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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

'Tis the Season

Christmas, Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Hannukah, New Year's Day, whichever you celebrate, there's no denying the warm, feel-good time of year. Here are ways that you can locally get into the holiday spirit, right in your own backyard!

Family Fun

This annual start to the holidays will take place on Monday, December 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM right behind the library in the Civic Center plaza. There will be live music, a Santa photo-op, light refreshments, and even an artificial snow zone. To give back, you are also encouraged to donate a can of food.

Since 1940, Palo Alto has hosted “Christmas Tree Lane” on Fulton Street and Embarcadero Road. The neighborhood comes together to produce a fabulous Christmas stroll, with most houses on that block decorating with lights, wooden cut-outs, etc. I remember coming here since my stroller days, admiring the houses and soaking in the holiday spirit. Don’t forget to bring your hot cocoa to sip, a camera to take cheesy cute photos, and some good company! The street will be lit up from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM from Saturday, December 12 through December 31st.

Since 1977, Downtown Los Altos has put on a parade filled with floats, marching bands, dance troops, community members, and costumed characters. For a small town, Los Altos puts on an incredible show that really brings the community together. This year, the parade will happen on Sunday, November 27 at 6:00 PM. The crowds will be crazy so get there at least an hour early to stake out your seat. (Bonus: if you’re there, look for me dressed as a princess and say hi!)

Giving Back

Every year, Family Giving Tree fills a warehouse with donated holiday presents for needy children in the Bay Area. You can either donate a toy or help package and arrange children’s gifts on site. I do this every year with my family and friends and it is a great way to spend time with others while also making a lasting impact.

Cops and Gobblers is an annual Thanksgiving food drive that has been put on by the Mountain View Police Department for the past 20 years. MVPD collects donations in order to feed 400 needy families in our community. You can join in on the food basket making and delivery. It’s so special to hand-deliver these baskets to families and witness their immense gratitude for the donation! This year, the event will take place on Sunday, November 20 at 9 AM at the police station.

Get Out and Be Active

What better way to soak up the fresh November air than to get up early and race your hardest, all before most people have woken up? This race never fails to bring out huge crowds on the holiday morning, so it must be a great event.

If you are bored around New Year’s, you can do the Hot Chocolate 5K in San Francisco and get none other than hot chocolate at the finish line!

Play a sports game on the holidays.
If your folks are the sporty type, you might find it much more healthy to spend your Thanksgiving out on the soccer or football field rather than drowning yourself in gravy and turkey. A little healthy competition never hurt anyone.

How will you be getting into the holiday spirit this year? Hopefully you can take advantage of one these opportunities and have a very festive season! 

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Homemade Halloween

Now that Halloween is over, it's time to start thinking about next year's costume!

Forget synthetic fabrics and store-bought costumes for Halloween. The best costumes aren’t the ones that you purchase at the party store the night before, nor the ones that match every other kid trick-or-treating. The best ones are original but iconic, and going the homemade route can really give it that authentic feel.

If you can sew, then think of your dream Halloween costume. Awesome. You can probably make it. Find some amazing patterns at Jo-Ann’s to make your look.
If you don’t have a knack for sewing, never fear, that's why I'm here! I bet with just the items in your closet alone, you can dress up as nearly any human character. Try these ideas to start.

Go for the decades looks!
Throw on a black leather jacket, blue jeans, and white tee to look like the slickest kid straight out of the 50s. Wear any patterned shirt and pants and you’ll achieve that strange mod look that defined the 70s. Or, throw on your tie dye and hold your fingers in a permanent peace sign to become a hippie.

Do a funny group costume!
Think Wayne’s World, Napoleon Dynamite, Carl and Russel from UP, or Scooby Doo characters.

Be an iconic movie character!
Get a red cap and a white shirt and become Forrest Gump. Run, Forrest, Run! Or, go running as Rocky Balboa in his iconic jog through Philadelphia: just wear several layers of gray cotton sweats and you’ve got it down!

