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November 2020: Teen Writing Contest

Celebrate NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) by joining our writing contest! Short story submissions will be accepted November 1st-30th. The theme is: WINTER. You are encouraged to interpret this in any way you wish. Be creative and express your ideas! Winners will be announced Monday, December 14th. The following prizes will be awarded:

  • 1st place: $25.00 Amazon gift card and writer’s bundle

  • 2nd place: $15.00 Amazon gift card

The following rules apply:  

  • Teens in grades 6-12 are eligible
  • Works cannot exceed 2,000 words
  • 1 entry per person
  • All work must be original and unpublished
  • Participants must be a resident of DuPage County
  • Email your submission as an attachment to youth@vppl.info (you will receive a “thank you” email within 48 hours of submitting your work; if you do not receive this email, please double check that you sent your short story to the correct email address)
  • Entries must be submitted as a Word doc, Google doc, or PDF.
  • Entries must include a title page with your name, age, grade, school, and contact information (phone number or email address)
  • Work will be judged on originality of plot, characters, use of language, grammar, spelling, and syntax

Entries which do not meet the requirements as put forth in these rules may be disqualified.

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Book Reviews

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Kiersten White
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein tells the story of the original novel from the perspective of Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s future wife, the morally ambiguous Elizabeth Lavenza. Born into a life of poverty and misery, the Frankenstein family – especially lonely, odd Victor – is Elizabeth’s only hope at a secure future. Taken in by them as a young child, Elizabeth spends over a decade ensuring she is indispensable to Victor and shaping a future where she lives comfortably as his wife. But as she follows him on his studies, Elizabeth realizes she may not know Victor at all – and it may be too late to escape the life she’s created.

This gothic horror novel is unapologetically feminist; the terror stems not from Victor’s objectives but from the helplessness of being a woman in the late 18th century. With a slow burn to an explosive final act, both fans of the original and those unfamiliar with Shelley’s story will find something to appreciate in White’s retelling.


Posted 10/16/2020

The Outsiders
S.E. Hinton
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

A poignant tale of a teen navigating the loss of his parents, while also dealing with gang wars, peer pressure, and trying to find his own identity in the midst of it all. Torn constantly between his love for his brothers, but also feeling as though his older brother doesn’t love him, that he’s not good enough in his eyes, he is also experiencing concern for friends and trying to reconcile his high intelligence and academic acumen with the expectation to be a street gang tough. A real coming of age story, I would have loved a follow up book.

Posted 5/22/2020

Brave Face
Shaun David Hutchinson
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

Hutchinson, a noted YA fiction author, shares his experiences growing up with ADHD, depression, and homophobia in the American South.

There wasn’t much support or direction for young gay men in the early 1990’s. Queerbashing was common and even recreational, and AIDS was tearing through the communities of those who could have been his mentors. The world was telling him he had no future and no hope of loving or belonging; his depression told him he was not worthy of success or love.

This is an “it gets better” story but getting to better is a long process. Hutchinson is okay with himself and where he is now; still, be aware this book contains suicidal ideation and a suicide attempt. Notably, the author includes trigger warnings at the start of his memoir and just before the suicide attempt.

Posted 5/8/2020

The Female of the Species
Mindy McGinnis
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

After Anna Craft was kidnapped and murdered, her younger sister Alex took justice into her own hands. Knowing that she has to curb her violent tendencies, Alex decides to get through life with as little attention as possible. This all changes her senior year of high school when she befriends girl-next-door Peekay and catches the eye of Jack, the most popular guy in school. After a party they attend gets out of hand, the three find themselves dealing with the fallout in different ways. Readers will find they can’t put down this harsh, violent look at a character that doesn’t accept the phrase “boys will be boys.”

Posted 4/2/2020

Beauty Queens
Libba Bray
Find in Catalog

3 Stars

In this satirical look at the concept of femininity, 13 survivors of a plane crash must learn how to live together on a remote, deserted island. The catch? They are all contestants in the annual Miss Teen Dream competition, and are armed with little food and water, but plenty of mascara and hairspray. As the girls struggle to survive, they also learn what it really means to be a girl in today’s society – with plenty of snark and black comedy along the way.

Posted 4/2/20202

Book Cover Quiz!

We know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but can you GUESS the book from its cover? Click on the covers to find out if you guessed correctly!

Web Resources

Book recommendations, homework help, and more!

  • Path2Purpose Campaign: Evidence-based mental health tips and techniques to help cope with the COVID outbreak, the stay-at-home blues, depression, anxiety, and more so that we can all grow stronger together from this crisis.
  • Teen COVID-19 Resources: A collection of resources for teens living during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • YALSA Teens’ Top Ten: The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year!
  • YALSA Book Finder: Search 4,000+ books, audiobooks, and films from YALSA’s book awards and book lists.
  • Lincoln Award: Illinois Teen Readers’ Choice Award.
  • Explora Secondary: Explora supports both student research and classroom instruction with rich, reliable content and easy-to-use functionality.
  • Points of View Reference Center: Resources for students to understand issues, develop criticial thinking skills, and develop persuasive arguments. Includes essays, overviews, articles, and transcripts on, citizens’ rights, earth and environmental issues, global issues, health and medicine, and media and communications.