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September 22, 2014

The Giver Gathering Blue  Messenger Son

This summer the classic novel The Giver by Lois Lowry came to the big screen. The movie rendition attracted some high profile actors such as Jeff Bridges as The Giver and Meryl Streep as Chief Elder. The movie was directed by Philip Noyce and the screenplay written by Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide. Lois Lowry's The Giver has been studied in junior high and high school classes for years and is well-loved by many. The book is the first in The Giver Quartet which includes: The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son. You will find all of the books in our catalogue and you will find the eBooks or eAudiobooks in OverDrive. The movie soundtrack can be acessed using Hoopla.  Movie soundtrack

One of the perks fo being is YAC member is that sometimes the library recives advanced screening passes for upcoming movies. This summer we received some passes for The Giver and the YAC members who had the opportunity to see it were asked to provide some commentary on their experience. How did the movie compare to the book? Did they agree with the acting and directing choices that were made? Read on for the reviews from 5 of our Youth Advisory Council members...

Aidan focuses in on the portrayal of the characters in the movie versus the book, particularly the main character of Jonas.

The Giver, is a truly inspiring novel and an equally enjoyable movie. It is a story about a boy named Jonas (played by Brenton Thwaites), who lives in his futuristic community with his family and friends in complete harmony. Everything is perfect: no arguments, sadness, regret, everyone is happy, until Jonas is chosen to become the new receiver of memory. He alone must carry the memory of man-kind’s mistakes and joys in this futuristic tale. The question is however, is he okay with having these memories whilst everyone is in the dark?

Between the book and the movie there were some differences, as it is with all novel-based movies. One of the major differences I found was that Jonas’ friends Asher and Fiona (played by Cameron Monaghan and Odeya Rush) were more involved in the movie than in the book.

Though it took away from the feelings of solitude and loneliness that the novel expertly created, it also took away some off the sadness that was originally in place. Also, the actors in the movie fit their characters quite well. The side characters being emotionless to the edge of being a human or a robot really helped to reinforce Jonas’ difference in his ability to feel. Jonas’ performance will be guaranteed to keep you enthralled throughout the entire movie.

Robyn enjoyed the movie and found it to be a fair representation of the book.

My friend thought that it was very similar to all the other dystopian movies out there.  We both agree that they chose great actors/actresses for the parts.

I found that the book and movie were almost identical.  The only difference I could see was that the mark of the receivers/givers is light coloured eyes in the book and a mark on their hand in the movie.

In my opinion the ending of the movie was a little anticlimactic even though it was exactly the same as the book.  Overall, it was a good movie and I would recommend it to anyone.

Rena feels that the deep emotion conveyed in the movie in quite similar and just as impactful as that conveyed in the book.  

I haven't read the Giver for about six years and I barely remember it.  This may have been a bit of an advantage in seeing the movie, because I do remember loving the book, and as with all book to movie adaptations, I was afraid the movie would not live up to the book.  However, I believe that this movie did, in its own way, live up to the theme and message of the book; though there were some differences between them.   

Luckily, I saw the movie with a friend who had read the book more recently and was able to refresh my memory.  The greatest change from the book was, of course, aging up all the characters.  In the book, the age at which the children of this dystopian society receive their job placements is twelve, in the movie, it's eighteen.  This change was probably made to include the addition of a love story between the characters, and perhaps because the mature themes and content in the book meant the movie is already more predisposition to an older audience.  Although the young age of the characters in the book added a lot to the story, I understand their reason for the change.  And I can say that I enjoyed the movie more with older actors than I might have if they were all prepubescent. 

The addition of a love story is also a bit of a change, one that I originally wasn't a fan of as it seemed to be there simply to appeal to the teenaged audiences, and to assimilate it with previous popular films such as Divergent and The Hunger Games.  However, I enjoyed how Fiona began to question the rules and society because of Jonas' feelings; and how she began to change even before Jonas broke the barrier.  I thought this spoke to the strength of human emotion, and the strength of Fiona's character; that she began to feel and make her own choices without having to rely on Jonas to save the day.  In the book, no one feels anything until Jonas (and Gabriel) cross the Boundary. 

The only other major change we noticed was the role of Jonas' friend Asher, in the book he is assigned to watch over the younger children, and does not have all that active of a role in the story.  I preferred his more involved role in the movie, though it did unfortunately mean he betrayed his friends and helped the totalitarian government.  However it was a great moment when he decided to let Jonas go, and it was interesting to see him warring with himself over the decision.  Just like it was interesting to watch Fiona wrestle with herself when she decided to help Jonas escape with Gabe. 

