Be a Hero

Be a Hero - Volunteer!

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. — Aesop

As the summer approaches, imaginations may run wild with thoughts of lazy days floating down the river or adventures to far off places.  Maybe thoughts of staying up late and sleeping until noon cross your mind. Perhaps, you have a job at a local restaurant or movie theater.  Maybe you babysit for younger siblings or families in your neighborhood.   As wonderful as a couple of months of freedom may sound after a long school year, I wonder if some of you may be searching for what you will do and how you might pass your time.  What if I asked you to spend your summer being a hero?  What does being a hero mean to you?

I think that those who are in service to their community and volunteer their time are HEROES.  You don’t have to wear a cape and save the world from evil villains to be a hero (although that would be really amazing).  Volunteering and being of service is a way to be a valued member of society. When I think of volunteers, words like courageous, brave, helpful, kind, friendly, generous, and selfless come to mind. Volunteers are real life heroes.  

There are many local volunteer opportunities for teenagers. Start by looking around your community at the food pantry, homeless shelters, hospitals, animal shelters, schools, libraries (hint, hint), group homes for the disabled, political campaigns, and environmental awareness groups. Honestly the list goes on and on. Look for organizations that might tie into your interests.

There are also many opportunities to volunteer on a global scale.  Whenever a natural disaster occurs, like the recent earthquakes in Nepal, many relief organizations like the American Red Cross need help for those who are struggling in the affected areas. While travel to distant places may be difficult for many, raising money for relief efforts and developing care packages are excellent ways to be of service.

 In my experience, being of service brings about feelings of empathy, compassion, and fulfillment.  If you are interested in exploring this further, check out one of these books or explore the links below. 

The Teen Guide to Global Actiona random book about the power of anyone
 The Ultimate Teen Guide



Teens and Volunteerism


Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County https://www.habitatsoco.org/

This local chapter builds and repairs houses using volunteer labor and donations. 

Volunteer Now http://www.volunteernow.org/

For forty years, the Volunteer Center has been the heart of our community; matching prospective volunteers with local nonprofits to help them help others. We inspire thousands of people from all walks of life to share their skills and talents with worthwhile causes and organizations that help our community thrive.

American Red Cross www.redcross.org

Humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and community education.

America's Promise www.americaspromise.org

Faciltates volunteer action for children and youth.

Do Something www.dosomething.org

This non-profit organization's goal is motivating young people to take action around social changes through national campaigns and grants for projects that make an impact.

Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.  ~Elizabeth Andrew





  • The Sweet Life! . . . and . . . The Bittersweet Life! for Teens

    Confectionately yours series by Lisa Papademetriou

The Sweet Life . . . and . . . the Bittersweet life! for Teens


The Sweet Life! . . . for Tweens

Do you love to bake? Cook? Get together with friends and make treats?

Sample some fun series books about doing just that, and find what suits your taste!

Start with Confectionately Yours, book #1, Save the Cupcake! by Lisa Papademetriou:  "Hayley has a knack for baking cupcakes -- and cupcakes always make life just a little sweeter! But when she and her best friend Artie start drifting apart, she realizes it's going to take more than sugar and spice to make things nice."

Or try some delicious books by Lisa Schroeder, starting with It's Raining Cupcakes: "Isabel dreams of seeing the world but has never left Oregon,
so when her best friend, Sophie, tells her of a baking contest whose winners travel to New York City, she eagerly enters. Includes recipes."
Or . . .  try The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer:  "Annie, along with her two best friends, tries desperately to save her grandmother's
beloved, old-fashioned teashop in Madison, Wisconsin, while she also learns to accept the inevitability of change in life.
Includes proverbs, quotations, and brief stories about tea, as well as recipes."

Do you believe in magic?

 What if you had the power to cook up treats that change people's lives?  

Would you do it? 

Find out what happens to Rose Bliss and her brothers in the trilogy by Kathryn Littlewood.

Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series, the Beyonders trilogy, and Spirit Animals books
brings you magic candy and arcade game superpowers.  What's not to like?

