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Teen Book Boxes and other exciting 2021 updates!

 HAPPY NEW YEAR 2021!  I'm excited to tell you about some of the things we have going on in January. *NEW*   VFL TEEN BOOK BOXES: Sign u...

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Teen Book Boxes and other exciting 2021 updates!


I'm excited to tell you about some of the things we have going on in January.

Sign up for one of our NEW Teen Book Box subscriptions. Each month you'll pick up a box packed just for you with a library book and other fun surprises. Get all the details here. We only have a limited number of subscriptions available, so don't wait to sign up! 


Pick up a craft kit with all the supplies and instructions to make a beautiful glowing paper lantern. Kits are available in the Young Adult area while supplies last. 

FUN VIRTUAL EVENTS: Join us for Teen Thursday Online for fun Jackbox Games and an awesome Sock Penguin craft. Fine out the details and sign up on our website victorfarmingtonlibrary.org/teen/ .

TEEN ADVISORY BOARD MEETING: Earn community service hours and help the library better serve teens by attending our online Teen Advisory Board meeting on January 21st. Register in advance on our online calendar here.

Hope to see you soon, virtually or in person. Stay safe and healthy, and don't forget the library can always provide curb-side pickup for books and crafts if you need it.  

Wishing you all great things in 2021!
VFL Teen Coordinator

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Anna's Writing Nook: Let's Describe Stuff... and Write About Winter!


 Hi writers! Long time, no blog. But seeing as how the holiday season is here and we all have a break from school (finally), I think it’s high time for some winter-themed writing fun.

Firstly, a little craft talk! With all the rambling I did in the spring and summer, I can’t believe I forgot to talk about writing descriptions. So let’s touch on that briefly! 

Describing things is, in my opinion, kind of the worst. It’s one of my least favorite parts of writing, and a lot of times if I’m on a roll with a scene, I’ll end up skipping descriptions and moving on to the next scene. Which, by the way, is a totally fine thing to do! But your future self will definitely shake their fist at you. 

But sometimes descriptions are necessary before you can move ahead, and even if you skip them you’ll have to do it eventually (ugh), so let’s talk about how to write some bomb descriptions.

First let’s talk scenery. The worst. I hate describing scenery. You try to make it interesting and flowery but all your brain wants to say is “There’s a tree. The grass is green. The sky is blue. It’s cloudy, probably.” Here’s a pro tip, though: assuming you’re not writing for a small child, your reader can assume what the grass, sky, and trees look like. The only time you absolutely need to describe things that are otherwise obvious is if there’s something different or strange about them. If the trees look the same as they always do, a simple adjective (like, if they’re red and gold because it’s autumn) is plenty. But if there’s something weird or unusual about the trees, and that detail is significant to your story, that’s when you show up with your Tolkien-esque word sprawls telling us all the weird things about those trees. 

Now what about people? Your characters need descriptions too. We gotta know what they look like, of course! The best way I’ve done this is in the past is to first write down, just for me, the basic details of my characters’ descriptions. Eye color, hair color/texture/length/style, height, build, skin color, any features like freckles, glasses, tattoos, etc. List all of that, and then to sprinkle it into your actual writing, we’re going to apply the same rule: when you can help it, don’t over-describe the obvious stuff. If there’s something about your character’s eyes or hair that’s particularly unusual, focus on that. Point out things like piercings and tattoos, because they’re unique and not everyone has them. Otherwise, again, using simple descriptors like this, “She had brown skin, dark eyes, and wore her black hair in a tight bun,” are totally fine and get the job done.

On a similar note, I often find myself getting hung up on describing what my characters are wearing. I kinda hate describing clothes, too, because it seems like it interrupts everything else going on. But a while back I saw a piece of advice from a fellow writer (can’t remember who it was, tbh) who said something along the lines of “When I’m reading, I assume the characters are wearing pants unless told otherwise.” For some reason, that little piece of advice blew my mind. It never occurred to me that I didn’t have to describe everything the characters are wearing, but it’s just the same as what I mentioned earlier: don’t describe the obvious, only the unusual. 