I enjoyed all the acting in the film although I didn't know any of the main teenaged actors in the film but I thought they did a great job at portraying the characters and making their gradual journey to feeling emotions believable.  Apparently Taylor Swift made an appearance as well but I did not recognize her at all; I guess I was too caught up in the movie. 

One of the things I enjoyed most about the film was the filming; I'm really glad they decided to do it in black and white as it followed the book and made the full colour memories all the more important.  The dizzying effect and poor footage in some of the memories really helped make them seem jarring, and each one portrayed an emotion well.  The war memory was especially disturbing, in a good way. 

There have been a lot of dystopian movies as of late, but for me, The Giver stood out from the other teen dramas for its younger perspective, and greater focus on the importance of memories and human emotion; as well as what life would be like without those things and how we would relate to each other without feelings like love.  The movie did have flaws of course, such as when Jonas and Gabe (a like year old baby) were dropped out of a helicopter into a series of rapids and both emerged perfectly fine.  However, for the most part I greatly enjoyed the movie and thought it was a thought provoking experience, much like the book.  

Dana did not read the book before seeing the movie but she definitely intends to read the book after seeing it. Here are her thoughts on the story as portrayed in the movie:

Hello! I had the fortunate chance of going to an advanced screening of “The Giver” based off the book from Lois Lowry. Since I haven't read the book my perspective might differ but I'll do my best of also analyzing the movie in detail. Initially, the first thing that caught my eye was the lack of colour to emphasize how monotonous the society is. I notice that everyone basically wore the same clothes in the same colour and had the same coloured bikes. Their way of speaking was so polite and almost robotic in a way that you could tell that this society did not welcome change or difference easily.

Jonas, the main character played by Brenton Thwaites, I think played the role perfectly. He's very confused about where he belongs since it seems like he's different from the rest - and he is. You see splashes of colour from him and wonder why he gets them. Everyone is designated a job that they will do for the rest of their lives, it’s decided by a council of elders. When Jonas is singled out and is chosen for the position of “The Giver” he gets introduced to the past Giver who is played by Jeff Bridges (another great actor!). From there he receives training to be passed on the memories of the Giver and is given the trust to have the citizens and elders ask for his advice and through the memories he can guide them. The memories are of our memories of Earth and yet it feels eerie seeing it being played across his mind. But once he discovers more of these memories he gets torn and finds out about one of the big secrets being kept from him. And thus he tries to set everything right by travelling out of the town's limit to reach it.

I can't of course forget the other characters and their interactions/ roles in the movie. Meryl Streep who plays the chief elder did a fabulous job of being very authoritative but also have a very vulnerable side for someone who's the leader. Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard who play Jonas' mother and father were great, you can definitely see even though they may seem brainwashed they genuinely love Jonas and are protective of their family. Odeya Rush who plays Fiona was stunning, she brought this light hearted atmosphere and is very gentle as she has a motherly instinct. As opposed to Jonas' best friend played by Cameron Monaghan also believes in him and still protects him even if it means putting his life on the line. Rosemary played by Taylor Swift was short as she only appeared briefly but she did a great job especially when it came to the singing. I can't forget Lily who is played by Emma Tremblay and I have to say was too cute and really was supportive and brings an innocence to the movie.

All in all, the movie itself gives out a very powerful message about not being afraid to be different. The society thinks that stripping emotions and creativity is better since they think it’s “a threat”. I think that if we block all emotions and creativity we'd be lost and we wouldn't be able to achieve to our potential as emotions and creativity help us nurture and grow.

In terms of music it was a big bonus in helping to convey the emotion and moments in the movie that were climatic. The soundtrack sounds awesome! It may seem slow at some parts since it’s not an action/thriller movie but it definitely is a really good movie to watch especially if you're fans of the book and want to see the world come to life. Anyways that’s all I have to say about the movie and I'm for sure reading the book and maybe my opinion might change I don't know haha. Have a nice day and see this movie and read the book :D

Julia definitely prefers the book to the movie. Although she pays kudos to the cinematography she lets on that the story may fall short in comparison to the classic novel.

I went into this film thinking I knew what to expect. Most of us know the story of Jonas, of The Giver and of Gabriel. We expect the black and white screen, the sharing of “feelings”, the lack of true caring in any of the characters. The film starts strong. The Ceremony is well done, although much more futuristic than the book portrayed – the holographic leader of all the colonies was an interesting touch. Jonas' apprehension, and his fear when his name is skipped by the leader, is portrayed clearly by Brenton Thwaites – as is Jonas' fear as he becomes the newest Receiver of Memory, singled out as different in a world where everything is the same.

