Category Archives: Teens

Get Away With Teen Read Week

By Erin Holt and Howard Shirley, Teen Department

Teen Read week is here! Sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association, Teen Read Week highlights books and reading for teens and young adults. This year’s theme is “Get Away at Your Local Library,” and we’ve compiled a list of new books to help teen readers do just that. We’ve recently added all of these books (and many more) to our collection at the Franklin Teen Room, so come by, grab a book, and get away!

Get Away to Another Time: Capture the experience of the past, whether long ago or even simply a few decades, with these recent works of historical fiction:25163300

  • Audacity by Melanie Crowder, YA F CROWDER: A historical novel in verse about Clara Lemlich, a real life heroine in the fight for women’s labor rights at the turn of the century.
  • The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, YA F SCHLITZ: Be taken back to 1911 with Joan, a fourteen year old who just wants her life to turn out like the books she reads and loves. This novel explores feminism, the role of women in history, and how dreams aren’t as far out of reach as we think.

Get Away to Another Planet: Soar away with new science fiction adventures:Avalon

  • Avalon and Polaris by Mindee Arnett, YA F ARNETT: A teenage boy fights for freedom in his family’s aging spaceship in this future space adventure series.
  • Serenity, Firefly Class 03-K64: Leaves on the Wind by Zack Whedon, YA F WHEDON: Fans of the short-lived science fiction television series Firefly can recapture the adventure with this graphic novel, set in the time immediately following the events of the movie Serenity. (Suitable for older teens.)

Get Away to Another Life: Stay in the present (and near future) with these new contemporary adventures:Mosquitoland-314x475

  • We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach, YA F WALLACH Go on a journey with 4 high school teenagers as they face themselves, each other, and their inner demons as they await a meteor to hit Earth. This stunning debut is best suited for older teens.
  • Mosquitoland by David Arnold F YA ARN: Combine a road trip, a romance, a homeless man, and a cast of quirky character and you’ve got a surefire hit with this awesome debut novel.

Get Away to Another World: Fantasy: Get whisked away into a world like you’ve never known in these fantasy novels.

  • 23569428Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman, YA F HERMAN: The first installment of the brand new Blood of Gods of Royals series, this book will leave you wanting more! Join main character Katerina as she embarks on a royal mission, involving murder and a love triangle!
  • The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang, YA F YAN: This graphic novel tells the story of an American Chinese teen in the time leading up to World War II, whose mother vows to turn him into a superhero. Based on an actual pre-war comic book hero created by a Chinese-American artist, the book is pure fantasy, but also a revealing look at the American Chinese culture of the time.

Get Away with Girl Power:Looking for a strong and confident main character who is a girl? These books are for you!24957546

  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, YA F MUR Willowdean is fat, and okay with it. When a beauty pageant opportunity arises, it’s her big chance to prove how beauty comes from this inside as well as the outside, regardless of size.
  • Queen of Shadows by Sara J. Maas YA F MAAS If you love the THRONE OF GLASS series, get in line for the next installment in this awesome series about assassins, espionage and more as you follow the path of the strong and awesome Celaena Sardothien! A combination of fantasy and girl power all rolled into one!

Forgotten History: The WWII Novels of Ruta Sepetys

By Howard Shirley. Teen Department

The Battle of Britain. Pearl Harbor. Stalingrad. The Holocaust. Seventy years later, the events and places of the Second World War echo in our minds, in stories we’ve told over and over, in novels, memoirs, television and film. One might think there is nothing new to discover, no secrets left unexamined. But the truth is that much of that history still remains hidden and forgotten, not because of conspiracy or government secrets, but merely because few have bothered to look— except for novelist Ruta Sepetys.

rutasepetys_photoThe daughter of a war refugee from Lithuania, young Ruta grew up hearing stories of her family’s escape from war-torn Europe. A Lithuanian military officer, Ruta’s grandfather found himself in the crosshairs of Stalin’s secret police, when the Soviet Union overran Lithuania and her sister Baltic states, Estonia and Latvia, in the opening months of World War II. Knowing without any doubt what he and his family’s fate would be, the officer fled into Germany with his family, including Ruta’s father, a young boy. They lived out the war in a refugee camp, little more wanted by the German government than the Soviets. Eventually, the family immigrated to America; the boy grew up, married, and Ruta was born.

But as Ruta herself says, that was only ever half of the story. Because though the war had ended, Lithuania would remain in the Soviet grip for fifty years. And among those in that grip, were the other half of the Sepetys family—the aunts, uncles and cousins she never knew, who had not slipped from Stalin’s noose.

