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I'll be home for Christmas...

by Alexandra - 1 Comment(s)

Everyone has a list of Christmas Classics that they work their way through every year. I only have three that I haven't yet watched in 2011 (both "Grinches" and "Home Alone")... but it's only Christmas Eve! I like to keep the magic going and watch a bunch of movies well into Boxing Day as well. "Love, Actually" and "The Holiday" are two that I've already seen six times this year, but that's 'cause they're good year-round, and I'm a perennial Christmas-in-July-er.

But when I was looking at my list, I realized that there's a pretty huge gap in the genre, and that movies geared towards teens just aren't factoring into the Hollywood Christmas equation. I find this strange, since Teen Choice is pretty much ruling the scene in every other facet of entertainment. At any rate, it seems like flicks go straight from sickly sweet Kid's movies to R-rated College movies, and there's no mid-range for Jr. High or High School. Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe you can help me compile a list of the best of the best for Teen Christmas. It's going to be piecemeal, we're going to have to stitch it together bit by bit, but maybe that's what Teen Christmas is all about... holding on to what remains of your childhood, grasping on to what you want out of your future... and add a healthy dose of sarcasm and humour. Merry Christmas... and pardon my gifs.

There is one GLARING exception to that statement, which is, of course, the glaring exception to MOST things. It's Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Part Christmas, part Halloween, part creepy, part adorable, mix some morbid, macabre, grossie bits with equal parts lovely, romantic, heartfelt bits, and you've got yourself an instant teen classic. It's not for kids (I wasn't allowed to watch it 'cause my mom new I'd get... nightmares...) and not for adults, unless they grew up with it (Movie Maniac Moe can't watch ANY Tim Burton movies because the animations freak her out). But teens hold up Jack Skellington as a paradigm of awesome; you can see his face plastered on everything from hoodies to watches... and poor Sally fits into our metaphor of a patched-together Christmas perfectly.

Mean Girls is NOT a Christmas movie, but it does have two of the greatest snapshots of School Christmas ever to be caught on film: 1) Candy Grams, the best-tasting, most bittersweet test of popularity to ever exist, and

2) The annual Talent Show/Christmas Pagaent/Winter Musical showcase of mediocre "dance skillz" by resident school hotties.

This is pretty much exactly what Jr. High was like for me, and if you haven't seen it yet, watch it, and tell me if it holds up to your school experience. I LOVE THIS MOVIE!

Ummmmmmmm Charlie is a kid in the first Santa Clause, and a graffiti-ing teen in the second... that counts, right? Teens love spraypaint, right?

There's a pretty excellent scene in the full-length Grinch where our green buddy tries shaving for the first time. That's a standard teen trope if ever I saw one!

Buddy the Elf's parents were High School sweethearts. And now I know I'm stretching this way too far. Also thanks to hawkeyefan31 for this gif. If you can't tell, I'm just learning how to make them, and they're pretty sad.

And of course, Christmas Classics aren't limited to movies. After all, what is Christmas without music. Here are some of my favourite Christmas tunes... I'm sure I'm missing plenty, so please send along your favourite playlist so I can add it to mine.

Top of the list is Sufujan Stevens Songs for Christmas. If you haven't already heard it, I'm really sorry Christmas is over and you'll have to wait until next year (because we all know Christmas music after the 26th is a taboo - right?). Songs for Christmas is a brilliant album where Stevens remixes a ton of Christmas classics, mostly religious, in his folksy, quirky way. He also throws in some great original compositions.

Next on my list is Hawksley Workman's First Snow of the Year which captures the joy you feel as a kid when you look out the window and shout 'It's snowing!!' and also, his great tune Merry Christmas (I Love You)

I just recently discovered The Bones of Winter by Said The Whale. This is a darker, more sombre tune that captures the desperate feeling we sometimes have around winter solstice when we know there are 3 more months without sun... it is a lovely song.

Similarly, Joni Mitchell's River is sad song capturing the desparation of loneliness... absolutely beautiful.

I love Fall Out Boy's cover of What's This? It's lots of fun.