If you’re looking for a specific item, say an orange jacket, that you don’t have laying around, just take a peek inside a thrift store and I bet you will find the perfect thing.

Channel your childhood!
How fun would it be to dress up as Dora the Explorer? A pink shirt, orange shorts, and purple backpack seals the deal. Or, you could be a “big kid” by wearing some footsie pajamas, a pacifier, and carrying a teddy bear.

Throw it back to 90’s flicks!
Wednesday Addams might be a common costume, but a pretty awesome and easy one at that. Black braids, black clothes, and a permanent frown are all you need. On the other end of the spectrum, you can be one of the girls from Clueless.

Be a strong, independent woman.
It just takes an aviator hat and leather jacket to become Amelia Earhart, or a denim shirt and red bandana to be Rosie the Riveter. Show off your feminism with pride.

I would love to hear how you dress up for Halloween, one of my favorite nights of the year! 

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Weekend Get-Aways

Congrats! You've survived the first several weeks of school and you'll likely cherish every moment of the weekend. Take care of any school work on Friday afternoon because you're not going to have any time to do it while you're enjoying this weekend!

If you enjoy getting outdoors....

Forget Pokemon Go - go geocaching! If you are planning on going on a hike, make it into a scavenger hunt by searching for hidden caches. If you have data on your smartphone, it's easy! 

Head over to Vasona Lake  or Shoreline Lake for some paddle boating, bike rides, or pretty sunset picnics. 

Drive to the beach! If you like the sun and surf, head to Santa Cruz or Capitola. If you prefer the foggy views, Ocean Beach or Half Moon Bay are the best.

If you want to jam out to music...
Several awesome artists are coming to the Bay! Green Day, Pentatonix, and Charlie Puth just to name a few.

For coffeehouse blues, Red Rock Coffee always has Open Mic nights with local artists.

If you're feeling lazy...
Sleep in late, read a book, take a bath, watch some Netflix.
Bake a recipe you've been dying to try but you don't have the time.
Call friends and family members to spend time together.

Make sure to share how you spend your weekends in the comments. Have fun, you all deserve it!


Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Breaking Records is No Longer a Good Thing....

2016 is a record-breaking year.

And here you were all along, thinking it was just another year gone by. Now, I’m sure you’re so excited—more records is more fun, more accomplishment, right?

But believe it or not, 2016 was the year with the hottest summers, the coldest winters, the strongest winds, and the worst fires. Whether we decide to attribute such environmental patterns to humans or not, you’ve got to admit it’s a little scary.

This past June was the hottest month of June ever recorded. And the same goes from the hottest May, hottest April, and the entire last year which has recorded the highest ever monthly temperatures. Yikes! In fact, in June, Iraq and Kuwait brought the thermometer to 129 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest temperature ever other than the historic reading in 1913 in Death Valley.

If you haven’t heard, carbon dioxide is the gas that is primarily responsible for global warming. And carbon dioxide levels have been on the rise ever since cars got on the road. But this year, the carbon rate accelerated, increasing by 3.1 parts per million (ppm) to bring us over 400 ppm for the first time in man's history. YIKES

What more? The Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world, was almost entirely killed, it’s coral “bleached” by the warm water current from El Nino. Only 7% of the entire reef escaped bleaching. Y-I-K-E-S.

So you’ve probably heard the joke about the polar bears drowning as their ice melts away. Well, my friends, this is unfortunately not a joke. This year also is on track to have the smallest amount of ocean ice ever-- meaning polar bears and seals lose their habitats, and the sea levels are rising.

Needless to say, if our world continues to warm at this rate, every year is going to be a record-breaking year going forward. Are you scared? Inspired? Either way, take action (https://carbonfund.org/reduce/) to avoid breaking more of these “records.” It starts with just one person, making a difference.

Where I found my facts: 

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fun Facts About Libraries

There's more to libraries than you think. Here are some fun facts about libraries just because! Enjoy.

1) The oldest known library began around 350 BC by Clearchus, a Greek student of Plato and Isocrates.

