Friday, September 30, 2022

2nd Annual Write the Hook Contest

Our 2nd annual Write the Hook contest is open! Write your hook for a story. What's a hook? A hook is the beginning lines or pages of a story written to hook the reader's attention. A hook impels the reader to want to continue reading to find out what happens next. We can't wait to read yours!

 Click here for the contest entry form.

Contest Rules🖉🖉🖉🖉
  • Write the hook for the beginning of something longer; for the start of a story.
  • Open to teens in grades 6 to 12, who are residents of Essex County in Massachusetts.
  • Entry must be your original work and have a word count between 300(minimum) and 1,200(maximum)words.  
  • Maximum of 1 entry per author.
  • Give your story hook a title. 
  • Entries due by midnight, Sunday, December 11, 2022.

The preferred method for story submission is via the google form link. Entries will also be accepted in paper form, but your entry must be typed in 12 point Times New Roman font on 8.5"x 11" paper. If you submit your entry on paper you must include on the back of the last page: your first and last name, grade level, phone number, email, and word count. Paper entries that do not follow the above guidelines will be disqualified from the contest.

Our contest judges will use a rubric that scores points based on:
  • Length: Is the entry between the minimum and maximum word count?
  • Story Hook: Does the writing hook you? Do you want to find out what happens next?
  • Character(s): Is/are the character(s) clearly described?
  • Writing: Does the word choice convey a clear picture? 
  • Grammar: How is the spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.?
  • Creativity!: original ideas? surprising? imaginative?
 $ Cash Prizes to be Awarded $
Prizes are funded by the Friends of the Hamilton-Wenham Library.
First $60, and Second $40, place cash prizes awarded to: 
Writers in Grades 6-8
Writers in Grades 9-12
Contest winners and any honorable mentions will be announced in January 2023, both on this blog and individually to the winners. Winning stories, along with author's name and grade level, will be published here on the Library's Informed Teens blog.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

What's Your Favorite?

The Massachusetts Teen Choice Book Award is the only award in the Bay State that invites students in grades 7-12 to vote for their top new books. Voting is open to all teens across Massachusetts, and will be open from September 1-23, 2022. There is no minimum number of nominated books that must be read - you may vote even if you have only read one!

The list of current nominees has been curated by a committee of public librarians, school library media specialists and educators. The top teen choices will be announced in October 2022 at the Massachusetts Library System’s Teen Summit.

 Read more about the nominees here

Printable list of nominees.

Vote here.

How many of the nominated titles have you read? I've read 5 of them. Would you like to read one of the nominated books that you haven't read? Click on a book cover shown below to go to the Library's catalog where you may place a hold.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Self-help New Beginnings

As you contemplate brushing up the wardrobe or maybe getting a new back pack and supplies for fall classes, you might also be thinking about renewing friendships and/or setting a personal goal for the new school year. 

Possibly the cart with self-help books in the teen area may be of use or interest. Even if you have not been thinking about goals for the new year you may want to proactively browse the self-help cart as the year progresses. 

Shown below are some of the newer self-help titles available in the Young Adult nonfiction collection. Clicking on a book cover will take you to the Library's catalog where you can read a description about the book and place a hold. Or, stop by the Library and browse the cart.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Summer Programs 2022

Summer programs at the Library have begun!

Sign up for teen programs using the Library's Calendar of Events. Also, our online summer reading challenge for teens, Oceans of Comics, starts Saturday, June 25, and runs for 7 weeks with weekly prize drawings. Click here for the Beanstack link and details.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Oceans of Comics

This summer the teen challenge on our Beanstack platform focuses on comics. Whether you are a comics reading fan or new to reading them, Oceans of Comics invites you to dive in for a swim this summer: to log any book you read; to explore different types of comics; to write reviews; and to attend one or more of the teen summer programs at the Library. There are 27 badges. Earn at least 14 to complete the challenge. The more badges you earn, the more entries you will have in the Library's weekly summer prize drawings. One badge equals one entry, but you must earn at least one badge each week to be entered in that week's drawing. Earn the completion badge and you will be entered in the drawing for a goody bag and book bundle. 

Below are suggestions for the challenge's comics activity. There are 7 comics badges to earn, one for each category in the challenge (7 weeks, 7 comics badges): Action/Adventure, Biography/Memoir, Humor, Nonfiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Superheroes. For more choices you could browse the teen graphic shelves in the Library, search the catalog for read-a-likes, use Your Next Great Read, use NoveList's Graphic suggestions for teens, or visit the wonderful No Flying, No Tights.


