Teen Book Reviews: “Concrete Rose” and “If I Tell You the Truth”

Today’s book reviews are by volunteer Ima T.

 

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Concrete Rose serves as a prequel to the much loved story of The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas. However, it’s not necessary to have read The Hate You Give, because the Concrete Rose has its own complete, separate storyline.

The story follows Maverick Carter, who is a 17 year old living in Garden Heights. He has been involved with the King Lords gang since his father had previously been a pivotal part of it beforehand. His role is to sell small amounts of weed and recruit new members. He made a nice sum of money from this role and could help pay the bills with his mother. Yet his life turns upside down when he realizes he has a son, which leads him to attempt to leave the gang. The reason he does this since he knows that the environment he is in with a gang would not be good for his son. But things start to change once he finds it harder and harder to scrape money together for his family and the people who support him. Maverick needs to find a way to break the cycle of involvement with gangs. One heart-stopping event occurs when a close friend of Maverick’s is murdered, and once this happens, he truly has to learn how to deal with grief and trauma with people who are still relying on him.

Concrete Rose is a fierce novel with important themes that can be applied to everyday life. For example, in the novel, Maverick struggles with the fact that he is being constantly compared to his powerful father, who was previously part of the gang but is now in jail. Nicknamed ‘Li’l Don’, he has big shoes to fill and constantly feels as though he should be more of a man. His emotional development throughout the book gives an inside look to readers who want to learn more about the father described in The Hate You Give. Concrete Rose is an amazing read, and truly lives up to its name of describing a boy who is struggling to flourish and realize his full potential.

 

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur follows the story of Kiran and her daughter Sahaara, and it is told from both of their alternating perspectives. A compelling part of the novel is the fact that some of the story is told in verse, while the rest of it reads like a normal novel. When the novel is in verse, it is often to display emotions like sadness or anger. This allows for the distressed thoughts that the characters feel to be expressed deeper. Kiran is Punjabi, and comes to Canada on an educational visa. She leaves her strict family to go to university else where, but the reader soon discovers that she has a child on the way as a result of sexual assault. Her decision to keep her future daughter strains her relationship with her family, and leaves her isolated in a foreign country. Kiran struggles with letting her daughter grow up without much money and familial support, and there is an added fear of getting deported. Kiran had to overstay her visa in Canada for her daughter since she didn’t want to go back to her home country out of fear of finding her rapist.

The first half of the book is told from Kiran’s point of view, and the rest is from Sahaara. Sahaara wants to find her own identity since she doesn’t know about Kiran’s background. When she learns about what happened to her mother, she fights to help take down the rapist and stand by her mother, while struggling with her own self identity in the process. If I Tell You the Truth is very well written, and it expands on the important theme of community and loyalty while displaying the growing relationship between mother and daughter. Kiran’s and Sahaara’s story will strike a chord in many hearts. This is an exceptional novel, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

Twisting Tornadoes

Our first exposure to tornadoes is often watching The Wizard of Oz as a child, though no one but Dorothy has ever reported being transported to a magical land beyond the rainbow. I was 9 when I read the Reader’s Digest account of the April 3-4, 1974 Night of 100 tornadoes, a horrific Super Outbreak of 148 confirmed tornadoes in 24 hours – more than 30 F4/F5’s – which devastated the town of Xenia, Ohio, among others. That kind of thing leaves an impression, even in a magazine.

April is in the middle of tornado “season,” which runs from March to June, when the biggest outbreaks of tornadoes are likely to occur. The United States has more tornadoes, and more violent tornadoes, than any other place in the world – killing an average of eighty people a year, despite our best efforts at early warning. Can they occur in other months? Of course they can. It all depends on the weather, and the weather, as we are aware, has been kind of wacky lately, from extreme drought in California to paralyzing snow and ice in Texas.

