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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?

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

When Zombies Attack

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Would you...

Barricade yourself in a farmhouse? Move to Antarctica? Pretend like you're already a zombie so the other zombies will accept you instead of eating your brains? When it comes to zombie apocalypses there sure are a lot of survival options. It's a good thing there's so many stories out there to help us prepare!

Zombies are unique among monsters as unlike vampires, werewolves and ghosts, they did not really begin to show up in literature until after they had already been popularized in film. Therefore, while the shambling, decomposing, brain-eating, virus -plagued, irradiated, mindless zombies of the silver screen barely resemble their Voodoo origins, it is this depiction on which most zombie literature is based. Some claim it is the purely physical nature of the zombie which has made them great for film, but rather limited on the written page (they don't usually have much dialogue), yet despite these limitations several authors have come out with some fantastic stories which can be found at the Calgary Public Library.

Here are a few scenarios you can check out:Zombies: Hungry, but slow and unintelligent. Except for those pesky hungry, intelligent fast ones...

Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth: Carrie Ryan

The Defense: Large fences to keep the zombies out of town, platforms in the trees in case the fences don't work, praying in case the platforms don't work.

Generation Dead
Generation Dead: Daniel Waters

Zombies: Some are slow, some are fast, but these zombie teens don't want brains, they just want to fit in.

The Defense: Bigotry and baseball bats.

Boy Who Couldn

The Boy Who Couldn't Die: William Sleator

Zombie: With his soul is 'safely' hidden outside his body he's invulnerable. He isn't evil when he's himself, but without his soul is he still himself or zomething elze?

The Defense: Well... umm.... uhhh...?

If zombies are your thing, don't forget to submit your zombie themed artwork or writing to our Teens Create contest.

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

Super Librarians

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

These aren’t your typical shushing-bun-and-glasses librarians! Japanese animation and comics turn librarians into magicians, secret operatives and superheroes! Who said being a librarian was boring?!

R.O.D. OAV: Read or die OAV

Based on a series of Japanese novels by Hideyuki Kurata.

Read or Die stars Yumiko Readman aka “The Paper” a secret operative from the special operations division for the British Library. She has an insatiable love of books and the ability of complete control over anything paper. Her latest acquisition: a copy of the ultra-rare German first edition of “The Immortal Beloved” contains sheet music handwritten on the pages and in the margins. The volume becomes the focus of a dangerous plot by an unknown person who employs clones of famous historical figures to steal the book and recreate Beethoven’s lost “death symphony,” causing anyone who hears it to commit suicide. “The Paper” must employ her skills to save the world!

Kiichi and the Magic Books

[Moto no moto no ana no naka]

Story and art by Taka Amano.

After Kiichi’s mother dies and he is ostracized from his village, he sees drawings of Demons (with pointed ears and horns) in a book come to life. Having a family-resemblence to the creatures, he is determined to learn more about his origins. Mototaro, a powerful travelling-librarian and his assistant Hana agree to include Kiichi join them on their journey. Together, they will encounter strange creatures and adventures while Kiichi tries to find his place in the world.

Library wars

[toshokan sensou]

Story adaptation and art by Kiiro Yumi.

Based on the novellas by Hiro Arikawa.
The Japanese government has begun suppressing information they find undesirable or inappropriate and the only people who can stand up to their abuse of power is the Library Defense Force. The Library defense force is an elite military organization which trains their librarians in the standards of 'cataloguing', 'circulation', and of course 'combat'. This story follows Iku Kasahara, a Task Force Trainee with a passion to protect library collections.

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

Horry for Aussie authors!

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Is it just me, or are Aussie authors exceptionally fabulous?

