Teen Blog

08/31/2012 - 7:29am
Rebel McKenzie

For some area eighth grade students and their school librarians, summer didn’t just mean relaxing by the pool and catching up on sleep.  Instead, they attended biweekly meetings to discuss forty-one nominated titles for the public library’s 2013 Cafe Book classes --book discussions for seventh and eighth graders in area schools.   This committee provides a rare opportunity, as adults and teens serve side by side, brought together by a shared passion--books.  Teens told us they appreciated  that their “opinion was encouraged and taken seriously” and “valued” by the adults.  It all came down to a final meeting with the goal to choose only twenty titles.  You can imagine the debate that ensued as each book’s plot, characters and appeal were considered.  Finally, the list was decided, unfortunately leaving behind some wonderful titles.  Here are some of my favorites that were “left on the cutting room floor.” 

08/27/2012 - 3:31am
Outlaw by Stephen Davies

Jake Knight seems to have it all. He's a fifteen-year-old technology whiz who can jump a ten-foot wall with his parkour skills. He's enrolled in a nice British school, and his dad is an ambassador to the small West African country of Burkina Faso. To Jake, Africa is a land of excitement and adventure...and he will soon learn that it is also the land of the Outlaw.

Jake thinks his boarding school life is pretty lame and spends his time playing Geothimble, a scavenger hunt that uses GPS technology.  When Jake's extracurricular activity gets him suspended, he is sent to his father's embassy. Jake could not be happier, but little does he know that he's about to get enough excitement to last a lifetime.

08/17/2012 - 12:07pm
Customizing Your Android Experience

Our smartphones are our lives.  Go ahead and deny it, but deep down you know you get jittery when you aren’t caressing your tiny portable computer that basically hands you the digital world on a tempered glass tray.  As I pointed out in my Must-Have Android and Must-Have iPhone apps articles there are a lot of apps out there that’ll do just about anything.  But there’s lots more that we can do to customize our smartphones and our tablets, especially for Android.  Sorry Apple users, your fantastic apps may bring all the boys to the yard, but Android has you beat fair and square on the customizability front.  Sure, you could jailbreak your iPhone or iPad (Google it if you dare, just know you’ll be put out in the cold if you take a busted jail-broken device to the Apple Genius Bar), but I’m not going to risk going there, so Android users, this one’s for you!

08/14/2012 - 3:43pm
Ubuntu logo

Sometimes catastrophe rains down on our PCs.  We turn them on and . . . nothing happens.  Could be any number of factors: virus; aging hardware; broken software update.  And, of course, sometimes things just go bad.  Sad thing is, we're never ready for these events when they happen.  Our files aren't backed up to any external media, and, with our PCs not running properly, we don’t have any easy way of retrieving them.  Sure, you could take the computer to a repair shop or run the factory recovery discs that may have come with the machine, but you run a very real chance either way, especially the latter way, of losing your files.  So, I'm going to tell you how you how you might be able to salvage your files, if not your computer, for free using Linux.

08/13/2012 - 10:00am
Back Up Your Stuff

I've written a few articles advising our users to back up their data.  Every so often, usually when we need them the most or when the warranty has expired, our computers stop working.  This wouldn't be so horribly bad if we'd backed up our files first.  So, let me reiterate for anyone who has read me before that backing-up your data means that the same files are stored in two completely different places.  If you've copied all your important files to an external hard drive, but then erased them from your laptop, they are not backed-up; maybe your external hard drive goes kaput,  and, even though your computer is still working, all those files are lost from the external device, aren't they?  To back up your files they absolutely need to be in two different places.  Redundancy is the name of the game, and I'm going to teach you how to play (wow that sounded corny).  

08/20/2012 - 2:10pm
YALSA Teens' Top Ten

Every year, teens across the country read and select their favorite fiction books of the year. That’s right – teens read. Despite the many online attractions and distractions, teens are reading books voraciously, and they have strong opinions on what they enjoy. Each year, teens from Maine to California and every state in-between participate in selecting the Teens’ Top Ten (TTT), a list of the top ten fiction books for young adults. YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, is the creator of the Teens’ Top Ten and coordinates the event.

08/03/2012 - 11:58am

In his autobiographical novel for young people, Bad Boy, Walter Dean Myers wrote of a world--1940s Harlem--that was markedly different from that of today. Most families were tightly-knit as was the community itself. Even so, it wasn’t a perfect place.  As he grew up his family struggled to get by, and, as he became a teenager, he became more aware of racism and how it could affect his future.

But during his early years, he didn’t think too much about race. He had friends who were white and black, and the woman he thought of as his mother was of German and Native American ancestry. The man who raised him, though not his biological father, was African American.  Herbert and Florence Dean took Walter and his half-sisters in to be fostered when they needed a loving and caring home.

07/30/2012 - 3:31am
Slide book cover image

Vee Bell has narcolepsy in Slide by Jill Hathaway. Or at least that’s what her family and friends think. Once, Vee tried to tell her father the truth, but he sent her to a shrink who didn’t believe her either. Now she doesn’t even dare tell even her best friend.

Sliding. That’s what Vee thinks of it as. When she gets too tired to fight it, she falls asleep, but doesn’t dream. Instead, she enters other people’s minds. She can hear, smell, taste, and feel everything that they’re experiencing. Sliding only lasts for moments, but it is long enough to exhaust and sometimes scare her. She’s slid into backstabbing friends and teachers behaving badly. As a result, Vee takes constant caffeine pills to stay awake and is always just barely functioning.

07/26/2012 - 3:11pm
Google Chrome logo

Google Chrome is arguably the most popular Web browser currently on the market.  It took a few versions before I made the switch from Mozilla Firefox to Chrome, most notably due to Firefox's rich browser extension offerings.  Chrome is finally catching up to, and in many ways, surpassing Firefox with its extensions library.  A browser extension is special program written specifically for a Web browser that, as the name implies, extends its functionality.

07/25/2012 - 12:39pm
Young Adult Books For Fun

Some recent R&R with too many cold and rainy days left me plenty of time for pleasure reading. No, unlike most of America, I wasn’t reading Fifty Shades of Grey, but much tamer pursuits and with young adult appeal.  

Author Melina Marchetta is a master of making even the most unlikeable characters endearing and “Froi of the Exiles” is no exception.  Before he attacked the woman who is his Queen, Froi only knew the horrors and abuse of the streets.  Now, as her most trusted and loyal servant, and most lethal weapon, Froi is the obvious choice when she needs an assassin.  His disguise puts him in close proximity to a seemingly mad princess burdened with  the hope of her kingdom, who sometimes calls herself Quintana and at others, Reginita.  Froi admires her ability to provide much needed emotional self-preservation and decides to teach her the skills she needs for physical protection as well.  When she puts her new talents to use, she, Froi and the ragtag group of misfits he’s collected, including an embattled architect and a drunken monk, flee the palace seeking refuge.  I recommend this for older teens because of the frequently dark subject matter, but there is a dry humor and banter that made me laugh out loud despite its seriousness.  Deliciously complex, its biggest fault is that at over 600 pages it’s heavy!  

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