Why the US?  When we talk of “tornado alley,” we usually mean a massive stretch of flat land in the center of the country, from Colorado to Pennsylvania, and from Texas to the Canadian border. This is where the majority of tornadoes are born. Can they occur anywhere? Of course they can – CT has had memorable destructive tornadoes (such as the EF1 that wiped out Sleeping Giant in 2018) as well as Florida, Nevada, and Portland, Oregon. Pennsylvania holds the record for the only F-5 tornado east of the Appalachians – that’s winds of 300 mph.

Why do tornadoes form? Thunderstorms form when warm, moist air (such as from the Gulf) collides with cool dry air (such as comes down from Canada). When the two fronts meet, warm air rises up through the cold, creating storms. If the winds start to rotate in the process, a tornado is formed. Spring is when the warm air starts coming north from the Gulf of Mexico, colliding with the cold Canadian fronts, setting up a highway for storms until summer’s heat chases the cold air back north.

In modern times, with doppler radar, we know when a storm is likely to be powerful enough to cause a tornado (the Wallingford tornado of 1898 killed 34 people, but they had no warning system). If you’re faced with a severe storm, or a tornado warning, if the sky gets that sickly green, get to shelter. Go to a basement if you can, away from windows, under a staircase is a bonus. If you have no basement, go to a place away from windows – a large closet, or a bathroom – many people have survived in bathtubs. If you can, take shelter under a table or something sturdy. Cover yourself with a blanket, to avoid debris or flying glass. If you’re in a car, stop and get to shelter as fast as possible – don’t try to outrun a tornado; you can’t.  And no, hiding under a bridge isn’t safe – those 200 mph winds will blow you right out from under there. Please don’t leave your animals chained outside. They’re scared, too.

Whether you’re an armchair weather-watcher, or like reading about disasters, here’s a number of tornado-related stories and films you might enjoy – with one eye out the window (No, there has never been an actual Sharknado. Frogs and fish, but no sharks. Sorry).

Books:

Videos:

 

What’s Happening (Virtually) at Cheshire Library in April

We’ve got a touch of Spring Fever this month, with programs about gardening and birdwatching on the calendar, along with several authors joining us to talk about their books. And don’t forget Take + Make projects for all ages. Sign up early to reserve your spots!

April Teen Volunteering Challenges

Earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video, or other content that may be added to CPL’s social media pages! Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours. April’s challenges include:

  • Art: Now that the weather is getting nicer, draw something in your backyard.
  • Writing: Write a story, poem, or essay about April showers. Do they really bring May flowers?
  • Food: April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, so cook up some cheesy goodness to share with your friends or family.
  • Reading: Celebrate National Siblings Day on April 10 by reading a book about siblings. Share the story with your own sibling if you have one!
  • More Reading: Think of a skill or hobby you’d like to learn or get better at. Find a nonfiction book with information or how-tos.
  • Even More Reading: Think of your favorite movies. Find out if any of them were books first and, if so, read the book!

If you participate in the challenges, earn community service credit by submitting your creations so we can share them on our social media pages.

Book Buzz Teen Book Club: Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel

All month long

This month we are going to read Long Way Down: the Graphic Novel by Kate Moore. Register starting April 1 to pick up your copy of the book in the Children’s Room, then join us on our Google Classroom page to share and hear our different points of view about the book! (This book discussion group will be available all month -and beyond- and you can interact with us and post your thoughts any time that’s convenient for you.) For grades 6-12.

Take + Make Kits for kids & teens

  • Week of April 5: Magic Kit (Grades 2-8)
  • Week of April 12: Owl Pellet Dissection (Grades 6-12
  • Week of April 19: Pipe Cleaner Constellations (Grades 1-6)
  • Week of April 26: Finger Knitting (Grades K-6)

Make something at your own pace this week with a Take + Make kit! We have kits for kids in every age group this month, and registration is required to pick up a kit in the Children’s Room each week. We have a limited number of materials and the kits get reserved very quickly, so please register early and limit to one kit per child.