And a noose it was. From 1941 through 1944, Stalin arrested, tortured, deported and murdered Lithuania’s political and intellectual classes en masse, in a ruthless effort to crush the Lithuanian nation and erase its culture from Europe, replaced by the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Communist Party.

Ruta’s family was part of that purge. Herded into crude train cars built for cattle, with the outside labelled “Thieves and Prostitutes,” Lithuanian doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, and their families, including the elderly, children and even infants, were shipped across the breadth of Russia to Siberia, some even forced to settle in the tundra above the Arctic Circle. Denied food, medicine, winter clothing and even the most rudimentary shelter, countless numbers died from neglect and exposure. Others were killed outright by the brutal NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB of the Cold War era. And, of course, any of Lithuania’s political or military classes, not to mention college professors and journalists, were never sent to Siberia; they were carted into Soviet prisons on trumped up charges, tried, convicted and executed by Stalin for the Glory of Mother Russia.

Most in the West had no idea, or for that matter, even cared.

Until Ruta Sepetys asked what happened to her cousins.

In her curiosity, Sepetys found the forgotten story of her family and the Lithuanian people—a story she had never fully known. As she says, there was only one thing she knew to do: pick up a pen, and write.

tumblr_mg09hdS6En1rgach4o7_400And she did. She wrote her first novel, Between Shades of Gray, the tale of a girl very much like the Sepetys cousins, a teenager with dreams of being an artist, who is instead swept up into the nightmare of Stalin’s greed. Between Shades of Gray is her story, but it is also the story of the Lithuanian people—the forgotten history that to this day Russian strong men wish to keep hidden. It is a tale of survival, of fortitude, of hope, and of love. Now translated into over 30 languages and sold in 45 countries around the world, Between Shades of Gray has broken open the lock of history, and the story of Lithuania and her Baltic neighbors is now known around the world, and will never be forgotten.

But this blog is about novels, not just one book.

Because Ruta has found another forgotten piece of history to bring before the world. And it’s the answer to this question:

What is the greatest maritime disaster in history?

The sinking of the Titanic?

Not even close.

It is the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustoff, a civilian liner acting as a refugee ship, and filled by Baltic and German civilians trying to escape the rape of eastern Europe by the Soviet Red Army. The Gustoff went down in the freezing Baltic Sea, in the winter of 1945, sunk not by an accidental encounter with an iceberg, but a torpedo strike from a Soviet submarine. On board were an estimated ten thousand people; almost all were civilian refugees. Barely a thousand survived.

Nine thousand souls lost. Nine thousand stories forgotten.

But not by Ruta.

34352-1With her latest novel, Salt to the Sea (February 2016) Ruta Sepetys once again takes a moment in history the world has overlooked, and restores it fresh before us. Four teens flee the Soviet onslaught, each with their secrets, their fears, and their dreams. Four stories converge on a German port, the Baltic Sea, and the Wilhelm Gustoff. Through the eyes of these teens, Sepetys explores questions of guilt, forgiveness and redemption, what is truly meant by bravery and cowardice, and what happens when the soul abandons compassion for self-deluding pride. Ruta’s writing is always captivating; the simplest sentence carries weight beyond its words. The smallest detail sparks a vivid image, sometimes stark, sometimes brilliant, but each time beautiful. With her words, Sepetys captures moments in time, like memories renewed to life. With this story, Sepetys explores the human heart. There is adventure, there is mystery, there is villainy, there is tragedy, and there is hope. In Salt to the Sea, the forgotten are forgotten no longer, and in Ruta’s pen, the sea gives up its dead.

You’ll have to wait until February to read Salt to the Sea, but Between Shades of Gray is available now on our Teen Room shelves. Pick it up, and transport yourself into a history you never knew, and a story you will never forget.

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter! (And Neville Longbottom, too.)

By Howard Shirley, Teen Department

9610573944_25fc1360f5_o_dBorn as the seventh month dies, as all Harry Potter fans know, is the haunting prophecy that forever establishes the boy wizard’s birthday as July 31. Though Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone* was first published in 1997 (making the series nearly 20 years old), according to Rowling the character himself was born in 1980, making the wizard a thirty-five year old father of three, with his adventures beginning in 1991 and coming to an end in 1998, when he was 18.

So, what’s Harry been up to for the last 17 years or so? The series ends with an epilogue featuring Harry’s two sons headed for Hogwarts, set presumably in September 2017, when Harry is 37. In it we come to know that Harry is an Auror, more or less the equivalent of a wizardly policeman/ secret agent.** Aside from this, little else is offered, although during the years, she has dropped hints and tidbits about her characters’ lives . It’s pretty much up to the fans to imagine what his life is like, though the scene implies it’s a happy one.