Inkblot, by Emma Kubert, 2021. A powerful sorceress must attempt to correct her greatest mistake--the creation of a magical cat which can travel through time, space, and the seven realms of reality. The cat threatens to unravel the fabric of the universe, doesn't care, and just won't listen!

The Last Witch: Fear & Fire, by Conor McCreery, 2021. It's the one time of the year when the witch known as Cailleach hunts the children of the village - so Saoirse, a brave and reckless young girl, decides this is the perfect opportunity to defy her father and discover the secrets of the witch's tower!  

Magic, Vol. 1, by Jed MacKay, 2021. Across the vast Multiverse, those gifted with a 'spark' can tap into the raw power of Magic and travel across realms: they are Planeswalkers, and they are being targeted. When coordinated assassination attempts on Guildmasters Ral Zarek, Vraska, and Kaya rock the city of Ravnica leaving Jace Beleren's life hanging in the balance, a fuse is lit that threatens not just these three Guilds, but the entire plane of Ravnica.

Once & Future V. 1, The King is Undead, by Kieron Gillen, 2020. When a group of Nationalists use an ancient artifact to bring a villain from Arthurian myth back from the dead, retired monster hunter Bridgette McGuire pulls her unsuspecting grandson Duncan, a museum curator, into a world of magic and mysticism to defeat a legendary threat.

Onion Skin, by Edgar Camacho, 2021. Rolando's job was crushing his soul... and then it crushed his hand. Now he can barely get out of the house. Nera is a restless spirit who loves to taste everything life can offer, but sleeps in a broken-down food truck and can't see a way to make her dreams come true. When their paths cross at a rock show, the magical night seems to last forever. Together they throw caution to the wind, fix up the truck, and hit the road for a wild adventure.

Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom, by Kelly Thompson, 2019. Nancy Drew is 17 and good at everything, especially solving crimes. But her totally-in-control-and-obviously-running-perfectly-smooth-(but-not-really ) life hits a snag when a mysterious message drags her back to the hometown she left behind. There she'll have to find out which of her friends are still her friends, which are enemies, and who exactly is trying to kill her...and (hopefully) stop them before they succeed.
Squire, by Nadia Shammas, 2022. Aiza has always dreamt of becoming a Knight. It's the highest military honor in the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire, and as a member of the subjugated Ornu people, Knighthood is her only path to full citizenship. Ravaged by famine and mounting tensions, Bayt-Sajji finds itself on the brink of war once again, so Aiza can finally enlist in the competitive Squire training program. It's not how she imagined it, though.

Topside, by J.N Monk, 2019. Sixteen-year-old Jo, a maintenance technician in an underground society, makes a massive error during a routine repair and to set things right, must journey above ground, to a dangerous area swarming with alien life.

Biography or Memoir

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir, by Robin Ha, 2020. When a vacation to visit friends in Alabama, becomes a permanent relocation--following her mother's announcement that she's getting married--Robin is devastated. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn't understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is cut off from her friends in Seoul and has no access to her beloved comics. She doesn't fit in with her new step family, and worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to--her mother.

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, by Box Brown, 2014. Drawing from historical records about Andre's life as well as a wealth of anecdotes from his colleagues in the wrestling world, including Hulk Hogan, and his film co-stars (Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, etc), Brown has created in Andre the Giant, the first substantive biography of one of the twentieth century's most recognizable figures. 
Dragon Hoops, by Gene Luen Yang, 2020. Gene understands comic book stories. But he doesn't get sports. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it's all anyone can talk about. The varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that's been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to the California State Championships. Gene gets to know the team and realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he's seen on a comic book page. 
Hey Kiddo, by Jarrett Krosoczka, 2018.  Memoir that traces the author's unconventional coming of age with a drug-addict mother, an absent father and two lovingly opinionated grandparents.

March, Book One, by John Lewis, 2013. March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.
Passport, by Sophia Glock, 2021. In this memoir teenage Sophia lives with her family in South America where her parents serve as foreign diplomats, but as she explores her own boundaries around honesty and deception she discovers the true nature of her parent's work.

La Voz de M.A.Y.O.: Tata Rambo, by Henry Barajas, 2019. Tata Rambo is based on the oral history of Ramon Jaurigue, an orphan and WWII veteran who co-founded the Mexican, American, Yaqui, and Others (M.A.Y.O.) organization, which successfully lobbied the Tucson City Council to improve living and working conditions for members of the Pascua Yaqui tribe.