2) At any of the 150 "human libraries" in the world, you can check out a “person” and listen to their story. This system allows people to share their stories and defeat stereotypes of judging a person by their appearance.
The human library in Toronto, Canada. Source: yongestreetmedia
3) The Library of Congress adds an average of 12,000 items to its collection EVERY DAY! The 162 million items in the library span 800 miles of bookshelves.

4) Haskell Free Library is built on the border of the US and Canada. If you enter on one side, you better have your customs form and passport to exit on the other!

5) In Norway, you can check out a book from one library and return it to any library in the country!

6) With 16,500 libraries, there are more libraries than McDonalds in the US.

7) The smallest book in the Library of Congress, “Old King Cole,” is supposedly the size of a period. Its 1/25th inches wide! Good luck reading that one.

Which facts surprised you the most? I can't believe the teensy tiny book. Hope you enjoyed learning some strange library facts! 


Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Book Review - Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Eon, #1)Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

16 year old Eon has a lot going on - she's hoping to be chosen as an apprentice to one of the 12 energy dragons, she's training to master the martial arts and energy channeling required for that job, and she's compensating for the injury that has left her lame for most of her life. Oh, and she's also hiding the fact that she's a girl, a fact that would lead to her immediate death if anyone finds out.
There's a lot to like about this book. Eon is a strong female character, capable of doing so much although occasionally making some really poor decisions. She is smart, loyal, and strong, even when she doesn't know it.
The world building is rich and imaginative, clearly drawing much from Asian culture and history. The descriptions of the energy dragons are so evocative, I can clearly picture them in my mind!
There's some romance in the story, and some threatened sexual violence which makes me reluctant to recommend to tweens, but it would be a good choice for 7th-9th grade readers, especially those looking for strong female characters and interesting fantasy worlds. Give to fans of Tamora Pierce's Alanna books and Hunger Games.
Marie, Teen Librarian

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Thoughts on the Rio Olympics

Hello everyone and welcome back to school! While school took full effect last week, I still made sure to make time to watch my favorite television: the Rio Olympics!

The Olympics were absolutely incredible: over 200 nations cametogether to celebrate the peak of athleticism, which is why millions of us tuned in every night to watch. There are tons of crazy things that go on, but when I'm watching, here are my thoughts:

The people chosen to perform were actually indigenous Brazilians!
1. This opening ceremony and environmental theme is AMAZING.
2. OMG look at how they are moving those weird glowing strings.
3. Giselle Bundchen walking across the stadium is one long moment.
4. Yes! Michael Phelps is the flag bearer that makes me proud.
5. The refugee Olympians are perhaps the most inspiring group of individuals and they SO deserve it!

Jessica Parratto and Amy Cozad compete in the synchronized diving from the 10m platform.
6. It's been 24 hours and Katie Ledecky has already broken a record. Casual.
7. Who is this superwoman Simone Biles and why am I only just watching her now?
8. Yes, Laurie Hernandez is the cutest, spunkiest person to ever grace the world stage.
9. The world has been blessed with the beauty of synchronized diving.
10. OMG that platform is 10 meters and they are FLIPPING off it?!
11. Um, hello judges are you awake because that was a perfect 10!

The "Final Five" are all so talented it's impossible to choose a favorite.
12. Doesn't it hurt your brain to wear two swim caps like that?
13. Why does Michael Phelps always wear those headphones?
14. I think Michael's baby boy Boomer is the real MVP here.
15. You keep killing it Katie Ledecky.
16. So many of these swimmers go to Stanford, my home turf! #fearthetree
17. When a female gymnast is 5'3 she looks like a giant.

Phelps is the legend that makes us proud.
18. Aly Raisman is a returning legend and Simone Biles is the new one. Go USA!
19. Madison Kocian you may have got silver but if it were up to me you'd be the gold ;)
20. Michael Phelps is starting his last individual race - don't cry.
21. Michael is swimming (and slaying) his last relay - don't cry.
22. Michael is at his last award ceremonies and he is crying and now so am I.
23. Honestly how is USA so good at swimming?