Last year, JK Rowling offered a tidbit about Harry and his friends through her Pottermore web site, featuring an article written by (notorious) wizardly gossip columnist Rita Skeeter (introduced in the fourth novel, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Of course, whatever Rita Skeeter writes is “deliciously nasty,” to quote Albus Dumbledore, and less than accurate. In this case, it’s more or less a “seen and heard” column about audience members at the Quidditch World Cup,*** with Skeeter’s nastiness limited to cracks about gray hairs (Harry), thinning hair (Ron), and more than dubious rumors of unhappiness at home in the Potter marriage. The article itself is only available on Pottermore, but a further summary of the contents can be found here.

tumblr_mt0ozs1irR1qdibyzo1_r1_500But there are other developments going on as well. JK Rowling has already penned a new Harry Potter screenplay, based on her short book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (by Newt Scamander), itself a fictional bestiary of magical creatures which Harry and company use as a textbook at Hogwarts.**** Eddie Redmayne, an Oscar winner for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking, has already been signed to play the titular author, and an open casting call has been made for a young heroine named Modesty, Newt’s daughter. The film is initially reported to be a trilogy. For more info, the magic of the web will guide you to the following articles:

But those are not stories about Harry, as they are set some seventy years before Harry is born, and apparently in New York City (so perhaps we’ll see what life is like for American wizards and witches?).

Rowling has instead crafted another Harry Potter tale, though it’s neither a story nor a novel, but a stage play. Scheduled to open in 2016 in London’s West End theatre district, the title is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and was co-written with award winning playwright Jack Thorne. Rowling has said it’s “not a prequel,” though it tells more of the story of Harry’s parents. And of course we have yet another magical link.

So there you have it—all that is happening in the wizarding world (at least that we Muggles know of).*****

On a side note there is some “old news” that even local fans may not be aware of—there is a Tennessee connection with the Harry Potter novels (and films). It involves a famous legend and ghost story of middle Tennessee, and the connection appears in every novel of the series. It’s not until the fifth novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, that the full legend comes into play (with a little hold over into the sixth novel). What’s the connection? Well, let’s just say it involves a famous witch, a poltergeist (a spirit who throws things), and a family curse. If you want to find the connection, read the books again!

And that’s our birthday present to you—more to learn (and love) about…images


*The novel was retitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for its American release, and the name of the title object was similarly changed, but otherwise it’s the same book.

** So, does he introduce himself to the bad guys as “Potter. Harry Potter,” and order his butterbeer shaken? We remain in mystery.

*** Quidditch is a wizard’s sport, sort of combination of field hockey , soccer, cricket and dodgeball, combined with a one-item “I spy” hunt and played on broomsticks. Really, where have you been for the last twenty years that you don’t know this?

**** Hogwarts is the boarding school where Harry and other young witches and wizards go to learn about magic, and, apparently, fight various nasty creatures and servants of the evil wizard Lord Voldemort, who seems to have a habit of terrorizing the school at least once a year. But only during term.

*****Non-magical people who can’t cast spells or fly around on broomsticks, but have to ride cars and airplanes and use telephones, e-mail and Twitter instead of owls to convey our messages. Really, do try to keep up!


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department


Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

I actually enjoyed this book despite the numerous YA novel cliches that it invokes.  Yes, there is an oppressive government, the main character is one of the oppressed and discovers she’s “special”, she becomes part of the revolution, and there is a love triangle.  However, this typical story is made more interesting when the oppressive group are armed with superpowers, such as super-strength, super-speed, telepathy and various abilities to manipulate metal, plants, fire, water, animals, ect., which makes it much more difficult for the oppressed to fight back.  Unfortunately, the characters are a little predictable and flat, with the main character acting inconsistent and thoughtless, but the revolution and the rebel’s plans make it much more interesting.  When battling against a superhuman group, sometimes dark and violent decisions have to be made.

Overall, it feels like a typical YA government oppression book, but it saves itself with a ruthless rebellion and superpowers.  These two aspects add an edge that heightens the tension and danger in the book and makes the reader want to discover what happened.  My hope is that the rest of the trilogy focuses on darkness of the rebellion instead of the romance or the drama between characters.


LGBTQ Teen Reads!

By Erin Holt, Teen Department

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer month and in recognition, we have compiled a list of TEEN reads that have characters and themes around LGBTQ. Check our shelves and chat with our Librarians for more info!


Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
Two teens with the same name have paths that cross, bringing them together in unexpected ways.

Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by John Green & David Levithan
Tiny Cooper is BACK … and in a musical! This sequel to Will Grayson, Will Grayson is one that you definitely don’t want to miss!

See You At Harrys by Jo Knowles
Fern and her brother Holden (who is gay but hasn’t told anyone yet) world is changed when a tragic accident tears their family apart.

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
What it means to be not a boy, not a girl, but both.

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Twins Jude and Noah each tell their side of the story…without realized that the other half to their stories is missing.

George by Alex Gino
What happens when a boy wants to play a girl in a school play. This book tackles the issue of transgender in today’s society.

For other books dealing with LGBTQ issues, check the YALSA website.  Learn about nationally observed months implemented by Presidential Proclamation, Executive Orders and Public Law at the Library of Congress.

** As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophies or principles of Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their parents, children, friends, or housepets.


National Teen Literature Day

urlBy Erin Holt, Teen Librarian

On this Thursday of National Library Week, we take the day to reflect on Teen Literacy with the celebration of Teen Literature Day! What is that you ask? A day that we (librarians, libraries) dedicate to raising awareness about ALL the awesome teen literature is out there. This includes everything from the classics to the newly published books, from manga to fiction to non-fiction and event magazines. How are we celebrating here at WCPLtn you ask? We have NEW book displays up in our TEEN ROOM and in our display case in the rotunda on the 2nd floor; in addition, we’re hosting several programs this week including Lego Mindstorms, Game Day, Aveda Makeovers and Chess Club, all designed to bring teens together in celebration of what their library has to offer. And while they’re here, we hope that they will pick up a display book, or even find a hidden gem in the stacks! So get out there and celebrate all that Teen Literature has to offer! Join us for a program or just stop by and introduce yourself! Miss Erin and Mr Howard are here to chat, help and have fun with our awesome teens!


Teen Tech Week

photo 1By Erin Holt, Teen Department

It’s officially Teen Tech Week ! Libraries around the country are celebrating in many different ways, combining crafts, technology, and more! Here at WCPLtn, we celebrated by hosting our final Lego Mindstorms Club meeting, playing the Wii U, and even putting technology to the side one afternoon by playing various board games!

photo 2Our Teens did a great job under the guidance of Middle Tennessee State Community College professor Alan Fisher. They started out learning the various parts of the Lego Mindstorm, moved to building their own robot, and finally learned the intricacies of programming the robot! By the end they had their robots sensing colors, objects, and even doing dances to various pop songs! Everyone had a blast and some even used the sessions to aid in earning their merit badge for boy scouts!

photo 3If you’re interested in attending an upcoming Lego Mindstorms program, follow us on Twitter @wcplteen14 and keep your eye on our website where we’ll post slides to let you know when registration opens for the April session!

What did you do to celebrate Teen Tech Week?





Did you like THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT??? Then read THIS…

By Erin Holt, Teen Librarian

So many teens come in saying they have read The Hunger Games and Divergent and want MORE just like it! Check out this awesome list of titles and check our shelves or talk to our Teen Staff!

If you want another book about the little people sticking it to “the man”:

  1. The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley–The origins of Robin Hood explained with a girl-in-disguise among the Merry Men, longbows, and an insane fight to the death with Guy of Gisbourne. (Shelved in Adult Fiction. Very YA friendly.)
  2. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner–There is no better questioner of authority than Eugenides. Much like Haymitch he is always at least three moves ahead of his opponents.
  3. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez–A fictionalized story of real sisters who worked in the Dominican Republic opposing Trujillio’s dictatorship as the Butterflies much in the same way Panem comes to rally around the Mockingjay.  (Shelved in Adult Fiction.)
  4. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys–In 1939 Lina and her family are forcibly taken from their Lithuanian homes and moved to Siberia by invading Russian forces in this quiet tale of resilience and resistance.

If you could care less about Peeta/Gale (but, seriously, Team Peeta!) and want more heroines as awesomely tough as Katniss:

  1. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld–Minus the Twilight Zone references to perception and beauty, this book basically IS The Hunger Games. If you like one series you’re basically required to like the other.
  2. Graceling by Kristin Cashore–Katsa’s name sounds a lot like Katniss. She is also a lethal, killing machine ready to do more than her share of the rescuing in this fantasy adventure.
  3. Plain Kate by Erin Bow–For Kate, being a skilled wood carver is dangerous business as she must survive accusations of witchcraft and the loss of her own shadow in this grim tale. (eAudio file only)
  4. The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff–Pell running away from her wedding in 1850s England takes as much strength as it does to survive the Hunger Games. Don’t let the genre shift fool you. Pell is tough as nails. (Shelved in Adult.)
  5. Bonus: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman–Half-human, half-dragon, Seraphina is a talented musician and possibly her kingdom’s only chance to divert an all-out war with the neighboring dragons.

