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Teen Read Week

by Jason Paulios on October 18th, 2012

We’re into the second half of the YALSA Teen Read Week™ !  What have you been reading so far?

I’m in the middle of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus which City High School’s book club “City Reads” is discussing next Wednesday after school. City High students are encouraged to stop by the City High Library after school to join us!  Talk with Ms. Fredrickson in the City High Library for more info.  The Night Circus was a 2012 Alex Award (books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults) winner and should be a great discussion book.

The YALSA Teens’ Top Ten (a national “teen choice” reading list) was also announced this week and you can see the winners at this PDF link.  Many of ICPL’s teen favorites are on there, including last month’s West High School A Novel Idea book club selection, Divergent, by Veronica Roth.  West High Librarian Ms. Belding and the Novel Idea crew were nice enough to let me be there for that discussion and I look forward to next month’s talk about often banned author Lauren Myracle’s Shine and West High alum Zach Wahls’ My Two Moms!

Be sure to take a look at YALSA’s survey and vote on issues for next year’s Teen Read Week™.


FoxSoccer-FIFA Club October 4

by Jason Paulios on October 3rd, 2012

If there’s Soccer being played, then it stands to reason we’re going to have a FoxSoccer-FIFA Club meeting.  It’s Champions League ties this week (*sings falsetto* “The Chaam-pions”) so chances are good that we’ll be watching either the Benfica v FC Barcelona or Ajax v Real Madrid replays.  Will Cesc be able to stay upright against the feisty Portuguese home side? (no spoilers!)

Cesc headbutted


Benfica lost some star power during this summer’s transfer window but Barcelona may be without Puyol, Iniesta, Adriano, and will definitely miss out on Thiago and Piqué. And which Real will show up in Amsterdam? The one that demolished Deportivo or the fractious team that struggles with Getafe and Sevilla?

We can vote to watch any of the other great options including last year’s England champs Man City hosting last year’s German champs Borussia Dortmund.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

by Jason Paulios on September 28th, 2012
Jiro Dreams of Sushi Cover Image

You do not have to be a lover of sushi to enjoy this documentary, it is actually about so much more than just a type of food.  The focus of the film is on 85 year-old sushi master Jiro Ono and the workings of his tiny ten-seat Michelen 3 star restaurant in Tokyo.  The Director, David Gelb, could have spent a lot of time interviewing famous chefs praising the food (this is the age of celebrity chefs) but instead he simply shows us Jiro’s process behind his tireless quest for perfection.  Some scenes that, for me, quickly helped demonstrate the quest included:

  • a sushi pilgrim has traveled hours, he enters the restaurant before opening to inquire about their serving times only to be politely informed that reservations need to be made a month in advance, there are no appetizers – only sushi, and starting cost is $300
  • an apprentice trains to make the grilled egg (Tamagoyaki) only to be told each time that it is not right, after six months of making eggs Jiro tells him it is acceptable and he breaks down in tears
  • Jiro’s son, Yoshikauzu, bikes to the fish market and meets with the Jiro equivalents of each specific seafood (the shrimp master, the tuna master, etc…) who save Jiro the best products

A main theme that comes from the interviews with Jiro and the employees is that of the passing of the torch to his son.  It seems many believe that, despite the skills his son has acquired through extensive training, that the restaurant will never be the same simply because of the aura that surrounds Jiro.  Without leaving the universe of Jiro’s restaurant, the film also touches on the history of sushi and what the future might hold with regards to fishery stock.

There are many gorgeous long shots of the sushi presentation combined with long silent contemplative moments with Jiro and his son.  In this age of multitasking and diversification, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is an ode to focusing on just one thing and doing it to perfection.  The soundtrack features a lot of classical music and I find Philip Glass music to be the perfect accompaniment for sushi.  The only drawback for me was that no matter how good my local sushi might be, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop imagining what it could have been.

A Novel Idea – Divergent

by Jason Paulios on September 27th, 2012

West High School’s book club “A Novel Idea” meets today after school at 2:30 in the West High Library.  They’ve been reading the wildly popular dystopian Fantasy novel “Divergent” by Veronica Roth.  It won the 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards “Favorite Book of 2011,” I have to say I was not a member of the “favorite” faction.

West High Librarians Beth and Jill have again allowed me to join you all to hash this one out.  Hope to see you there!

FoxSoccer-FIFA Club

by Jason Paulios on September 12th, 2012

Thursday is the first of many Thursday Fox Soccer / FIFA12 Club meetings in the Computer Lab upstairs from 3-5.

We decided to form the club after seeing Justin Hoenke’s (of Portland, ME Public Library) club and talking with a couple West High teens over the summer.

