Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Math Geek Alert!

Attention all math geeks! (I mean that as a compliment! Honest!) If you're in the library and looking for a study break, and perhaps a bit of a challenge, solve the math problem of the day and get your choice of a mini candy bar or a Jolly Rancher. Just come over to my office (right near the public internet computers) and look for the calendar with daily math problems, on my door. Solve the problem, show it to me (or the Reference Librarian if I'm not in) and claim your treat. You need to show some work. OK, at least copy down the problem. Don't like today's problem? I'm not all that picky. I'll give you a couple day window, just copy the problem so I know which one you were attempting. It's a 2010 calendar, and we're taking January answers now, so it's a big window.
Good luck and happy solving.

Five Below Thank You

A big thank you to everyone who supported our Five Below fundraiser this past weekend. Boy, last December's was over the ice storm weekend, and this year's was over the near-blizzard weekend. Can I pick dates or what?! Despite the weather, we did quite respectably. Thanks to all who shopped! Look for another fundraiser right before Easter.

Yoga Update

The introduction to yoga program that was scheduled for this past Saturday, was cancelled due to the weather related closing of the library. We'll try to reschedule it, but it won't be until late spring, or possibly as part of Teen Summer Reading 2010. Watch this space for updates.

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Holdup

I finished Terri Fields' Holdup a few nights ago. It reminded me of the Orca Soundings books that I highly recommend for older middle school and high school students who are weak readers, or just get frustrated slogging through a thick book. Holdup is a little longer than most of the Orca Soundings, but at 163 pages, is still quite manageable for a weaker reader. It takes the reader from the the events leading up to an armed robbery at a fast food restaurant, through the robbery, and then looking at the aftermath. It alternates between 9 points of view (both of the robbers, some of the employees, and 2 customers), which you'd think would be awfully confusing, but it isn't. Near the end of the story, the author points out that statistically, the average person makes over 600 decisions a day, many of them we don't even realize that we're making. As the story unfolds, it shows the effects that a single, sometimes obviously significant, sometimes not, decision can have on the rest of a person's live. Excellent for reluctant readers, and a good, quick, compelling read for anyone else.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Ten Mile River and Wake

Ok, I'm back to just having a backlog of two books at a time. Finished Paul Griffin's Ten Mile River and Lisa McMann's Wake.
Ten Mile River is the story of two teens, Ray and Jose, who have spent the last few years escaping from juvenile detention centers and foster homes, and living in an abandoned shack in the wooded area of a park in New York City. They survive by stealing, and looking out for each other. Ray is very bright, and tries to read everything he can get his hands on. Jose just figures that learning anything isn't worth the trouble because he'll just continue to live by stealing, and will probably end up dead or in jail at a relatively young age anyway. Ray is given an opportunity for honest work and really wants to take advantage of it, but his record is following him. There is also Trini, the girl that both of them are interested in. It's a view of a very different lifestyle. I usually don't really like books written in heavy urban slang, but this one was done better than most. That's probably because the author has actually spent time teaching in the juvenile detention centers in New York. The characters are more complex as well. Despite, or perhaps because of, the conditions that they live in, you see the deep relationship that Ray and Jose have developed. They are very, very different in both personality and in hopes for the future, but because of circumstances, they are closer and would do more for each other than most biological siblings. It's a pretty quick read. Some rough language, but nothing real graphic. Best for high school students.
Wake is the story of Janie Hannagan, a high school student from the wrong side of the tracks, who lives with her usually drunk mother, and works as an aide in a nursing home to try to save enough money to go to college. Since she was 8 years old, if Janie is in close proximity to another person who is sleeping, she is suddenly and uncontrollably drawn into that person's dreams. To an onlooker she appears to be having a seizure. This makes sleepovers and overnight class trips difficult, to say the least. She has never told anyone about it, and struggles to maintain control, and to keep the secrets that she is privy to by witnessing other people's dreams. When she becomes friends with Cabel, another student from the wrong side of town, things take some interesting twists as he witnesses what happens to her and tries to help her. Another quick read, that draws you in and keeps you reading a little later than you intended. I liked this one a lot. Fine for older middle school or high school students. When you finish this one, look for the sequel, Fade. Another book in the series, Gone, is scheduled for release in early 2010. I'll be picking that one up when it's available.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Snowflake Ornaments

We just finished making beaded snowflake ornaments. With some holiday music in the background, it was a nice escape from the yucky, rainy weather outside. Once again teens proved that they have more creativity in their little fingers than most adults can ever hope to have. By turning them loose with all the beads I had on hand, they came up with some great combinations that I never would have thought to put together. Everyone got to make 2 larger ones and one small one. And as an added bonus, they could also decorate gift bags for the ones they were giving away. Check out the creativity below!