If you like action, action, and action with more action thrown in:

  1. Legend by Marie Lu–This is my #1 read-alike pick for The Hunger Games. Action, violence, revolution. And it’s a dystopian set on the ruins of the United States of America to boot. (Leiper’s Fork, Nolensville, but not us.)
  2. Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber–Perry knows taking his family’s dowdy exchange student, Gobi, to her first dance is going to be a drag. He doesn’t realize that will largely be due to all of the people Gobi plans to assassinate before the night is over.
  3. Bonus: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow–Set in post-9/11 San Francisco, Marcus is on a quest to hack his city from the sinister clutches of a Homeland Security.

If you like stories about ruthless characters learning how to be “real” humans and engage with the world:

  1. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi–Nailer eeks out a living tearing down ships for scavenge. When he finds a clipper ship–and its owner–Nailer has to decide if he wants to claim the scavenge of a lifetime. Or do the right thing.
  2. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan–Nick and Alan have always been on the run from magicians. Nick has never liked anyone. A final confrontation with one of the fiercest magicians in England might explain why both of those things are true. (eAudio only)
  3. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers–Ismae could have died when her mother tried to abort her pregnancy. Instead she was marked by Mortmain and now she serves him as an assassin nun in 1485 Brittany. (College Grove. We do have eBook and eAudio)
  4. Bonus: All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin–Paper is scarce. Coffee and chocolate are illegal. It’s a bad time to be a mafiya princess and heir to a chocolate empire in 2085 New York. It’s an even worse time to consider dating the new District Attorney’s son.

If you want more crazy competitions:

  1. Divergent by Veronica Roth–Being marked as divergent means Tris can choose to join any faction. Choosing Dauntless means embarking on a grueling, harrowing initiation process that she might not survive.
  2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas–After a year of hard labor, assassin Celaena Sardothien has a chance to reclaim her freedom. All she has to do is win a competition against other cutthroats and killers to become the champion of the king who first arrested her.
  3. A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix–Khemri is a Prince–faster, stronger, smarter. But is he fast, strong and smart enough to survive against the thousands of other Princes all intent on becoming Emperor of the galaxy? (eBook and eAudio)
  4. The Selection by Kiera Cass–America Singer is one of the Selected, a lucky girl with a chance to compete for the prince’s affections in this cross between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor.
  5. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Sean is a boy with everything to lose in this year’s Scorpio Race while Puck is a girl with everything to gain. But in a deadly race with lethal water horses there can only be one winner.
  6. Bonus: Princess Academy by Shannon Hale–One of the girls from Miri’s village is going to become a princess. But before that can happen all of the girls will need to learn what being a princess really takes.

If you’re in it for the dystopian or post-apocalyptic vibe:

  1. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry–A zombie apocalypse with a wild west sensibility and some very gruesome trading cards.
  2. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi–A dystopian that’s part X-Men, part jailbreak, all action.
  3. The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch–Two-thirds of the population are dead from a vicious influenza strain. People called it the eleventh plague. (Shelved in Adult. eAdio also).
  4. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers–Zombies are here and, frankly, Sloane is ready to let them eat her. Unfortunately the students trapped with her in the local high school want to live. (eAudio only)
  5. Bonus: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund–Post-apocalyptic retelling of Persuasion. You know you want to.

If you want epic world building:

  1. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher–Finn knows he belongs Outside Incarceron. But in a prison so vast that nothing ever enters or leaves, how can one inmate ever find his way out?
  2. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson–Long before Wendy came to Neverland, a fairy and a girl with feathers in her hair had their own stories to tell. (eBook only)
  3. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud–In a world where London is ruled by magicians with demons doing their bidding, a djinni and a young magician strike an uneasy detente to see if both of them can survive the machinations they have set in motion.
  4. The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint–Imogen would never want to be normal. Even if that means she has to deal with a lonely ghost, dangerous angels, and an imaginary friend who just might be real.
  5. Bonus: Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox–An alternate history/fantasy set in 1906 New Zealand where dreams are tangible things that can be scavenged and put on view and nightmares are very, very dangerous thing.

