Posted by emather on 08.21.14

This book review is by Max B. All summer, we had teens submit book, music, and movie reviews for a Left Brain challenge. Max's was chosen as the best submission all summer, and in addition to winning a tablet, we're posting his awesome review here. He's got a great book to recommend!
 
Ashfall, an apocalypse novel by Mike Mullin, surpassed all of my expectations, yet fell short of being a truly great read.
 
Alex Halprin is an introvert living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Alex’s family goes to visit his uncle in Warren, Illinois, leaving Alex behind. Everything is going fine until a super volcano underneath Yellowstone National Park erupts.
 
Alex leaves Cedar Falls to find his family, and along the way he meets Target, an ex-convict that is taking advantage of a lawless land. He also meets the Edmunds family, most notably Darla, who soon bonds greatly with Alex. Alex and Darla set off together to find Alex's family and chaos ensues.
 
There are two broad ways to describe the book: Ashfall the apocalypse novel and Ashfall the stand-alone novel. Mullin did an amazing job writing Ashfall as an apocalypse novel. The words are well thought out, the tone is consistent, and though the overall plot is good (if a tad cliché,) it’s the plot arcs themselves that are unique and well done.
 
On the other hand, Mullin didn't do nearly as good of a job writing Ashfall as a stand-alone novel. It is poorly written, and most of the dialogue follows the same pattern with excessive amounts of arguing and thanking. The relationship between Alex and Darla turned from a promising friendship with hints of a relationship in the future into a sappy, poorly written and unnecessary romantic subplot.
 
Although Mullin didn't spend too much time on the romance, the time he did spend on it simply wasn't well done. It wasn’t so much the romance that bothered me, but rather the deviation and lack of consistency. The novel was presented as an apocalypse story, but with how often it deviates from that format it stops being so.
 
Most parts of Ashfall are unique, interesting and most of all genuine. When apocalypse stories are made, there is a factor of irrationality that turns it into a joke. However the threat within Ashfall is realistic and could be viewed as a valid concern.
 
As far as apocalypse novels go, Ashfall is one of the best; as far as novels in general go, it falls as hard as the ash within the novel.
 
 




Posted by emather on 07.12.14

Teen filmmakers put their skills to the test on Friday at Let's Make a Movie. This past Tuesday, members of the Inklings creative writing summer volunteer squad wrote some short film scripts. (You can read their awesome work here.) Teens split into groups, and each one got one of those screenplays and had only three hours to plan, film, and edit the whole thing. On top of that, each group had a different FILMMAKER CHALLENGE, like every shot had to be from a character's point of view, or the whole movie had to be in black and white and silent. Everyone got down to work, using the whole library as their movie studio. We ended up with a bunch of potential submissions to the 8th Annual Teen Film Fest (I'm certain we'll be seeing a few of them there)! Below, you can see behind-the-scenes photos from filmming and editing, as well as some tantalizing stills from some of the movies.
 
 




Posted by emather on 05.29.14

This past Saturday, teens met in the Training Center at the library to use video editing and effects tools to add Star Wars special effects to some videos. We started with footage of some Star Wars finger puppets (made as part of the DIY craft in the HUB this month) in front of a green screen, like this:
 
 
 
 
Then we used a new tool on library computers called SaberFX that let us draw different visual effects over the footage, like light sabers, blasters, explosions, and lightning. Then we rendered those videos and used iMovie to edit them, add backgrounds over the green screen, and add music and sound effects. We ended up with some pretty great quick videos with really creative ideas. (I don't know if Jabba the Hutt will be able to shoot lightning out of his eyeballs in the new movies, but he really should.) Check some out below, and be sure to come by and try out the software yourself. Maybe for your submission to the 8th Annual Teen Film Fest?
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 

 




Posted by emather on 04.16.14

At April 6th's GuitArduino program, a bunch of teens built musical instruments using an Arduino microcontroller. We learned the basics of Arduino and how to code it, some circuitry and electronics skills, and eventually built light-sensitive music players. Check out these videos of some teens tearing it up on their creations!
 
 
 
 




Posted by emather on 04.08.14

On the Friday before Spring Break, Chicago indie rock band Sunjacket come by AHML to eat pizza, talk with teens about the ins & outs of being a working musician, and then trained them to be their "roadies," setting up all of their equipment to play a live gig in the library. We learned how to set up some audio gear, do a sound check, made a lot of noise, and had a lot of fun!
 
Check out this music video for their song "Partition" (It's misspelled in the video. Oops!) with footage from the night shot by HUB Teen Advisory Board volunteers!
 
 




Posted by emather on 02.14.14

Last Friday, the HUB became the hottest karaoke stage in town! We had tons of kids sing some great songs by Bruno Mars, Imagine Dragons, and even a song from the movie Frozen. As you can see in the photos below, we had a lot of fun. A bunch of performers wore some pretty nifty costumes (provided by Arlington Heights' Metropolis Performing Arts Center) and some HUB staff was even persuaded to perform.
 




