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Read Across Canada: Alberta

by Patricia - 1 Comment(s)

Time to continue on our cross-country road trip!!! Get out the chips and pop, and keep the donuts coming.

We've made it over the Rockies to the prairies: beautiful skies as far as the eye can see, wheat fields stretching on and on and on... What DO Albertans do on those long winter nights? Apparently write, because there are lots of great authors in this province. But I've had to narrow it down to just three:

Monica Hughes wasn't born in Canada, but we're proud to have lured her in. After doing things like, oh, CRACKING CODES during WW II, she ended up living in good ol' Alberta. Although she was almost fifty when her first book was published, she ended up writing over 35 books and became known as one of Canada's best writers of science fiction for children and young adults.

Invitation to the Game is a dystopian novel set on Earth in the year 2154. Lisse and her friends struggle to survive until they are chosen to partipate in 'the Game', a virtual reality surival experience which leaves them unsure of the line between real life and fantasy. The Story Box is set on the island of Ariban, where imagination is forbidden. Then Colin discovers a young woman from a different land, who holds a beautiful chest in her hands she calls 'the story box'. And in her last book, The Maze, Andrea and two of her 'girl gang' tormentors are magically placed in a maze, where they all depend on Andrea for rescue.

But The Isis Trilogy is maybe her most well known work. In The Keeper of the Isis Light, Olwen Pendennis lives on the planet Isis, with Guardian as her only companion after her settler parents die. When colonists from an overpopulated and polluted Earth come to live in the valleys, Olwen fears her world will be changed forever. The Guardian of Isis takes place decades later, after the settlers have replaced their technological knowledge with myth. When a natural disaster threatens the colony, the overly-curious Jody N'Kumo goes searching for the truth. And finally, in The Isis Pedlar, Moira's father Michael Joseph Flynn brings great new stuff to Isis, like his magic firestone, delicious ambrosia, and mysterious Forever Machine. Only Moira knows what a charlatan he really is, and it's up to her to expose him before it's too late!

David A. Poulsen has been a broadcaster, teacher, football coach, actor, and of course, writer. But his coolest and most Albertan activity is - rodeo announcer! Last year, when he wasn't at rodeos, he was busy being Writer in Residence at the Chinook Arch Library System in southern Alberta.

David Poulsen's first work was the award winning short story The Welcomin’. He's written twenty books since. You could check out Last Sam's Cage, in which Eddie runs away from his abusive stepfather to live at the Calgary zoo. He's also written lots of 'jock' stories, like Wild Thing, Blind Date, and Cowboy Cool, set (mostly) in Lawrence 'Jock Joint' High . And in Numbers, misfit Andy Crocket finds out his cool Social teacher Mr. Retzlaff is giving his class a skewed look at history, especially WW II.

His latest, Old Man, is about a road trip (ha! see how that ties in?) involving 16- year-old Casey and his 'old man' - NEVER 'dad', since he left when Casey was five. Casey has plans for the summer: get fit, get some money, and get the girl. But when the 'old man' calls unexpectedly, he's forced into giving up all his plans, to go who knows where, for who knows what reason, with this dude that he doesn't know at all. Not to give anything away, but they end up in Vietnam, hoofing it through the jungle. Casey has an ironic sense of humour which makes his first-person account really enjoyable.

Martine Leavitt was born in Alberta, went to the University of Calgary, and raised her seven children (whew!) here. She still lives here when she's not working a the University of Vermont. She writes contemporary and fantasy novels.

You'll find her first three novels, Dragon's Tapestry, Prism Moon, and The Taker's Key - aka the Marmawell Trilogy - under the name of her 'alter ego', Martine Bates. Many of her books are award winners, like Keturah and Lord Death, Tom Finder - which is set in Calgary - and Heck Superhero.

My book of life by Angel is her latest book. There are a few reasons why it's of special interest. First, it's a 'novel in verse'. If that worries you, don't let it. It's a quick read, but the story and writing are still amazing. And you think 'poems' are all about daffodils and kittens? Think again! This one is about a 16-year-old drug-addicted prostitute living with her pimp, 'Call', in downtown Vancouver (yes, we've gone back over the Rockies, but it's all still Canada, right?) When Call brings home a 13-year-old girl, Angel knows she has to do something to get her out of there, especially since there are rumours of a serial killer preying on the 'girls.' This story tells it like it is, without any preachy 'after school special' moments. The Canadian Library Association just named this their winner for the Young Adult Book Award for 2013!