Ok guys, so you can cook.  

You can chop, slice, dice, mix and whip up fabulous gourmet cuisine.  

But can you solve global mysteries too?


Take a page from Neil Flambe, the series by Kevin Sylvester.  It's a sure recipe for adventure and fun.

And then there's . . . The Bittersweet Life!

Teens know life isn't all sweetness & light.

Sometimes things happen, and you just have to deal with it.

But having family, or friends--and cooking skills to make that life-saving comfort food--can make all the difference.

Yes.  When life hands you lemons, whip up some killer lemonade and have a party!

Hudson gave up a promising competitive ice skating career 
after her parents divorced.  Now she spends her time
baking cupcakes in her mother's upstate New York diner,
but when she gets a chance at a scholarship, she realizes
she's not through with ice skating after all.
8th grader Bertie Hooks has to keep his dream of becoming a 
world-class chef a secret, especially from his mortal enemy,
Nick Dekker, but when they both get "flour-sack babies" for
or a week, things get really complicated for Bertie.
Francie has pastry-filled dreams and gets a chance
to meet celebrity baker Lorenzo LaRue.  Francie is
sure if Lorenzo could see how passionate she is
about baking, he would help her launch her career,
and possible marry her.


Molly and Cassie are assigned to work in the kitchen
as a punishment for their food fight and realize the only
way they are going to be released from the duty is to
learn to cook. Includes recipes.
Cyril, an overweight guy who is good friends with Rose
but wishes he could be more, helps his best friend Nick
woo her with culinary masterpieces--actually made by Cyril.
Includes recipes.
A cooked up twist to the Cyrano de Bergerac story.
When she’s accepted to Taste Test a reality-TV
teen cooking competition,Nora can’t wait to leave
her humble hometown even if it means saying good-bye 
to her dad and her best friend, Billy.
16 year old Elaine dreams of being
the next Julia Child, to the great
dismay of her feminist mother.
Foster McFee and her mom escape
from her mom's abusive boyfriend and
end up in a small town in West Virginia,
where they use their cooking strengths
to build a new life, with the help
of the friends they make there.
Junie, Celia, and Danielle, 
3 high-schoolers in Brooklyn, form
a friendship cooking dinners together
and help each other survive
their romantic entanglements.
Growing up working in her family's
Mediterranean restaurant in Washington, D.C.
doesn’t mean 16 year old Sophie is ready to
compete on a new reality show: Teen Test Kitchen.
Includes recipes.

Celebrating Terry Pratchett

The world mourned the loss of one if its most creative and imaginative authors this March when Terry Pratchett's Twitter account tweeted the following:

To the uninitiated this was Pratchett's character Death (who always talks in capitals) announcing that the beloved author had finally succumbed to his long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Winner of the Carnegie Medal and author of more than 60 books, Pratchett is best known for his Discworld series, which both celebrates and pokes fun at the fantasy genre. I quite enjoy a good fantasy yarn myself so the Discworld series has always been recommended to me, but the fact that it consisted of close to 40 books always made me hesitant to start reading it (not that one would have to read them all, or even read them in order... but 40 books!). Any hesitation that I had was quickly put aside however once I finally jumped in. Make no mistake, these books are hard to put down. They are fast-paced, steeped in humor, and populated by quirky characters. What stands out to me however is Pratchett's ability to make the reader crack up laughing with one line, and then expound some deep "mind=blown" philosophizing three lines later.

Sound appealing? Where should you start? Might I suggest the Tiffany Aching books (chronological, left to right):

Though you can jump around most of the Discworld series in no particular order, these books should be read chronologically. They tell Tiffany's story from when she is nine until when she is around sixteen. Along the way she learns to become a witch, befriends a talking toad (who might have once been a lawyer), rescues her younger brother from the Queen of Fairyland, battles an invisible and seemingly indestructible creature, contends with the godlike being Wintersmith, and eventually returns to her homeland to care for her people. Oh, and all the while she has the aid of the mighty Nac Mac Feegle (a.k.a. the Wee Free Men)--the sword-swinging, sheep-stealing, six inch tall pictsies--whose capering and intrepid attitude keep the laughs coming no matter how dire the situation.     