World soccer fans will know that the International break is just wrapping up so we won’t be able to stream club matches for our first week.  FoxSoccer2Go has the England v. Ukraine available though.  It’s a World Cup qualifier and a chance for Ukraine to avenge their dubious loss from the Euro 2012 Group Stage match.  Find out if Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin again challenges anyone to “go outside and have a man conversation”!

From Sky

We’ve also got FIFA12 for PS3 for those that prefer to wait for the English Premier League to restart on Saturday.  If you have an EPL Fantasy Team be sure to come prepared to talk strategy with me!  #YayaAndTevezFTW

You can download the poster below:

Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

by Jason Paulios on August 27th, 2012
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange Cover Image

I first discovered Frank Ocean through his 2011 free online mixtape “Nostalgia, Ultra” which had some original R&B tracks and others that were sampled music put to original lyrics.  If you follow music news then you might remember the mixtape’s problems relating to his remake of “Hotel California” (bless those ever-litigious Eagles). I wasn’t sure what he’d be capable of with his own material but have found that I’m pleasantly surprised with the final album, “Channel Orange.”

In terms of song styles and themes it’s a bit all over the park but because of the quality of each track, the album works it out.  Lyrically he blends modern playboy swagger talk with sweetly naïve introspective emo poetry. These songs are chock full of hooks that you’ll be singing under your breath all day long, or, if you’re like some of the teens in our Computer Lab, you’ll proudly sing them loudly and off-key.

There are a few throw-aways that you might skip on subsequent listens but I think even these have their moments.  At his best he channels the funky “Songs in the Key of Life” Stevie Wonder hooks and vocals, the falsetto soul bedroom-voice of D’Angelo, and the brash modern arrogance of big R&B artists tempered with indie-emo sensibilities.

Standout tracks are the ballad “Thinking Bout You”, fun ’70s soul/funk throwback “Sweet Life”, the summer-mellow melody and rapping on “Super Rich Kids”, and epic prog-funk “Pyramids.”  I can also see a lot of broken-hearted teens and twenty-somethings singing “Bad Religion” to themselves in the dark thinking about their own unrequited love.

So far Channel Orange is my favorite album of the year, even after a solid month of it on repeat.

ICPL Coding Club / CoderDojo – Iowa City

by Jason Paulios on August 24th, 2012

We’re excited to announce that the Iowa City CoderDojo has partnered with us to offer their volunteer-led coding workshops here for students in grades 5-12!  Our first meeting will be on Saturday, September 22nd from 2-4 p.m. in the Computer Lab on the second floor.  CoderDojo volunteers and ICPL staff will help teach you and your friends how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games and more with HTML and Python.

If you’re interested but unable to come to the first meeting please join us at any of the follow up sessions on the 2nd Saturday of every month from 2-4 p.m. :

October 13, 2012
November 10, 2012
December 8, 2012
January 12, 2013
February 9, 2013
March 9, 2013
April 13, 2013
May 11, 2013

If you have any questions you can ask us at teens[at]

Snoop Lion

by Jason Paulios on August 1st, 2012

I’m just going to leave this image from Buzzfeed here.

Congrats to new grads!

by Jason Paulios on June 1st, 2012

Just wanted to give a shout out to all the 2012 local high school graduates!  You may have had to contend with a landfill on fire but you didn’t have to destroy an evil Mayor!

There are some photo galleries of the ceremonies at the Press-Citizen, take a look:

Elizabeth Tate

City High

West High



Little Rock Girl 1957 – Shelley Tougas

by Jason Paulios on March 8th, 2012
Little Rock Girl 1957 – Shelley Tougas Cover Image

This nonfiction book, primarily aimed at upper elementary and junior high students, gives a quick, readable overview of the iconic American civil rights photograph of Elizabeth Eckford and the attempted integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

Tougas uses the first chapter to give a riveting account, with primary source dialogue, of what was to be 15-year-old Elizabeth’s first day of school at the newly integrated Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.  She and eight other African-American students (now known as the Little Rock Nine) were to begin classes on September 4th, 1957, but when Elizabeth arrived she was alone and faced an angry mob of hundreds of protestors and armed National Guardsmen who barred her entrance.  The photo spreads and personal accounts are shocking albeit a bit emotionally distant due to the succinct text.

Being part of the Compass Point Books “Captured History” series, the book features large photos depicting the events of that day and the aftermath of this Civil Rights Movement struggle.  There is quite a bit of discussion about the iconic photograph taken by photographer Will Counts of white student, Hazel Bryan, shouting racial abuse at Elizabeth.  Readers will learn about the impact photojournalism has on the world and what it can feel like to be defined not only by your skin color but by a single photograph.

Short chapters with simple, effective sentences also allow tweens and teens to easily follow the developments of the integration battle in Little Rock, give a basic history of the Civil Rights Movement, and provide a “where are they now” of Will Counts and the Little Rock Nine students.  Tougas’ book gives us a good introduction to the topic and includes a list of further reading to help students know where to go for more detailed information.