And what is Christmas without Vince Guaraldi Trio's Christmas Time is Here ! I'm sure I don't need to tell you that this masterpiece is a Christmas staple and among the most popular Christmas tunes.

So there you have it. The best of the best we could come with with for Christmas and Teens. If you know of a teen movie or song that I'm missing out on, weigh in on the comments board. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, and we'll see you on the other side.

Coverage

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

I was reading this article from Leaky News the other day, which decries the most recent covers of the "Alanna" series by Tamora Pierce. Basically, the argument is this: Alanna is a kick-@$$, rough-and-tumble, heroine of EPIC proportions, but you would never be able to tell that by the new covers, because they make her look like a boy-crazy girly-girl. This argument is not new. People have been disgusted by this from the moment they first saw the covers, when they opened the box this past summer.


But what you have to understand here, is that I have read this series at LEAST a dozen times, almost every year since I was a kid. I grew up with Alanna. I watched her go from this:

--> to this --> then this --> and this

and finally, heart-breakingly, to this:

You will note, of course, the lack of her beautiful and faithful horse, Moonlight, who is present in ALL of the previous covers, in favour of two simpering, broody boys who are both pining after Alanna. Don't get me wrong, Jonathan and George DO both love her... but that drama only happens for like 20 pages. Honestly. She has a much more interesting relationship with her horse.

And look, I get it. These books get a new print run every couple of years because they really ARE that good, and they really DON'T age as time goes on. I love them just as much now as I did 15 years ago. And the esthetic trends of books are changing faster than most people can keep up with. I mean... When I had to replace my first copies of the books (I had worn them completely out) I was STOKED to upgrade from the third image on that list to the fourth. The last set of releases (before these horrifying new ones) were really, really good.

Especially in YA Lit, where publishers are always looking for the latest and greatest trend, and have to distinguish their books from the myriad of other books just like it, covers are especially important. And despite the age-old adage to "Never judge a book by it's cover", taking one look at a book is enough to tell me whether or not I'm going to pick it up off a shelf. I mean, it's not the ONLY reason I'll read a book, but if I'm just browsing, not looking for something specific, I am DEFINITELY drawn towards the cooler covers.

So here's what I want to know:

Do you have a beloved favourite that you feel was butchered by a new print-run with terrible covers?

What books have you avoided based purely on their appearance?

What books have covers that are totally appealing to you, that you'll pick up regardless of what it's about?

Have you ever taken a book out, or bought one, just because of the cover, and then never read it? Or pretended to just because it looked cool?

What's your favourite book that lived up to it's cover?

What books are awesome and deserve way better covers than the ones they got?

I know that's a lot, but I really want to know! Leave your comments above!

And if you want to see what I'm talking about with this book covers trends thing, check out these lists based on genre:

http://old.calgarypubliclibrary.com/teenzone/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=115

You'll be shocked to see how similar the covers of books in certain genres are! (My faves are the fantasy covers!)

Dance Dance Revolution

by Alexandra - 4 Comment(s)

Okay... so the first time I saw the original "Footloose", I have to admit, I thought the premise was totally ridiculous. As IF anyone would or could forbid an entire town from DANCING!

I mean, not only would that be impossible to enforce, but it is also entirely ludicrous to imagine.

I didn't really like the first "Footloose" at all. Kevin Bacon really does creep me right out.

But then I did some thinking. And here's what I came up with:

People have banned weirder things than dancing before... China banned kissing and Russia banned Emo's, for crying out loud!

And what's more fun for ANYONE than the things you're not allowed to do? (Don't tell anyone you heard that here...) I mean... we go crazy for banned books and restricted music and controversial art... Forbidden = Awesome.

So I've decided I'm gonna go see the NEW "Footloose". It's still about a town banning rock and dancing, it's still poking some good-natured fun at hick-life (Y'all get it, we're from Cowtown!) and it's STILL pretty ridiculous. BUT! It's got Julianne Hough. And she's great. And the dancing isn't line-dancing, it's like stomping the yard! And the soundtrack is sick... there's a song by Victoria Justice. And the guy that got Kevin Bacon's role is actually pretty cute.

