Celebrating National Library Card Sign Up Month With Fabulous Fictional Libraries

Happy National Library Card Sign Up Month! 

So, first things first, how many of you have a card for your local library?

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I hope all of our trusty Hub readers raised their hands with enthusiasm! After all, having a library card is cooler than being cool, as the 2015 honorary chair Snoopy himself tells us.  Besides, a library is a gateway to a host of free and fabulous resources! If you haven’t had the chance to saunter on down to your local public library and receive your very own library card, take advantage of this celebration’s last couple weeks to investigate the process.

PEANUTS_WEB_PSA_336x280But if you need a reminder of just why libraries are in fact so cool, check out these examples of excellent and awe-inspiring fictional libraries.

The Hogwarts Library from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

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What library fan could resist the cavernous and mysterious space full of magical texts detailing everything from how to take care of baby dragons to the secrets behind the creation of dangerous potions?  The Hogwarts Library is located on the fourth floor of Hogwarts castle and contains thousands upon thousands of books.  The space is divided into many specific sections, including the Restricted Section–a roped off area which requires a signed note from a professor to access.  As far as we know, the librarian is the stern Madam Irma Pince.  Additionally, the library is the site of quite a lot of significant moments and discoveries for Harry, Ron, and Hermione during their time at Hogwarts; it’s clearly a cool place to hang out–or at least a good place to conduct research on dark secrets and even darker magic.  After all, as Ron so wisely states in his description of Hermione’s particular approach to problems, “When in doubt, go to the library.” Continue reading Celebrating National Library Card Sign Up Month With Fabulous Fictional Libraries

Documentaries for Teens: Varieties of Teen Experiences

Documentaries are sometimes overlooked forms of media for both education and for entertainment. They cover all types of subject matter and can tell intimate, moving stories. This series focuses on documentaries that may appeal to teens, and each installment will focus on a particular theme. This month, we’re highlighting documentaries that capture modern teen experiences from around the world.

Rich Hill

This documentary is an “examination of challenges, hopes and dreams of the young residents of a rural American town.” It focuses on the lives of three young men and their everyday lives. The intimate look at this small Missouri town is deeply moving. Rich Hill is readily available on DVD. Continue reading Documentaries for Teens: Varieties of Teen Experiences

From Page to Screen Review: Insurgent

insurgentThe second entry into the planned four part film series that is adapting our favorite Veronica Roth source material, known as the Divergent trilogy, has finally arrived. Insurgent made its debut last weekend amidst mixed reviews (31% rotten according to critics, 71% liked among fans) but still managed to top the box office with an estimated $54.03 million. Now the question that we are all clamoring for, how did the new director do with our beloved series’ second book? Let’s break it down by the top three questions that I get every time someone asks me about my thoughts of a book-to-movie adaptation.

Was it entertaining?

The film was entertaining, and it was very enjoyable as a fan of the series. The simulation sequences were action packed and intense. They were definitely created to be viewed in 3D, but you’re probably not missing too much if you’re cheap like me. Probably one of the best sequences is the first Dauntless simulation where Tris is fighting to get to her mother who is trapped in a rotating, burning box. This was probably the most visually interesting sequence, the one that managed not to go too over the top, and one of the few simulation scenes that didn’t feel like it was overtly pandering to the 3D technology.

And most importantly when it comes to entertainment, have no fear shippers, the relationship between Tris and Four is still squee-worthy in this installment. There are some weird moments that happen concerning our central couple, one that involves a dream and Four’s mother to be specific, but aside from that the filmmakers really focus on how much these two trust and love each other. It’s pretty stinking adorable.

Continue reading From Page to Screen Review: Insurgent

The DUFF: Book to Movie

imageI rarely see the movie version of a book before I’ve read the book. That’s because the book is usually better than the movie it’s based on. But, I ended up seeing the movie version of Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF (2011 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers) at a sneak-preview last week in NYC. I hadn’t yet read the book. I’d had a copy of the galley for years but just hadn’t had the opportunity to read it and I’d just given that galley away recently, too. I was probably one of the few people at the preview who hadn’t read the book. So, I bought the paperback copy & quickly read it in preparation for writing this blog. But, as I know you’ve all heard too often, as of a few days ago, I could honestly say, “No, I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the movie.”

Here’s the official trailer for the film.

Continue reading The DUFF: Book to Movie

From Page to Screen: Mockingjay Part 1

mockingjayYou know it’s the end of November because, as anticipated, the latest installment of our beloved Hunger Games films was released this past weekend. November might never be the same after Mockingjay Part 2 comes out next year. What will YA lit lovers do when our beloved trilogy, which has become a four part film franchise, is all over? Thankfully we have another year before we have to really think about such things, so let’s get to the task at hand and talk about the first installment of Mockingjay.

Mockingjay Part 1 landed into our film watching universe this past Friday making quite the splash with the year’s biggest film opening weekend, earning a whopping $123 million. Even with the impressive feat of the year’s biggest opening, this is actually the lowest the franchise has performed. To be fair, Catching Fire set a really high bar for these last two films in the franchise, because not only was it critically acclaimed but it was fan approved and a moneymaker. So why the “light” opening? Is this more of the feared YA lit-to-movie fatigue people seem to be so nervous about? Probably not. Mockingjay is controversial for most fans of the Hunger Games trilogy and there is almost always a love it or hate it quality to the final book in a series. Also, it was the biggest weekend of the year! Not too shabby, even if it is the lowest opening yet for one the Hunger Games films.