Cheer Up! Love and Pom Poms, by Crystal Frasier, 2021. Annie is a smart, antisocial lesbian starting her senior year of high school who's under pressure to join the cheerleader squad to make friends and round out her college applications. BeeBee is a people-pleaser--a trans girl who must keep her parents happy with her grades and social life to keep their support of her transition. Through the rigors of squad training and amped up social pressures, the two girls rekindle a friendship they thought they'd lost.

The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor, by Shaenon K. Garrity, 2021. After she saves a man from drowning, Haley wakes up in a pocket universe that appears as a gothic estate and helps three brothers whose job it is to protect her world against a penultimate evil.

Marble Season, by Gilbert Hernandez, 2013. In this quasi-autobiographical tale, comic book legend Gilbert Hernandez paints a vibrant view of his memories of suburban family life in California during the 1960s. Marble Season masterfully explores the redemptive and timeless power of storytelling and role play in childhood.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, by Prudence Shen, 2013. Captain of the basketball team Charlie and president of the robotics club Nate battle it out in a school class election campaign for funding to cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms

One-Punch Man, V.1, by One, 2015. Nothing about Saitama passes the eyeball test when it comes to superheroes, from his lifeless expression to his bald head to his unimpressive physique. However, this average-looking guy has a not-so-average problem-- he just can't seem to find an opponent strong enough to take on! Every time a promising villain appears, he beats the snot out 'em with one punch! Is Saitama doomed to a life of superpowered boredom?

Pumpkinheads, by Rainbow Rowell, 2019. Deja & Josiah are seasonal best friends. Every autumn, all through high school, they've worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. They say good-bye every Halloween, and they're reunited every September 1. But this Halloween is different -- Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye. Josiah's ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn't ready to let him. She's got a plan.


In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers: The Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Days, Weeks, Months, and Years After the 9/11 Attacks, by Don Brown, 2021. This graphic novel chronicles the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City through moving individual stories that bear witness to our history and the ways it shapes our future.
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees, by Don Brown, 2018. Presents a graphic account of the events of Syrian refugees' attempt to escape the horrors of their country's civil war in search of a better tomorrow.

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler, by Johm Hendrix, 2018. Hitler’s Nazi party is gaining strength and becoming more menacing every day. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor upset by the complacency of the German church toward the suffering around it, forms a breakaway church to speak out against the established political and religious authorities. When the Nazis outlaw the church, he escapes as a fugitive. Struggling to reconcile his faith and the teachings of the Bible with the Nazi Party’s evil agenda, Bonhoeffer decides that Hitler must be stopped by any means possible.

Drawing the Vote: The Illustrated Guide to the Importance of Voting in America, by Tommy Jenkins, 2020. Coinciding with the 2020 US presidential election, Drawing the Vote looks at the history of voting rights in the United States, and how it has affected the way we vote today.

Banned Book Club, by Hyun Sook Kim, 2020. The autobiography of a South Korean woman's student days under an authoritarian regime, and how she defied state censorship.


Crush, Berrybrook Middle School, vol. 3. by Svetlana Chmakova, 2018. Jorge seems to have it all together. He's big enough that nobody really messes with him, but he's also a genuinely sweet guy with a solid, reliable group of friends. The only time he ever really feels off his game is when he crosses paths with a certain girl... But when the group dynamic among the boys starts to shift, will Jorge be able to balance what his friends expect of him versus what he actually wants?

Lucky Penny, by Ananth Hirsh, 2016. If Penny didn't have bad luck, she'd have no luck at all. She lost her job. And her apartment. In the same day. But it's okay, her friend has a cozy storage unit she can crash in. And there's bound to be career opportunities at the neighborhood laundromat--just look how fast that 12-year-old who runs the place made it to management! Plus, there's this sweet guy at the community center, and maybe Penny can even have a conversation with him without being a total dork.
Heartstopper, Vol. 1, by Alice Oseman, 2020. Charlie and Nick are at the same school, but they've never met until one day when they're made to sit together. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn't think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is more interested in Charlie than either of them realized.
Bloom, by Kevin Panetta, 2019. Dreaming of leaving his family's bakery to become a musician in the city, Ari unexpectedly falls for the easy-going young baker, Hector, who has been hired to replace him and begins to reevaluate his dreams and the consequences of his choices.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, by Mariko Tamaki, 2019. Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley's dream girl, but Freddy is learning she is not the best girlfriend, so she seeks help from a mysterious medium and advice columnists to help her through being a teenager in love.

Mooncakes, by Suzanne Walker, 2019. Nova knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across her childhood crush, Tam.

