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Buzz Blog: Teens

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News and Blog for Niles-Maine District Library
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Teen Book Review: Hooper by Geoff Herbach

April 28, 2020 - 7:05am

Hooper by Geoff Herbach is a novel about prejudice, opportunity, and family. Teenage orphan Adam Sobieski, born in Poland, lives with his single-parent adoptive mother. He goes to high school in Mankato, Minnesota and excels in his basketball skills on the team. He is scouted by and joins a prestigious travel team in the state. He has issues connecting with other teenagers due to his lack of English skills, and has to deal with some racial tensions with his teammates because he is the only white kid on the team. During his time at high school he faces prejudice for his background as an immigrant from Poland, and rough relationships with his friends.

What I like about this book is how Adam deals with his problems. He must work throughout the book to prove himself to people on his team to trust him. I like Adam’s quality of persistence to fix his friendships and relationships with his teammates. I like how the book has a suspenseful feeling at the end of each chapter that makes me want to find what is going to happen next to Adam.

I think that this book is a good read for middle-schoolers since it is not too challenging to understand the concepts. The author has a good way of presenting the events and hardships in Adam’s life. This book is great for middle-schoolers also because of how they can relate to Adam’s life. Many students can relate with Adam’s academic skills, and sometimes his social awkwardness as he engages in a new environment in a different country.

By: Zach

The post Teen Book Review: Hooper by Geoff Herbach appeared first on Library Buzz Blog.

Teens Find Community in the Underground

April 14, 2020 - 9:49am

We visited the Teen Underground to see exactly what was happening. Here’s what we saw.

The scene is set: teen boys, aged 13-15, sit anxiously in front of computers. They’re playing Minecraft in the Lower Level of the Library where two librarians—Donna Block and Rachel Colias—have worked together to energize Teen Underground, a space where teens aged 13-18 can be together. “Teens have all the same needs as kids and adults,” Donna says. “They need a space to be able to do that safely and comfortably.” Donna and Rachel have done just that; created a space where teens not only feel heard, but also feel safe and understood.

Enter Josmi, a freshman at Niles West High School who has been visiting Teen Underground since the 7th grade. “I can literally open myself up here,” she begins. “This is our time to find out who we are.”

“Libraries are supposed to serve community members at every stage in their life, so providing a space tailored to fit where teens are developmentally and staffing that space with adults who understand their unique experience is not only invaluable, it’s mandatory,” Rachel adds.

And she’s not wrong. According to a study by the Young Adult Library Services Association*, adopting a continuous, year-round approach to library services, public libraries can give significant value to their community by supporting healthy adolescent development, providing safe spaces for teens to explore their passions, and preparing teens for college, careers, and life.

Having asked quite a few teens why the space is so important to them, many responded with the same feeling: “When I first came to the Library,” Tarilja, an 8th grader at Culver School begins,“I thought Teen Underground was about books, but it was more than that. You can meet friendly people, too.”

Natalia, Daniah, and Steven, all freshman at Niles West High School, sit together near the TV many use to play video games and watch movies. When asked why they love Teen Underground, Natalia sits up excitedly and says, “It’s like a second home.”

*“The Value of Continuous Teen Services: A YALSA Position Paper”, American Library Association, April 18, 2018. | (Accessed February 6, 2020) | Document ID: 49077794-ad7f-4ca1-9c14-633b25df0322

The post Teens Find Community in the Underground appeared first on Library Buzz Blog.

In the Teen Underground: A Poem

April 8, 2020 - 1:19pm

In the Teen Underground
It’s a sight that’ll astound,
As you look around,
A place that is quite rare,
With its own flair,
And is filled with care,
Where many activities will be found,
There’s plenty to go around,
Already renowned,
No better place elsewhere,
You can play solitaire,
Or read a book about Voltaire,
Where ideas are propound,
And the librarians are profound,
Teen underground bound?
Just head down the stairs,
It is the best place; I declare!

By Tiffany

The post In the Teen Underground: A Poem appeared first on Library Buzz Blog.

It’s A Virtual Pizza Party!

March 30, 2020 - 2:43pm

We host a lot of pizza parties in the Teen Underground. While we can’t get together for pizza right now, there’s nothing stopping us from making it at home and sharing the results online. Here’s the pizza dough recipe that I’ve used for years. The ingredients and equipment it requires are basic kitchen staples that you may already have on had. If you do need to go out, take a few standard precautions.

Part 1: Make The Dough Ingredients
  • Flour – 3.5 cups
  • Yeast – 1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • Sugar – follow instructions on yeast package, Ex. 1 teaspoon
  • Warm Water – 1 1/2 cups, (110-115° F)
  • Salt – 2x amount needed for yeast, Ex. 2 teaspoons
  • Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Large Bowl (for mixing dough)
  • Medium bowl (for sifting flour and salt)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Spatula
  • Food Thermometer


Step One: WASH YOUR HANDS. This should always be your first step any time you prepare food.

Step Two: Start with your yeast. Active yeast needs time to proof, while instant yeast can go right in the mix. To proof active yeast, add 1 cup warm water, the yeast, and sugar to the large bowl. Follow the directions on your yeast package for the best results. It’s important for the water to be the right temperature (110-115° F). Let the yeast mixture sit in the bowl in a warm spot for 10 minutes while it proofs. Watch it bubble while you measure your flour and salt.

