Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese: The Wind Rises

Posted on August 9th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Movies, Teen Services

the-wind-rises-1080Welcome back Otaku. I hope everyone is having a good summer.  This month we return to feature films and the great Anime master himself, Hayao Miyazaki. His last film before retiring in 2013, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu), is a dreamy tale about Jirou Horikoshi and his quest to build the best airplane in Japanese history. He idolized the Italian aeronautical engineer Giovanni Battista Caproni and often fantasizes about conversing with him to talk about designs and the deeper things in life. Horikoshi comes of age during the Great Depression, when industry and world politics are strained back to the brink of war. Japan has suffered a great earthquake and the country is suffering immensely. Horikoshi is torn between the magical wonder of flight, and the hard realities of modern world politics.


the-wind-rises-caproniLike his earlier work Porco Rosso, Miyazaki creates sympathetic characters who were devoted to aviation and the public good, but opposed to needless war and oppression. Porco Rosso is pursued by the fascists to return to service and fly for Mussolini’s regime. Horikoshi is faced with poverty and unemployment and has to take a job building military aircraft for the Japanese Empire. It is clear their hearts are centered on flight and creativity, but they must chose their battles and try to make a life for themselves, regardless.


Earlier while at university, romance enters the story when Horikoshi assists a young woman named Naoko Satomi during a train accident. He helps her home without ever giving his name. Character dress, vehicles, and technology are all accurately rendered in this wonderful period piece. Aircraft receive a special emphasis as might be expected. Many types are represented in the story with some more fantastical designs added for whimsy and drama.

yoko_outWhile the Mitsibushi A6M Zero is not actually shown on screen for long, if my memory serves me, it’s predecessors and all of Horikoshi’s design elements are clearly present in the prototypes being developed in the story. Lightweight, streamlined and graceful shapes characterize his designs. Even the “gull wing” set up, where the wing appears to be bent as if flapping in a natural bird shape, is featured on some of his planes that were actually built.


Wind-rises-the-2013-015-mother-and-children-in-forestThe Wind Rises is a beautiful story about creative genius, love, and the harsh realities of modern life. There is an element of tragedy in the story, but it lends to the strength and tenderness of the characters. Sky, landscape, urban scenes, period and traditional dress, seascapes, dream sequences, and of course aircraft, are all exquisitely drawn and animated in true Miyazaki style. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and message of this story given that it involved the famous Axis fighter, the Mitsubishi Zero. Like Werner Von Braun, who worked for the Nazis developing the V-2 rocket and later joined the US in the Space Race, Horikoshi has to serve the emperor in order to support himself and his family. But you know at heart that he is a dreamer and talented aeronautical engineer. His dreams with Caproni show how much he loved flight and the engineering problems he could solve. Beautiful designs can do beautiful things, but they can also be put to war. This film is a wonderfully animated lesson on flight, engineering, and the challenges of life.

Watch it here for free on Kissanime.to

john250-150x150Did you know that in addition to physical books and DVDs, your library card gives you access to anime and graphic novels online? The BPL subscribes to Hoopla, a streaming service that allows you to check out and enjoy the media you love on your computer, tablet or smartphone. You can learn more about the BPL’s digital media collections here.

Want company while you’re watching anime? The Hyde Park Teen Anime Club meets on Thursdays at 2:30 p.m.

*”Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese” features reviews of anime and manga by John, the Teen Librarian at the Hyde Park Branch, on the second Tuesday of every month.

Curl Up & Read: I Am Malala

Posted on August 5th, 2016 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services
Tags: , , , ,

malala 2015

This book is on the BPS Grade 9-12 Summer Reading Biography & Autobiography List!

Title: I Am Malala by  Malala Yousafzai

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Malala, a young teenage girl living in Pakistan, wanted nothing more than to go to school and learn. When most of her country thought she should leave school and stay home because she was a girl, she started speaking out about the importance of education for girls and women. For this, she was shot in the head. This is her story.