Well, that should give you lots of stuff to read, when you're not checking out the Badlands or hitting the Stampede. Next stop - Saskatchewan!

Book cover Book cover Book cover Book cover Book cover Book cover Book cover

Read Across Canada — B.C.

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

OK, we all know Canadians have a lot to be proud about - great actors and musicians, beautiful natural spaces, and of course, our ability to survive even the coldest of Canadian winters. We also have a ton of super talented Canadian authors! The snow is melting now and if you're already dreaming of (or dreading) your summer vacation, come along on our virtual reading road trip - this week, we're starting off in B.C.

susin nielsenSusin Nielsen lives in Vancouver and used to write scripts for TV shows including Degrassi High. These days, she writes funny, realistic novels with characters you'll wish you knew in real life!

In Word Nerd, Ambrose is being homeschooled after a near-fatal run in with bullies, and he is B-O-R-E-D. He strikes up an unlikely friendship with Cosmo, his landlord's ex-con son, and they bond over the strangest of things - competitive Scrabble.dear george clooney book cover

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry my Mom - that's what Violet decides is the only answer after her father trades in his life for a seemingly better one and leaves her mom behind. Violet is disgusted when her mom starts dating the terribly named Dudley Wiener, the latest in a long line of awful relationships, and decides it's time to take matters into her own hands.

Henry K. Larsen is only writing this journal because his therapist says he has reluctant journal book coverto. He's seeing a therapist because something terrible has happened to his family, and they have moved to a new town to start fresh. Despite the tragedy, Henry's story is full of humour and hope, and you'll wish you could reach into this book and give him a hug. Also of note - this book just won the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award!

hunt of the unicorn cover

author cc humphreysAuthor, actor, and swordsman (yes, swordsman!) C.C. Humphreys lives on Salt Spring Island, B.C., and has written a swashbuckling YA novel called The Hunt of the Unicorn. Elayne's family tells stories about stepping through a tapestry into a world of mythical creatures, stories that she has always loved. Stories that could never happen in the real world, in modern day New York, where she lives. Until one day, she visits The Cloisters, a medieval art museum in New York, and sees her own initials woven into an ancient tapestry. Then she hears the unicorn calling her - and falls into the world her family always warned her about.

I could go on, of course, but I think that's enough for one excursion - next stop: Alberta!

So you have some difficult Questions? Who you gonna call?

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

 

You know those questions you don't want to ask ANYbody? Or you talk about all the time but your friends seem useless at? Yeah those questions... Sometimes it's much easier not to .. or to browse the Internet or..., well we have just added some Teen Health & Wellness Links to our TeenZone page precisely for that reason! Plus we have a great book list. Warning= Scroll down on the page to see them! We also have more - lists on particular subjects such as Death & Disease, My Body, GLBTQ, Disabilities & Disorders under our INTENSE Booklists tab. Last year I wrote a blog called My Life Just Turned Upside Down that has some great book suggestions in it as well! To access the page normally click on our Teens page. There are health & wellness and a jobs & career links tabs which both get you to the same place. Or - you can access them through the Information tab under our Booklists on the top left hand side of the Teens page.

Here is a list of what's on the page and how it might be helpful. I encourage you to check out the pages - lots of them have interactive elements like live chat, places to submit your own art and writing and to take quizzes/ games at. Some feature videos, clubs, and courses you can take as well.

kids help phone logo

Kid’s Help Phone

24 hour Confidential counselling, information and referral for youth up to age 18.

By phone or On-line Chat. Legal Advice.

Website has some great mini pages on Bullying, Dating, Finding a place to live etc.

connecteen logo Connect Teen (Calgary Distress Centre)

24hr Counselling & Emergency Service.

Chat on-line or on the phone.

Connect Teen also offers a Youth Blog.

maple leaf

Just for You

Youth Health Information (Government of Canada):

A comprehensive information source for teen health.

calgary sexual health centre logo

Calgary Sexual Health Centre

Offers teens information about birth control, safe sex, STD’s, relationships and coming out.

calgary outlink logo

Calgary Outlink

The Inside Out Youth Group is a fun, Calgary, casual, peer and social group for GLBTQ youth. The group is a safe and welcoming place for all. Group facilitators are trained volunteer youth peer support and adult support.

mental health logo

Canadian Mental Association - Got a Brain?

Education around mental health and positive ways of managing it. Includes resources about stress, suicide, eating disorders and teen depression.