Simone Manuel (who attends Stanford University!!!) has this priceless reaction to winning gold in the 50m final.

24. So what are those little statues they get at the medal ceremony? (I did some research on this one. As opposed to giving medal winners flowers as the Olympics have done in the past, Rio is extending their theme of sustainability by giving out these Rio figurines/metal holders instead. Pretty cool!)
25. What's the likelihood they tie when they measure to 0.01 seconds?

Mo Farah and Galen Rupp are friendship goals.
26. Track and Field has started and I'm not looking back
27. You're a true athlete when you fall in the 10,000 meters and still win. (Ahem, Mo Farah).
28. Is it okay that I rooted more for South Africa in the 400 m final than Team USA.
29. They just jumped 7'5" in the high jump, soooo yeah.
30. Usain Bolt has arrived. And he has won it. Again. Go Jamaica!
31. The sportsmanship in the women's 5000 meter prelims is beyond inspiring.

Still a little crazed, to be honest. The Bahamas wins with a dive!
32. When I watch the steeplechase and hurdles I forget that they are running faster than I could ever AND simultaneously jumping over barriers.
33. Oh no the Olympics has just a few days left :(
34. I will keep humming along to the Olympic theme every time it plays.
35. It is now midnight and I have watched five hours of this.
36. Team USA is #1 in medal counts. Rep that red white and blue.
37. Tokyo 2020; I'm ready for you.

What are some of your random observations from the Olympics?
I hope you enjoyed this year's games as much as I did! Also, I invite you to check out my predictions from earlier in the Spring for Team USA to compare to the results!

Written by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Dive Into Teen!

Next week marks the beginning of the Teen Summer Program series with Dive Into Teen!

Join us to talk about what you've been reading, learn about awesome new books, and play a few games!

Snacks will be provided.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Favorite Documentaries

Girl Rising
What's to love: I've seen this stunning documentary three times, and each time it has managed to re-inspire me. It tells the story of several different girls from around the world as a method for addressing girls' education on an international scale.
See the trailer here
How to Watch: You can download the movie online here

What's to love: Just like Girl Rising, this is a documentary that will take you on a trip around the world. Happy is on a search to determine what makes us, as humans, happy.
See the trailer here
How to Watch: Happy is available on Hulu here
Exit through the Gift Shop
What's to love: Documentaries are a fun way to learn about a topic that is particularly foreign. Herein lies the appeal of "Exit through the Gift Shop", which chronicles one filmmaker's attempt to track down and befriend Banksy, a world renowned street artist who has famously managed to keep his identity a secret.
See the trailer here
How to Watch: Exit Through the Gift Shop is available on Netflix.
What's to love: Babies chronicles the first year of four babies, from San Francisco, to Tokyo, to Namibia, to Mongolia. It's awesome to see how different infanthood is around the world.
See the trailer here
How to Watch: You can stream"Babies" via Amazon here
Chef's Table Episode 1
What's to love: While each of the six episodes that make up Chef's Table is interesting in a unique way, the first of the series was by far my favorite. This installment follows Italian chef Massimo Bottura's rise to prominence in the culinary world. There are also elements of this episode that feel like a romantic comedy so it's a win-win.
See the trailer here
How to Watch: Chef's Table is available on Netflix
The Woman Who Wasn't There
What's to love: File this one under 'weird but strangely engrossing'. IMBD describes this doc as "a psychological thriller that goes inside the mind of history's most infamous 9/11 survivor." What makes Tania Head, the former president of The World Trade Center Survivors' Network, so infamous? Head was never in the Twin Towers on 9/11 and her "epic story of grief was a complete fabrication". 
See the trailer here
How to Watch: "The Woman Who Wasn't There" is available on Hulu
The House I Live In
What's to love: I was really surprised by how engrossing this story was. "The House I Live In" explores America's ongoing "War on Drugs" from the perspective of everyone from the "dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator". This movie will provide a whole new perspective on one of the US's most pressing domestic issues.
See the trailer here
How to Watch: "The House I Live In" is available on Amazon.

