Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Creepy Cupcakes

Last year, master of suspense author Karen Slaughter came up with a creepy cupcake contest that I somehow missed. Although its too late to enter, I wanted to show you some of the examples to try and inspire you to create your own creepy cupcakes this Halloween. You can find more examples on her website: http://www.karinslaughter.com/cupcakes.shtml
If you make your own creepy concoctions for Halloween, send me a photo and I'll post in on our blog.....eeek!

Friday, September 24, 2010

What's hot now....

Elizabeth has a new job at an unusual library— a lending library of objects, not books. In a secret room in the basement lies the Grimm Collection. That’s where the librarians lock away powerful items straight out of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales: seven-league boots, a table that produces a feast at the blink of an eye, Snow White’s stepmother’s sinister mirror that talks in riddles.
When the magical objects start to disappear, Elizabeth embarks on a dangerous quest to catch the thief before she can be accused of the crime—or captured by the thief.

Polly Shulman has created a contemporary fantasy with a fascinating setting and premise, starring an ordinary girl whose after-school job is far from ordinary— and leads to a world of excitement, romance and magical intrigue.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I you were as baffled as I was....

Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck have now admitted that the film I'm Still Here was not a documenting of Phoenix's descent into madness, but some sort of a statement about art and celebrity based on the fiction that Phoenix was quitting acting and starting a career in rap. Affleck tells Roger Ebert, "I don't have a point to make," so it's not clear what kind of a statement it can possibly be if there's no point, or why Affleck is so annoyed that people only thought about whether it was real and not about what the film was saying if he's telling you he has no point to make.

At any rate, a big part of the story/deception/hoax was Phoenix's appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman in February of 2009, where he gave the most public "performance" of the guy he became in I'm Still Here.

Last night, having revealed what he was up to the first time around, Phoenix came back to Letterman's couch to talk about the appearance, talk about whether Letterman was in on it or not, and, of course, promote the movie.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Suzanne Collins Interview

Suzanne Collins's latest book, MOCKINJAY, revisits the dystopian world of Panem and its victorious tributes Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, first introduced in the 2008 bestseller THE HUNGER GAMES. In this updated interview, Collins discusses the various sources --- ranging from Greek mythology to reality television --- that inspired the plot of this futuristic sci-fi trilogy and explains how her father's stories from her childhood helped her with elements of the novel's plot, themes and characters. She also gives readers insight into how she has mapped out plot and character developments for each book, shares what she found most surprising about the feedback she received from fans, and imagines what her own special skill would be if she was ever required to participate in the Games.

Question: You weave action, adventure, mythology, sci-fi, romance, and philosophy throughout THE HUNGER GAMES. What influenced the creation of THE HUNGER GAMES?

Suzanne Collins: A significant influence would have to be the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. The myth tells how in punishment for past deeds, Athens periodically had to send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete, where they were thrown in the Labyrinth and devoured by the monstrous Minotaur.

Even as a kid, I could appreciate how ruthless this was. Crete was sending a very clear message: “Mess with us and we’ll do something worse than kill you. We’ll kill your children.” And the thing is, it was allowed; the parents sat by powerless to stop it. Theseus, who was the son of the king, volunteered to go. I guess in her own way, Katniss is a futuristic Theseus.

In keeping with the classical roots, I send my tributes into an updated version of the Roman gladiator games, which entails a ruthless government forcing people to fight to the death as popular entertainment. The world of Panem, particularly the Capitol, is loaded with Roman references. Panem itself comes from the expression “Panem et Circenses” which translates into “Bread and Circuses.”

The audiences for both the Roman games and reality TV are almost characters in themselves. They can respond with great enthusiasm or play a role in your elimination.

I was channel surfing between reality TV programming and actual war coverage when Katniss’s story came to me. One night I’m sitting there flipping around, and on one channel, there’s a group of young people competing for, I don’t know, money maybe? And on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting an actual war. And I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way, and I thought of this story.

Q: The Hunger Games is an annual televised event in which one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts is forced to participate in a fight-to-the-death on live TV. What do you think the appeal of reality television is --- to both kids and adults?