Tiffany's journey is full of fun and adventure, but it is also full of the important stuff that people always say fantasy fiction lacks. Not only does her story entertain but it explores what it means to be human (and a good one at that). Perhaps Terry Pratchett summed it up best when he said that "Fantasy isn't just about wizards and silly wands. It's about seeing the world from new directions."  

Terry Pratchett will be sorely missed, but his legacy lives on in the many fine novels he has left to us.

National Poetry Month is for you!

Perhaps you think poetry is not for you. Think again! Poetry is a radical and liberating way to express yourself. Check out some of these titles and Celebrate National Poetry Month!

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson

Poetry Speaks Who I Am by Elise Paschen

Troubling the line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics by T.C. Tolbert

The pain tree, and other teenage angst-ridden poetry collected and illustrated by Esther Pearl Watson and Mark Todd

Looking out, looking in : anthology of Latino poetry edited William Luis 

Movin' : Teen Poets Take Voice by Dave Johnson 

 Dizzy in your eyes : poems about love by Pat Mora

Poisened apples : poems for you, my pretty by Christine Heppermann 

When the rain sings : poems by Young Native Americans by The National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsoninan 

Listen up! : spoken word poetry edited by Zoe Anglesey


Superheroes Away!

I cannot wait for May 1st, when the new Avengers film comes out. I’ve been into comic books since I was about seven years old. To celebrate the upcoming  film (with more cape wearers to follow throughout the summer,) here’s a few of my favorite superhero  things you can find at the library:

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi

The coolest Magic Girl who’s still punishing people in the name of the moon today.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Joss Whedon

Before the Avengers, Joss Whedon brought us Buffy. Her adventures continue in comic books.

Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk by Stan Lee

The first issues of the original Hulk, a very different (and much greyer!) Hulk than we know today. 

Ms. Marvel: No Normal by Willow Wilson

Kamala Khan might be the new kid on the superhero block, but she’s shaping up to be an awesome one.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller

The Batman Begins movie was strongly based on this work, about Batman’s first year in the cape.

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes

Hear me out: this animated series was really well done, and because it came out before some of the Avenger’s related movies, it has some surprising twists on the characters.

The Dark Knight Movie

Poor Batman, can’t catch a break against the Joker.

The Avengers Movie

Of course, this is going on the list!

Sailor MoonBuffyt he Vampire SlayerThe HulkMs MarvelBatman Year OneEarth's Mightiest HeroesThe Dark KnightThe Avengers


  • Baseball Diamond

    Take Me Out to the Ball Game!


Blue skies, green grass, the roar of the crowd, the crack of the bat ... You're on the field, you're in the stands, you're rooting from home, you're streaming wherever ... You're happy it's spring and Baseball is back!! Whether your favorite player sports a t-ball, Little League, high school, or MLB uniform in black and orange or green and gold, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the National Pastime ... including at your Library! Check out 796.357, the Dewey Decimal number for baseball history, biographies, inspiration and how-to's. Get into the swing of things with baseball movies and books. And always bring a book to the ballpark!!

Celebrating Ten Years of New Doctor Who!

This week  Doctor Who, the long running British science fiction show, is celebrating its 10th season in its new flashier format.

While the show, about a human looking alien known only as "The Doctor", who travels anywhere in time and space, and who can regenerate into a new body when facing imminent death,  was first produced over 50 years ago, it was taken off the air in England in 1989. There was a brief attempt to revive the show on the American Fox network but that only resulted in one TV movie. Then, in 2005, Russel T. Davies, producer of the BBC show Queer as Folk, got permission from the BBC to bring the show back in a new, more contemporary format. It's been running strong ever since. Since its revival the Doctor has been portrayed by four actors: Christopher Eccelston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi.