Good Looking: how to get better views of birds

Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

This program will focus on “Fieldcraft”, the field practices and specialist skills for observing birds at close range. Techniques intended to advance birding proficiency and get those killer views will be revealed with the goal of raising gratification and lowering frustration that can accompany our favorite pursuit. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Stunning Spring Perennials

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Whether you garden in sun or shade, there are lovely spring perennials that will add colorful flowers and interesting foliage to the early season garden. Master Gardener  Joan Butler will tall about some favorites with and how to combine them for best effect in your garden.  Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Paint Night for Teens

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Follow along with instructor, Pamela Halligan, of Pam’s Picassos as she walks you through creating your own masterpiece. For this virtual class, we will be painting a sunflower. For teens in grades 6-12. The library will provide all the materials you need, but supplies are limited.. Each teen must register in advance to pick up their supplies during open library hours.

Author Talk: Kupanda and Being Brave in the Attempt

Saturday, April 10, 2021, 1:30 – 2:30pm

David Maliar, a Cheshire Police Officer, has written a book about his quest to raise awareness and much needed funds for the Special Olympics athletes, by conquering the tallest mountain in Africa. Please join us as the author talks about his experiences climbing the mountain, his book and the Special Olympics. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Monday, April 12, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Join us virtually for an open writing group that can help answer your questions on writing, editing, grammar, and publishing. Read a selection of your work to the group for general constructive feedback, or discuss a book you’ve read that might help someone else. Join us once, join us every month! Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Broadway Tails With Bill Berlioni

Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 2:00 – 3:00pm

For more than 30 years, animal stage trainer Bill Berlioni has been rescuing animals and making them stars! The only trainer to ever receive a Tony Award, Bill is currently the director of Animal Behavior at the Humane Society of New York. Come hear Berlioni’s tales as he shares stories of his latest book Broadway Tails: Heartfelt Stories of Rescued Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cartooning Workshop: Superheroes

Wednesday, April 14, 2021, 4:30 – 5:30pm

Award winning cartoonist and humorous illustrator, Rick Stromoski, will teach you how to create your own cartoon superheroes! All you will need is a stack of paper and something to draw with. For children and teens in grades 3-8. Please register once per family and you will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the program start time.

Poetry Matters

Wednesday, April 14, 2021T, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Pat Mottola, President of the Connecticut Poetry Society and Aspiring Cheshire Poet Laureate, invites you to spend an evening with poetry and learn how it changes lives. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cut the Cord

Saturday, April 17, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Back by popular demand, James Gifford returns to show you how to get out of a cable service agreement, find and negotiate the best internet/broadband access deal, and get started with streaming services for a vast range of entertainment options… many of which are free! Due to the popularity of this program and limited capacity,  registration will begin two weeks before the program.

Adult Take & Make Paint Night

Monday, April 19, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Follow along with instructor Pamela Halligan of Pam’s Picassos online as she walks you through the steps of creating your own masterpiece.  You must be registered in advance for the program in order to pick up a paint kit, which will be available for pickup on April 14 from 1-7 and April 15 from 10-4. Please make sure you can attend (and pick up kit) BEFORE you register.  A link to the program will be sent the day of the program. Please note this program is intended for adults.

Insomnia Affects your Overall Health

Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Join Health and Wellness Coach Cynthia Griffin and learn why insomnia, inflammation and unstable weight can be related. You will be introduced to healthy natural practices that will align you with the circadian rhythms of nature, and learn how food can affect our sleep and the way we feel in our bodies. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Earbud Holders and Wrapped Earbuds (Teen Take + Make tutorial)

Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 6:00 – 6:45pm

Create a fun earbud holder out of a metal tin using scrapbook paper and washi tape, and embroidery thread. Register in advance to pick up a Take + Make kit with supplies for the craft any time during open library hours the week of April 12, 2021, then join us on April 21 for the tutorial!