SC: Well, they’re often set up as games and, like sporting events, there’s an interest in seeing who wins. The contestants are usually unknown, which makes them relatable. Sometimes they have very talented people performing.

Then there’s the voyeuristic thrill --- watching people being humiliated, or brought to tears, or suffering physically --- which I find very disturbing. There’s also the potential for desensitizing the audience, so that when they see real tragedy playing out on, say, the news, it doesn’t have the impact it should.

Q: If you were forced to compete in the Hunger Games, what do you think your special skill would be?

SC: Hiding. I’d be scaling those trees like Katniss and Rue. Since I was trained in sword-fighting, I guess my best hope would be to get hold of a rapier if there was one available. But the truth is I’d probably get about a four in Training.

Q: The trilogy’s premise is very brutal, yet is handled so tastefully. Was this a difficult balance to achieve?

SC: Yes, the death scenes are always hard to write. It’s difficult to put kids in violent situations --- Gregor (the protagonist in The Underland Chronicles) is in a war, Katniss is in a gladiator game. Characters will die. It’s not fun to write, but I think if you can’t commit to really doing the idea, it’s probably better to work on another type of story.

Given that, you have to remember who you’re trying to reach with the book. I try and think of how I would tell a particularly difficult event to my own children. Exactly what details they need to know to really understand it, and what would be gratuitous.

Q: THE HUNGER GAMES tackles issues like severe poverty, starvation, oppression, and the effects of war among others. What drew you to such serious subject matter?

SC: That was probably my dad’s influence. He was career Air Force, a military specialist, a historian, and a doctor of political science. When I was a kid, he was gone for a year in Viet Nam. It was very important to him that we understood about certain aspects of life. So, it wasn’t enough to visit a battlefield, we needed to know why the battle occurred, how it played out, and the consequences. Fortunately, he had a gift for presenting history as a fascinating story. He also seemed to have a good sense of exactly how much a child could handle, which is quite a bit.

Q: What do you hope readers will come away with when they read THE HUNGER GAMESand/or CATCHING FIRE?

SC: Questions about how elements of the book might be relevant in their own lives. And, if they’re disturbing, what they might do about them.

Q: In THE HUNGER GAMES, Katniss and Gale have an extensive knowledge of hunting, foraging, wildlife, and survival techniques. What kinds of research did you do, if any?

SC: Some things I knew from listening to my dad talking about his childhood. He grew up during the Depression. For his family, hunting was not a sport but a way to put meat on the table. He also knew a certain amount about edible plants. He’d go into the woods and gather all these wild mushrooms and bring them home and sauté them. My mom wouldn’t let any of us go near them! But he’d eat them up and they never harmed him, so I guess he knew which ones were safe, because wild mushrooms can be very deadly.

I also read a big stack of wilderness survival guidebooks. And here’s what I learned: you’ve got to be really good to survive out there for more than a few days.

Q: How long would it take for North America to deteriorate into the world depicted in the books?

SC: You’d have to allow for the collapse of civilization as we know it, the emergence of Panem, a rebellion, and seventy-four years of the Hunger Games. We’re talking triple digits.

Q: You have written for television for young children and for middle-grade readers (the New York Times bestselling series The Underland Chronicles). Why did you decide to write for an older audience and how was the experience different?

SC: I think the nature of the story dictated the age of the audience from the beginning. Both The Underland Chronicles and THE HUNGER GAMES have a lot of violence. But in The Underland Chronicles, even though human characters die, a lot of the conflict takes place between different fantastical species. Giant rats and bats and things. You can skew a little younger that way. Whereas in THE HUNGER GAMES, there’s no fantasy element, it’s futuristic sci-fi and the violence is not only human on human, it’s kid on kid. And I think that automatically moves you into an older age range.

I find there isn’t a great deal of difference technically in how you approach a story, no matter what age it’s for. I started out as a playwright for adult audiences. When television work came along, it was primarily for children. But whatever age you’re writing for, the same rules of plot, character, and theme apply. You just set up a world and try to remain true to it. If it’s filled with cuddly animated animals, chances are no one’s going to die. If it’s filled with giant flesh-and-blood rats with a grudge, there’s going to be violence.

