Teen Stuff: First Light, by Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead has written two novels. Her second one, When You Reach Me, won the 2010 Newbery Medal, for the most distinguished children’s novel. First Light is her first novel, and goes down quite a different road.

Twelve year old Peter lives in New York City. His father studies global warming and is often off working, trekking around like “superman,” as Peter envisions him. The latest project will take his father to Greenland for six weeks, and this time Peter and his mother accompany him.

Concurrently, Thea is fourteen years old, has never seen the sun, and lives in Gracehope, which is a secret word inside the icecaps of Greenland. Her ancestors were hunted and accused of witchcraft generations ago, which lead them to form a secret underground society. Her own mother was one of the crusaders, looking for the tunnel to lead them out of the ice, hoping to expand their world above the ice. Food is rationed, births are limited, and many fear what’s on the other side of the ice wall.

Peter’s adventures lead him to a meeting with Thea. Confused by her and her world, troubled with headaches and visions, and worried about his ailing mother, Peter has a lot to handle in this science fiction/ mystery/ adventure story. After a while this book becomes quite the page turner! (For grades 5 and up.)

Teen Stuff: After Tupac & D Foster, by Jacqueline Woodson

“D Foster showed up a few months before Tupac got shot that first time and left us the summer before he died.” The narrator and her best friend Teeka sit on the front stoop of their Queens apartment building, jumping double dutch and braiding each others hair. One day a girl named D walked around the corner and started talking to them, and it changed the girls' lives forever. They became what they called “Three the Hard Way.” Three best girlfriends, through thick and thin from the ages of 11-13.

Jacqueline Woodson's novel After Tupac & D Foster is told in a retrospective first person through the eyes of the sensitive, quiet and bookish narrator. Through her story we see the differences in the families of the three girls: One a child of foster care, one an only child of a single mother, and one a child in a close-knit family with “too many bothers and sister to count.” The kids on the block, especially D, are fascinated with rapper Tupac Shakur. D identifies with him and some of the words he speaks. Over the short period of time the girls hang out together, they become close, and feel like sisters as they try to figure out their “Big Purpose” in life. Looking back, the narrator talks about the unbreakable bonds of friendship. (For grades 6 and up.)

(Adults: Yes, reading this Newbery Honor book made me want to watch Juice, and then listen to some Tupac albums, and yes I did that.) Thanks, D.

Teen Stuff: The Crafty Girl's Guides to Almost Everything

Are your everyday items becoming a little too ordinary? Does your calculator need some sparkle to its numbers? Is your handbag looking lifeless these days? Good news: the Crafty Girl series has a solution (more like hundreds of them) to all of these problems. Author Jennifer Traig is fantastic at transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary with easy-to-follow steps for the crafty girl looking for some daily inspiration. Each book in the Crafty Girl series is dedicated to making one part of your life really sizzle, from Beauty to Accessories to Hair. Happy crafting!

Teen Stuff: The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt

Read this book. Really. The Wednesday Wars is a hilarious look at September through June in the seventh grade. Told from the POV of Holling Hoodhood, who is the only Presbyterian in his class, the younger brother a flower child teenager, and “hated” by his teacher Mrs. Baker. For Holling seventh grade is full of death threats, pranks, escape rats, penitentiary-bound eighth graders, baseball stats, and creampuffs covered in chalk dust- you know the usual seventh grade stuff. Set in Long Island, NY in 1967-68, during the Vietnam War, with Walter Cronkite on the TV, the book isn’t all fun and games. Holling is stuck spending Wednesday afternoons with Mrs. Baker, who may or may not hate his guts, reading Shakespeare plays, which makes way for some great metaphors throughout the book. Holling learns a lot that year, about himself and the world around him. This 2008 Newbery Honor book made me laugh and cry, and I was sad it had to end. (For grades 6 and up.)

Parent Magazine Update -- Good for You

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This month's parent magazine update focuses on things that nourish the soul and body, starting with my personal favorite -- books.

Book Links magazine starts with some interesting articles on multi-platform books -- books that include online components. The popular 39 Clues series is a great example of this innovative genre, as is the Skeleton Creek series for teens. Also featured in this issue are series books that are good for reading aloud -- The Porcupine Year, Al Capone Shines My Shoes, and The Runaway Dolls for example -- and books about young artists, along the lines of Peter Reynolds' classic The Dot.

