ages 11-18

"It's All Write!" Teen Short Story Contest 2014

Do you like to write? Do you have an idea that needs to get out of your head, or something already written that could use some editing? Then prepare for the 22nd annual "It's All Write!" Teen Short Story Contest, which will begin accepting submissions on January 27!

Students in grades 6-12 may submit a short story according to the 2014 guidelines from Monday, January 27 through Friday, March 14. Click here to learn more about the contest and view previous contest winners. Judges will choose the top three stories from each category (grades 6-8, 9-10, and 11-12) to receive cash prizes totaling $1500. Stay tuned to find out who will be on this year's panel of judges!

The speaker for this year's final awards ceremony on May 10 will be Michigan author K.A. Barson! She recently published the popular book, "45 Pounds (More or Less)."

We look forward to reading your story! For inspiration and ideas, check out the writing resources guide for teens.

Jump into a good book...and then try to survive it!

Spending time inside the worlds of your favorite books sounds like a dream come true, doesn't it? But every good plot has an element of danger, a fact that Namesakes know all too well! Thrown into famous fictional lands, Namesakes are forced to live out the story of the protagonist in order to make it back home - in one piece, if they're lucky. But usually it's an Alice who falls into Wonderland, a Jack who climbs the beanstalk, a Wendy who flies off to Neverland...why, then, is Emma Crewes tossed into the Wizard of Oz, expected to play the roll of Dorothy? Emma doesn't know, but one thing is for certain: with shadowy organizations Calliope and the Rippers vying to add Emma to their ranks, wicked witches and warlocks everywhere she turns, and a sister who is developing strange abilities of her own, the power of the page has shattered the quiet of Emma's settled life.

Join her on her unwitting adventure through literature in Namesake Vol. 1 - and then find out the rest of the story at namesakecomic.com!

An Award Winner For Teens - Tragedy, Humor, and Hope

I checked out a copy of The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen when I heard it had won the 2013 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award as well as the Michigan Library Association's 2013 "Thumbs Up" Award. As the jacket states, "Thirteen-year-old Henry's happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father's hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry's family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry's therapist suggests he keep a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night."

Inspired by a line in Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed, and based around bullying and school violence, this was not as gloomy as I expected it to be. The author, Susan Nielsen, creates a unique, fresh perspective on a topic that is all too common in the news. The story is told from Henry's point of view through journal entries, and his narrative voice has all of the sweet, awkward, goofiness of a 13 year old boy. Although the subject matter is an unthinkable tragedy, the book is written with healthy layers of humor and joy mixed in. I read the whole thing in one sitting, and the characters are lingering with me days later. This young adult novel is worth reading, no matter what your age.

Teen Stuff: Reality Boy by A.S. King

Seventeen year old Gerald Faust’s life changed forever the day his mother invited “The Nanny Network” to film he and his family when he was five years old.

As a teen he is now rage-filled with emotional outbursts triggered by his (probably psychopathic) sister Trisha. His dysfunctional family of five is lead by his non-caring mother who sympathizes with Trisha and is in total denial at the state of her family and what Gerald might be going through.

The former reality TV star is left with anger, no friends, no one to help him, and he’s basically ready to snap at any moment. He meets Hannah, the junk man’s daughter, so as outcasts they form a bond, and Gerald eventually accepts that he is the one who has to change his life and to allow himself to get what he deserves in life.

AADL was lucky enough to have Printz Honor author A.S. King visit the library during our Short Story Writing Contest this past spring. It was a pleasure seeing her and to hear her words of wisdom on writing and sticking with your dreams. Her latest novel, Reality Boy, is a wonderful read and it will make you think twice the next time you’re watching a reality show on TV. For more by King, I highly recommend Please Ignore Vera Dietz and Everybody Sees The Ants.

The last installment of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's beloved "Alice" series is now available!

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, the author of the long-running, much-loved “Alice” series, has written the series’ final installment, Now I’ll Tell You Everything, available now. This book chronicles Alice from the ages of 18 to 60. It has been long-awaited by many of her fans that have been with Alice since she was nervously starting 6th grade at a new school in The Agony of Alice, first published in 1985.