Submit your story, play on-line games.

between friends logo

The Calgary Between Friends Club

Fun and fellowship for disabled youth!

ldaa

Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta-Calgary Chapter

Support for teenagers with learning disabilities.

Programs, services, on-line library.

Perspectives = On-line magazine.

street survival guide cover

Street Guide for Calgary Youth

Names and addresses of dozens of organizations to help youth living on the streets and with general

 

Looking for a job, house or career advice (yes we are aware that teens need this type of advice on occasion) our Jobs and Careers links can help as well as this great booklist!

WE HOPE THIS HELPS!!

2013 Freedom to Read Week Contest!

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

 

Did you love The Hunger Games? Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Have you ever read a book by John Green, Neil Gaiman, or Lauren Myracle?

Would it surprise you to know that these books and authors, and many more, have been the targets of challenges meant to stop teens just like you from reading them? In fact, many of the 100 most challenged books of the last decade have been books for kids and teens - you can see the whole list here.

Every February Canadians celebrate Freedom to Read Week as a reminder of one of the fundamental freedoms set forth in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression - which includes reading and writing. We're lucky to live in a society that is mostly free from censorship, but even here in Canada we have to keep our eyes open. There are always people who want to "protect" teens by taking away books that offend them - like the ones I just mentioned:

hunger games coverharry potter coverlooking for alaska titlem is for magic coverttfn cover

But books are important, especially difficult, painful, possibly offensive books. As YA author Cheryl Rainfield says,

"Books saved me - realistic books that helped me know I wasn’t alone and fantasy that helped me escape. Books helped me survive the extreme abuse that was my childhood and teenhood. I know how important it is to know you’re not alone in your pain. That’s part of why I wrote Scars...I know what it’s like to have no one to turn to, nothing to help you hang on, except books. To have a book that might help anoth­er teen be kept from them—it seems wrong to me on a deep level."

It seems wrong to us, too. That's why we hold the Freedom to Read Week Contest every year. This year, the question is, "If you didn't have the freedom to choose what you read, what would that look like?"

You can enter in one of three ways:

  • Make a poster (draw, paint or use photography and other graphic arts, 8½ x 14” or 11 x 17”)
  • Write a poem, short story or essay (max. 300 words)
  • Create a film (3 min. or less)

All content must be your own work, except for short, cited quotations. Contest is open to Calgary students in grades 7 to 9. Include your name, school, grade and telephone number with your entry.

To enter:
Send your project by e-mail to
freedomtoread@calgarypubliclibrary.com
AND upload to Teens Create
(http://www.calgarypubliclibrary.com/teens/teens-create)

OR submit a hardcopy to any Calgary Public Library location.

One entry per person.
Deadline for submissions is Friday, February 15, 2013

Dystopian Popularity Continued...

by Adrienne - 5 Comment(s)

So here we continue our dystopian saga, discussing why these current YA novels are so popular... from a Social Studies perspective. Try this analysis on one of your teachers to see what their reaction is!

Divergent by Veronica Roth, calls this into question; what are the most important human character traits to uphold in order to eradicate evil from human nature? Which would you choose: Intelligence, honesty, selflessness, amiability or bravery? Partially inspired by Roth's study of exposure therapy, Divergent questions the very definition of bravery. How do you define bravery? What do you think it means to be brave? Can one character trait exist in isolation or do they always act in multiple possible combinations? What is your utopia? Can utopia be universal? Or is one's person's heaven always another person's hell? What happens in a utopia when people are non-conforming? At what point/what causes a utopian ideology to become dystopian? Real life examples would be communism under Mao or Democracy under Bush.

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale has left both Matched and Wither trailing in its wake. All three deal with genetics, i.e. matching and slavery. Lack of choice is prevalent. Think Star Trek laced with a hint of The Giver by Lois Lowry. If you add undertones of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, a book which I first read when I was 16, you begin to get the picture.

It's rare that I read a YA novel that I immediately want to re-read just to absorb all the poetry of the prose; it's that beautiful! Plus there is so much symbolism embedded into the book that you can tell Ally Condie used to be a High School English teacher. YA novels are often all about action and suspense. Matched, moving along at an ever quickening clip, certainly leaves you breathlessly wanting more at the end. Poetry is however, central to the book. It highlights the power of art to have political influence and be a strong force to fight against the apathy prevalent in coercive societies. There's a reason books/music/art get burned/banned. Matched underscores the power of choice; why it's important to have and why it might be beneficial not to. Implicit is that choice, held either in our own hands or societies, carries with it the ability to make both mistakes and successes. We can cause ourselves and others, both joy and sorrow along the way. Ultimately Matched takes a stance that human dignity; requires it. Otherwise we can all become so en-thralled...