Sadly, the film falls flat in many ways. Although the cinematography is exceptional, much of Lowery's magic is lost in translation. From Jonas' first received memory, that of sledding, to his final journey, the film seems to lose the true meaning of the story in favour of becoming a watered-down crowd-pleaser. The film tries too hard to be something it's not, creating its own story in Jonas' romance with Fiona, the massive cliffs surrounding the colony, and Jonas' dramatic fall over the waterfall. Although these scenes create a sense of the impossible, and are certainly cinematically brilliant, the story loses something in cutting out the little things. The things like Jonas' conversation with an Old, Larissa, about the Ceremony of Release, his first experience with the Stirrings, and the Murmur-of-Replacement Ceremony, where a family is given a new Caleb in replacement for their last who drowned at the age of four. These instances from the novel give more depth to the story, and grant a greater understanding of the way Jonas society functions. Without giving away too much more, I will say that this film has its positives – the cinematography, the actors, the costumes and scenery are all exceptional. I only wish that the script could have been the same.

 

I hope you've found these reviews to be interesting and informative. Remember, whenever possible: Read the book first!

 

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September 12, 2014

by Madeleine

e. lockhart is one of my top favourite “read every book multiple times” teen authors. Her characters get inside your head and stay with you for a long time.

The Boyfriend List The Boy Book  The Treasure Map of Boys Real Live Boyfriends

The Ruby Oliver series (The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys and Real Live Boyfriends) is a great examination of what happens when you lose all your friends and have to start learning how to cope and rebuild your life. Though the titles all mention boyfriends and boys in the title, the real heart of the books is female friendship. Ruby Oliver was a happy, mostly well-adjusted teenage girl who was generally well-liked in high school. A falling out involving her ex-boyfriend and best friend leads to her becoming, in her words, a “social leper” and now she has started therapy because of panic attacks. Her therapist helps her work out how she got to where she is and shows her that she has the tools she needs to start the recovery process. As a therapy assignment, Ruby starts writing a list of the boys in her life—those she has dated, kissed, or just had a crush on--but it unfortunately falls into the wrong hands and she goes from “social leper” to “famous slut” as people assume entirely the wrong thing about her list of boys. Ruby learns that while some friendships can be salvaged, some are simply too damaged to ever repair. However, she finds that she can still make peace with those she is no longer close with. Even with all the difficulties Ruby faces, she still faces everything with a healthy dose of humour and is a cool, interesting and complex girl to read about.

The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau BanksThe Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks

Before the summer before sophomore year, Frankie Landau-Banks went mostly unnoticed by her family and nearly everyone around her. She was always intelligent but was seen as someone who needed to be protected. That summer her appearance changes drastically—she’s “hot” now—as well as the kind of attention she starts to receive. When she goes back to her prestigious boarding prep school, Matthew, the cute, funny and smart guy in the in-crowd takes an interest in her and they begin dating. However, she starts to notice how patronising he can be towards her. She starts to realise that the girls in her new group of friends are expected to stand aside while the guys have all the fun and monopolize conversations at the lunch table. When she finds out Matthew has been lying to her about an “old boys club” type of secret society he is a part of, the Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds, she makes a plan to infiltrate it and by doing so finds out just how deep gender discrimination is ingrained in her school and the larger society around her. This book is by far my favourite of all Lockhart’s books, and Frankie is one of my favourite literary characters I have ever encountered.

DramaramaDramarama

Dramarama is an good read for anyone in theatre, or just anyone who has an interest in theatre. Unfortunately I never went to drama camp but I love learning about it. Sarah is a self-described “supersonic, hydrophonic, gigantic person, only no one could see it.” She lives and breathes musical theatre and doesn’t fit in at high school in her boring hometown of Brenton, Ohio. When she hears about the Wildwood Summer Institute (a prestigious drama camp) is holding auditions, Sarah signs up right away. She cuts her hair and invests in a new wardrobe. At auditions she runs into Douglas Howard, aka Demi in whom she discovers a kindred spirit. Being gay and African American, he also feels out of place at their high school and shares her love of musical theatre. They become best friends and are overjoyed to both be accepted at Wildwood for the summer and he helps her decide on a new name for camp—“Sadye”. When Sadye and Demi get to camp, they meet all sorts of likeminded, talented people. Demi finds his place at Wildwood and really starts to shine. Sadye, however, has more difficulty. She’s opinionated and outspoken and it does not endear her to many of her peers or the staff. She does not get the parts she hoped for in the plays. Sadye learns a lot about herself and what she wants from theatre, which might not be exactly what she first thought she wanted. There is no shortage of glitter, lamé, jazz hands, humour, and of course, drama, in Dramarama.