Stories from a Peace Corps Volunteer in Libya

Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Randy Hobler served in the Peace Corps in Libya in 1968 and 1969.  When he set out to write a book about his experiences he decided the book should include the stories of some of the other volunteers who also served in Libya.  Eventually,  Randy tracked down 101 of his fellow volunteers.  His new book, 101 Arabian tales : how we all persevered on Peace Corps Libya is a collective memoir of these volunteers. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Virtual Trivia Night

Monday, April 26, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Come by yourself or bring your friends! ! Test your knowledge from general categories, including pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course, literature. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Designing a Sunny Perennial Border

Tuesday, April 27, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Learn about plant layering, new and reliable perennials, companion plants and design techniques that will make your garden POP with Jana Milbocker of Enchanted Gardens. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Books Over Coffee: News of the World

Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called Books Over Coffee. This month’s book is News of the World by Paulette Jiles. We will meet over Zoom, please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Science Comics: The Digestive System

Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 4:00 – 4:45pm

Join Massachusetts-based graphic novel writer, Jason Viola, for a behind-the-scenes look at how a comic is made and learn about some of the decisions that go into the construction of a professional comic book page! Jason will also discuss his newest book, Science Comics: The Digestive System. Participants will receive a free copy of the book to keep! For ages 7-12. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Indoor Sprouting

I’m no gardener. Sure, I have flowers all over my yard, I grow enough vegetables to bother canning, but I consider that a miracle of nature, not anything I do. I throw some plants in the ground, and if they’re lucky I remember to water them in the heat of summer. If they’re REALLY lucky, I may actually fertilize them. The only thing I try hard to remember to keep fertilized is my tulips, because my soil is two steps shy of toxic, and tulips like sunlight and fertilizer, and my tulips are spectacular (my soil is so bad that the only reason my flowers look good is because in our second year, we scraped away all the soil and replaced it with 5 cubic yards of new soil. Move away from the new soil, and the plants don’t do well).

But hope, like the seasons, springs eternal, and every year I start out hoping my gardens will outdo themselves (Not likely. I planted 150 croci, and 8 survived). I pour over the catalogs and dream of a yard landscaped out of a high-end advertisement, wanting to buy 50 of those beautiful flowering plants, only to sigh when the ad says they cost $30. A plant.

If you don’t want to sink huge coin into plants that, like my azaleas and pink dogwood (who else manages to kill a pink dogwood?), are likely to croak before the end of the season, there is always the elusive task of growing your own from seed.

Yeah, right.

That always works for other people, who, when the weather warms, bring out trays and trays of robust seedlings ready for transplant, when, despite the best potting soil and grow lights and care, I have spindly little fragile things in half my pots, wishing they could die and end their misery. I repeat, the beauty of my gardens is a mystery.

I prefer to purchase my seedlings from local nurseries – they have a much better shot at living – but I dutifully fill a tray or two of seeds with the kids in late winter, hoping to inspire a love of nature, and maybe a greener thumb. It doesn’t take much – a $2 packet of carrot seeds, a glass container, and you can watch roots grow as well as green leaves. Sadly, planting seeds and watching them grow doesn’t always inspire kids to eat that vegetable. Plants can be started in egg cartons, yogurt cups, red Solo cups, even eggshells – seeds, as you can tell from the cracks of pavement, aren’t fussy on where they sprout, though you may have to move them to a bigger cup if you’re using eggshells. If nothing else, it gives the kids something to do on a dreary day.

But seeds take time, and kids aren’t patient, so what are the easiest seeds to grow? The cheapskate in me says plant seeds for the most expensive plants you want to grow, but that doesn’t mean the seeds will take. I’ve planted enough catnip seeds for a jungle, and just five plants finally grew – outside, not in a pot. I could mention morning glories, but morning glories are a lifetime commitment; they can be invasive, and even if you plant them only once, you might be yanking up sprouts for the next 10 years. These are some of the best seeds to grow with kids, and some books to help you once they’re past their leafy infancy. Give it a try!