Q: Was The Hunger Games always planned as a trilogy?

SC: Not necessarily. But once I’d thought through to the end of the first book, I realized that there was no way that the story was concluded. Katniss does something that would never go unpunished in her world. There would definitely be repercussions. And so the question of whether or not to continue with a series was answered for me.

Q: Do you have every book completely mapped out, or do you have a general idea and then take it from there? Did you run into things that were unexpected plot-wise or character-wise?

SC: I’ve learned it helps me to work out the key structural points before I begin a story. The inciting incident, acts, breaks, mid-story reversal, crisis, climax, those sorts of things. I’ll know a lot of what fills the spaces between them as well, but I leave some uncharted room for the characters to develop. And if a door opens along the way, and I’m intrigued by where it leads, I’ll definitely go through it.

Q: What was it like to return to the world of the Hunger Games to write CATCHING FIRE?

SC: Honestly, I feel like I never left it. The revisions of Book I overlapped with the writing of Book II, just as Book II has overlapped with Book III. Since each book feeds into the next, I feel like part of my brain’s been in Panem continuously.

Q: How do you typically spend your workday? Do you have a routine as you write?

SC: I grab some cereal and sit down to work as soon as possible. The more distractions I have to deal with before I actually begin writing, the harder focusing on the story becomes. Then I work until I’m tapped out, usually sometime in the early afternoon. If I actually write three to five hours, that’s a productive day. Some days all I do is stare at the wall. That can be productive, too, if you’re working out character and plot problems. The rest of the time, I walk around with the story slipping in and out of my thoughts.

Q: You are probably getting a lot of fan mail! What is the most surprising feedback you’ve received for The Hunger Games? (Or, what has surprised you the most about the feedback you’re getting for The Hunger Games.)

SC: Probably how differently people view the book. Some are attracted to the dystopian world, others are there for action and adventure, still others for the romance. The readers are defining the book in very personal and exciting ways.

Q: What were some of your favorite novels when you were a teen?

ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy
A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle
LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
BORIS by Jaapter Haar
GERMINAL by Emile Zola
DANDELION WINE by Ray Bradbury

Copyright Scholastic

Thursday, September 16, 2010

From the Tenches

From the Trenches via School Library Journal

At some point, most of us will find ourselves in a situation that forces us to face what sort of person we really are. But with any luck, we won't need a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness (like some of Gary Paulsen's characters endure) to become more self-aware. The following books feature young adults who have gone on life-changing journeys, and in the process, discovered more about themselves.

PERKINS, Lynne Rae. As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth. Greenwillow. 2010. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-187090-3. PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-187091-0.
Gr 7 Up–In her latest novel, the Newbery Medal-winning author sends 15-year-old Ry on a journey across the United States. Ry gets off a train headed for camp to make a quick phone call (even though he's been told not to), and minutes later the train pulls away with all of his belongings, leaving him in the middle of nowhere. A pair of shiny white loafers, a car fire, and a missing grandfather are just a few of the things that complicate Ry's journey back to his parents and a normal life. (If you can call it normal.) Short cartoons scattered throughout add to this quirky travel tale.

BRADBURY, Jennifer. Shift. Anthenum. 2008. Tr $17.99ISBN: 978-1-4169-4732-5. pap. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-0852-4.
Gr 8 Up–Win and Chris made big plans to ride their bicycles cross country to the West Coast. When they get separated in Washington, Chris goes on to Seattle as planned and thinks little of the fact that Win never shows up–until an FBI agent questions Chris at school one day. Where is the uncle that Win was supposed to meet? When was the last time Chris heard from his friend? Why is the FBI so interested in a missing college student? Chris is sure that Win has told him the truth, but he couldn't just disappear, could he?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Pictures

Hey guys! Check out our facebook page under "Waterford Library" to see the pictures from Campfire Stories and Smores last Thursday. We had a nice turnout, (although it was a bit chilly), and the Smores tasted deLICIOUS! I hope that between the ghost stories and sugar rush you were able to get some sleep :)
Thanks to all who came! I had a "Spook" tacular time!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Jennifer Donnelly Book!