Genre/sub-genre: non-fiction/memoir

Series/Standalone: standalone

Length: 368 pages (2015 updated edition)

Personal thoughts: 

“Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country – this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all of my friends at school is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish. I am Malala. My world has changed but I have not.” – Malala Yousafzai

I was expecting Malala’s story to start on the day she was shot. Or perhaps the day before that. Instead, Malala explains the short history of Pakistan, her parents’ early experiences, and how she has been raised to appreciate education from her father. These first few sections are not entirely told in chronological order, but regardless, the story flows very easily from one topic to the next and I found each one very fascinating. The opening section, “Birmingham, England, June 2015” gives an update on Malala’s life since the first edition of the book came out in 2013 and while I loved that there was an update, I felt it was oddly placed at the beginning before I had even read what had happened.

Malala gives a good description of the Swat valley where she lives, showing the reader just how much she loves her homeland. I felt as if I were there with her, seeing the flora and fauna, and sitting beside her in school. Her descriptions of people are more vague and even her own brothers don’t get very many mentions. This may have been done for privacy reasons, of course, but I would have liked to know a little bit more about her friends and brothers at the very least. More importantly, however, she explains that not all Muslims belong to the Taliban, something a lot of people around the world need to understand.

While this was co-written with Christina Lamb, the words felt as if they were coming from Malala, not Christina. This was well written, easy to understand, hard to put down, and a quick read.

Almost as soon as Malala was shot the whole world knew and was outraged by it, though some from her own country thought her family was faking the incident in order to escape Pakistan. Since the first edition of her book came out in 2013, millions of people have picked up a copy and read about her life. Her book is real. It is painful. It is heartwarming. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. If you haven’t read it yet, do so now, and understand why education is important for all children around the world.



icon of annaThis book is on the BPS Grade 9-12 Summer Reading Biography & Autobiography List!

Looking to borrow this library book? Look no further! Audiobooks and ebooks are also available if you require them.

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow this book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.


*”Curl Up & Read” posts book reviews by Anna, Teen Librarian at Teen Central, the first Friday of every month.

Stop the Press: #BlackLivesMatter

Posted on August 2nd, 2016 by rschmelzer@private.bpl.org in News, Teen Services
Tags: , ,


My heart is heavy. The recent news has been filled with so much violence, animosity, hate, distrust, fear, brutality and anger. Starting conversations is an important first step for us as citizens of the world to try to mitigate these somber times. I’d like to start with a conversation about the difference between #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter. I’ve seen arguments back and forth on the two expressions, and I admit I was confused at first as well. Let’s clear this up: #BlackLivesMatter started in 2012 following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin (CNN). It started as a conversation about police brutality and inequality. It does not mean that Black Lives Matter more, nor does it mean that only Black Lives Matter. It does not mean that Police Lives don’t matter either. What it is meant to draw attention to is that black lives have historically mattered less in the history of the United States. It means that Black Lives should matter too. An uncomfortable truth for sure, and one that I think many people have struggled with.


How can I help?

Teen Vogue recently posted this article about 10 things that teens can do to help. This article is quite useful for those of us who would like to help but don’t know where to start. I found this quote by the article’s author to be especially powerful:

Chelsea Couillard-Smith, a librarian for Hennepin County (MN) Library, created a #BlackLivesMatter booklist for teens. If you’d like to start conversations about justice and race, be sure to check some of these titles out.  They are also all available at BPL.


icon of RebeccaAre you interested in keeping up with the news and current events? The Boston Public Library has subscriptions to newspapers that you can read in the library or online.

*”Stop the Press” features current events posts by Rebecca, the Teen Librarian at the Grove Hall Branch, on the first Tuesday of every month.

On the Radar: Five Books to Check Out in August

Posted on July 29th, 2016 by vkovenmatasy@private.bpl.org in Teen Services

Get your library card handy and reserve your place in line for these new August releases! If you place a hold now, they can be in your hands before they even hit the shelf.