If this all sounds good to you, Calgary Public Library's MOVIE MANIACS blog is giving away FREE double-passes to an advanced screening next week, AND there's a killer ultimate Prize Pack. To win, just go HERE.

And remember... sometimes you just gotta CUT LOOSE.

gLeek out

by Alexandra - 3 Comment(s)

Alright... It's time for me to come clean about something... I'm a not-so-closeted gleek, and I feel like it's high-time I shared it with you guys.

I love Glee. I love the music, the over-the-top drama, the comedic timing, the great talent, the fast-paced narratives, the sets, the pretty faces, the 3D concert movie. I follow all of the stars on twitter. I have a shrine to Darren Criss on my bulletin board. I want to be Jane Lynch when I grow up.

But here's the thing... despite all of that, there is something about Glee that really, really irks me.

It's the cultural stereotypes that they perpetuate -- YES perpetuate, NOT disintegrate. For all of the good that Glee has done for raising arts-awareness in schools across North America, for all the attention it has brought to the difficulties of ostracized kids or hard-done-by educators, Glee STILL perpetuates far too many stereotypes for it to be doing much good at all.

The cheerleaders are stupid, bi#©hy, or knocked-up at 16. The Quarterback is more than a little dim. The Guidance Counsellor has her own undealt-with Mental Health issues. The black chick is a total diva complete with finger-snapping attitude and quips about her weave. The gay guy isn't just flaming, he's completely on fire... I can do this for every single character on the show, because the show does it to itself.

And sometimes, it is absolutely hilarious. I understand that stereotypes are a fast way to make a joke that everyone can laugh at, especially if the person you're laughing at is laughing too (that's how it works, right?). I understand that you need to reduce a cast of dozens into easily-identifiable traits so that viewers can keep track of everyone. In fact, the episode when Sue Sylvester does a roll-call for every minority student in the Glee Club is a self-conscious reference to what the show does every day:

"Wheels! Gay Kid! Asian! Other Asian! Aretha! Shaft!" she calls, inviting each student to join her "Rainbow Tent" of acceptance.

But here's the thing. When Sue does it we know it's funny, because her character is CLEARLY racist, mean, and slightly sociopathic. No one needs to call her out on being those things, because she knows them about herself.

But what about when Mr. Shu does it? Why does Mercedes only get to sing Motown classics or belt out the high notes after one of Rachel's solos? The show makes a joke about it every other episode... but they've been doing that for three seasons and still haven't changed it!

Why does Kurt ALWAYS sing Broadway Showtunes or songs written for women? (One of my Out friends told me the other day that Kurt's character does absolutely NOTHING to help the plight of "his people"...) Why does Santana ONLY sing songs that reflect her struggle with her sexual identity? SURE that's a huge thing she's going through, but there's more to her than that!

And here's the problem... alternating viewpoints mean that characters are continually getting slammed on the backburners. Unless the episode is focusing on their one specific storyline (Kurt's relationship to his dad, Santana and Britney's relationship, Artie's handicap...) and they get the spotlight for half an hour, each character is just left to sway in the background (like props) and are LUCKY to have a joke about their stereotype thrown their way. Oh... today is the Kurt and Blaine show? Well, we'll have Britney say something stupid and have Santana look at her lustily... that'll keep people interested in them! Finn and Rachel episode? Make Puck say something about Lauren being hot and fat, and show Artie's new flashers for his wheelchair!

This week's episode is called "Asian F". Mike (the OTHER Asian), receives an A- on an assignment, which apparently is the equivalent of a Fail for Asian students. His parents want him to quit the Glee club and focus on his schoolwork.

Funny, right? But is that because he's Asian, and all Asian kids have more parental pressure to do well in school than other students? We haven't heard ANYTHING so far about Mike being scholastically-inclined -- he's always been The Dancer. Is this a chance for character-development or just another stereotype to use as comedic fodder before we lose track of Mike again?