If you want an impossible romantic relationship:

  1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer–A sci-fi retelling of Cinderella with aliens, cyborgs, plagues and a whole lot of trouble.
  2. Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel–Steampunk zombie romance with a post-apocalyptic setting and the ultimate star-crossed pair. (eBook and eAudio only)
  3. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare–Clary can see parts of a hidden world. But when she starts looking into that world, it looks back.
  4. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl–There was a curse. There was a girl. And in the end, there was a grave.
  5. Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan–Friends don’t let friends date vampires. Too bad Mel’s best friend just fell in love with one.


This post was written by Emma Carbone for her blog. An updated version can be found on her blog, Miss Print.


Romance titles that TEENS will LOVE

By Erin Holt, Teen Librarian

There’ve been so many times that our Teen staff have been asked for “safe” romance novels for their teens, starting at the age of 12. So we decided to create this awesome list of safe teen romance titles.  Check it out!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han 51vsd5j8hXL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_– What would happen if all your crushes received your love letters…at the same time?

The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han – Follow Belly on her journey over several summers, including a best friend, two love interests, and a love triangle

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith – When four minutes changed everything in 24 hours.

Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – Companion novels revolving around friendship, love, and travel.5231173

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg – What happens when Penny decides to give up boys and dating…

All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin – NYC in the year 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal and teen Anya’s mafia family is accused of poisoning chocolate that they have been distributing

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler – BFFs Frankie and Anna spend a 20 day vacation together, making a bet that they can meet one boy per day.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn – A sweet fun read involving books, New York City, and teen love interests.

71LkLmxqgjLSloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty – Follow Jessica Darling as she navigates through school, boyfriends, and more after her BFF, Hope, moves away.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – A beautiful love story, taking place in 1986, between 2 misfit teenagers.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen – A story about a girl…and the cute guy next door…

Just One Day by Gayle Forman – The lives of Allyson and Willem is transformed in just 24 hours

*See the Teen Library staff for a complete list of titles*


It’s Durin’s Day!

By Howard Shirley, Teen Library Assistant

“Then what is Durin’s Day?” asked Elrond.

The first day of the dwarves’ New Year,” said Thorin, “is as all should know the first day of the last moon of Autumn on the threshold of Winter. We still call it Durin’s Day when the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together. But this will not help us much, I fear, for it passes our skill in these days to guess when such a time will come again.”                                                          

The Hobbit, ‘A Short Rest’

Fortunately, while it may pass the skill of Thorin and Co. (who clearly spent more time looking for gold underground than looking up at the heavens), it does not pass our skill to discover the date of Durin’s Day. All one needs is a copy of The Hobbit, a good lunar calendar, and an understanding of what is meant by the terms “Autumn” and “Winter” in the mind of an expert on Medieval English Literature, which Tolkien himself was.

Lunar calendars are easy. Most calendars today already depict the moon’s phases, and if not, the Internet provides easy access to lunar information for any region and day on Earth. At this point, we need only consult The Hobbit to see what characteristics of the lunar cycle are associated with Durin’s Day.

From Thorin’s conversation with Elrond we see that “Durin’s Day” assumes that the moon and sun are visible at the same time in the sky. Such an event is not unusual; indeed throughout the year both the sun and the moon will be visible in the sky together, sometimes at dawn, sometimes throughout the morning or the afternoon, and sometimes at sunset. But which of these moments is meant by Thorin’s description? And since this happens many times in the traditional “Autumn” months of September, October and November, which month is meant and which phase is being described? If we go merely by Thorin’s description, Durin’s Day could cover many days in the year, and potential several days in a row! Yet clearly in the story Durin’s Day is indeed a specific day that happens only once a year (and if you read the story, that fact is crucial to the plot). So any given day when the moon and the sun are seen together is not necessarily Durin’s Day, even if it’s Autumn and even if it’s about to become Winter.


 Which Moon Is It?