Please note: all summaries are taken from the Boston Public Library catalog unless otherwise noted. They may have been edited for length and clarity.


The Beauty of Darkness cover

The Beauty of Darkness by Mary Pearson

Summary: Princess Lia and her love, Rafe, have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous.

Why We’re Excited: The final book in the Remnant Chronicles (previous installments: The Kiss of Deception and The Heart of Betrayal) is finally here, and it looks pretty epic. The Heart of Betrayal ended on a cliffhanger, but resolution awaits: of not only a trilogy’s worth of intrigue, but also the love triangle between Princess Lia, the prince she left at the altar, and the assassin sent to kill her. Fans of Sarah J. Maas, Marie Rutkoski, and Rosamund Hodge (and of course Pearson’s earlier Jenna Fox Chronicles) should check the series out!


All We Have Left cover

All We Have Left by Wendy Mills

Summary: In interweaving stories of sixteen-year-olds, modern-day Jesse tries to cope with the ramifications of her brother’s death on 9/11, while in 2001, Alia, a Muslim, gets trapped in one of the Twin Towers and meets a boy who changes everything for her as flames rage around them.

Why We’re Excited: It feels very weird to say we’re “excited” about a book about 9/11, but given the current political climate and the horrifying levels of Islamophobia that have prevailed since the fall of the Twin Towers, it seems like this will be an important read for many. Presumably because this year marks the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, several similarly-themed books for teens or middle grade readers are being published around the same time — Nine, Ten by Nora Raleigh Baskin, Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu, Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes and  The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner — but this is the only one I’ve seen that’s both aimed at teen readers and centers around the impact of 9/11 on Muslims. For a less fraught depiction of contemporary Muslim life, try Does My Head Look Big in This?, She Wore Red Trainers, and of course the inimitable Ms. Marvel.


Last Descendants cover

Last Descendants by Matthew J. Kirby

Summary: Nothing in Owen’s life has been right since his father died in prison, accused of a crime Owen is certain he didn’t commit. Monroe, the IT guy at school, might finally bring Owen the means to clear his father’s name by letting him use an Animus — a device that lets users explore genetic memories buried within their own DNA. During a simulation, Owen uncovers the existence of a powerful relic long considered a legend — the Trident of Eden. Now two secret organizations will stop at nothing to take possession of this artifact — the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. It becomes clear the only way to save himself is to find the Trident first. Under the guidance of Monroe, Owen and a group of other teenagers go into a memory they all share within their DNA: the 1863 Draft Riots in New York City. Owen and his companions will find themselves tested on the violent streets of New York, and their experiences in the past will have far-reaching consequences in the present. (summary via the publisher’s website)

Why We’re Excited: In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years, Assassin’s Creed is a hugely popular video game which follows a secret society of Assassins throughout various time periods as they pursue their eternal struggle against rival group the Knights Templar. Lots of cool history and neat graphics to go with your adventures! (I’m not a gamer, but I have watched my brother play a lot of Assassin’s Creed in my time.) The franchise has put out graphic novels and adult novelizations, but this is their first tie-in aimed specifically at young adults, and I’m particularly interested to see how it (no pun intended) plays out, especially with the movie coming out soon as well.


Possession cover

Possession by M. Verano

Summary: All her life, Laetitia Jones has only wanted to be a star. It’s more than an ambition—somewhere deep inside, she knows that she was born for greatness. But her path to stardom now seems to be halted by a mysterious, undiagnosed illness that’s taken over her body. Doctors don’t have a clue and most days, she’s stuck at home documenting her strange symptoms—symptoms that start with fevers and chills, but soon escalate to bizarre bodily reactions. Laetitia’s only escape from her illness is following the news—and the race riots that are moving closer and closer to her neighborhood. But when horrific visions begin to invade her mind, even the media can’t distract her and she begins to wonder—is her illness something biological…or is it something more? Are the voices she hears and the notes she finds in her own handwriting signs of insanity…or signs of something much more sinister and demonic? Or, perhaps, signs of something benevolent…something holy even. Laetitia has always known she’d be famous…she just didn’t know it would happen this way. (summary via the publisher’s website)