Aussie #1: Melina Marchetta Jellicoe Road

A couple weeks ago I finished Melina Marchetta’s “Jellicoe Road.” In this book Taylor Markham faces just about every demon you can think of: a mother who abandoned her, a creep who tried to get her involved with child porn, a boyfriend who doubles as her sworn enemy, being a school dorm leader when she really doesn’t want to, nightmares about her mysterious past—you name it. Taylor has never met her father and doesn’t know anything about him and because her mother abandoned her at such an early age, she only has faint memories of her past. In her final year of school, Taylor decides it is finally time to unravel the mystery of her birth and childhood. Hopefully she can do this before her own life unravels.

Aussie #2: Markus Zusak The Book Thief

Markus Zusak hails from Sydney. I’d talk about The Book Thief, and I Am the Messenger—but I’m pretty sure you all already know how awesome they are.

The Lost ThingAussie #3: Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan is Author and illustrator of The Arrival, The Rabbits and The Lost Thing. I love them all, but right now I’m just going to talk about The Lost Thing.

A small boy is collecting bottle caps on a beach when he encounters a large lost thing. Against his better judgment, he begins to feel sorry for the thing and decides to help it find its home. He asks the people around if they know where the thing is from, he talks to his trusted friend—but no one can help. In fact, people don’t even seem to notice the lost thing. His friend suggests that some things are, “just plain lost.” Still, the boy continues his search for a place where the lost thing will belong.

Tan explores ideas of belonging versus being lost and asks readers why lost things are often invisible. He conveys this all with a whimsical prose and quirky illustrations.

As you can see, Aussies authors are tops.

When Steam Gets Fed Up With the Establishment

by Alexandra May - 1 Comment(s)

Steampunk is kinda like cyberpunk, only steamier, but not steamy as in romance; more like stLeviathaneamy as in steam engines, but not steam engines like in historical fiction; more like steam engines as in science fiction, which doesn't have many steam engines, which is why there's steampunk. Got it? Good...

Like a lot of genres and sub-genres steampunk isn't exactly new, (it's arguable how long it's been around) but there are always new entries and new people (like you!) to discover the old ones. Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, Kenneth Oppel's Airborn series and of course Fullmetal Alchemist are some of the more recent and popular examples of Steampunk which combines historical settings (usually 20,000 LeaguesVictorian) with technology beyond what was available at the time. For example, a steam powered airship or... even more steam powered airships! (there's a lot of steam powered airships). Sometimes the plot is set in an alternate world, or sometimes just an alternate reality, but in either case it's always fun to see the ways in which society is reinvented through this clanky, gear driven, yet futuristic technology.

The roots of this genre go very deep, as such classics as H.G Well's War of the Worlds and my personal favourite, Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues UFull Metal Alchemistnder the Sea (giant squid vs. submarine what's not to love?) can be regarded as inspiration for Steampunk as they introduced extremely advanced technology into a Victorian setting while actually being published during Victorian times! (1898 and 1867).

Will similar genres emerge about our own time? What would we call it? Gasolinepunk? ipunk? e-punk? Let's hope so... or not... but check out one of these titles in what is definitely a quirky, imaginative and very fun genre.

That’s a lot of history (and spandex!)

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Born in the late 1930’s and early 40’s Superman, Batman, The Flash, The Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman are some of DC Comics most recognizable and beloved super heroes.

You might already know that Superman is “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound,” or that Batman is often referred to as the “Caped Crusader” and that The Flash is “the fastest man alive.” You may be aware that Wonder Woman owes her power to Aphrodite, or that The Green Lantern can’t defend himself against the colour yellow (that’s my favourite too!). There might even be a few of you who could name all of Batman’s enemies, all of the characters who’ve been The Flash, or how many costume changes Wonder Woman has had.

And then there are the rest of us…

If you’re curious about these characters but don’t know much about the last 70 years of superhero comics, it’s a daunting task to pick a place to start. My suggestion: Start from the beginning! Check out DC’s compilations -- the stories of their most famous superheroes in chronological order.

Batman Chronicles Flash Chronicles Green Lantern Chronicles Superman Chronicles Wonder Woman Chronicles

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