ages 11-18

Writing Inspiration for Teens

Working on or even just thinking about writing a short story for the “It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest but need some inspiration? AADL has a lot of books with authors’ thoughts on writing:

King of the mild frontier: an ill-advised autobiography comes directly from Chris Crutcher, author of Deadline and Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories (providing fuel for the movie Angus). He shares details of his difficult childhood as well as the cathartic effects of writing.

Hole in my life by Jack Gantos combines harsh truths with aspiring hope. He discusses his 15 months in federal prison and how he turned his life around through writing and attending college. Gantos is well-known for Dead End in Norvelt, Rotten Ralph, and the Joey Pigza series.

Still need more inspiration? Check out this list of inspirational books with writing prompts and other teens’ stories. In honor of yesterday’s “John Green Day” at Mental Floss, you can read some of his quotes on writing.

Two New Teen Fiction Series

Looking for a new series to get into? Consider these recent additions to AADL’s catalog:

The Opportunity is a series about Harmon Holt, a millionaire who’s giving back to his community by offering internships at the companies he owns to students from his old high school. These lucky teens have the chance to intern in their dream career fields – fashion, music, pro-football – but the jobs aren’t all sunshine and roses. In Size 0, Thea works with a big-deal LA fashion designer and struggles with how models are treated and the impact of fashion on body image. In Box Office Smash, Jason can’t wait to get into the movie business and discovers the unfortunate truth that sometimes you have to start small to get where you want to be.

For those of you who enjoy the Fast and the Furious movie series or restoring old cars, don’t miss Turbocharged. This series explores the exciting, action-packed world of street-racing, drifting, and modded cars. Drift: Nissan Skyline is the story of Kekoa, a new kid in town who runs afoul of the local drifting king and must beat him in a showdown to prove he’s not going to let anyone bully him. In Blind Curve: Acura Integra, Penny and her brother revamp the old car that has been in their family’s garage of years, but before Penny can show off her modding and racing skills, a hit-and-run accident that almost kills a classmate leaves her shaken.

Best New Music At AADL

AADL is constantly adding to its diverse selection of new CDs. If you're seeking some great new tunes, consider the following must-hear material.

"The Electric Lady," Janelle Monae: The easiest way to categorize Janelle Monae's music would be "R&B," but the young singer-songwriter is far more versatile than that. As on her previous masterpiece, The Archandroid, she plays fast and loose with genres from funk to soul to rock to jazz...even a bit of baroque folk. Creating an android alter-ego for herself, she weaves bits of tongue-in-cheek sci-fi dialogue into the album, which plays like an hour of the funnest, funkiest radio you've ever heard. Featuring excellent guest artists from Prince to Erykah Badu. (Fun fact: if you haven't heard of Monae before, you've almost certainly heard her voice. She's featured on Fun's smash hit "We Are Young".)

"The Speed of Things," Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.: If you're seeking some locally-grown jams, look no further than the new record from Detroit indie-pop duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.. These guys seemed on the verge of major celebrity status with their previous record It's A Corporate World. While their latest isn't quite the big, radio-friendly push they need, it's still full of cheery, hooky, danceable tunes. (Just listen to "If You Didn't See Me (Then You Weren't On the Dancefloor)" and try NOT to spend the next hour humming that riff.)

"Dream River," Bill Callahan: Some may recognize Bill Callahan from his work under the name Smog, but he takes a more personal approach on this record, his fourth to be released under his own name. There's something fascinating, beautiful and a little spooky about Callahan's sparse, autumnal arrangements. You could describe the record's genre as "folk," but Callahan's whispery, often spoken lyrics are too unique to pin down to an established genre. Lie back and let Callahan's pensive lyrics and atmospheric arrangements wash over you.

Find more great new CDs here.

Teen Novel: A Cautionary Tale of Sexting

Thousand Words by acclaimed author Jennifer Brown is a wrenching piece of realistic fiction that shows – not in a preachy way – that sexting is stupid and dangerous. This new book, written for readers in about grades 9-11, stars tenth-grader Ashleigh, who is pressured by her friends into texting a full-frontal nude photograph of herself to her boyfriend. The photo is meant for his eyes only, but when he leaves for college, there is a nasty break-up. Seeking revenge, he sends the photo to everyone on his contact list.

Ashleigh is shocked to find herself arrested and facing community service, and her ex-boyfriend may be headed for prison. The community – where Ashleigh’s father is superintendent of schools – is an uproar. Gradually, Ashleigh is able to work through layers of issues and find hope in a future, with help from a shy, kind and troubled young man she meets in community service. This is an engaging, beautifully written novel that parents and teens probably should discuss together. I thought it was an utterly believable story and a valuable literary cautionary tale.

ACT Plus Writing Tips With Kaplan Experts

Tuesday January 14, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Traverwood Branch: Program Room

Brainstorming, organizing, and writing an essay in just 30 minutes is a daunting task, and that's just what test takers will face during the ACT Plus Writing test. But don't worry, we've got you covered - at this program, a Kaplan expert will guide you through the process of preparing to write an essay for the March ACT Plus Writing.

This event is intended for teens (grades 9-12).

Teen author Libba Bray skillfully weaves together historical fiction and fantasy in The Diviners

Teen author Libba Bray first gained notoriety for her unusual Gemma Doyle series, which includes New York Times bestseller A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing. These books skillfully and unusually blend historical fiction with fantasy, merging the world of an early twentieth century girls boarding school with an alternative universe only accessible to those with the Sight.

After completing the Gemma Doyle trilogy, Bray wrote Going Bovine, the story of a 16-year-old boy with mad cow disease, which won the Printz award from the American Library Association. In 2012, however, Bray again delved into the fantasy/historical fiction genre and produced The Diviners, the first in a new trilogy. Set in 1920s New York City, The Diviners introduces Evie, a 17-year-old girl from Ohio exiled from the Midwest and sent to live with her uncle, who is the curator of the unusual Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult. Along with spending her time embracing everything that comes with living in Prohibition-era New York, Evie is drawn into an investigation dealing with a series of occult-related murders. And, although she does her best to keep it a secret from everyone around her, Evie’s supernatural power may be the only thing that will help catch the murderer at last!

Bray’s rare ability to accurately depict historic American settings while injecting them with believable fantastical turns has made fans of the Gemma Doyle trilogy and of Bray’s writing in general ecstatic over the release of The Diviners. Filling a truly unique niche in teen fiction, the book can be enjoyed by adults as well. The second book in The Diviners series, Lair of Dreams, will be published in August 2014, and you can read more about the series as a whole here.

"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.

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