Standing on the edges of life offers a unique perspective, but there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.”

I love The Perks of Being a Wallflower a whole heck of a lot. Simplistic, I know, but it’s the truth.

And the book’s truth-factor has managed to make people a little twitchy since its publication in 1999. This special brand of “truthiness” has led to it earning the distinction of being the 10th most challenged or banned book in the past decade. Stephen Chbosky – hometown hero!

Reasons this has been tagged a terrible, awful, no good, very bad book:

  • Anti-family
  • Drugs
  • Homosexuality
  • Offensive language
  • Religious viewpoint
  • Sexually explicit
  • Suicide
  • Unsuited to age group
  • Nudity

Well, yes, okay. But those are also reasons the book is real and relatable. They all exist in the world and shouldn’t be ignored.

Plain and simple, Charlie is a lost soul. His Aunt Helen died when he was young, his best friend Michael just committed suicide, his sister is distracted, his brother is away at college on a football scholarship, and the only friend he makes on the first day of high school is his English teacher, Bill. It’s not until Charlie connects with Patrick and Sam, a pair of dynamic step-siblings, that he begins to figure some things out about life, love, and the pursuit of Rocky Horror.

It’s interesting to re-read this as a semi-grown up. As a young reader, it’s easy to identify with Charlie’s fears and triumphs. Now, I find myself more in line with Bill the English teacher* – the need to protect and encourage Charlie is almost overpowering. All the same, the book is still powerful. We all need a little encouragement to step away from the wall and join the dance floor sometimes.

– Jess, who strives to feel infinite

*Bill’s Recommended Reading List

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