Hold the Popcorn! : Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Posted on June 28th, 2016 by jlevins in Movies

Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michaelangelo, everybody’s favorite NYC sewer dwelling, crimefighting, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back on the big screen in Out of the Shadows. Vern (AKA “The Falcon”) has taken all of the credit for capturing Shredder in the last movie from the Turtles. Unfortunately for everyone, Shredder manages to escape from custody while being transferred from one prison to another. He ends up in another dimension with a strange alien creature named Krang, whose sights are set on taking over the Earth. Shredder agrees to help Krang gather the pieces to a portal which will allow him to realize his dream of taking over the Earth in return for Krang’s assistance in eliminating the Turtles once and for all. After a lot of intense crimefighting action throughout the film, the Turtles are faced with a difficult choice.

Out of the Shadows is a fun summer movie that is easily accessible even to those with no previous exposure to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Tyler Perry (the creator of the “Madea” films) delivers a strong performance as evil scientist Baxter Stockwell. Out of the Shadows contains a lot of comic book style action and violence and loud noises which might not be suitable for very young children, but should not be a problem for a teenage audience.



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.


Ctrl+Z: Lego Mindstorms Robotics Clubs

Posted on June 24th, 2016 by chalpin@private.bpl.org in Teen Services

This summer Boston Public Library will be offering our first Robotics Clubs. Over multiple sessions you’ll use Lego Mindstorms kits to learn how to build robots and program them to interact with the world. One of the great things about building these robots is that it should already feel familiar to anyone who has ever played with Lego bricks! Similarly, the code used to program these robots to move, make sounds, and otherwise behave or react to stimulus, is a visual programming language that will look familiar to anyone that may have used Scratch, and is easy to learn for anyone who hasn’t.Mindstorm_Script

Librarians participated in training sessions facilitated by Gary Garber who teaches physics, math, and engineering at Boston University Academy and runs the Boston University FIRST Robotics program. (He is also author of the following Lego Mindstorms related eBooks that you can access through the Boston Public Library here.) With a multi-week curriculum also provided to us, librarians and our intrepid Robotics Club participants will work our way through different activities week to week and build our skills together throughout the summer. We hope you’ll join us!


This program is open to youth in 6th grade through 12th grade, or ages 12-18, and may be of particular interest to anyone who is into building, making things with their hands, computer programming, friendly competition, collaboration, and fun!

This summer Teen Central, the Mattapan Branch Library Teen Room, and the Dudley Branch Library Teen Room will be offering Lego Mindstorms Robotics Clubs. Please register with the location where you would like to participate.

Teen Central starts June 28th from 3:30-5:00 and will continue to run on Tuesdays through August 23rd. For more information and to register call (617) 859-2334 or email: teencentral@bpl.org

Mattapan Branch Library will start on Tuesday, July 12th at 5:30. For more information and to register, contact Teen Librarian, Caren Rosales at (617) 298-9218 or email: crosales @ bpl.org

Dudley Branch Library will start on Tuesday, July 5 at 3:30. For more information and to register, contact Teen Librarian, Veronica Koven-Matasy at (617) 442-6186 or email: vkovenmatasy @ bpl.org

(*Keep your eyes open for future Lego Mindstorms programming at other Boston Public Library locations in the future!)

hologram on 9-16-15 at 7.25 PM #3Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.

*”Ctrl+Z” is all about fearlessly exploring technology. Look here for info about teens, technology, and having fun with new media by Catherine, Teen Technology Coordinator at Teen Central, on the fourth Friday of every month.

Teens Leading in the Community: Meet Brian Foster

Posted on June 21st, 2016 by jsnow@private.bpl.org in Teen Services

Brian Foster is a recent graduate from Excel High School in South Boston and will be going on to study at UMASS Boston in September. Brian was very instrumental in organizing the Boston Public Schools walkouts and you may read more here in the March 11 Boston Globe article.  I spoke with Brian about his work in organizing and here’s what he had to say.

brian foster











You were very instrumental in coordinating and facilitating the BPS walk outs. How did you go about coordinating and facilitating and what tools did you use (like social media, texting, etc)? How do you feel you learned things like that?