Here are links to both the BBC and BBC America webpages for Doctor Who

Below you will find several titles offering a history and behind the scenes look at the show, as well as further adventures of the Doctor in his recent incarnations  in prose and graphic novel form.




We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.  ~~ Cesar Chavez

March 31st is a day of remembrance and celebration of the life of a man who was called "one of the heroic figures of our time" by Robert Kennedy in 1968. César Chávez was a grass-roots labor organizer who rose from the ranks of California migrant workers to form and lead the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) and who gave so much of himself for the benefit of his community and the world. Check out these movies and books about his life:


 To learn about others who are making a difference in their communities:


To follow in his footsteps by getting involved in your community:

Click here to look for volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood

Or to volunteer nationally with Americorp, click here

 You can find more information and books about Cesar Chavez to check out in our Find catalog.

  • "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives" 2015 theme for Women's History Month

    "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives" - the 2015 theme for Women's History Month

Cinderella sweeps into Women's History Month

Cinderella Sweeps into Women’s History Month

This past week the film "Cinderella" swept into theaters with a rustle of bright blue skirts. Meanwhile, events all over the country are honoring women’s history. What’s the connection?

First, March is women’s history month because a few Sonoma County women in the 1980’s campaigned to establish first a week and then a month to recognize and celebrate the role of women in history.

That’s right, National Women’s History month was a project started by women right here in Sonoma County! You can find out more at the National Women’s History Project website.

Ask your mother, aunts, grandmothers or older friends how things have changed in the past 35 years. You might be surprised!

What were things like for women back in the 1980’s? For a hilarious and not altogether unrealistic look at the workplace for women check out the movie “9 to 5” (1980), or see “Private Benjamin” (1980) for a view of women in the military.

Alien” (1979) and “Aliens” (1986) feature the first female action heroine in a blockbuster movie, while “Sixteen Candles” (1984) show a teen perspective of the decade. “Heathers” (1988) spoofs the teen movie genre altogether, while “Working Girl” (1988) shows another avenue out of the secretarial pool and some seriously deranged hairstyles. You can find them all at the Library.

 9 to 5 DVD coverPrivate Benjamin DVD coverSixteen Candles DVD coverHeathers DVD cover


As for Cinderella, have you ever noticed how the Cinderella characters in book retellings of the folktale tend to take matters into their own hands? These Cinderellas are rarely passive beauties waiting for their prince, but more often bold take-charge types who undertake martial arts training or secret away weapons in their robotic legs.

Here are just a few of the many Cinderellas masquerading as Ella, Ellie, Cinder, or other young women in recent books. Check them out at the Library.

 Ninja Warrior book coverCinder by Marissa Meyer book coverBound by Donna Jo Napoli book cover

Just Ella by Margaret Petersen Haddix book cover A tale of beauty and madness by Lili St. Crow book coverAsh by Malinda Lo book cover

Cinder by Marissa Meyer tops my list of favorite Cinderella stories.

Who is your favorite Cinderella? Does she have more in common with the alien-fighting Lt. Ridley than she does with a Disney Cinderella? Is she worthy of a place in women's history?

Are you connected at your library?

Teen Tech Week

What kind of tech and make resources does your library have for you?

Teen Tech week is when libraries highlight what technology they have available for teens to use. Do you know what technology is available at Sonoma County Library? Much of our tech is available with the use of your library card, and some even without. Look below, click on the links to explore and see if there is something there to inspire you. 

Dowloadable audio books
Online test prep for the PSAT, SAT, AP Tests, GED and more
Online book reviews
Databases to find great books
Free Wifi Internet Access 
Minecraft Camps
Online librarian services
Free and discounted museum tickets available online 
3-D Printing is on its way! 

Does this list look good to you or meh? Are we missing big things or even the small ones that are important in your life? Respond to this post and let us know, we are always interested. 

And, of course, here are some tech related books: 

Cool Stuff ExplodedCreating Science Fair ProjectsLearn to Program with ScratchRobotics

Your card, THE Card, is what gets you connected. So, how connected are you?