First Position
What's to love: For those outside of the world of dance, First Position provides a fascinating look at the cut-throat daily lives of the world's most elite ballerinas.
See the trailer here
How to Watch: First Position is available on Netflix and iTunes

Post written by Allie, Homework Assistant

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Milk Tea

By now, it is more than likely that you have tried milk tea at least once, with many shops in Mountain View.  If you have somehow never heard of this drink or want to learn more, read on.

What is it?
Milk tea starts off as regular tea (either black or green) that is mixed with syrup and condensed milk. From there, things like powder, fruit, or artificial sweetener can be added for flavor. This allows for specialty flavors like caramel or honeydew. Finally (and most distinctively), mix-
ins like chewy tapioca balls (also known as boba) or fruit jelly can be added for texture.

How Did it Start?
There are many origin stories on the internet but it is widely accepted that milk tea had its start in Chun Shui Teahouse in Taiwan. Liu Han-Chieh, the founder, was inspired to make iced tea after seeing iced coffee on a trip to Japan. From there, product manager Lin Hsiu Hui poured tapioca balls into iced tea on a whim during a boring meeting. Loving the drink, the shop put it on the menu, where it sold very well. The company decided not to trademark the drink, allowing it to spread throughout the world.

Where to Get It? 
As mentioned earlier, milk tea has spread globally. For some local milk tea, check out these Mountain View shops: 

In downtown Mountain View: Teaspoon, Tea Era, Jazen Tea, Verde Tea, Tapioca Express 
Near Mountain View High School: Ocha, Tea Annie 

I hope you find this post informative! Feel free to share some of your favorite milk tea spots in the comments.

Written by Jenna M., Homework Assistant 

Monday, May 23, 2016

International Summer Festivals

With less than a month left in school, summer can't be coming any quicker. While waiting for that lovely time, I began wondering how other countries celebrate summer and what festivities they have. This is what I found:

1. World Bodypainting Festival (Austria)  
This colorful festival takes place in Carinthia, Austria for one week in July. Tens of thousands of people from 40 countries around the world travel there to learn about the craft and enter an intense competition with some of the best bodypainters in the world. The festival is open to the public, so families often visit to see the bodypaint and the accompanying dance performances.

2. White Nights of Summer (Russia) 
"White nights" refer to the extremely long daylight hours in St. Petersburg. The residents of the city take advantage of the lack of night by holding festivities from May to July. One of these festivities is street markets selling ice cream and large, juicy watermelon called arbus. One of the most iconic events of this time is the Stars of the White Nights Festival, which takes place at the Mariinssky Theatre. This festival features daily performances such as ballet, opera, and classical music concerts.

3. Sonar (Spain):
Sonar is a multimedia music festival that takes place in the Museum of Contemporary of Museum Arts in Barcelona for three days in June. This festival features music, fashion, and films. The focus in sonar is in electronica music, but there have been performances from artists in other genres such as M.I.A., Bjork, and the Beastie Boys. There are also performances of more experimental genres such as "digital concert". Clearly, if you are a music lover, this is the place for you.

4. Tanbata (Japan)
Tanbata is also known as the Star Festival and takes place on July 7th. This festival has its origins in traditional Japanese mythology involving the stars Vega and Altair (known as Orihime and Hikoboshi in Japan, respectively). In that story, the two stars were lovers that were separated by the Milky Way, and they can only meet on that day. To celebrate this meeting, people write poetry or a wish onto paper streamers and hang them on either bamboo or a Wish Tree. 

Do you know of any other interesting festivals? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Written by Jenna M., Homework Assistant 

Teen Summer Reading!!!!

Image result for summer scene
It's almost summer and that means it's time to sign up for Teen summer programs at the library!

We've got some favorites - henna, beaded jewelry, hula - and some brand new programs - folded book art, learn to solder - there's something for everyone!

Registration for programs is open now! Click here to go to the summer program flyer. Click on the name of any program you want to register for and the registration page for that program will open in your browser.

Sign up for as many programs as you want, but only for programs you are going to actually attend!