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The first thing to determine is which phase of the moon applies. As it circles the Earth, the moon undergoes different phases depending on the amount of sunlight or Earth-shadow which strikes the moon’s surface. Although the progression is gradual, these are typically referred to as a New Moon (when the moon is on the sunlit side of the Earth and cannot be seen either during the day or at night), a waxing crescent (when the moon is only visible as a crescent shape; waxing means that shape is becoming more lit), a half-moon (equal parts light and shadow, appearing as a semi-circle), a waxing gibbous moon (meaning more than half is lit, sort of like a squished circle), and a Full Moon (all sunlight and no shadow). From this point the lit portion of the moon grows smaller, or “wanes,” giving a waning gibbous moon, a half-moon, a waning crescent moon, and finally back to New Moon again. In this context, “the last moon of Autumn” is not the last night that a moon can be seen before it “disappears” as a New Moon, but rather the entire cycle from New Moon to New Moon. This is important to consider, as this means that Durin’s Day comes as the moon’s cycle overlaps the “threshold of Winter” (the meaning of which we will examine later). Whichever full cycle of moon is in the sky on the last day of Autumn and the first day of Winter before becoming a New Moon again is therefore the “last moon of Autumn.” So the relevant moment of Durin’s Day therefore is when that moon first appears after the New Moon, not when it disappears for the New Moon. (Why isn’t Durin’s Day the date of the phase called the New Moon? Because the moon has to be visible in the sky with the sun in order to be Durin’s Day. The New Moon phase is never visible, so Durin’s Day is never the exact date of the New Moon.)

This is further echoed by The Hobbit when Durin’s Day arrives in the book:

If he lifted his head he could see a glimpse of the distant forest. As the sun turned west there was a gleam of yellow upon its far roof, as if the light caught the last pale leaves. Soon he saw the orange ball of the sun sinking towards the level of his eyes. He went to the opening and there pale and faint was a thin new moon above the rim of Earth.                                                                                   

The Hobbit, ‘On the Doorstep.’

Later in that same scene the book reads:

The gleam went out, the sun sank, the moon was gone, and evening sprang into the sky.

Thus, moonset and sunset occur together in this passage. What we are left with is a visible “new moon—“ obviously the silver sliver of a waxing crescent, not the invisible New Moon—which sets either just before or just after the sun.

6757624729_15ba3d650f_bVisibility is a debatable issue here, but in general anywhere from 24 to 36 hours after the New Moon the fresh crescent phase will reveal a visible arc. You and I might strain to see this in our overly-lit cities, but in Bilbo’s time and place—sitting on the slopes of the Lonely Mountain, far from any city lights or even the sight of Laketown, that fingernail of moon would be clear to the keen-eyed hobbit.

So, for the moon in question we have the first visible crescent after a New Moon, for the cycle that overlaps with the “threshold of Winter” as the beginning of Durin’s Day. But we’re not done yet…


When’s the Threshold?

This is the single largest point of confusion about dating Durin’s Day. What did Tolkien mean by “Autumn on the threshold of Winter?” Various arguments have been put forth for this. Some go with the date of Winter being the Winter Solstice, placing the “last moon of Autumn” as being the moon cycle that precedes the moon cycle that coincides with the Winter Solstice (usually around December 21st; the date varies each year). Such arguments place Durin’s Day as occurring in the last weeks of November or the first weeks of December.

However, this idea is based on assuming that the Winter Solstice marks the start of Winter. It does not. Rather the Winter Solstice is actually the mid-point of Winter. This may seem odd when you think about things like freezing temperatures and snow, which in the Northern Hemisphere range typically from December through February. But those are merely the climatic effects of the season, not the markers of the season itself. The day of the Winter Solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year. While the effects of winter are just building up steam, as it were, the Earth and Sun are actually progressing back towards Spring!

The text of The Hobbit goes further to suggest that a late November or early December date for Durin’s Day simply doesn’t fit. The “doorstep” of the Lonely Mountain is described as being a hidden, pleasant area adorned with a carpet of grass, and the valley below it as having grass “for the ponies to eat” (The Hobbit, ‘On the Doorstep’). Obviously, this implies living, green grass, as can still be found in middle and late fall, not the dead brown grass of early winter, which would not be refreshing to either ponies, dwarves, or a lone hobbit. Keep in mind, too, that The Hobbit is set in an environment analogous to early 20th century rural Europe, the climate Tolkien was familiar with, where late November and early December are marked by mostly barren and dead vegetation, if not snow-covered ground. Since Tolkien himself drew the mountain as having a snowy peak, presumably year-round, this implies that the lower slopes of the mountain themselves have a significant elevation, and thus would be subject to colder temperatures fairly early in winter. Yes, that’s a supposition, but the likelihood of green grass thriving on a mountain slope in December or even November remains on the thin side. But note also that Bilbo can still see the pale leaves of Mirkwood, even from the heights of the Mountain. Given the distance from forest to mountain, it’s unlikely even a sharp-sighted hobbit could discern leaves on mostly barren trees, as would mark late November. So these natural details imply a climatic season more in line with October or very early November than the onset of climatic winter in December.