Marigold
Zinnia
Peas
Bush beans
Tomatoes
Peppers
Watermelon
Cat grass
Nasturtiums
Sunflowers
Corn (or better yet, try your own popcorn.
Even if the ears are 2″ long, it’s fun!)

Want to learn more about starting a garden? Check out the 635 section of non-fiction books in both the Adult and Children’s sections at the library:

Nitty Gritty Gardening Book

New Gardener’s Handbook

Sowing Beauty

Backyard Herb Garden

 

High-Yield Vegetable Gardening

Super Simple Kitchen Gardens

Starting and Saving Seeds

Seed Sowing and Saving

 

Epic Tomatoes

Starter Vegetable Gardens


The New Seed Starter’s Handbook

Plant Parenting

Library Resources You Might Not Know About: Part 2

We recently highlighted some services & resources offered by Cheshire Library that may have been new to you. From a book-matching service to streaming video and online courses, the library has an abundance of free resources. Today we’ll highlight a few more you may not be aware of, that you don’t even need to have a library card to use.

Cheshire Library is constantly reviewing and adjusting our online services to bring  patrons what they need. The library is still here for you, even though how you use it these days might look a little different.

A Page Full of Freebies

When the shutdown happened in March 2020, our intrepid librarians started assembling a list of useful free resources that people could access from home. This expanded from Local (links to the CT Covid Response Page, 211 Directory, Cheshire School Meal Distribution)  and  National  (links to the CDC, NIH, WHO) Health Information to other resources that might help take the sting out of being isolated. Sites to access free online activities like virtual museum tours, webcams of animals and nature, interactive learning, and even armchair travel!

Community Service in a Virtual World

Many high school student are required to complete a set number of community service hours as part of their curriculum, but COVID-19 has made it difficult to volunteer in-person. We’ve designed a program (info on our Teen Page and monthly Event Calendars) where teens can earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video,  or other content for us to add to CPL’s social media pages. Ideas for submissions include book reviews, artwork, poetry, short stories, personal essays, photos or video of food you’ve cooked or baked, or any other creative idea you have for content. (Not all submissions will be used on our social media, and submissions including photos of people are not allowed.) Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours.

Get WOWed by Our Newest Books and Dvds

If you’re not able to get into the library as often to check out what’s new, we’ve got a resource you’re going to love. We’ve teamed up with Wowbrary to deliver a list of the latest additions to our catalog straight to your inbox. The New Item Newsletter lets you know everything that’s new, digital items as well as physical items. In fact, you’ll learn about the physical books and dvds the minute we order them, before they even hit the shelf, and can place holds on them right away (you will need a library card for this part)!

No Printer? No Problem!

Many people have used our public printers in the past to print up important documents. Now you can do so without ever stepping foot inside the building. Our Mobile Printing Portal (accessed through the “Visit” tab on our website) allows you to send print jobs to us right from your computer or mobile device. We’ll let you know when your printouts are ready, and you can pick them up at the Grab ‘n Go station by the parking lot entrance.

Something Fun for Our Youngest Patrons

Our Baby Bop music & movement classes for infants 0-12 months and their caregivers has been on hiatus during the pandemic, but we’ve created a dozen free printable guides (find them on our Kids Page) of fun lap-sit songs, rhymes, and activities of music and movement to help develop motor and language skills. But mostly it’s just plain fun – playing is learning! We will add new guides periodically, so check back often!

Entertainment and Information in the Video Age

Finally, we encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We’ve really stepped up our video content creation during this pandemic, and the results are on YouTube. From DIY tutorials, to lit tips,  to silly skits, to full length programs, we’ve got something for everyone to enjoy and learn from. You can even sit in on a Library Board meeting, if that’s your jam! Subscribe to be notified when we post something new.