I’m interested in my education and felt the need to get involved to stand up for what I and others believe in in regards to the BPS walks-outs.  I worked very closely with the organization BYOP-Boston area Youth Organizing Project. They helped in providing a space and ways to connect with other students because we were working with a lot of different schools and needed help in the coordination piece.  I started by creating a Facebook page and other teens who were involved bounced off that page and used other social media like Twitter and Snapchat and we also used an app to try and keep people engaged. I also did a lot of visits to other schools and talked to other teens to let them know what we were doing and how they could get involved with the work too. I think in terms of how I learned things like this, I’ve been really involved in debate in school and with an organization called Generation Citizen and feel like debate has helped prepare me for speaking and for public speaking.

What skills do you feel you have gained through your activism work?

I definitely feel like organizing is a big one and I mean the organizing of people. You have a lot of different schools and a lot of teens involved, there’s a lot of moving pieces.  This was a challenging and difficult thing to do but it was helpful to work with BYOP and learn things from them in terms of organizing. I also feel like with debate that my public speaking has gotten very good and with the walkouts I did a lot of public speaking.

What are you interested in doing now that you are graduating from high school and what type of career are you interested in pursuing?

I’m going to be starting school at UMASS Boston in the fall, I’m excited.  While the work with the walkouts was challenging I felt it was very important and it was something that made me think more about being involved in this kind of work in terms of organizing and social justice.  I plan to study aerospace at UMASS but I’m thinking more and more about the possibility of creating a degree that focuses on organizing and working closely with communities and social justice.

jessi250-150x150Are you interested in learning more about leadership opportunities? The Boston Public Library, Teen Central has a Teen Leadership Council that meets monthly in Teen Central and there is a job help page that provides information on  job opportunities, volunteer and internship opportunities.

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

*”Teens Leading in the Community” features interviews and stories about teens leading in their communities by Jessi, the Teen Services Team Leader, Central, on the third Tuesday of every month

Get Crafty: Simply Cross-stitching

Posted on June 17th, 2016 by Mary in Crafts, Teen Services
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Welcome to this month’s installment of Get Crafty.

This month we are going to learn a little bit about cross-stitching and how to make the full cross-stitch. If you can make an “X”, then you can cross-stitch. If not, there are so many tutorials online to show you how to make a full cross-stitch. I will provide some at the end of this post.

You can learn a little history about cross-stitching here and here. Cross-stitching is considered the oldest type of embroidery. It was used as early as the sixth century BC. The earliest preserved pieces of cross-stitching were found in ancient Egyptian tombs and in Medieval churches. Cross-stitching along with other forms of embroidery were used in tapestries and royal clothing in Europe and Asia. Today, many cross-stitches follow patterns instead of stitching from memory.

Sampler 1836

The above image is a historic sampler finished by Marianne Wenn about 1816.


When beginning  to learn how to cross-stitch, you start much smaller and use easier fabric and threads .

What you need to start: pattern or kit, Aida material 10 or 12 count (any color), embroidery floss (thread), a needle, a needle threader, scissor. Optional: a hoop or q-snaps to hold the material tight.

A quick word about patterns you find online, please make sure the pattern is copyright free. There are people who steal other people’s work and try to sell it or offer it online for free. This is illegal and prevents the true owner from earning money on their own.

To begin, look at the pattern instructions to find out how many strands of thread are required and separate them from the skein.  From personal experience, it’s important to follow the instructions.


Instructions for this pattern: Use Aida 12 count and with three strands of thread. The pattern below is a heart. You can choose what color you want.



To begin, thread the needle. If you use the threader, here is a great tutorial.

After your needle is threaded, start with the upper left corner of the pattern. Start the first stitch by coming up with the needle through one hole. Leave a tail that you will hold under the row you are going to be stitching.  This will help the threads from unraveling.

The second step of the stitch, go down with the needle in the hole in the diagonal corner.

The third step is to go up the hole that is below where you went down.

The fourth step is go down in the hole diagonally to the third step. Now you have made your first X. Here is a picture to show what you need to do.


The next stitch you will start again with step 1 coming up where you came up on step 3 of the prior stitch. For this pattern, skip the next block and come up for step 1 in the next hole. Keep going until you make it to the last row. When you finish take the thread and go under the threads in the row that has 5 X’s and trim the extra threads. Congrats! You have finished your first cross-stitched piece.

