by Brian Visser on November 28th, 2014
Have you ever loved a book so much that you had to let the author know? That they were the only person who would understand how you felt? Letters About Literature is a program where students in grades 4 through 12 write a letter to an author explaining how that author’s work impacted them.
The Letters can be written about works from any genre, fiction or nonfiction by authors from the present or the past. Students can write about a book, short story, poem, or speech.
The program is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The Iowa Center for the Book is the Iowa sponsor.
Iowa first place winners win $75. Second and third place winners win $50. Honorable Mention winners win $25.
The deadline for high school students is December 15, 2014. The deadline for elementary and middle school students is January 15, 2015. You can learn more at the Iowa Center for the Book website and read last year’s winning entries at http://www.iowacenterforthebook.org/letters
But maybe you don’t want to enter the contest and just want to write a letter to your favorite author. We have a database that can help with that. To access it, go to http://www.icpl.org/resources/ scroll down and click on “Contemporary Authors.” Contemporary Authors has a lot of interesting information about more than 120,000 U.S. and international authors. For example, you can search “Lowry, Lois,” and it will list info about awards she has won, her bibliography and personal information including a home address. So, you could write a letter about how The Giver is your absolute favorite book of all time. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
by Brian Visser on November 17th, 2014
My True Love Gave to Me is a collection of twelve holiday stories by popular young adult authors. I was initially drawn to it because Rainbow Rowell supplied a story. Rainbow’s story–”Midnights”–is great! It’s about two friends who over the course of four New Year’s Eves decide if they want to be more than friends. I hope we see the characters again!
Another plus for this collection is the chance to sample authors that you’ve been curious about. I’ve never read anything by Matt de la Peña or Stephanie Perkins, who also edited the collection, and I loved both of their stories. It made me want to read all of their books. Holly Black has a great story–called “Krampuslauf”–about a group of friends who want to throw the perfect New Year’s Eve party and get revenge on a cheating ex. An unexpected guest makes the party even more memorable.
A lot of the stories fall into the “meet-cute during the holidays” category, but they’re well done (except for a couple stinkers). It’s a great book to read as a break from reading another book. If you like holiday stories, you won’t go wrong with My True Love Gave to Me.
by Brian Visser on October 14th, 2014
The next meeting of ICPL’s Teen Comic Book Club will be on Thursday, October 30 from 4-5 in the Teen Center. We’re discussing all things Green Lantern related. Pick any Green Lantern comic to read and we’ll geek out about it at the meeting. Need some ideas? Here are a few comics about the emerald knights:
Green Lantern : Rebirth - Hal Jordan was considered the greatest Green Lantern of them all. But Jordan lost control, allowed himself to be corrupted and transformed into the villainous Parallax. Later, Jordan reappeared and made the ultimate sacrifice —and became the Spectre, the Wrath of God. See how a man born without fear and seeking to rebuild his life, puts cosmic forces into motion that will have repercussions not only on Earth but across the universe.
Green Lantern : Secret Origin - While Hal Jordan is inducted into the Green Lantern Corps, the Green Lantern called Sinestro investigates the death of Hal’s predecessor, Abin Sur. Who–or what– could have killed this Lantern? And what does it all have to do with the “Blackest Night”?
Green Lantern Vol. 1 : Sinestro - In the aftermath of a deadly showdown between the Green Lantern Corps and a mysterious foe from the past, Hal Jordan has been stripped of his ring. Left standing is an unexpected new Green Lantern in town: Sinestro! And now, this renegade GL has set a course for Korugar with one purpose: To free his homeworld from the scourge of his own Sinestro Corps, with the not-so-willing help of Hal Jordan!
Green Lantern Corps Vol. 1 : Fearsome - When a new menace, The Keepers, begins to march across the space sectors and devouring not only their natural resources but their entire populations, it is up to The Corps, severely outnumbered, to stop them. The Corps soon find one of their own held by the ruthless Keepers and must figure out a way to save their comrade and defeat the Keepers without the Green Lantern’s most powerful weapon, their power rings.
by Brian Visser on September 26th, 2014
Watch actor and rug connoisseur Jeff Bridges read from Lois Lowry’s young adult classic “The Giver” as part of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out! Bridges stars as the titular Giver in the movie version, which you can place a hold on here.