Step Three: Sift the flour and salt together in the medium bowl. Then stir it with the spatula.

Step Four: Add the flour-salt blend to the yeast mixture about 1 cup at a time, adding in your remaining 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons olive oil in between cups of flour.

Step Five: Stir the dough with the spatula until it starts to get tough. It won’t look like pizza dough yet, but it’s close. Maybe it’s a little dry and crumbly — that’s totally normal.

Step Six: Dust your hands with a little extra flour, and knead your dough. Work it with your knuckles. You may need to add a tiny bit more water or flour if it feels a little too wet or dry. Pick it up and squish it between your hands, then plop it it he bowl and knead it again. Now it looks like pizza dough!

Step Seven: Work the dough into a ball, drizzle a little olive oil around the bowl and swirl it around. It’s time to let it rest and rise. Cover it with a dish towel and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour. Watch a movie for free on Kanopy.

Step Eight: After an hour, your dough ball should have doubled in size! There’s a lot of air in it, so knead it down, then split it into two equal-size balls. You’ve got enough dough for two pizzas! If you aren’t going to make both pizzas right away, then you can save the extra dough in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Cover it with foil to keep it fresh.

Part 2: Make the Pizza

I made a simple cheese pizza, but you can use whatever toppings you like.

Gear & Ingredients (per pizza)
  • 12-14 inch pizza pan, or rectangle baking sheet
  • Olive Oil
  • Seasoning (dried basil, Italian blend, salt & pepper … whatever floats your boat)
  • 4 oz. tomato sauce
  • 8 oz. shredded cheese

Step One: Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. The hot oven will bake your pizza fast!

Step Two: Drizzle a little olive oil on your pizza pan and spread it around.

Step Three: Now it’s time to spread your dough out on the pan. I’m no good at spinning dough in the air, but you don’t really need to do that. Pizza dough is really elastic and will pull back a little each time you stretch it out, so just be patient! Gradually work it out from the middle of the pan toward the edges with your fingers. If a hole forms, you can fill it in by pressing the surrounding dough down into it.

Step Four: Sprinkle seasoning all over your dough.

Step Five: Add 4 oz of tomato sauce, spooning it out a little at a time and spreading it evenly. Don’t over-sauce, that’ll just result in soggy pizza.

Step Six: Add a little more seasoning, if you like.

Step Seven: Now add the cheese! I used a whole 8 oz bag, shaking it out and then spreading the last few bits with my fingers to coat the sauce evenly.

Step Eight: Slide the pan on to the middle rack of the oven. Set the timer for 10 minutes. You can add an extra minute, or take it out a minute early depending on how well done you like your cheese.

Congrats! You’ve made pizza. Let it cool for 2-3 minutes, then slice it and enjoy.

Post your pizza creations to Instagram and tag @nmdlunderground, or send them to us on Snapchat @teenunderground.

Viewing Suggestion: Slice (2017) is the movie debut of Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper. Chance stars as an amateur sleuth who sets out to catch a killer who’s murdering pizza delivery boys. It’s available free on Kanopy. Here are a few more suggestions, all from Kanopy:

Flatbreads and Pizza on the Grill (2015)
Butter and Cheese: Northern Italy (2014)
Classical Italian Cuisine: Central Italy (2014)
Bounty from the Sea: Southern Italy (2014)
New Chefs on the Block (2016)
From Farm To Table (2007)

Need to track carbs? All-purpose flour contains 95.4 grams of carbohydrates per cup. 1/16 of the pizza dough (1/8 of a finished crust) will contain 21 grams. The tomato sauce for that slice will add about 1 gram. Shredded cheese will add 1 more gram, bringing the total to 23 grams.

Need a Gluten-Free option? Try this one out: Gluten-Free Pizza

The post It’s A Virtual Pizza Party! appeared first on Library Buzz Blog.

Teen Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

March 25, 2020 - 11:47am

Over the summer, I read a very good, funny, interesting book called The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I wasn’t very excited that I had to read a book over the summer, but when I read this book it ended up being one of my favorites.

The book’s main focus is a 14-year-old boy named Junior who faces many problems. For example, he is bullied at school because he has a lisp and stutters. He also faces problems at home because his family are alcoholics, and they don’t really support him. Junior has to decide what the best thing for him to do is, and how he wants to spend the rest of his life. He has to make the difficult decision of moving to a different school. Even after he moves, he still faces problems with his family and old friends.  

I really love this book because it really does relate to a teen’s life. Our teenage years are very difficult and filled with stress. It has funny vibes which makes it fun to read, and I feel a connection with the book because being a teenager is very hard. I think that teenagers in general, and especially ages 14-17, would enjoy reading it. It really does fit in to our lives, and what we have all had to deal with. Whether it be about school, physical appearance, or family, we all have problems that we overthink. This book really helps us teens see how it is normal to feel as if we don’t fit in and that we can and should push ourselves. Just because one comes from a poor and uneducated family doesn’t mean that one will continue that path – it only pushes one to become better.

Overall, Sherman Alexie did a very good job writing this book because it helps teenagers see that we are not alone and that we all face problems.


By: J.A.

The post Teen Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian appeared first on Library Buzz Blog.