The Hunger Games deals with many themes including survival, loyalty, slavery, and class privilege. It is this book that originally inspired this blog. Going out to schools in Calgary to do presentations for the library I came across many Junior High Social and Language Arts teachers who were using The Hunger Games for a novel study. It's a great book with so many leads for humanities discussions. In this way it follows The Giver by Lois Lowry, a book which is often used in schools as well.Both of these books have been banned in various places but that just gives credence to the fact that they deal with serious issues!

What struck me most about the Hunger Games is how closely it mimics a reality TV show, such as Survivor. The book thus deftly comments on our cultures obsession with entertainment; our need for vicarious living and ever more potent adrenaline boosters. And I admit I was drawn in, fully entertained, gripped by all the action suspense, romance and yes... suffering. This is in combination with a strong female character we can wholly sympathize with. Vicarious living at its finest! We are supposedly far above the Romans in our taste for civilized entertainment. But are we? Movies are simulated; reality TV shows "volunteered" for, and the news? Reality relayed at 6 'O clock each evening full of... human suffering.

For some interesting thoughts on Dystopian Fiction check out the following INFOGRAPHICS:

The Dystopian Timeline to The Hunger Games

If You Liked “The Hunger Games”…

Here's why one fellow YYC teen thinks dystopian novels are so popular these days. Warning: this may be a downer.

Soooo... anyone up for writing the next UTOPIA? We could certainly use some positive societal visioning. Any budding writers out there? Check out this Cartoon version of Thoreau at Walden. We'd LOVE to hear your voices in TEENSCREATE!

Why are Dystopian Novels so popular? Because they deal with reality...

by Adrienne - 3 Comment(s)

Why are Dystopian Novels so popular? This current trend not just with teens, it is also popular with many adults. These YA novels have even your parents following them! Why? Because they deal with real life issues that we either face in the world every day, or that the WORLD at large deals with every day. The proof is in the pudding eh? So what issues DO the current faves and bests deal with?

Wither The main issue this book deals with is the possible unknown side-effects of genetic engineering and insufficiently tested cures. This applies today to more than just genetics research; we have many diseases with unknown cures and unknown causes... Do we know the full effects of a lifetime of eating Kraft diner, painting our nails with formaldehyde polish, or spraying DDT on our vegetables and consequent genetic defects? No... and on and on and on with 100 million products and experiments we conduct every day. Diseases like ALS are New and just popping up and others like AIDS and many cancers still have no known cures.

Wither also deals with objectifying women and young girls solely for their looks (very western), reproductive capacities (prevalent in various countries today) and reproductive slavery. Slavery is slavery even within the confines of comfy couches and pretty lipsticks... As well as taking a look at what love really Is and Is not.

Birthmarked also takes a hard look at reproductive slavery, as well as being a case study for third world vs. first world paradigms. Set in 2403 in a society where our world and time is labeled "the cool age", it is an imaginative rendering of post apocalyptic survival - global warming style. The book even dares to propose how various current energy solutions such as using geothermic energy could have negative effects on society; or certain members of society, whenever dictatorship reigns. Our current world deals with global warming; 1st world vs. 3rd world; class issues and divisions within society (some more stark and apparent than others and some more covert); alternative energies and dictatorships Every Day. Perhaps the resonance of these books is not in their outlandish imaginings, but rather in their expressions of current realities made more digestible through the form of story. Check out the movie trailer here.

The Graceling series is perhaps one of the most multi-layered dystopian series of the bunch, teetering into the verge of fantasy, but striking home so closely to reality that I often found the books very difficult to read (even though this consequently made them my favourites of the bunch.) Dealing with issues of literacy and class, ability vs. disability, dictatorships, sociopaths, murder, justice, memory and healing, they also insert things such as birth-control and GLBTQ as givens, positive aspects of this much troubled society.

Bitterblue is the story of both a girl and a society recovering from the effects of a regime of terror. How does one uncover truth? How are "war crimes" dealt with fairly when the entire society is both implicitly guilty and traumatized at the same time? Can a thief be loyal, just, trustworthy and lovable? Can one be treasonous, break the law and yet be loyal and just under the law at the same time? How can just 4% of the population (the statistical existence of sociopaths) cause so much damage?


For some interesting thoughts on Dystopian Fiction check out the following INFOGRAPHIC: Is It Dystopia?