So what then determines the “Threshold of Winter” for the dwarves? A clue can be taken from the very nature of Durin’s Day. The key elements of Durin’s Day are not the progress of climate or the changes of the seasonal cycle—neither of which the dwarves would much note, living their lives largely underground—nor even the progression of the stars (as would fascinate the elves), but rather the position of the sun and moon, the sole sources of natural light that would enter the dwarves’ underground halls.

If the progression of the sun and moon are then the method for determining Durin’s Day and the Dwarven New Year, then the progression of sun and moon are probably the determining factor in their dating of the seasons. We can see this significance in the earlier passage where Durin’s Day is first mentioned—when Elrond spies the magical “moon-letters” on Thror’s Map in Rivendell, and notes:

“They can only be seen when the moon shines behind them, and what is more, with the more cunning sort it must be a moon of the same shape and season as the day when they were written… These must have been written on a midsummer’s eve in a crescent moon, a long while ago.”                                                                                   

The Hobbit, ‘A Short Rest’

Clearly for the dwarves, the position of the moon is significant in everything to do with their calendar.

So wcountry-road-autumn-mountain-sunsethat does this mean for Durin’s Day and the “threshold of Winter?” It means that the threshold of Winter is based on the position of sun and moon, not on weather. You or I might call it “Autumn” when the first chill hits the air, and we begin to notice the color of the fall leaves begin to rise amid the green. But not a dwarf. A dwarf calls it “Autumn” when the sun and moon say it is Autumn, and Winter when they say it is Winter. We must then go back to look at events like the Summer and Winter Solstices as our marking points. Using these as our guideposts, knowing that the dwarves would define these events as the midpoint of Summer and Winter, we see that the other seasons would be similarly defined. So, are there any solar and lunar events that mark Spring and Autumn? Yes—the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes.

The Equinoxes mark the days of the year in which day and night are exactly the same length—clearly an event of significance to dwarves when it comes to the light entering their caverns! The Autumnal Equinox occurs in mid-September, usually around Sept. 21st. Like the Winter Solstice, it marks not the beginning of Autumn, but rather the mid-point of it.

7000954491_b90f823e4a_bSo, to the dwarves, if the Autumnal Equinox is the mid-point of Autumn, and the Winter Solstice is the mid-point of Winter, what then is the “threshold of Winter?” Why, it is naturally the point when the sun is mid-way between Autumn and Winter, occurring sometime in late October or early November. In fact, we celebrate this very point in time today—Halloween. In the original pagan cultures of Celtic and Germanic Europe, the halfway point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice marked the time when Winter rose to claim control over the world. It was also a time when the Underworld supposedly opened—an idea whose echoes we see when the last light of Durin’s Day reveals the secret passage into the depths of the Lonely Mountain! (Tolkien, who held the Chair of Medieval Literature at Oxford, knew his mythology.) So is Halloween Durin’s Day?

No. Because while Halloween might be “the threshold of Winter,” it is not necessarily the date when “the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together.” But it is the moon cycle that overlaps Halloween which points us to Durin’s Day. One therefore need only determine what cycle of the moon coincides with Halloween, and then look for the day on which that cycle is first visible in the evening sky—the first night of the new crescent moon, shining alongside the setting sun. This day is Durin’s Day.

And what does that mean for us? Well, according to The Farmer’s Almanac, in 2014, the first visible crescent moon* after the New Moon, with a cycle that overlaps Halloween (“the threshold of Winter,”) is listed by the U.S. Naval Observatory as occurring on October 25, with a moonrise time of 7:39 AM, CDST**, and a moonset time of 6:25 PM, CDST. Sunset occurs at 5:01 PM, CDST. Thus, our Durin’s Day this year is Saturday, October 25th.

So, on that evening, go out and look westward for the thin moon in the early evening sky. And as the sun sets, have your key ready– for a thrush may knock nearby, and the last light of Durin’s Day might reveal a passageway to dwarven gold.e16d6b6e-6001-436d-b597-cf02d43ddd05



*Although the New Moon is on October 23rd, the following evening of the 24th only 1% of the surface is technically illuminated, which is invisible to the naked eye—even a hobbit’s. On October 25th, the illumination rises to 4%, which is readily visible as a thin crescent, low in the western sky. Moon phase visibility data from Stardate.Org

Moonrise, moonset, sunrise and sunset data from the United States Naval Observatory. You can look up this information for any year using their online table creator.

** Central Daylight Saving Time

All text and illustration references: The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by. J.R.R. Tolkien, 70th Anniversary Edition with illustrations by J.R.R. Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2007, Copyright 1995 by The J.R.R. Tolkien Trust Company.

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