 Science Fiction 

Clockwork Curandera: The Witch Owl Parliament, by David Bowles, 2021. Resurrected by her brother using a forbidden combination of alchemy and engineering, apprentice curandera Cristina vows to protect the Republic of Santander against the lechuzas terrorizing immigrants and plaguing the country.

Valerian: The Complete Collection. Vol. 1, by Pierre Christin, 2017. Space opera from France that juggles the mysteries of time and space through the adventures of Laureline and Valerian.

Blade Runner 2019, Vol. 1, Los Angeles, by Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and Andres Guinald, 2019.  When the wife of a rich industrialist goes on the run with his daughter, Blade Runner ASHINA is called in to track her down as a favor to the woman's husband - a man, second only, in power, to Eldon Tyrell. As Ash investigates the disappearance she uncovers a deadly and shocking conspiracy,
and goes after a rogue Nexus -6 Replicant unlike any she's ever faced before.

Dune, Book 1, by Brian Herbert, 2020. Frank Herbert's epic science-fiction masterpiece set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar society, tells the story of Paul Atreides as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis. A blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism, and politics.

Last Pick, by Jason Walz, 2018. In a world where aliens have taken over Earth, abducted every human they deemed useful, and abandoned the rest, twins Sam and Wyatt struggle to start a revolution of the unwanteds.

Spill Zone, by Scott Westerfeld, 2017. Years after the devastation that killed her parents, scarred her sister, and destroyed her city, Addison takes a job from an eccentric collector that forces her to break her own rules of survival.


Black Panther A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2016. When a violent superhuman terrorist group known as The People spark a violent uprising in Wakanda, T'Challa fights to unite his citizens and show them how to adapt in order for Wakanda to survive.

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life As a Weapon, by Matt Fraction, 2013. In his spare time away from the Avengers, Clint Barton, also known as Hawkeye, takes on the seedy underbelly of New York City with his protege, Kate Bishop, as they foil a burglary plot and infiltrate a high-stakes villain auction.

Nubia: Real One, by L. L. McKinney, 2021. Nubia has always stood out because of her Amazonian strength, but even though she uses her ability for good she is seen as a threat, so when her best friend Quisha is threatened by a boy who thinks he owns the town, Nubia risks everything to become the hero society tells her she is not.

Watchmen, by Alan Moore, 1987. the story of the Watchmen as they race against time to find a killer, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, by Mariko Tamaki
, 2019. With just $5 and a knapsack to her name, fifteen-year-old Harleen Quinzel is sent to live in Gotham City. To combat the destructive gentrification of her new neighborhood, she must choose between supporting Ivy, her friend from high school and an impassioned activist, or the Joker, an anarchist of questionable motives.

Ms. Marvel. Vol. 1, No normal, by Willow Wilson, 2014. Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American girl from Jersey City who lives a conservative Muslim lifestyle with her family, suddenly acquires superhuman powers and, despite the pressures of school and home, tries to use her abilities to help her community.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Peeps Diorama Winning Entries

 Winners of the PEEPs Diorama contest announced:

Youth: Catharine Barker for Peepangelo 
Teen: Toni Beaton for Harry Peeper #1 
Adult: Tara Haynes for Stand With Ukraine 
Family: Holland Family for Little Blue Truck says 'Peep, Peep, Peep' 
PEEPle's Choice: Stella & Jessican Smith for Goodnight Peeps Everywhere
All of the winning dioramas are on view in the Library's foyer until the end of April. Many thanks to our judges Kim Butler, Esme Flynn, and Cara Fauci! Thank you Friends of the Library for providing the funding for prizes! And thanks to all who entered a diorama in the contest and who participated in voting for the PEEPle's Choice. There was an abundance of fun and puns. 54 dioramas were entered in the contest. 234 votes were cast for the PEEPle's choice.  Peep! Peep! Hooray! 
Teen Entry: Harry Peeper #1

Adult Entry: Stand With Ukraine
Youth Entry: Peepangelo
PEEPle's Choice Winner: Goodnight Peeps Everywhere

Family Entry: Little Blue Truck says 'Peep, Peep, Peep'

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Summer 2022 at the Library Preview

Wondering what workshops and programs are happening for teens at the Library this summer? Here's a sneak preview! These programs (with more information) are all listed on the Library's Calendar of Events. Registration for teen programs opens June 1. Also, as done for the past two summers I will again offer a teen summer reading challenge on the Library's Beanstack platform with weekly prize drawings. The summer reading challenge starts June 25 and will run for 7 weeks. More information will be posted here in May. A printed summer brochure will be available mid-May at the Library.