And does any of this even matter? Am I thinking WAY too much about a show that doesn't promise anything more than a little bit of fun and music for an hour a week? Are my hopes too high? Am I wrong and these stereotypes ARE doing some good in a twisted, backhanded way? Am I completely losing it and this is the whole POINT of the show???

Weigh in!

And if you're like me, and you just can't get past the LOVE part of your love/hate relationship with Glee, get your fix today from the Calgary Public Library! We've got everything from CD's and Sheet Music (for your OWN budding Show Choir) to full Seasons, guidebooks, and novelizations!

Banned Book Contest

by Alexandra May - 3 Comment(s)

Today marks the start of Banned Book week -- a week where we celebrate our freedom to read whatever we want... even if some people think it is unpopular, unconventional, or just plain wrong.

In honour of our right as Canadians to read ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, Calgary Public Library is holding a contest. There are three ways to enter:

  • Choose a book from this list and find an article about why it was banned. Respond to this article with counter-arguments for why it should NOT have been banned. If you've read the book, tell us what you thought of it!

  • Find a different example of censorship in Canada (other than book-banning) and comment on it.

  • Make a poster advertising for Banned Book week and upload it to Teens Create.

Winners of this contest will receive a Gift Certificate to Chapters/Indigo (so you can buy ANY book you want!) and will be announced on Monday October 3rd

Shiver our Timbers --Int'l Talk like a Pirate Day

by Alexandra May - 1 Comment(s)

What started out as a search for one or two books to tweet about on International Talk like a Pirate Day (Sept 19th 2011) has totally renewed my intense love for the whole scallywag genre.

Here are our top picks for Best Teen Pirate Fiction, and a couple of other fun things from Calgary Public Library. Avast-Ye!

Pirates: The True and Remarkable Adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, Female Pirates – If Historical Fiction is your thing, check out this exciting book about two young women from the 18C who are both trying to escape lives of subjugation in the West Indies. They travel the world, they look for treasure, and it’s historically accurate! Look for it in Electronic Resources, too!

Steel – This is a fantasy novel about Jill, a high school student and competitive fencer who finds herself magically transported onto a Pirate Ship when she’s SUPPOSED to be on family vacay in the Bahamas. All I can say is it’s a good thing she’s a fencer and not a Cosmetology major.

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean – Yeah, you read that right. It’s a paranormal fiction cross-over. But it’s got everything you could possibly want from either genre! Orphaned twins separated by miles of tempestuous ocean, swashbuckling swordfights and treasure hunts, and a crew of bloodsucking undead. Like Miley always says, you get the best of both worlds!

The always-hilarious and super-fun “One Piece” is a great example of pirates in Manga. Monkey D. Luffy’s body has the wonderful properties of rubber, which are super handy in some situations, but not so much when it comes to swimming. Still! He’s not gonna let that stand in the way of him becoming a pirate, or finding the greatest treasure in the world, the legendary One Piece.

We also have all the classics, like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (available in hardcover, electronic copy, graphic novel, audiobook, DVD, Muppet-version… you name it!) and the popular standard Pirates of the Carribbean – we have all the DVDs and Blu-Rays (with the new one on order so you can already place holds), Soundtracks, Visual Movie Guides, The Pirate's Code --Guidelines, and the awesome children’s books about Young Captain Jack (on the paperback spinners).

And one last tidbit… if you’re struggling with your Arr’s and Aye’s, your Calgary Public Library card gets you a free subscription to Mango Languages, including their pirate translator!