Monday, December 07, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - The Spectacular Now, Marcelo in the Real World, and Newes from the Dead

I have hit an all-time low. This is the first time that I've finished 3 books before I got around to posting my review on them. I've got a litany of excuses, but never mind. Let's just get to 'em.
The first was Tim Tharp's The Spectacular Now. The narrator is Sutter Keely, a high school senior and king of the party animals. He lives with his mom and step dad. His sister is the trophy wife of an older, incredibly snooty executive. His girlfriend, Cassidy, breaks up with him early in the book because she sees him as a lot of fun, but never serious, never considering anyone else's feelings (especially hers), and has no future. But this doesn't really slow down Sutter's partying. He goes from one good time to the next, always carrying his whiskey flask. One night he wakes up in the middle of a lawn with a girl looking down at him. Aimee is a socially awkward but really sweet girl. Sutter helps her with her predawn paper deliveries then devises a plan to go out with her a few times, as a good deed, to improve her social life. Of course, things don't go quite as planned. Sutter's voice is egotistical, but honest. You see him throwing his life away, but you also see his good intentions. There's no nice, neat sitcom ending here, but it's realistic. Not for middle schoolers due to heavy drinking and other adult situations.
Francisco Stark's Marcelo in the Real World, is the story of Marcelo Sandoval, a 17-year-old boy with a high functioning form of Asperger's Syndrome. He has been going to a school for special needs students all of his life. He is looking forward to the job he has lined up for the summer working with the horses at his school, but his lawyer father has other plans for him. He wants Marcelo to work in the mail room of his law firm, and to attend a regular high school for his senior year. He thinks that Marcelo is better able to function in "the real world" than he thinks, and that experience in dealing with "the real world" will do him good. You see inside Marcelo's head as he struggles to cope with the noisy city streets, and the nuances of dealing with other people, that he finds incredibly difficult. Going from an entirely sheltered existence to dealing with the cast of characters in a cut-throat law firm is quite the culture shock, but he manages to handle most things. Then he is faced with a moral dilemma that could effect his entire family and his own future, as well as people he has never even met. Wonderfully written! Nothing really objectionable for older middle schoolers, but I think high school students will get more out of it.

Mary Hooper's Newes from the Dead starts with Anne Green waking up in absolute darkness, unable to move. As she tries to figure out if she is dead or alive, in heaven or hell or purgatory, she remembers that she had been hanged. In alternating chapters you see the story unfold from two points of view, Mary's as she describes the events leading up to her hanging, and that of Robert Matthews, an Oxford scholar who is witnessing the dissection of Mary's body along with several other doctors and medical students. This is based on actual events that occurred in England in 1650. Very compelling reading! Mary's story will keep you engrossed, and you will also get a look at the politics of the 1600's, as well as the medical procedures and theories of the time. At one point I was wondering how the things they were putting on Mary's body (turpentine, sheep dung, etc.) didn't take out half the other people in the room! Probably not for younger middle school students. Considering the subject matter, there's very little gore. But Mary was hanged for infanticide, believed to have killed her newborn baby, whose father is the grandson of the master of the house where Mary had worked as servant. That subject is handled as discreetly as possible, but it's still not for younger readers.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Retro Game Day

A small but enthusiastic group met today to enjoy some oldies but goodies on the NES and N64. I thought we had an Atari coming, which would have been very cool, but that person was a no-show. Thanks Ameer, for bringing in the second N64. I didn't get any pictures today, because with the group being small and everything open play, I actually played some games and a little Nerf ping pong and never got around to the camera. We originally hooked the NES up to the projector on the big screen, mostly because I wanted to play Duck Hunt on the big screen. A word of warning to anyone else who may be thinking of doing that... no can do. The NES works just fine, but the guns don't work with a projector screen. The signal needs to bounce off the TV screen and back to the gun. Fortunately that realization came to me relatively quickly and we swapped out one of the N64s. Good thing, since Duck Hunt was probably the most used game of the day. It was a lot of fun!