Questions? Email marie.richardson@mountainview.gov

Friday, May 6, 2016

DIYs for Mother's Day

Sunday, May 8, will mark Mother’s Day this year, and if Amazon Prime can’t deliver your Mom’s gift in time, you can invest your time to make her day just as special with a homemade touch. It could cost you absolutely nothing to make her one of these sweet crafts and show her your love!

So let’s start easy: make her a homemade card!

These stitched hearts are TOO cute and pretty simple to make. Grab a needle and thread and you're set.

Too complicated? Don’t fret! You can also make basic designs just as memorable. Start with inspiration from KellyConnorDesigns Etsy cards, boasting humorous phrases such as, “Mum, thanks for sharing your DNA. Now we are both fabulous.”

Most importantly, don’t forget to fill that card with meaningful, heartfelt words. 

Who knew wood pallets could be downsized into adorable coasters? That's exactly what this blogger did, and the results are nothing short of amazing. A set of four makes the perfect gift for Mom.
Get the full instructions at WashiTapeCrafts.
Alright, now that we’ve crossed the hurdle of making a card, we can step it up a notch:
make her a homemade gift!

These little coasters are made of just popsicle sticks and washi tape. (P.S. I have made these before and they are adorable, just make sure you use sturdy glue!)

Valentine's Day Recipe: Strawberry Sprinkle Cookies | Evermine Blog | www.evermine.com
Maybe crafts still aren’t your thing? Upcycle a mason jar and fill it with pretty sugar cookies and create the same effect. I can’t get over how pretty these cookies are! Trying to perfect that pinky shade might be a stretch, but these are so aesthetically pleasing, I bet it’s worth it ;)

Lastly, make her a homemade treat!

Will it be breakfast in bread or a surprise dessert? If you have any culinary talent, definitely consider preparing a special food for your mama!

Cook up some pancakes with extra love! This mess-free recipe is kind of amazing, super quick, and you even get to try out your hand at pancake art.

If your mom is all about eating healthy, make a scrumptious fruit bowl with all the good kinds of sugar. Simply take her favorite berries, process in a blender, and decorate to your heart’s content with granola and toppings!

Let me know if you tried any of these ideas for Mother’s Day, or share what you gave your mother! Have fun celebrating!

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Thursday, May 5, 2016

What is Tidal?

As you may have heard, Beyonce has recently dropped her new visual album Lemonade on HBO. This is a full studio album paired with an extended video.

This album has garnered a lot of attention, discussing possible infidelity by Jay-Z and triggering backlash against Rachel Roy on Instagram and Twitter. Despite this attention, the video itself is hard to find because for a while, one could only stream it through Tidal.

Tidal is a streaming site owned by prominent artists including but not limited to Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Daft Punk. Tidal distinguished itself from other music services by offering a premium music service with hi-fidelity, lossless sound quality for $20. (There is another, standard definition account for $10).  It also prides itself on being owned by artists and offering greater royalties to artists compared to other streaming sites.

Despite these commendable traits, Tidal has attracted criticism by others in the music industry. Singer Lily Allen shared her concerns about making big artists exclusive to an expensive streaming service, which could encourage piracy. Recording artist Marina and the Diamonds and band Mumford and Sons disagree with how Tidal consist of only big names in music and does not represent or vouch for smaller, independent musicians.

Personally, I am not enough of an audiophile to pay twice as much for music in exchange for better sound quality. But what do you think about Tidal? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!

Written by Jenna M., Homework Assistant 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King, the fourth and final book in Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle series, has arrived!

Click here to place a hold on one of the library's two copies.

And just in case you can't quite remember what happened in books 1 through 3, I've collected the summaries from Booklist magazine here for a quick refresher!

Warning - there are a couple of spoilers in the following summaries, if you haven't yet read the first three books and you want to stop here!