Why We’re Excited: THAT COVER. Whoever designed it deserves a raise. What a gorgeous, creepy visual for a horror novel! It’s also a nice change to see a horror novel about someone other than yet another white girl in a dilapidated mansion. The “found text” conceit (the book is supposedly an edited compilation of the protagonist’s blog entries and other primary source documents, a la The Blair Witch Project) sounds pretty interesting, too.


Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit cover

Georgia Peaches & Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Summary: Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees. Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right? (summary via the publisher’s website)

Why We’re Excited: This sounds like a cuter version of The Miseducation of Cameron Post crossed with Openly Straight only with a happy ending, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’ll actually turn out that way, since Cameron Post and Rafe Goldberg ripped my heart out and stomped all over it. (Spoiler alert: those books are not romances, no matter what the back copy seems like it’s implying. Grr.) Join me in the land of hopeful expectation!


icon of VeronicaDid I get you interested in reading one of these books? Just click the title of the one you want and the link will take you to the relevant page in the catalog. From there you can click the green “Place a Hold” button and you’re all set! (Unfortunately, due to a hiccup in our current acquisitions schedule, not all of these books are available for holds yet, but you can still call your local library and ask them to place a hold for you as soon as the book comes in.)

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.


*”On the Radar” features book previews by Veronica, the Teen Librarian at the Dudley Branch, on the last Tuesday or Friday of every month.

Hold The Popcorn!: Star Trek: Beyond & Ghostbusters

Posted on July 26th, 2016 by jlevins in Movies

No better way to beat the midsummer heat than a trip to a nice air conditioned movie theater, and this summer movie fans will rejoice over the highly anticipated flicks Star Trek: Beyond and Ghostbusters.


Star Trek: Beyond begins with Captain Kirk trying to broker a peace deal between the Teenaxi and the Fenopians. His efforts don’t go so well as the tiny Teenaxi do not accept the gift which Kirk has brought them and effectively chase him back to the Enterprise via the beam. After the Enterprise is attacked and crash lands into a desolate planet, we find out that the gift which Kirk unsuccessfully tried to offer the Teenaxi was actually a crucial piece of a dangerous weapon which is coveted by the evil Krall (played brilliantly by Idris Elba, who is unrecognizable due to the incredible alien makeup), who will do whatever he needs to in order to obtain it. Star Trek: Beyond is with all of the intense action, stunning special effects, and snarky, subtle humor that has made the Star Trek series stand out over other science fiction films for many years.


Combine slimy ectoplasm, ghosts, and a healthy dose of girl-power, and you get Ghostbusters, a refreshing take on the 1984 classic of the same name. Columbia University professor Dr. Erin Glibert (Kristen Wiig, who you may know from SNL) teams up with her former associate and sometime rival Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and colleague Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) to investigate a haunted mansion in NYC. After the three of them find themselves unemployed, they team up with MTA employee Patty (Leslie Jones) and set up shop for themselves as the Department of Metaphysical Examination. Older movie fans will be stoked to see appearances from Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver and the one and only Ozzy Osbourne all appearing in the film.   The light-hearted humor and ghostly special effects make Ghostbusters a must see.



animatedDo you love watching movies? The Boston Public Library has tens of thousands of DVDs you can borrow with your library card and even more that you can access online through our streaming service, Hoopla. Plus, if you can’t find a movie you want to watch in all the ones we offer, you can always suggest a purchase. Start placing holds now, and you’ll never have to pay to watch a movie again!


*”Hold the Popcorn!” features movie reviews by James, the Teen Librarian at the East Boston Branch, on the fourth Tuesday of the month.