On the Bus? Bored? School Trip?= Audio Book

by Adrienne Adams - 0 Comment(s)

Going on a school trip? Bored? Get sick reading on the bus? Many of your favourite books are now being produced as Audio Books & Book CD's. Play them in the car while going to Vegas with friends or family. Down load one of our E-Books sound recordings from Overdrive on our e-library and listen on your i-pod while biking around the river or play a book cd on a cd-walkman while on the bus to school. In fact sitting outside sun-tanning while sipping virgin margaritas listening to an Audio Book might just have become one of my favourite weekend pastimes. Especially if they could get Leonard Cohen to do the voice... One of my favourites recently has been Wildwood Dancing by Juliette Marillier narrated by Kim Mai Guest. Kim's soft voice is intruiguing and one of the great things about listening to her describe all the beautiful Romanian worlds like "Piscu Dracuili", from Transalvania, is that I didn't have to guess at the correct pronounciation everytime. On CPL's Overdrive you can listen to an audio sample - giving you a chance to decide whether not the book interests you. You can also search for other audio books narrated by the same narrator (from other authors). Sometimes the author narrates their own book - most times not. Cybele's Secret - a companion novel to Wildwood Dancing is also available on Audio Book - I read this one just to compare - and I admit you can probably read faster than most people can speak... however can you read while baking, knitting, cycling, driving or drawing?

And there's some of your favourite titles! Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld won an award (Read by Alan Cumming). As did Will Grayson, Will Grayson which you'll like if you like Glee! (by John Green and David Leviathan) narrated by Macleod Andrews and Nick Podehl (both Odyssey Honor Audiobooks Award).

And of course there's the Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Colins- all three books are available on Audio and Book CD.

Others that have won awards include Alchmey and Meggy Swan (Karen Cushman, narrated by Katherine Kellgren), The Knife of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness, Mp3 narrated by Nick Podehl), and Revolution (Jennifer Donnelly, narrated by Emily Janice Card and Emma Bering). (Also Odyssey Honor Audies)

Mirror Mask - by Neil Gaiman Narrated by Stephanie Leonidas was quite enchanting and highlights the complexities of fighting with your mom...

I asked Alex what her Audiobook picks would be. She said, "If you'd rather listen to a book than read one, I highly recommend the mp3 copy of "An Abundance of Katherines" -- John Green's words hardly need someone to read them since they leap right off the page, but the narrator of this one does a great job anyways!

If you've never treated your ear canals to the audioCD of HARRY POTTER, you're in for a real surprise! Jim Dale has won TWO grammies and TEN Audies (Audio Awards) for his readings -- he has a different voice for every character and they're all phenomenal. I fall asleep to one of these books almost every night. I bet I could recite Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Princeby heart!!! There are also loads of audio books that are read by celebrities! Check out titles like "InkHeart", performed by Brendan Fraser and "Series of Unfortunate Events" read by the amazing Tim Curry!"

Personally though I think listening to Harry Potter before bed might explain some of the horrifically fantastic dreams Alex has reported having! Just saying... Those ones might be better for those long rides on the bus ;0)

Youth Read

by Jilliane Yawney - 0 Comment(s)

It’s that time again! That time of year where we Calgarians count ourselves lucky if we can milk a solid 8 weeks of sunshine out of our summer. That time where we laze around Prince’s Island Park trying not to get eaten alive by mosquitoes and geese. That time where we revel in the glory of reading books about… well… ANYTHING … as long as it’s not Polynomial Equations, Chemical Nomenclature, or (horror of horrors) Short Historical Fiction from the Canadian Prairies… Unless, you know, you’re into that sort of thing.

Whatever sort of thing you ARE into, Calgary Public Library is where it’s at. So... Gear up for this summer's YOUTH READ program! Full of challenges created by YOU, we have amped up all our Grand prizes, added new Weekly prizes, as well as ways to intereact with other teens, share your ideas, art, poetry writing and smarts! All this on top of your favourite activity - reading!

We’re running our YOUTH READ program from June 16th until August 31st, with contests, events, and some pretty sick prizes to be won all summer long!

*Go to the About This Contest page to learn how Youth Read works and be sure to check out our prizes. If your stymied about what to read, find out what others are reading. Challenges include: Cook/Invent a fabulous recipe, photograph it and submit it. Pick a celebrity & recommend a book they should read. Make a comic strip of a scene from your favourite book. Write a haiku book review of your favourite book and more!

So kick back, relax, and crack the spine of a new favourite, it’s time to YOUTH READ 2011!