 The latest from Stiefvater, author of the Printz Honor Book The Scorpio Races (2011), defies easy synopsis. Consider that it is the story of 16-year-old Blue, from a family of psychics though she herself is not one. However, she does have the gift of amplifying others’ psychic experiences. Oh, and she has been told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. Then there are wealthy, handsome Gansey and his three friends, Adam, Ronan, and Noah, all of whom are “Raven Boys,” students at the prestigious Aglionby Academy. Gansey is obsessed with finding the body of the legendary sleeping king of Wales, Owen Glendower, using ley lines, invisible lines of energy that connect spiritual places. That a sinister someone else is also searching for the sleeping king adds chill-inducing danger to the complex and artful plot. Indeed, reading this novel is like walking through a tangled thicket and coming across one unexpected and wonderful surprise after another. In that respect, the book is marvelous, for not only is it filled with marvels but it is also a marvel of imagination and, more prosaically, structure. Rich, too, in characterization, this fantasy-mystery rises to the level of serious literature, leaving readers hungering for more. 

 In this continuation of The Raven Boys (2012), Printz Honor Book recipient Stiefvater continues the compelling story, keeping the focus once again on the Raven Boys themselves: privileged Gansey, tortured Adam, spectral Noah, and darkly dangerous Ronan. This time, though, their quest for the legendary sleeping Welsh King, Owen Glendower, takes a backseat to a spate of secrets, dreams, and nightmares that appear to be sapping the ley line—an invisible channel of energy connecting sacred places—that runs beneath their small Virginia town. Could this be the reason that the mystical forest, Cabeswater, has inexplicably disappeared? Who is the mysterious Grey Man, and why is he searching for the Greywaren, a relic that enables its owner to steal objects from dreams? How does this involve secretive Ronan? Visceral suspense builds as the characters pursue answers to these and other questions, and a palpable sense of foreboding and danger increasingly permeates the novel. Richly written and filled with figurative language (buildings are “tidy as library books”; a “murmur of guests” attend a party; a woman looks “fresh as a newscaster”), this story of secrets and dreams, of brothers, and of all-too-real magic is an absolute marvel of imagination and an irresistible invitation to wonder.

They’re back: privileged Gansey, lonesome Adam, dangerous Ronan, and spectral Noah—the Raven Boys of Stiefvater’s eponymous Raven Boys cycle. Volume 3 finds them still searching for sleeping Welsh king Owen Glendower, though they learn now that there is not one sleeper but three: one to waken, one not to waken, and one in the middle. Joining them again in their search is beautiful Blue, the only one in her family who is not a psychic. Blue’s mother, Maura, has vanished underground, and the five teens go spelunking in search now of both her and the king. But they’re not the only ones searching for something: the truly evil Colin Greenmantle and his awful wife, Piper, are looking for the Greywaren, an object that allows the dreamer to remove objects from his dream. Unknown to them—but not the reader—is that Ronan is the Greywaren and that both he and Adam have inextricably close ties to the magical forest Cabeswater, to which they turn for help. Like the first two volumes, Stiefvater’s third is a marvel of imagination and invention. Beautifully written, too, it is rich in simile and metaphor: an autumnal town is “a paint box of colors,” “the dread was like blood.” As for the characters, they are—not to put too fine a point on it—to die for. And the tone, at once mysterious and foreboding, is a perfect match for the material. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is, simply, a triumph.

Marie R. Teen Services Librarian

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Productive Things to Do on the Internet

It is quite easy to get distracted with technology, and the Internet is not helping. When I have some free time, it is easy to get caught up in the depths of Facebook, Youtube, or aimless social media. However, there are ways to be productive on the Internet! You could be helping out a nonprofit, educating yourself, or EVEN making money! Find out how below.

Do some good at Freerice.com
Freerice is an amazing organization that has set up a system to give rice to hungry families in third world countries. It simultaneously educates you by quizzing you in vocabulary, math, science, geography, art history, and more subjects.
How does it work? Basically, you are tested with multiple choice questions. For every answer you get correct, Freerice will donate 10 grains to a hungry person as a humanitarian cause. Too good to be true? Well the UN World Food Program set up Freerice and the rice is paid for by the advertisers on the site. The more you play (and educate yourself!), the more rice that is donated on your behalf. Do I hear SAT vocabulary review, anyone?

