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YALSA Teens' Top Ten

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Every year the Young Adult Library Services Association runs a contest where teens vote to come up with a top ten list of the best teen books.

And...the voting for this year has opened! Voting will run from now until September 17th.! The winners will be announced during teen read week (October 17-23).

The cool think about the Teens' Top Ten is it is chosen entirely by and for teens. The twenty-six official nominations are chosen by fifteen teen book groups and of course, the final winners are chosen by teens who vote. Last year, more than 11,000 teens voted for the Teens' Top Ten, choosing Paper Towns by John Green as their favorite title.


by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Have you ever wished you were an animal? Or that you had the skills of an animal? I've often wished that I could fly, have the night vision of a cat, move as gracefully as a squirrel and run as fast as a pronghorn.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who has ever thought about how cool it would be to be an animal. Myths and legends about shapeshifting are old, rooted in many different cultures and at the moment, very popular.

Shapeshifting traditions vary across cultures, literature and belief systems. In some stories, being transformed to an animal form is a punishment. For example, Athena turned Arachne into the first spider as a punishment for her pride. Others believe that shapeshifting between animal and human form is magical and a means to utilize animal skills. For example, Norse literature includes stories of "beserkers" (warriors) who had the ability to transform into wolves or bears to fight more ferociously. Some Native American tribes believe that humans descended from animals and the two are intrinsically linked, able to change forms and recieve special powers from animal forebearers.

There are tons of books and movies that feature shapeshifters today. Think of these stories: Beauty and the Beast, Brother Bear, Harry Potter (the Animangus: Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, etc.), Ranma 1/2, Fruits Basket, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Hobbit (Beorn), Pokemon (Ditto & Mew), Fullmetal Alchemist, and the list goes on...

Here are some cool books with shapshifters for you to check out:

Hunger Games!

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

That's right--only 11 more days until Mockingjay is released!

August 24th is a very important day for fans of Suzanne Collins' bestselling Hunger Games series. On the 24th Mockingjay, the third and final installment in the series, will be released.

I don't know about you, but I plan to shut myself up in my room, turn off my phone, and stay up all night reading it.

If you haven't read the series yet, check the Teen Zone website for reviews of Hunger Games written by teens. If you are still unconvinced, here are some book trailers to get you hooked: Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay.

Place a hold on Mockingjay, and be perpared for a book that you can't put down.

Choose your own adventure...

by Alexandra May - 1 Comment(s)

Have you ever read a book and been totally disappointed by the ending?

Here are some books with famously disappointing endings:

And I'm sure you can name a few more...

I just barely finished I am the Messenger. I loved it but found that the character introduced in the last chapter to resolve the mystery was contrived and unbelievable. My disappointment caught me off guard because the other Markus Zusak books I've read were totally amazing. I tried to think of an improved conclusion for I am the Messenger, but decided that it is easier to criticize than it is to come up with a better idea.

I suppose it is not that uncommon to want a different outcome for a story. I guess this is partly why the idea of Choose Your Own Adventure is so appealing...

Choose Your Own Adventure came into being during the 1980s and was hugely popular throughout the 80s-90s. In 2005 the series was relaunched and remains quite popular today.

I enjoy Choose Your Own Adventure for many reasons. A world where you can select a variety of outcomes for your character is empowering and more complex than our generally linear approach to time and place. It embraces the idea of alternate realities existing concurrently and gives the reader the ability to see the outcomes of different decisions (the future) and explore these possibilities. The reader is more fully engaged in the creation of the story.

Some really cool movies have played with this idea too. The Butterfly Effect, Hot Tub Time Machine and of course, the classic Groundhog Day. In each of these movies, the results of decisions the character makes are played out in alternate lives. Much like a choose your own adventure, these films give us the satisfaction of seeing the many possible futures that can result from a character's choice.

More recently, the publishing company Simon and Schuster is taking choose your own adventure to a new level. They have launched an eBook for teens that invites the readers to vote on the outcome of the story. While an individual user will not have total power to choose their own adventure, their vote will count. Ultimately, the author (Jodi Lynn Anderson) is surrendering control of the storyline. The book, Loser/Queen is a serial and accepts votes from users on a weekly basis. It represents a new publishing format - the reader-composed novel. I'm interested to see how this catches on. It strikes me as a very successful venture from a marketing standpoint, what I'm curious about is how having reader guided text will affect the story in terms of quality and plotline. It'll be neat to see what readers choose--will it be a "happy" ending?

Looking for work? Want to volunteer?

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Go to The Calgary Service Canada Centre for Youth (SCCY) on Friday, August 6th from 1-4pm for a "SCCY Quest" where you will learn about the great programs and services available downtown for youth to utilize in their quest for a career. Best of all-it's FREE!.

