Posted by emather on 01.09.15

 
 
 
 
 
We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.
 
 
 
We Were Liars by e. lockhart is narrated by Cadence, the oldest Sinclair grandchild, and the latest in a line of old-money wealth. Each summer, the Sinclairs vacation on their own private island, Beechwood, off the coast of Massachusetts. Cady, her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and friend (and sometimes more) Gat – the four “Liars” – have been attached at the hip since their eighth summer on the island. During the fifteenth summer, though, Cadence suffers a calamity she cannot remember. Even more mysterious is that her family refuses to tell her about it. She spends the next several years in a fog of debilitating migraines, pills, and partial amnesia. As she returns to Beechwood for her seventeenth summer, she attempts to piece together the mystery of what happened and why her relatives are behaving so peculiarly.
 
Cady is an incredibly unreliable narrator, and the both emotional and mental toll her injuries have taken are evident in the novel’s jumbled, nonlinear plot and beautiful impressionistic language. Cadence and the Liars take a long hard look at the Sinclair’s wealth, privilege, and concealed racism. With allusions as varied as King LearWuthering Heights, and classic fairy tales, it’s a familiar story of family squabbles amid decadent wealth, and star-crossed love. (Cady and Gat share some of the steamiest hand holding scenes this side of Eleanor & Park.) The mystery and emotions boil over in a twist thatmight have you hurling the book across the room before rushing to pick it up and race to finish.
 
 
 
(We Were Liars is an option in our poll for Favorite YA Book of 2014. Go vote for your pick!)
 




Posted by emather on 11.18.14

Fight the slipperiness, press the valves firmly,
play the love, the hate,
the misery, the hope,
the freedom that I wanted, never wanted, can’t have;
that doesn’t exist.
 
 
In The Sound of Letting Go, seventeen-year-old Daisy, an exceptional trumpet player, often feels like a “third parent” for her autistic younger brother, Steven. She and her parents feel trapped by their responsibilities towards Steven, and the burden has put definite strains on her parents’ marriage. The family is growing more fearful of Steven’s increasingly violent outbursts. These have become worse since he “has morphed from challenging autistic boy/ to dangerous, nonverbal near-man." After her parents decide to move Steven to a residential facility, Daisy is upset. The usually-responsible Daisy tries to work through her complex and conflicting emotions by rebelling. Some of these are mild, like wearing edgier outfits involving more black and an increase in eyeliner. Some are more out-of-character, like getting steamy in parked cars with the local “bad boy,” and ditching band class.
 
Author Stasia Ward Kehoe wrote the novel in verse from Daisy’s first-person point of view. The poetic style serves the tone and character well, instead of becoming another cliché or gimmick. The irregular asymmetrical rhythm of the writing reflects both Daisy’s love of jazz and her conflicted emotions. It’s through music that she best expresses and understands the world, where her muddled emotions find more solid ground. (It’s also nice to find a character so involved in school band, something that’s so common in real life but rarely seen in YA books.) The novel doesn’t offer any grand statements or easy answers. Still, like all good jazz, the strands of melody converge and build a complex harmony.
 




Posted by emather on 11.05.14

We had an awesome time last Thursday at the HORRORible Movie Roast. We watched the hilariously awful movie Troll 2. (Just to show you how bad it is: It's not even about Trolls. It's about goblins.)
 
Teens rotated as roasters, using an app called MuVChat to type their jokes and mockery on screen with the movie. Here's just a taste of some of the best jokes teens made while laughing at this cheese-tastic horror flick. 
 
#NoFilter
 
#NoFilter
 
 
Seems Legit
 
Free warm milk from a total stranger? Seems legit...
 
 
 
Groot
 
I...am...GROOOOOT?!?!?!?
 
 
And this scene? This scene is so amazingly terrible that we were left speechless by convulsive giggles. (Warning: People in terrible goblin costumes pretend to eat a puddle of green goo that I guess used to be a person? So kind of gross maybe? But also hilarious.)
 
 
 
 
Hope you'll join us for our next Movie Roast, whenever that may be!
 




Posted by emather on 10.01.14

 
 
 
Last week was Banned Books Week, where we celebrate our right to read and intellectual freedom. In the Hub on Tuesday, September 23rd, we played Dangerous Knowledge: Banned Books Trivia, where we ate pizza and learned tons of weird and hilarious/depressing trivia about books that have been banned or challenged.
 
Some examples of questions:
 
Q: What personal account of a girl's life from 1942 - 1944 was banned for "being too depressing"?
 
 
Q: What author of an often-banned fantasy series had trouble boarding a plane with the only manuscript of her upcoming book?
A: J.K. Rowling (the Harry Potter series)
 
The winning team members each won a gift card to Amazon (hopefully to buy a banned book.) Then everyone took some mugshots with their favorite banned books. Check 'em out:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




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.