Fly on the Wall Fly on the Wall

Ever hear someone say “I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for THAT conversation”? Well, Gretchen Yee ends up experiencing that very thing. Gretchen is having a rough time. It’s hard to fit in when everyone at your artsy high school wants to stand out. Her parents have announced they are divorcing. Her best friend Katja has been pulling away for some reason. Her art teacher is disdainful of her love for Spider-man and comic book art. On top of all that, she just doesn’t get boys; in particular, Titus, who is in a group that call themselves the Art Rats. One day, she wakes up and slowly realises that she has been turned into a fly on the wall of the boy’s locker room at her high school! After her initial horror over her Kafka-inspired transformation starts to hear exactly what kinds of conversations go on inside the locker room and she’s intrigued. Gretchen finds out that boys are, in fact, human, and have fears and insecurities like her own.

We Were LiarsWe Were Liars

We Were Liars is Lockhart’s latest title, and it is a lot darker than her previous novels. It’s also the one that has gotten the most attention—already it has been optioned for a movie adaptation! It is not my favourite of hers, but if you’ve never encountered an “unreliable narrator” in literature before, this is a fun place to start. (I would also recommend Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood as well as The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler.) Cadence Sinclair was born into a life of wealth and privilege. Every summer, she would go to her family’s private island along with her mother, her grandmother, her domineering grandfather, her aunts, her cousins, and the nephew of one of her aunt’s boyfriend’s nephew, Gat Patil. Gat comes from a very different background and Cadence’s grandfather has always seemed to resent him. Cadence, her cousins and her beloved Gat, who she loves the most, were very close and called themselves the Liars. They never saw each other during the rest of the year but summers were theirs. During their fifteenth summer, something terrible occurs to Cadence that causes her to hit her head—something that she doesn’t remember. Her memories are damaged and she has shrunk into herself. She finally convinces her mother to take her back to the island, hoping things will be back to normal, but everyone is acting so differently. Cadence makes it her mission to piece together what exactly happened that fifteenth summer, though the truth might be too awful for her to bear. We Were Liars examines the toll that privilege takes on those who don’t have it and those who can’t imagine living without it.

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September 5, 2014

               

Teen SRC 2014 has now officially come to an end.  A big thank you to everyone who participated this year!  We look forward to hearing from you in 2015 and we hope you have an awesome year ahead. 

And now, to our contest winners.  Drum roll please!  After much deliberation, debate and discussion, our panel of judges has finally chosen the lucky winners of our Teen SRC summer-long contests!  There were so many amazing entries this year, and we were thoroughly impressed with the level of talent and creativity in everyone's work.  It was tougher than ever to pick the best of the best in each category, but alas, we narrowed it down and made some tough decisions.

And your winners are.....
 
             


Grand Prize Winner

Maggie G.

Photo Contest

Winner – Half Liam, Half Me (Arianne C.)

Honorable Mention - Ruler of the Empire (Libby G.)


Artwork Contest

Winner – Frozen Dress (Mary P.)

Honorable Mention – Golden Snitch (Ashlin D.)


Book Review Contest

Winner – The Giver (Libby G.)

Honorable Mention – The Giver (Danica C.)


Short Story Contest

Winner - A Sacrifice That Changed Everything (Stephen C.)

Honorable Mention – A Dream of Reality (Amaris W.)


Poetry Contest

Winner - Adding Tears (Emma G.)

Honorable Mention – Hits Me (Grace M.)


Non-Fiction Story Contest

Winner – Video Games, Revisited (Grace M.)

Honorable Mention – The Reading Tree (April S.)


Survey Contest
Soomin H.

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August 29, 2014

by Alix-Rae

The MTV Video Music Awards took place last Sunday night and as usual all of the hottest stars in pop music were out wearing their best (or worst?) get-ups and  many were ready to shine on the stage with some stellar performances. One highlight for me was Beyoncé's amazing performace that highlighted all of the songs from her new album. I have to say it was quite darling when Jay-Z brought their daughter on stage to present her with her award.

Although I'm not a huge fan of Top 40s music I do find it interesting to watch the big award shows just to keep myself informed about what's popular and since the shows are live - it's fun to see if anything crazy or unexpected is going to happen - and it usually does!

On the topic of music, today's blog post features a variety of teen books where the titles are also song titles. How many of these song titles are familar to you? If you want to take a listen to the song you can check out Hoopla and stream it right away. If you happen to think of any other titles that were inspired by songs leave a comment after this post!

Books with titles that are song titles too!