Social Studies 101 coming up, in the form of case studies presented in really engaging YA novels!

Stay tuned next Sunday for Part 2 of this blog: Dystopian Popularity Continued...

Youth Video Contest!

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

We all know homophobic bullying in schools is wrong. And we all know it happens.

Shine BookcoverThere have been some amazing books written on the topic. One of my faves is Lauren Myracles Shine which tells the story of 16-year-old Cat and her best friend, Patrick, who happens to be gay. When Patrick is beaten and left for dead, Cat decides to unravel the mystery behind this terrible hate crime. They live in a small Southern Caroline town and Cat has to navigate her way through the tightly knit community to find the perpetrator. Although the Sheriff assumes the criminals are from out-of-town (because no one from our town would do this!), Cat visits all her friends, including the "redneck possee" Patrick used to hang around with, to discover the truth. She uncovers some dangerous secrets (people dealing and using meth) and a great deal of shame that many people feel because of how they treated Patrick. Cat reflects on all of this, and of course, discovers a lot about herself in the process--which is all very insightful. A sombre and compelling story with a hopeful ending--I defintely think you will love Shine.

We have a whole list of interesting books on the topic homosexuality. You'll find it here (but you have to scroll down just a bit!).

At the moment, an AMAZING contest is being held to raise awareness for homophobic bullying in schools and to help stamp it out. The prizes are sweet, the challenge is fun and it's open to all Canadian youth.

Here's what you gotta do:

Create a short video and submit it by June 11th that challenges homophobia and bullying. For more info, visit Out In Schools.

But really, this video says it all:

My world just turned... UPSIDEDOWN!

by Adrienne - 5 Comment(s)

What do we do when our world falls apart? Many of us turn to books and movies -- as a means of escape and coping -- but in addition to solace, books offer solutions and advice, empathy and new ways of thinking; and not just non-fiction. Much of the best new advice and ideas are fostered in fiction. Perhaps this is why dystopian novels are so popular. As a teen I read several books which definitely saved my butt. These include: "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion zimmer Bradley (this was a life changing book for me), "Girl Interrupted" by Susan Kaysen, Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning", "Sophie's World: a Novel on the History of Philosophy" by Josten Gardner, Huxley's "Brave New World" and others. I found it interesting to see that many of these titles are on our lists for Adult Books for Teens... Looking back I was probably going through a "midlife" existential crisis - at the tender age of sixteen! This, I realize, is not all that uncommon. As teens, our lives are tough. We are dealing many things, many crises, big and small (the zit on my nose! ahh! my parents' divorce ahhh!). And we are relatively new at coping, rarely having had to practice these skills because our parents or caregivers shield us from most of the struggles of childhood. Sometimes we are not new, as Sherman Alexie points out in an article on a recent visit to a Seattle alternative high school. "When I think of the poverty-stricken, sexually and physically abused, self-loathing Native American teenager that I was, I can only wish, immodestly, that I’d been given the opportunity to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Or Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. Or Chris Lynch’s Inexcusable....And now I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing everyday and epic dangers. I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons—in the form of words and ideas—that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed."

Regardless, in addtion to being entertaining, books offer glimpses into other peoples' lives, hopes, dreams, problems, solutions and resolutions. Books, or rather stories, can make us resilient. I'm going to be bold and go so far as offering up books as lifesavers. Claiming their rightful place in the creation of a sane society. So I thought this would be a nice tie-in to Canadian author Steven Galloway's book "The Cellist of Sarajevo", for CPL's 'One Book One Calgary' intitiave (read it, it's good!). It explores the resiliency and power of the human spirit so I created a display called "My world just turned... UPSIDEDOWN!" which showcases some of these books. I've included some bizarre and strange Graphic Novels as I think stretching our imaginations is one of the best ways of envisioning new possibilites. They also provide delicious escape -- which it is essential to do many times in order to maintain one's mental health. So whatever you are dealing with (as I'm sure there's something, whether you are a teen or not..) here are some literary life jackets:

RAPE

SUICIDE/ ANXIETY/ DEPRESSION/ CUTTING

and FYI Cynthia Voigt is one of my new fave authors - check out some of her fantasy books too!

+ check out this ladies blog!! http://simpleeserene.com/

EATING DISORDERS

PREGNANCY

SEX

GIRL POWER / CENSORSHIP

GLBTQ

STREET KIDS/ SCHOOL SUSPENSION / FIGTHTING

DRUGS

... and one short tear jerker on the resiliency of the human heart...