Sunday, October 28, 2012

Taking Teens to the Louisiana Book Festival

On Saturday morning, October 27th, eight members of the high school book group, Bookmarked, met at school to head off to Baton Rouge to attend the annual Louisiana Book Festival. This was the first year that the festival committee had invited three authors of young adult literature to present. I thought it would be a great opportunity for the teens to see the state library, the state capital and immerse themselves into all things literary.

The first event of the day was the award ceremony where author, Jennifer Brown, received the first ever Louisiana Teen Reader’s Choice Award for her book, Hate List. She made a delightful presentation and kept the audience laughing. Though she explained her inspiration for Hate List and that was not a light moment. She explained how she was mercilessly bullied for four years beginning when she entered middle school. She began writing in 2000, but her first book, Hate List, was not published until 2009. The therapist in the book is modeled after her husband and the art teacher by her best friend’s mother. She has a second book, Bitter End, about dating violence that is not rooted in a personal story, but the idea for her third book, Perfect Escape, is based on the mental health issues that her siblings suffered. Several of the students ran out at the end so they would have time to buy Jennifer's book and get it signed. Love that. 

After the ceremony the students gathered for a photo op with Jennifer and her new award

We had about a half hour for lunch before the next session that we were to attend. It took a while to enter the state capitol because we had to go through the metal detector. They didn’t ask you to take off your shoes like at the airport, but people were asked to take off belts, empty pockets and take off jewelry. It took several minutes for each person to walk through the door so there was a very long line. Anyway, when we got in, we walked directly to the senate chamber which turned out to be an awful venue for this kind of presentation, but the space is quite ornate and really beautiful with all the marble and the decorated ceiling. 

Corey Whaley was the interviewer and Walter Dean Myers was the interviewee and both were sitting below the audience. Corey won the Printz award medal for Where Things Come Back in 2012 and Mr. Myers won the very first Printz award given in 2000 for his book, Monster. Both are great reads.

Corey Whaley on the left and Walter Dean Myers on the right
Mr. Myers talked a lot about the importance of education for everyone and that we need a society where people read. He believes that all young people need books and computers in their homes because without them the students’ education will be impacted in a negative way. He explained how his son his better educated than he is and because of that his son challenges him. He believes that is a good thing. I have a scheduled Skype session with Mr. Myers for September 2013. I think that it will be a good one!

 The end of the day was approaching, but we had some time to kill before the last session of the day that we were attending. Some of the students hit the exhibitor tents and others went to the state museum in Baton Rouge. I had never been to the state museum, and I was quite impressed. 

For the last event of the day, it was Corey Whaley again, but he was the author being interviewed this time. Stephanie Wilkes, Young Adult Coordinator for the Ouachita Parish Public Library in Monroe, Louisiana, was the interviewer. This was the most fun for me because Stephanie and I met awhile ago in the virtual world and face to face a handful of times. I first met Corey at ALA in 2011 and have run into him several times virtually and face to face as well.

Corey explained how he wrote his book on a camping trip, and it took him four years to sell it. At that time, he was teaching school at the high school that he attended and really wanted to quit so that he could write full time. Though he finally sold the book in 2009, it wasn’t actually published until 2011. After the book is published, he wins two of the biggest awards in young adult literature: the Printz and the Morris. That was an amazing coup. He has finished his next book, but his editor said that he could not talk about it.