Since The Agony of Alice, Naylor has published 28 total Alice books, including three prequels to the series geared towards younger readers. Over the course of the series, Alice navigates many of the challenges of growing up. The books often make the list of the American Library Association’s most challenged books due to their frank discussion of families, friendships, religion, dating and sex.

The recent publication of Now I’ll Tell You Everything has left many readers nostalgic. After “growing up with Alice,” knowing that Alice’s adventures are over is a difficult realization for devoted fans. Throughout her writing of the series, Naylor received thousands of letters and emails from these fans expressing their love of the books, sharing their stories and making suggestions for future Alice books (some of which Naylor actually used!).

The Alice books can be enjoyed by all ages. The earlier novels are appropriate for elementary school children, and readers can age along with Alice over time. Older fans who remember Alice from their youth can reread some of the books and now finally find out what the rest of Alice's life has in store for her.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong . . . righhht!

This is one fun read you gotta try - full of humor, angst, friendship, rivalry and action! Nate and Charlie are two guys most people would never imagine being friends. Charlie’s the laid-back captain of the basketball team, and Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. But these guys are friends, however unlikely — until Nate declares war on the cheerleaders, and the cheerleaders retaliate by making Charlie their figurehead in the ugliest class election campaign the school has ever seen. And what’s at stake? Student group funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms — but not both.

In Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong writer Prudence Shen and artist Faith Erin Hicks create unforgettable characters and so many plot twists and turns you won’t be sure you’ve reached the end until you read the final page.

High Interest/Low Reading Level Fiction

If you, or someone you know, are an English Language Learner looking for higher level reading materials to increase your vocabulary, here’s a cool way to find them on aadl.org. Go to the Catalog tab and enter Lang-Learn-Fiction RL-2 into the search box. RL stands for Reading Level. To search for a different reading level, simply type in a different number after RL. Once your search results come up, you can refine your search to find the titles that interest you the most. These high interest, low level readers, sometimes called HiLo books, are also great for adults who are learning to read.

Chesstastic this Sunday, December 15

Sunday, December 15 | 1-4 PM | Traverwood Branch | Gr. K-Adult

What could be better on a cold winter afternoon than sitting down and playing a game or two of chess?! It’s as easy as dropping by Traverwood this Sunday December 15 between 1 and 4 p.m. We’ll help match you up with an opponent and then let the battle begin!

To hone your skills try these new titles Chess Tactics for the Tournament Player and Power Chess For Kids: More Ways to Think Ahead and Become One of the Best Players in Your School: Volume 2.

Let it Snow!

Snow is on its way, and with it comes plenty of cold-whether fun. From building snowmen to sledding down giant hills, there are lots of great winter activities that can only be done while snow is on the ground. Since the season of snow is almost upon us, I was very excited to stumble upon this book, Snow Play: How to Make Forts & Slides & Winter Campfires, Plus the Coolest Loch Ness Monster and 23 Other Brrrilliant Projects in the Snow by Birgitta Ralston.

If you’re looking for some creative new ways to play in the snow this winter, then this is the book for you. Learn how to make snow ghosts with glowing eyes, marble runs made out of snow, glisten ice charms, and much more. While some of the projects will work great with young children, others require lots of time and special techniques to complete. Fortunately, each project comes with a description of the project’s time frame, difficulty, the type of snow required (fresh, sticky, deep, compressed), the types of tools required, and the number of people needed to complete it.

Like Downton Abbey? Try Call the Midwife!

If you are eagerly anticipating Season 4 of Downton Abbey but can’t bear to wait until January for it to air in the United States, the British drama Call the Midwife is a great show to make the waiting easier! Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the show also originally aired in Britain and is set in London in the mid-twentieth century, a few decades after the setting of Downton Abbey. The show centers around main character Jenny Lee, a newly qualified midwife who works with other midwives in a nursing convent on London’s impoverished east side. The midwives and the nuns are kept very busy delivering babies and caring for newborns in and around the London area, and each episode typically also features a healthy dose of humor, romance, and interpersonal struggles.

Like Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife experienced huge success when it was first aired on the BBC in 2012, winning the Best New Drama TV Choice Award. It was then aired in the United States on PBS in the fall of 2012. The second season was also wildly popular, and the third season will be airing in 2014 in Great Britain and the United States.

You can check out the complete first and second seasons of Call the Midwife (as well as the first three seasons of Downton Abbey!) at the AADL.

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