Mothering magazine has its own list of recommended books -- "visually sophisticated" picture books. Though he isn't mentioned in the article David Wiesner would be my personal recommendation in this category. This issue also features lots of other good-for-you stuff -- foods to boost the immune system, ways to foster creative play indoors and an article about celebrating your daughter's menarche in a supportive and empowering way.

The Countdown Continues!

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With only two weeks to go, we at AXIS Coffeehouse are doing our best to send you to summer with a bang. Last Friday we got a visit from Detroit rap artist The Chozn Bravesoul, and this Friday we will host another special guest -- Maggie Hanks of Ann Arbor Word Works! Don't miss this chance to get some writing advice from a poet described as "bold and insightful".

Also, our last day at AXIS Coffeehouse, March 26th, will be recorded for for the AADL podcast, so bring that poem you've been working on for a chance at library fame!

As always, AXIS Coffeehouse will offer food, drink, good writing and good company -- as well as $5 fine forgiveness coupons and free books for those who present at the mic. Join us at Mallett's Creek this Friday, from 6:30-8 for a great time!

AXIS Coffeehouse Enters the Countdown

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AXIS Coffeehouse only has three weeks to go before we break for the summer, so we are going to make the most of it!

This Friday, March 12, local rap artist The Chozn Bravesoul will be visiting to talk a little about rap and poetry. And next Friday, March 19, we will host special guest Maggie Hanks of Ann Arbor Word Works, who will surely have some interesting writing ideas herself.

This free event offers snacks and great conversation as well as $5 library fine forgiveness coupons for those who present at the mic. Don't miss out on these awesome opportunities! Mallett's Creek, 6:30-8:00 pm. Be there!

Teen Magazine Update -- Ahead of the Game

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Do you enjoy being one step ahead of the game? Name dropping and looking cooler than your friends? Then this month's teen magazines are for you!

Wizard Magazine starts off this party with the "Wizard 20" -- a list of games, movies, artists, authors and comics that you should probably already know about. We are lucky enough to have many of these pearls of awesome here at the AADL -- such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novels. Not to be missed in this edition -- the ten worst superhero girlfriends of all time!

This month's issue of Rolling Stone Magazine features two old school masters of awesome -- Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, two of rock music's most amazing guitarists. Also in this issue, comedian Tracy Morgan discusses his hard-knock life, and Matt Taibbi tells us how Wall Street is setting the entire country up for a fall. Good times.

For the awesome girls out there, Justine Magazine features bios of Elissa Bernstein, author of the scrumptious blog 17 and Baking and 17-year-old tennis star Melanie Ouden. And, talk about being one step ahead of your friends, this issue also features a ten-step prom countdown and a guide to job hunting, from resume to interview.

The Return of the Revenge of AXIS Coffeehouse

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Like some monster out of the depths, AXIS Coffeehouse just keeps on coming back.

Unlike most b-movie monsters, however, AXIS Coffeehouse will let you write poetry, hang out, and eat snacks...Oh, and it will give you goodies like $5 fine forgiveness coupons when you present your work at the mic. How delightfully nefarious!

The mayhem will take place at Malletts Creek branch, from 6:30 -8 PM on Friday March 5th. Be there!

Youth Nonfiction Finds -- Special Edition: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day when we should look forward and backward -- backward into history to appreciate how far we have come as a country and the hard work of those who brought us here, and forward to the challenges we still have to face in order to bring about true equality. Here are some good books to help you get a good understanding of the history of the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr.:

Who Was Martin Luther King Jr.? provides a concise biography of its titular subject and background on the issues underlying the Civil Rights Movement, such as Jim Crow Laws and the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision. My Brother Martin, written by Christine King Farris, tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr.'s childhood, for a more human picture of the great man. Did you know that he was quite the prankster as a child? I Have a Dream presents Dr. King's famous speech in manageable bites, accompanied by evocative illustrations.

For those who want to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement itself, Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round presents a very understandable, illustrated history of the major events of the movement. A Dream of Freedom provides a more in-depth look at the issues, from Emancipation to the Black Panther Party. In Freedom's Children activists like Claudette Colvin and Ruby Bridges share their experiences of growing up during those tumultuous times. Finally, The Civil Rights Movement for Kids combines history with activities, like skits, songs, speeches and even recipes, to really bring history home.

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