Stephanie poses with Corey 
I got Corey to pose with the kids and asked him if he would be willing to visit the school. I am going to cross my fingers that we can work something out after the first of the year. All in all it was a great day. I think that it was worth the hard work that it took to plan on how to get everyone there. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Teen Read Week Big Success

The library was a hub of activity all week long as the students celebrated Teen Read Week. It may not have always been about books, but it certainly put the library in the minds of all the students and teachers at PFTSTA. You can check out all the pics and activities of the week here on the PFTSTA Library website

Teen Read Week may be over, but there are two contests in which students can still participate. Entries in the annual bookmark contest are due October 29th. Open here for the entry form

This will be the first time that PFTSTA participates in YALSA's Wrestlemania Reading Challenge. Teens will need to write a letter to their fav WWE Superstar asking the Superstar to try a great read recommended by the teen. The letters must be submitted by November 9th. You can find out more about this challenge by watching the video below: (watch at home, video hosted on youtube)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Picture Yourself from another World for Teen Read Week

On Wednesday, for Teen Read Week, the students visited the library to dress like they were from another world. There was a table full of assorted costumes for them to select as an outfit. Wigs, masks, scarves and other stuff were thrown everywhere as students crowded around to create their own masterpiece. Maybe no one looked like they stepped out of a book, but we did get some crazy photos. Check out more pics of the day on the library website here. (Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the pictures.)

I did some editing using to create these images

Author and Student Picture in SLJ Teen

It is that time again when members of Bookmarked have their book reviews published in the online newsletter SLJ Teen. In this edition, a PFTSTA student reviews a book by an author who visited the school, Gina Damico. We included a photo of him with the author to go along with his review of Scorch. He is a big fan of Damico and was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet her in person.  Open here to read the newest reviews. You can find a catalog of all the reviews here. Or maybe you want SLJ Teen in your in box every other week for free, then you can subscribe here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teen Read Week Begins with a Movie

The theme for this year's Teen Read Week is, It Came from the Library. At PFTSTA, we interpreted that to be stories rooted in other worlds.

When we decided to start the week off with a movie, I thought that we might want to use a Twilight Zone episode. Each episode lasts about 30 minutes which is perfect for each lunch period. Also, the setting for many of the episodes was a world that is not ours. One of the members of Bookmarked suggested The Obsolete Man because it was her favorite. It was first shown on June 2, 1961, and it still seems relevant today. I loved the fact that Burgess Meredith, who is deemed obsolete, is a librarian. How fitting. In this world there are no more books, so there don't need to be any librarians. I invited students to bring their lunches with them, and I served popcorn. There were two showings, one for middle school and the other for high school.

Even some of the seniors joined us for the 1st showing

Monday, October 15, 2012

YALSA Announces the Winners of Teen's Top Ten

The first day of Teen READ Week is always exciting because TRW has started and also because the top ten  teen-selected books are announced. This is one of the few book lists that is selected solely by kids. I made a sign that I am going to hang up in my library announcing the ten titles that won. Feel free to click the link below and download my sign from Scribd and hang in your library.

2012 Teens Top Ten Winners Sign

Join the Conversation and Tweet TRW12 on October 17th

YALSA is encouraging librarians, teens and everyone who loves young adult literature to join the conversation about reading on Twitter on October 17th during Teen Read Week. Use the hashtag #TRW12 to join the fun.

Click here to read more about it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

JK Rowling Webcast Event

I know that JK Rowling was speaking to hundreds of thousands of kids across the world, but it felt like she was talking just to us. The 6th graders joined together in Mrs. Bordelon's room to watch this epic event at 11AM on October 11th. (I wonder if Ms. Rowling chose 10-11-12 for her webcast on purpose)

Anyway, Ms. Rowling read from The Sorcerer's Stone. It was truly magical. She talked about some of her favorite parts in the series. Those included introducing the reader to Luna Lovegood, the graveyard scene in The Goblet of Fire and writing Peeves' jingles. 

She told us how there is a little bit if her in Harry, Ron and Hermione. Harry is quick to get upset and so is Ms. Rowling. Her humor is very similar to Ron's sense of what is fun. She is quite bookish just like Hermione, and said that as a teenager she would turn to books to find out answers. 

You can enter the world of Harry Potter and find out how magical you are, get sorted into a house and select a wand by visiting her new website Pottermore. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to enter. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Teen Read Week is Just Around the Corner

It is October and that means Teen Read Week is fast approaching. We always celebrate big in the PFTSTA Library. I use it to get kids into the library who don't usually visit unless required by a teacher. I like having my regulars too, of course. The members of the high school book group, Bookmarked, always help me plan and oversee the running of all the activities. It is the middle school kids who really get excited about the events. 