Here's a sneak peek:

Kira Porton, a buyer at A Children’s Place in Portland, Ore., recommends a new work of historical fiction for young adults.

I was a bit suspicious when I started reading Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution, since it starts out with a rich girl from Brooklyn who is depressed about her brother’s death, is showing signs of having suicidal thoughts, and is not doing well in school. So many novels begin with a similar premise and sometimes I feel as though I’m reading a book that I’ve read before. But I soon realized that this one has so much extra. The author keeps adding unexpected twists, trains of thought, and connections.

After putting his mentally ill artist wife in the hospital, Andi’s father takes her to Paris, where he is doing DNA research. There, he expects her to work on her senior thesis about a French composer from the past and how his music relates to modern-day music. She comes across an old guitar in a case that has a secret compartment where she finds a diary written by a girl 200 years earlier, during the French Revolution.

The author makes fascinating parallels between Andi and the girl who wrote the diary. The present and past are perfectly blended, especially the themes of Andi’s pain over her brother’s death and the brutality of events that happened during the Revolution. Sometimes when I read books in which the author tries to blend two time periods I find myself skimming through one part to get back to the other. But this author pulls it off so well. The novel delves so deep into emotions that sometimes I had to put the book down for a while because of all the sadness. And I mean that in a good way.

I will definitely handsell this to teens 14-up, and I already have kids in mind who will gobble it up. Even kids who don’t usually like historical fiction won’t be able to put Revolution down, especially given its great modern-day story. We do a lot of business with teachers and librarians and I can’t wait to get this into their hands, too. It is definitely one of those books that seem to have something for everyone.

"Boo"-gy down to the Park Tonight...

for some stories and sm'ores! Yum....can hardly type thinking about it. The weather is looking pretty fall-spectacular today but if it becomes rainy or windy be prepared to meet inside the library at 7 p.m. So...if you'd like, here's a few things to consider:
-warm clothes/blanket
-one or two of your favorite ghost stories
-a drink
-your sparkly, bright personality

Looking forward to seeing you! I sent out invites earlier in the week which I hope you received. I really had fun making them. The picture on the front is actually from a book we have at the library called "Ghosts in Photographs." You might want to check it out. It gave me the shivers big time! See you soon!


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall's coming (like it or not).....how about a project?

Happy Day! I'm sure you're all loving being back in class and relishing every moment you have doing some very interesting homework, right? Well...in case you get bored, you may want to look out your window (home or school, I won't tell) to see that the leaves are just beginning to change and the gusts of wind are starting to pick up. Yes, my lovelies, it's FALL! Already! How did that happen! I've always loved fall but I know that to many of you that means back to school and back to teachers and well...back to everything you like to forget about in the summer.
Perhaps you should take a tip from the mother of ALL seasons and the woman who knows perhaps the most of any of us how to stay busy. That person: Martha Stewart.
Yes, Martha has some great fall ideas posted on her website (for kids and teens especially), and so I wanted to pass that on to you in case you feel like taking a break from your homework and diving into something a little more "creative."
I really like this craft for instance, (shown above), in which you take leaves from the trees and glue them to a circular object (you can find these at any dime store or craft store), to make your own Fall Wreath. I think it would make a great addition to my desk or my door and for those of you leaving for college....maybe a dorm room??!! What a fantastic idea....thanks Martha!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wrestle-Mania Reading Challenge

Read 5 books of your choice and complete a small project and you could be on your way to see Wrestle Mania XXIII in Atlanta April 5th. Just stop by the library to pick up your free mini-poster, your project sheet and your reading log and you'll be well on your way! Door prizes will be awarded to those who participate. Questions?? Contact Emily in the Children's Department at escherrer@waterford.lib.wi.us or call her at 262-534-3988 ext. 19.
Get down with your bad self!!