I Am (Not) The WalrusI Am (Not) The Walrus by Ed Briant (song: I Am the Walrus byThe Beatles)

As the singer and bass player for a Beatles cover band, Toby embarks on a quest to increase his sex appeal, a plan that derails when he finds a mysterious note inside his old bass guitar.

With Or Without You With or Without You by Brian Farrey (song by: U2)

When eighteen-year-old best friends Evan and Davis of Madison, Wisconsin, join a community center group called "chasers" to gain acceptance and knowledge of gay history, there may be fatal consequences.

 

SSince You've Been Gone ince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson (song by: Kelly Clarkson)

Quiet Emily's sociable and daring best friend, Sloane, has disappeared leaving nothing but a random list of bizarre tasks for her to complete, but with unexpected help from popular classmate Frank Porter, Emily gives them a try.

 

Hold Me Closer, NecromancerHold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lisa McBride (song: Tiny Dance (Hold Me Closer) by Elton John)

Sam LaCroix, a Seattle fast-food worker and college dropout, discovers that he is a necromancer, part of a world of harbingers, werewolves, satyrs, and one particular necromancer who sees Sam as a threat to his lucrative business of raising the dead.

 

Black Hole Sun Black Hole Sun by David Mcinnis Gill (song by: Soundgarden)

On the planet Mars, sixteen-year-old Durango and his crew of mercenaries are hired by the settlers of a mining community to protect their most valuable resource from a feral band of marauders.

 

School's Out ForeverSchool's Out Forever by James Patterson (song: School's Out by Alice Cooper)

After a short stay with an FBI agent who gives them a chance to attend school and live a normal life, the six genetically-altered, winged youths head toward Florida and Max's ultimate destiny--to save the world, whether she wants to or not.

 

AAcross the Universecross the Universe by Beth Revis (song by: The Beatles)

Teenaged Amy, a cryogenically frozen passenger on the spaceship Godspeed, wakes up to discover that someone may have tried to murder her.

 

TToxicoxic by Sara Shephard (song by: Britney Spears)

Toxic is the fifteenth--and second-to-last--volume in Sara Shepard's bestselling Pretty Little Liars series. High school seniors Aria, Emily, Spencer, and Hanna barely survived their most recent encounter with A. And it's not over yet. . . . The police don't believe that the real A is still out there, but the girls know what--and who--they saw. If they don't track down this final tormentor soon, A will silence them forever.

I'll Be ThereI'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan (song by: The Jackson Five)

Raised by an unstable father who keeps constantly on the move, Sam Border has long been the voice of his silent younger brother, Riddle, but everything changes when Sam meets Emily Bell and, welcomed by her family, the brothers are faced with normalcy for the first time.

 

And to top of this list here are some more books in which bands or songs are significantly featured:

           Disenchantments 

Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto by Eric Luper

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Beat the Band by Don Calame

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirsten Cronn-Mills

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

Happy Reading!

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August 21, 2014

By Brenda

118188_WIC_240x208_1(1)On Broadway and around the world, Wicked has worked its magic on critics and audiences alike. Winner of over 50 major awards, including a Grammy and three Tony Awards, Wicked is “Broadway’s biggest blockbuster” (The New York Times).  Wicked is set to return to Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall August 20-30… but before you go, you’ll want to do some reading first!

Many have heard of the musical Wicked, but did you know that it started life as a book? Wicked: the Life and Times of Wicked Munchkinland Tourthe Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire is the author’s revisiting of the familiar Wizard of Oz story. In it, he steps away from the childhood tale and adds darker twists to his spin. The story centres on Elphaba, the girl who grew up to be the Wicked Witch of the West, and develops through three sequels. Son of a Witch follows Elphaba’s son Liir. A Lion Among Men picks up the plot several years later, and is told through the perspective of the Cowardly Lion. Out of Oz closes the series with the story as seen by Rain, Elphaba’s granddaughter. This long, dark tale is available on CD and in print, perfect to while away the hours on a long road trip. Musical fans may want to check out the Broadway cast recording, or flip through Wicked: the Grimmerie by David Cote, a companion to the Broadway musical.

wicked           son          lion          out

Those looking for more family-friendly entertainment can head to the original inspiration. L. Frank Baum wrote the well-known classic Wizard of Oz on which Maguire’s books are based. The original is available at the library in many formats—book, graphic novel, CD, movie score, DVD, and streaming video. But did you know he wrote at least a dozen other titles in the series? WPL has many of them, including Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, and Glinda of Oz. Go back to the source and find out where all the popular characters originated and what happened to them!

So read up, then check out the musical Wicked this summer!  You won’t regret it!

                           Wicked Horizontal Title treatment

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