Girl Reading in the Grass

DISCLAIMER: The creators of this site do not, in any way, recommend the cracking of book spines that have been borrowed from the Calgary Public Library. We also don’t recommend you crack the sides of your iPad or your e-Reader either. Or your own spine for that matter -- we can’t afford to pay your chiropractic bills… In fact, let’s just not crack any spines whatsoever. Instead, let’s kick back, relax, and gently-open-the-covers-of-a-well-loved-book or serenely-upload-the-WMA-files-of-an-e-book… it’s time to YOUTH READ 2011! (Yay.)

fReAkY cRaZy

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Freaky Crazy

If you haven't noticed, the bloggers here in the Teen Zone get pretty freakin' psyched about books. And there's one coming out on Tuesday that has us positively tingling. It's called "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children", and I have literally had my copy on hold from the second I heard about it.

Inspired by the freaky and crazy photography that came out of the Victorian Era, author Ransom Riggs pulled together some of the weirdest ones he could find, and wove a story around them.

It's about sixteen-year-old Jacob's discovery of an abandoned building that used to house children of extraordinary --and possibly dangerous-- talents. It's been labelled "tense", "moving", and "wondrously strange" and even though the book hasn't been released to the public yet, 20th Century Fox has already scooped the movie rights.

So here's the deal:

We're so excited about this book, we're going to start giving it away for free! We have several copies available to be won through the TEENS CREATE portion of this website.

There are two ways to submit an entry:

1) Create an image of the weird and wonderful. You're free to use digital photo-editing tools, but why not try playing around with perspective and exposure the way the Victorians used to? They loved things like carnival freak shows, fairies, and the paranormal.

2) Write a limerick as a caption to one of the photos in the image above! For example:

"There once was a man so balding,

That the back of his head was appaling.

He'd cover it with paint

(which attractive, it ain't)

and it earned him some awful name-calling."

Believe me, it won't be hard to write one that's better than that.

Once you've created your entry, all you have to do is log-in to TEENS CREATE, and upload your image or your limerick. Make sure you indicate somewhere in the title that it's an entry for "The fReAkY cRaZy Contest".

The contest closes June 16th, so you have about two weeks to get cracking. Once we have all of your submissions, we'll enter them in the draw for the book prizes. We'll inform everyone shortly after that who the winners are!

And just in case you guys need some paranormalic, steam-punky, or down-right creepy reads to tide you over until this one comes out, check out these:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Graphic Novel Cirque du Freak Leviathan The Hunchback Assignments Clockwork Angel

Potter Passport

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Harry Potters

You guys aren’t going to believe this. It’s seriously the best thing EVER and I’m not even just saying that. This is going to be the highlight of my life. Well… it’ll make Top 5 at LEAST.

Cineplex Sunridge and Chinook are offering HARRY POTTER PASSPORTS for $24.99 that will allow you to see the first SEVEN MOVIES again on the BIG SCREEN, as well as buy advance passes for the last movie on July 15th. It also gives you a chance to win a trip to London for the premiere, and you can download a copy of any of the first movies at a discounted price.

Yeah, I know, right?

The only catch is that they’re only offering two showings per movie, so if you can’t make them, you’re going to miss it.

Still, that’s better than trying to cram all seven of them in on July 14th (I realized the hard way that movie marathons stopped working after OOTP came out…)

If you’re fan-girling/boying as hard over this as I am, comment on this blog about the geekiest thing you've ever done in the name of Harry Potter. I’ll go first (in the comments section).

Gringott’s account is a little low on sickles at the moment? You can always check out all 7 of the released films on DVD or Blu-Ray from the Calgary Public Library!!!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1

And just in case you guys need a little something extra to tide you over, you HAVE to check out Team Starkid. Their phenomenal shows “A Very Potter Musical” and “A Very Potter Sequel” are TOTALLY AWESOME. If you haven’t seen them yet, I won’t spoil the fun, but you’re going to LOVE gLee’s Darren Criss as Harry, and he’s not even the best part!

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