And teens, remember you can complete an online scavenger hunt about young adult books that are challenged and banned in the U.S. Teens with the most correct answers will be entered into a drawing to win a Downtown District Gift Card. The scavenger hunt can be accessed here: http://goo.gl/0qB85W
by Brian Visser on September 21st, 2014
Banned Books Week is here! Sept. 21 through Sept. 27, Iowa City area teens in grades 7-12 can complete an online scavenger hunt about young adult books that are challenged and banned in the U.S. Teens with the most correct answers will be entered into a drawing to win a Downtown District Gift Card. The scavenger hunt can be accessed here: http://goo.gl/0qB85W
For more info on banned and challenged books, visit the ALA’s banned books website.
by Brian Visser on September 15th, 2014
The next meeting of ICPL’s Teen Comic Book Club will be on Thursday, September 25 in the Teen Center. We’re discussing all things Iron Man. Pick any Iron Man comic to read and we’ll geek out about it at the meeting. Need some ideas? Here are a few comics about Marvel’s Armored Avenger:
Iron Man Season One - Re-tells the origin and early adventures of billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark and his superpowered alter-ego, Iron Man.
Extremis - Extremis has created a new generation of twenty-first century technologies which threaten Earth, and it is up to Iron Man to save humankind.
Armor Wars - Tony discovers that the same technology he used to create the Iron Man armor is now in the hands of several deadly super-villains. In the face of objections from his friends and fellow super heroes, Stark swears to use the power of Iron Man to bring the evil to an end – and to take back what’s his.
Enter the Mandarin - Iron Man battles the Mandarin, a Chinese revolutionary leader with strange powers acquired through alien technology who is bent on world domination.
by Brian Visser on September 5th, 2014
Have you ever gone to Amazon to find a new book to read? Maybe you viewed the page of a book you really loved and looked at the books in the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section. I know I have, but there’s a better way! Behold: NoveList Plus. NoveList Plus is a tool created to connect readers with books they will enjoy. To access it, go to http://www.icpl.org/resources/ scroll down and click on “Novelist Plus.” You can use the search bar near the top of the screen. Type your favorite author, series, or book into the bar, then click “Search.” At the results screen, click on the title that you’re looking for. Read-alikes are listed on the right side of the book’s page:
These read-alikes are based on subject and genre, as well as “appeal factors” grouped by storyline, pace, tone, and writing style. For example, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell appeal factors are:
Genre:Love stories; Multiple perspectives; Teen chick lit
Tone:Angst-filled; Bittersweet; Romantic
Like No Other by Una LaMarche is offered up as a good read-alike. Its appeal factors are:
Genre:Love stories; Multiple perspectives; Realistic fiction
Sounds like a good match to me! Give NoveList Plus a try. You might find a new favorite book!
by Brian Visser on August 28th, 2014
Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, is almost here, so I thought I would share what books teens read this summer. For our Summer Reading Program, teens read five books in order to be entered into a prize drawing. The most read book was, unsurprisingly, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The book was already wildly popular, but the film adaptation starring Shailene Woodley, which came in June, put it over the top. If you haven’t read it yet, we’ve finally made it through the massive hold list and there are copies on the shelf as I type this. The second most read book was Divergent by Veronica Roth. Divergent also had a recent film adaptation (now available on DVD), which also starred Shailene Woodley (busy girl).
The Hunger Games was the third most read book, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was still going strong in 4th. I think a lot of teens (and adults) make a point of re-reading Harry Potter during the summer. Other stand out titles were Insurgent by Veronica Roth, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs.
What did you read this summer?
by Brian Visser on August 11th, 2014
Finn Easton believes that he’s trapped in his father’s book. That he’s not living his own life. It all started when a dead horse, destined for a rendering plant, fell from a truck as it crossed a bridge. The horse landed on young Finn and his mother, killing her and injuring him. Years later, Finn suffers from epilepsy because of the accident. Finn’s dad created a character in his popular book, The Lazarus Door, using Finn’s unique scar from the horse incident, his epilepsy and his heterochromatic eyes. Now Finn just wants to figure out who he is. Finn’s best friend, Cade, and his girlfriend, Julia, try to get him to see that he’s much more than the boy in the book.
I have a deep, abiding love of Smith’s writing. Each novel is singular. His teen characters are smart and real. Their voices authentic. Finn measures time in miles traveled by the Earth in orbit–20 miles a second–and muses about the universe as a knackery endlessly reusing atoms. The publishing industry is looking for the next (or another) John Green. Andrew Smith has been here all along, and, honestly, I like him more than Green.
by Brian Visser on July 30th, 2014
The end of the Summer Reading Program is near, and that means it’s almost time for our Teen Lock-In Finale Party! This Friday, August 1st, from 8-10:30ish, you can hang out in the Teen Center with your friends while the Library is closed. How cool is that? We’re going to watch Divergent, eat pizza and play video games. Ok, so it’s not an actual lock-in because we don’t spend the night. But who wants to sleep on the floor? Not me. Let’s all go home to our beds. Cool? Cool. Be in Meeting Room A by 8:30 to get locked-in.