The design you made is called a motif. They are small designs that can be stitched once or stitched multiple times to make a bigger design.  You can search motifs on Google for what a motif looks like. For patterns, use the search terms motifs cross stitching free patterns.


For bigger patterns the following picture is useful to follow. Here you will stitch a row of /// and then go back and stitch \\\  to complete your X’s.




For great tutorials on cross-stitching, including other methods to use when you are starting your first stitches and other types of stitches used with cross-stitching, check out DMC Education.

For video tutorials check out: Yarn Tree and Ms. Dunne.

For books on how to cross-stitch and pattern books, check out these books on the the BPL catalog.

Have lots of fun with your new craft and over time you will learn about more stitches used in cross-stitching.



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

*”Get Crafty” features craft projects by Mary, a Teen Librarian at Teen Central, and is posted on the third Friday of every month.

Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese: Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. Second Gig.

Posted on June 14th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Teen Services

Ghost in the Shell SAC 2nd Gig_smallWhew! That’s a long title isn’t it? And S.A.C. stands for Stand Alone Complex. Hello again manga and anime friends. The Ghost in the Shell franchise is a rich collection of science fiction and action stories based on the original, and highly influential movie from 1995. But this month, we look at a later sequel series, made for television. The entire franchise has had an R rating for violence, profanity, and some mature themes but older teens should be fine watching compared to much of whats on the air today.

The famous “Section 9” unit is an anti-terrorist SWAT team with cutting edge cyber-terrorism training and equipment. The heroine of the story is Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg officer with incredible athletic, combat, and IT skills. Her human brain is all that remains from her original body that was lost in a horrible event when she was young. Not much is known of the circumstances around the event. Over her life she has had hardware and software upgrades and trained to become a military officer and then joined the police force after recent major wars.  Her main partner on the force is Batou, another veteran military officer and policeman who has cybernetic vision. He probably lost his eyes in combat during the recent wars. Much of the crew is made up of former military veterans who have joined the elite Section 9 unit after distinguished careers. They include a sniper, information specialist, and a junior officer gaining valuable experience. The section is lead by Daisuke Aramaki. He is a seasoned director combining vast experience and keen judgement. His character is distinguished by his balding head and prominent locks of silver hair over his ears and beard on his chin.  Comic relief is combined with mecha butt-kicking power in the form of the sections dated, but lovable spider-like robots. These “Tachikomas” have all kinds of advanced weapons and technology even though their A.I. is archaic.  Their voices even sound like children and lend to their effect in comic relief.

Artistically, a TV series is of course more limited in what it can invest in image quality and detail than what was originally offered in the famous feature film. Still, a good color palette was developed that works well with the frequent night scenes and urban battle situations. Technical drawing of aircraft and vehicles are a favorite subject for sci-fi anime crews. 2nd Gig does not disappoint.  Often times you will find vehicles “rendered” in 3D animation graphics first, and then edited into the video frames of the story with the characters “rendered” in 2D, drawn by the artists hands. This is more and more common these days and some stories are completely animated with 3D graphics. We’ll have to look at some of those in the future. A great example is the film Avatar, but there are 3D anime films that we can discuss.

Musically, the score is impressive with use of modern Pop and EDM styles in the title songs. Incidental music includes more of the same, but also makes notable use of classical chamber music styles and genres. One trend in particular is the use of expressionist, “quasi-tonal” string quartet music during mysterious or psychological scenes in the story. Memory and A.I. hacks are great examples to listen for. It’s spooky and very powerful.

2nd Gig offers an exciting story weaving together political intrigue, national security, terrorism, cybernetics, SWAT tactics and gear, a refugee crisis, and deeper questions of the human experience. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be a machine? Humans can have a spirit, can machines have a ghost? The Ghost in the Shell franchise started with this question and a resounding “yes” was the answer. But on deeper examination, the question was only ever about humanity. The lines have just become blurred by the development of computers, cybernetics, information technology and artificial intelligence. Sci-fi and action fans will love this series. So will existentialist philosophers and political scientists.  The dialog can pass very quickly so with this series, you have my permission to watch the English dubbed episodes, if you want. Listening to the Japanese is always great but you may find yourself rewinding at various points to catch all the plot and character development. The stories are wonderfully written and demand concentration.

So check out Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. 2nd Gig. You can find it at kissanime or gogoanime.



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.