Plan out your virtuous life at bucketlist.org.
Although we can’t all skydive or fly to Rome at this very moment, we are all dreamers. Jotting down those dreams on a bucket list will help you to achieve them. If you ever get a sudden inspiration, keep track of your hopes and dreams, and set a “due date” so you will actually complete it! I’ve had a fun time maintaining my bucket list, and it is a wonderful thing to keep with you so you can be living your best life. Just imagine the possibility! Want to travel to the Great Wall, to Venice, to Mars? Write it down and follow your aspirations.

Make money with online surveys.
Just recently, I made accounts on both OpinionOutpost.com and iPoll.com and I have already made several dollars, just by providing my feedback. Lots of companies want to know about their products, so they are willing to pay us consumers in exchange for our insight. Prizes include gift cards to tons of different places. The only downfall is that you probably won’t be eligible for many surveys as a minor, but it’s still worth it if you are making easy cash.

What’s your most productive online activity? If you get the chance, try out one of these websites! It’s such a busy life these days, but these ideas are a good way to decompress, while still being productive.

Written by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mountain View Favorites

I grew up strolling along Castro Street, picnicking at Shoreline Lake, attending library storytime, and splashing away at the Eagle Park pool. Having lived in Mountain View the majority of my life, I can appreciate all the charming features amidst the innovation that surrounds our lovely city. There’s certainly no place like home; these are the things about Mountain View that make it my home.

My favorite restaurant?
Taqueria Los Charros. This quaint Mexican eatery is as authentic as it gets. The newer restaurant is on El Camino, but the original, real food is at the downtown Mountain View taqueria just off Castro. The carnitas tacos are a favorite of mine, but you won’t be able to resist their burritos, tamales, enchiladas, and (mmmm) horchata!
Mountwatering Mexican food is just a block away from the library! 
My favorite park?
This is a tricky one. With the spacious Cuesta Park to the limitless fun at Rengstorff, our community has lots of beautiful spaces. However, one park that I always love returning to is Gemello Park. With just a small playground and grassy hill, this place is picture perfect for sunbathing on a summer day, and it has a soft spot in my heart because I grew up on the baby swings. 

My favorite hang out?
The View Teen Center is so legit, you guys! I only visited for the first time recently, but everyone is automatically in love the moment they step into the building. Everything, from the staff, the activities, and the games, are all there for our use. That is, anyone living in Mountain View, Los Altos, or attending MVLA schools.

My favorite dessert place?
I could be classy and recommend a trendy spot like Snozen or Gelato Classico, but there is nothing that satisfies my sugar needs more than a perfectly round scoop of Baskin Robbins, located at the corner of Shoreline and El Camino. On top of that, Baskin Robbins does a great job giving back to the community, and you can always find them supporting local events.

My favorite local business?
Book Buyers, located on Castro, buys and sells used books. It often sits overpowered by Books, Inc., next door, but this place has so many wonderful finds and charms. As soon as you walk through the door, their crazy large calendar collection will have you fixated! If you love books, this place is a must.

So easy to get lost in the aisles of Book Buyers!

My favorite event?
How is an MV native supposed to so readily choose just one event from the whole year?? I think my favorite annual event would be the Art and Wine Festival in September, because it’s always a lovely time of year and it’s great to see the community get together.

My favorite entertainment?
The movie theatre would be a classic option, but on a larger scale, we have our very own amphitheatre at Shoreline which holds up to 20,000 people! I’ve had an amazing time seeing The Script, One Republic, Pentatonix, and Kelly Clarkson at this venue, and the lawn seats (often just $20-$30 per ticket!) are perfect on a warm night. Of course, the concert will be a blast, too, because nothing beats live music.
I bet you can recognize these twin tents from miles away! 
As a longtime Mountain View resident, this place will always mean so much to me, and these are just some of my favorite aspects that make it so special. What are you favorite places and why? Make sure to share so I can check them out!

Written by Katia G., Homework Assistant