This year, we sort of streamlined things. I think that I am prone to over plan, and if there are too many activities, the students don't really know which ones to choose. I think that  this year is going to be a great one!

Check it out:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

BRiMS Meets to Talk about The Maze Runner

On Thursday, October 4th, the middle school book group sat down to talk about the first book in Dashner's trilogy, The Maze Runner. The students loved the fact that such a small group showed up for this event and asked if next time the number of students could be capped at eight. It won't. We had one small issue with our discussion this month. One of the students had loved the first one so much that they plowed through the whole set before we sat down for our discussion. We kept having to ask them to quiet down every time they tried to speak with the rest of the group saying loudly, " STOP is it a SPOILER???? " The next book we will read is a single, so we won't be facing that issue again. 

The book proved to be popular even among the students who are not fans of science fiction. Though one student said that she did not like any of the characters in the story. We tried to figure out what the Grievers really looked like by drawing our renditions of the creatures. None of them are fit to print, and I really don't think that we could do them justice. By the end of the discussion, we were not sure if WICKED had good intentions are not by putting the boys in the maze, but we were told that the third book does explain all.Most of the students want to finish the trilogy which tells me that the choice of title was a success. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bookmarked Members Continue to Write Outstanding Book Reviews

On Wednesday, October 3rd, four members of Bookmarked had their reviews published in SLJ Teen. This is the seventh edition of the online newsletter that has carried book reviews by the high school students. They continue to submit some stellar writing and show the world that the students at PFTSTA are on the ball.
Click here to read the entire October 3rd edition
Click here to open the section of the newsletter with their reviews. Also, I am saving the URLs for all the reviews in one place. Open here, and you can read all the reviews that they have written since June of 2012. This link will be updated with each addition, so feel free to save it and go back every other week to read the newly posted reviews.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gina Damico Stops at PFTSTA on her Slapdash Book Tour

Having two author visits in a two week period may put me over the edge. However, I have no control over an author's travel schedule, and I don't want to say no to a great opportunity for my students. On October 1st as Gina Damico was making her way back home to Boston from the Austin Teen Book Festival, she stopped for a visit with the students at PFTSTA. She made a presentation to the 9th graders who were fascinated by the fact that grim reapers were the central characters in her books. The students at PFTSTA usually have very insightful questions for visitors, but in this case they seemed to focus on the minutiae of the book. They asked about how the reapers traveled, did they really kill their subjects (actually no to this), how were the new reapers selected, who were the reapers that weren't following the rules. All of these questions could be answered by reading, Croak, the first book in the trilogy. I was hoping for more why questions or questions about Gina's writing process or how she became a writer. 

Once the talk was over, the students were eager to engage her in one on one conversation while she signed bookmarks for them, hands and even someone's cast. She also gave them magnets picturing the covers of her books. At the end of the day, one of those students ran into the library to check out Gina's book that he knew his friend had just returned. The students were definitely interested in her book, and its appeal crosses over for both boys and girls. 

One of Gina's biggest fans at PFTSTA
Since Monday is the day for our regularly scheduled Bookmarked meeting, I decided to provide lunch to the students and invite Gina to join us. She did along with her sister Lisa who was traveling cross country with her. For lunch we served the quintessential New Orleans poboy along with Louisiana-made Zapp's chips. This was a rare treat for Bookmarked who possibly enjoyed the lunch as much as visiting with the author. 

Posing with the author once lunch was done
Thanks Gina for taking time out of your travels to stop and visit with us. We hope that you enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed having you. Read about Gina's travels here on her blog. You can find more pictures of the day on the library website here. You can find a book trailer for each of Gina's books on the library website here (scroll half way down the page to find them).
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