Where: 220-4th Ave SE, Room 280

When: Friday, August 6th from 1pm-4pm

What: Cool activites to help you learn about resoures in downtown Calgary for youth with a focus on employment and volunteer opportunities

Why: Why not? It's FREE!

Note: Youth under 15 must have their parents sign a waiver stating they can participate. To locate a waiver or for any other questions regarding this event please call 403-292-5020

Twisted Tales

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Love a good fairy tale? Check out these books based on popular folk and fairy stories...

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by, Jessica Day George

"The lass" is the youngest child in her family. Her parents are so busy taking care of their many children that they didn't even bother to give her a name. Furthermore, her unsual gift-the ability to understand animals-estranges her from her family. When a polar bear offers to give her family wealth if she will come and live with him in his castle of ice, she readily accepts the opportunity to escape. After all, what has she got to loose?

Once at the castle, the lass encounters mystery after mystery and attempts to discover what enchantment controls her captor.

Based on the tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Beastly by, Alex Flinn

Kyle Kingsbury has it all. He is rich, attractive, popular, and gets any girl he wants. Unfortunately, he is also insufferably proud, selfish and cruel. However, when he insults the unattractive and unpopular Kendra, his popularity is not enough to keep him out of trouble. Kendra is a witch and she uses her magic to teach Kyle a lesson.

Based on the tale Beauty and the Beast

A Curse Dark as Gold by, Elizabeth C. Bunce

Charlotte's father has died and left her responsible for her little sister as well as the family business, a wool mill. The mill has been in the family for generations and people say it is cursed. Charlotte does not believe in the curse, but when bad luck strikes the mill time after time she begins to wonder. Then Jack Spinner arrives. A little man who promises to spin a room full of straw into gold - for a price. Can Charlotte save the mill and break the curse?

Based on the tale of Rumplestilskin

Summer in the City: Top 10 Cool Things to Do

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s) started out as a top 10 list, but I couldn't stop at 10. So here's my top 15 list of cool things to do this summer.

  1. Shakespeare in the Park
    • Cost: donation
  2. Taste of Calgary
    • Cost: Sampling tickets $0.75 each
    • Dates: August 12-15
  3. Shaw Millennium Skate Park
    • Cost: Free
  4. Tour Bernard CallebautReading Outside
    • Cost: Free
    • But if you want chocolate (which I'm sure you will) bring $$
  5. Calgary Corn Maze
    • Cost: $8.00
    • Opens July 30th
  6. Boating at Bowness Park
    • Cost: $15-$30 / hour
  7. Drum Circles at One World Drum Co.
    • Cost: $10
  8. Afrikaday
    • Cost: $20
    • Dates: August 9-14th
  9. Reggae Fest
    • Cost: $15
    • Dates: August 9-21st
  10. Rothney Astrophysical Observatory
    • Cost: $20 / carload
    • Dates: Open house 1 / month
  11. Global Fest
    • Cost: $10-$15
    • Dates: August 14th and 20-28th
  12. Roller Skate/Blade at Lloyd's Recreation
    • Check website for dates & cost
  13. Roller Derby
    • Cost: $10-$15
    • Dates: Varied
  14. Music/Art Events with the Local Library
    • Join FB group for updates and event listings
  15. Read
    • Cost: Free
    • Dates: Anytime

What's on your top 10 list?

Got time? Join our Summer Reading Club...and win prizes!

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

We’re giving away $500 in gift certificates as well as a bunch of books.

If you want to win these prizes just join our club, read, and complete some creative challenges.

Check it out at:

Contest runs from June 17th to August 24th

Breathless in Trinidad and Tobago

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Come check out a free film! Breathless in Trinidad & Tobago is a documentary film that demonstrates how youth can connect with their community and their culture.

Trinidad & Tobago is a beautiful twin island located in the Caribbean Sea. It has a total population of 1.3 million people. In the year 2008 over 500 murders took place in the country. The community of Gonzales is at the epicenter of the country’s many social and economic problems.

In 2008, Vincent T. Joachim and Jeff Cruz traveled to Gonzales, Trinidad and set up a free photography program with over 20 marginalized youth. The workshop documented the Carnival, the youth, their community and culture through hope and empowerment. The goal was to change the youth perspective, not just with a camera, but also in their everyday life. The documentary features the videography and photography of the youth.

Central Library—John Dutton Theatre

Tuesday June 8th from 6:30-9pm

Tell me what your favorite books is

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Reading Outside

This summer we are having a teen summer reading club which means that you will get prizes for reading. We will give you more information about the club in June so stay tuned. In the meantime, I want you to email me your favorite books. As part of the summer reading club we are going to have a book survivor challenge. Basically, we’ll ‘send your books to the island’ and then every two weeks you can vote a book off the island and in the end we’ll know which book is the best. So—send me your favorite teen book! Email the title and author to

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