Posted by emather on 01.25.14

Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in...with a bunch more reading recommendations!  Here are some teen book suggestions from library staff outside of teen services, since you're all probably sick of us yelling at you to read books.   Shannon,  Carol, and Amy have written reviews of three unique but excellent.  As always, you can find many more Intralibrary Teen Book Alliance recommendations here.
 
 
 
Could you live in a world where love was outlawed?
 
Lauren Oliver’s novel describes a futuristic Garden of Eden where teens are matched with a “life-mate” and then undergo a procedure to remove their capacity to love.  Teens that flee or resist the procedure are known as “invalids” and are believed to “live like animals…filthy, hungry, desperate.”
 
When Lena and Alex must choose between the law and each other, they know that they are making an impossible decision.  If they run away, they will lose their families.  If they stay and undergo the procedure, they will lose the feelings that they have for their families – and each other.
 
The dramatic conclusion will leave you wondering… What would you risk for love?
 
Review by: Carol E.
Dept: Circulation
 
 
 
Shai is a strong, independent girl who is very talented at what she does for a living. She is a forger. She doesn’t just copy things, however. She uses her magical skills to enhance the very essence of the item she is copying, consequently mirroring not just its appearance, but its entire history. She is so good at her job that she attracts the attention of the Emperor’s entourage. When the Emperor suddenly loses consciousness after an assassination attempt, they see Shai as their only hope against what they fear the most; the loss of their powerful positions in the Empire. In order to prevent a revolution, the Emperor’s highest ranking officials capture Shai in the midst of a forgery, and force her to choose between being sentenced to death, or accepting a job they believe she will not pass up. They challenge her to forge their Emperor’s soul.
 
This is a cleverly written fantasy with a unique storyline, and character development that usually needs at least twice as many pages to pull off. Shai’s personality draws you in so rapidly that before you know what is happening you are immersed in her world, and rooting for her to pull off the impossible. Not only are you pleasantly surprised by the ending, but you get there so quickly that you are almost sorry to see that it is over. Sanderson is well known for his epic fantasies, and more recently for completing the Wheel of Time saga, but this first attempt at a novella was undeniably a success, as well as a Hugo award winner. Marketed for both adults as well as teens, it is absolutely worth reading.
 
Review by: Shannon M.
Dept: Circulation
 
 
 
Weetzie Bat, a high school girl in Los Angeles, is best friends with Dirk.  Weetzie and Dirk have adventures after high school when they find a genie in a magic lamp who grants them three wishes.  Weetzie and Dirk both find love and have many adventures together with their significant others.  This book is a quick read and is fun with its whimsical tone and some bits of magic mixed in with the reality of life. If you are looking for a book that will take you on an adventure, then this is the book for you.
 
Review by: Amy H.
Dept: Bookmobile




Posted by emather on 01.02.14

 
In the age of texting, emoji have become a sort of second language to many.  Japanese for "picture" (e-) and "word" (-moji), they are a uniform set of smiley-faces and pictures that are available on text message and other web services like Twitter.  They have become incredibly popular. They have been used to recreate great pieces of art, like the Mona Lisa emoji-mosaic above or an all-emoji-translation of the classic American novel Moby Dick (renamed Emoji Dick.)
 
For the month of January, we are going to be having our own fun with emoji.  Every Monday, we will post an emoji summary of a classic or current teen book on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Be the first to guess what book we've emoji-fied, and you'll win a prize!
 
But we want YOU to write your own emoji book summaries, too!  Tag them with #HUBemojibooks, and we'll not only share our favorites, but the best ones will ALSO win a prize, not to mention Internet infamy. (Would that be Internetfamy?  Probably not...)
 
So keep an eye out every Monday for a new book for you to translate.  The first will come on January 6th.  And don't forget to keep your own coming in. Until then, we wish you all a smiley-cat, purple heart, hatching chick, and bowl of ramen!




Posted by emather on 12.31.13

                 
 
As the year comes to a close, we always like to look back, and it's impossible to deny that 2013 has been anything but a great year for books.  Several series concluded (Allegiant, the Sweet Tooth and Locke & Key comic series), kept going in new and interesting ways (ProdigyRose Under Fire) and amazing new ones began (The 5th Wave). We saw books from both great new authors and old favorites (both Rainbow Rowell and Neil Gaiman each published two great books this year). We polled both HUB staff and HUB teens for their favorite books of 2013. You can find the results below.  See if your favorite book is on the list (feel free to yell at us in the comments if it's not), and you'll probably find one or two great picks to add to your to-read list.
 

HUB Teens' Five Favorite Books of 2013:

 
  1. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  2. TIE: Allegiant by Veronica Roth, Prodigy by Marie Lu
  3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  5. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
 
 
 
 
 
 




Posted by emather on 12.23.13

 
We had a great time at the Holiday Movie Roast program on Friday night.  As you can see, we decorated some holiday cookies and busted out our ugliest sweaters (congratulations to contest winners Tessa and Miranda!).  The true fun of the evening was roasting the insanely cheesy and unintentionally-hilarious Jingle All the Way.  We sent our snark out in the form of text messages, which appeared on the screen with scenes like this:
 
 
As you can imagine, finding material to make fun of wasn't too hard.  It is almost definitely the most fun anyone has ever had while watching Jingle All the Way.