It’s always fascinating to watch all of the excitement and hype leading up to these movies. There was a lot of chatter about the decision to make this final book into two movies and a lot of discussion around how to keep the final, most violent book PG-13 appropriate. So with all of that in mind, how did the filmmakers do with Mockingjay Part 1?

Continue reading From Page to Screen: Mockingjay Part 1

The Giver Movie: A Reader’s Perspective

The_Giver_posterAs a reader, I’m not sure if I went to the movies because I wanted to watch The Giver or because I wanted to hatewatch it.

I did a little of each. I’ll try to explain my reaction to the film, while also leaving out enough information to keep the movie surprising if you’d like to be surprised. That may leave this post incomprehensible until after you’ve seen the movie. I’m not sure. You’ll have to let me know. But be forewarned: this post either has spoilers or is impossible to understand.

I think your liking of this film will depend on how passionate you are about the book. I’m not someone who thinks movies have to stick to the book word-for-word; different media require different approaches. But I’m also not someone who likes it when a movie slaps a book title on its poster and does nothing else to base it on the novel. The Giver is somewhere in between, and it’s not really a bad movie so much as a film that suffers from the glut of dystopian movies, TV, and books and designed itself to be attractive to people just catching on to that genre, not people curious to see Lois Lowry’s beloved book come to life.

That’s not to say that readers won’t enjoy this film. The creators did a brilliant job of dealing with the colorless world. The slow transitions and back-and-forth from plain to color and back again, as Jonas learns new colors and as he goes back and forth between the colorful world of the Giver’s home to his own bland dwelling, is just perfect. The set design is spot-on, and the costumes and props are stylized but not too corny. This film has excellent trappings, but it didn’t do much to translate the power of the book to the screen.  Continue reading The Giver Movie: A Reader’s Perspective

From Page to Screen: Divergent

The film adaptation of the first book in Veronica Roth’s bestselling and Teens’ Top Ten winning Divergent trilogy has been widely hyped over the past couple of weeks. The Internet Divergent-posterat large has been chattering for weeks now about Divergent stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James and what is sure to be their blockbuster, star creating roles. If you want to play a fun game, then you should YouTube all recent interviews with the actors and see how long it takes the interviewer to ask them about accepting a role in such a huge movie. It seems fairly odd, given the movie hadn’t been released until this past Friday, so unless they were fortune tellers, there was no real way to know whether or not this movie would succeed critically or financially.

Sure, Divergent is a best-selling series, but then again so was City of Bones, Percy Jackson, Vampire Academy and– well, you see where I’m going with this… None of these films were able to capitalize on their source materials success, so how is that Divergent was seen as a forgone conclusion before the film hit theaters? Does it have something to do with the constant comparison to The Hunger Games? Or maybe it has something to do with the enigmatic Shailene Woodley who is apparently the YA book to film “It” girl right now?

I’m wondering about all of the above, because in all seriousness, I really liked the film adaptation of Divergent. As a book and film nerd, this movie is a pretty solid B+ adaptation with a grade A for acting. There is a definite reason Shailene Woodley is the new “it” girl for these films, and she showcases her talents well in Divergent. My filmgirl nerdiness usually means that I understand critics response to movies, which is why the 40% rotten rating from Rotten Tomatoes or this film is pretty baffling to me. It seems a pretty weird trajectory for a movie that has had such non-stop hype and one where the movie is actually a good movie. To be honest, the critical response to Divergent has me wondering if critics are having some YA book-to-movie fatigue. This movie is definitely as good as the first Hunger Games film, which had an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes when it was first released.  Continue reading From Page to Screen: Divergent

Vampire Academy Movie Review: Smart and Self-Aware

To be honest, Vampire Academy has flown under the YA radar compared to, say, Twilight or The Hunger Games. In the age of supernatural teen romance, separating one series from another can be confusing. And that’s a shame for Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy (a 2008 Teens’ Top Ten winner), because there is something refreshingly snarky, self-aware and interesting about the series. In a sea of vampires and werewolves Vampire Academy stands out because of its acerbic tone and surprising focus on a strong friendship between two young women, as opposed to romance (which there is still plenty of).  And when I heard the Waters brothers (famous for Mean Girls and Heathers) were set to write and direct this film, it became even more imperative that I check it out opening weekend.

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Rotten Tomatoes has given Vampire Academy a horrifying 9%, which just goes to show that I don’t care how adult men feel about teenage movies (unless they are actually the Waters brothers). However, the audience rating is 78% and gives the film an average of 4 out of 5 stars, which is exactly on point, in my opinion. It wasn’t a perfect movie, but I’m inclined to rate it somewhere near Jennifer’s Body in the tradition of “movies parents just don’t understand but that speak authentically to the teen girl experience as supernatural metaphor.”  Continue reading Vampire Academy Movie Review: Smart and Self-Aware