That being said, clothes are one of those things that can be fun to describe if you’re someone who likes describing things. If your characters are going to a party or a ball or some other special occasion, you might want to go into detail describing their outfits! Offering these descriptions and bringing extra attention to things you’d normally gloss over contributes to the overall once-in-a-lifetime vibe of the scene.

That’s really the biggest thing to remember with descriptions: they should almost always (like 95% of the time) contribute something that pushes your story forward. You don’t need to spend pages upon pages laying out what a room looks like if it doesn’t actually matter to the story. Focus your energy and attention on the things that are or will be important, and you and your readers will be happy.

All right! Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time for some fun! And you know what that means:


Write about your favorite holiday tradition in the form of a diary entry or letter to a friend.

Write about a couple of friends baking cookies. Will it go perfectly smoothly or will it be a complete disaster? Up to you!

Let’s go on a winter walk. Describe the scenery around you, and how you/your character interacts with or reacts to the scene. Is it cold? Windy? Are there Christmas lights on the houses? Is it snowing? Have fun with some descriptions!

Write a review or tell us about a favorite book or movie that you love to read/watch around the holidays.

Write a story that takes place on New Year’s Eve. Even if we can’t have parties this year, your characters can!

Make up a new holiday that takes place in the winter, and write about the traditions that come with that holiday. What is it celebrating? How is it celebrated? Have its traditions changed at all??

Write about some kids going sledding or making a snowman.

Snowball fight!!

Take a favorite Christmas movie or story (Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, A Charlie Brown Christmas, etc) and change something about it! Rewrite the ending or place yourself in the story or do something totally wild with it. 

If you’ve ever watched or read A Christmas Carol, convince me why your favorite version of that story is the best one. 

Have fun! Write something great!! And enjoy your holidays!


Till next time,

Anna 😎✌🏻

Thursday, November 5, 2020

November Take & Make Craft - PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE SIGN

 It's that time of year again - time for everything pumpkin spice! 


Celebrate with our November Take & Make Craft Kit - a hanging pumpkin spice latte sign! Pick up a kit in the library to make one of these cute signs.

Kits will be available in the Young Adult room until supplies run out, so stop in and pick one up soon.

Does this make you thirsty for a warm pumpkin spice drink? Try this easy recipe from Cookie and Kate for a Homemade Pumpkin Chai Latte! 

Homemade Pumpkin Chai Latte

So how about it, are you into pumpkin spice? What's your favorite cozy fall or winter drink? Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Teen Book Reviews: In Her Skin & The Burning Girl

Do you need a new book to read? Check out these reviews by our teen volunteer, Emma!

In Her Skin, by Kim Savage

Jo Chastain  is a sixteen-year-old con who always wanted love, money and safety after her mother was beaten to death. But will she go as far as impersonating a missing girl to get this and how long will she be able to survive behind all these lies?

Jo has been living at Tent City in Boston the last few years, she has suffered through sicknesses and coldness with her friend Wolf. To get off the streets, she takes on the challenge to become Vivienne Weir who went missing at the age of nine. Becoming Vivi would set Jo into living with the Lovecrafts who give her money, love, security, and a sister Temple. Little did Jo know was there were more ties to Temple Lovecraft and the “disappearance” to Vivi than one would know.

So will Jo be able to escape the Lovecrafts grasp before its too late?

-Emma W.

The Burning Girl: A Novel, by Claire Messud

Julia and Cassie’s friendship dates all the way back to young girls. They considered themselves sisters and shared their life with each other. Both girls always wanted to leave their birthplace and everything that's expected of them. But will this ever happen?

Cassie starts acting weird and starts putting herself and her friendship with Julia is grave danger. Will there forever long promise of friendship survive these problems, or will everything collapse around them?

-Emma W.

Both of these books can be borrowed from the library. You'll find In Her Skin in the Young Adult area and The Burning Girl in Adult Fiction.  

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Anna's Writing Nook: Fall & Halloween Prompts

Hello hello! Happy fall! I hope you’re all doing well and that school’s going okay. I know it’s been a while, but I’m back for a minute to give you guys some fun fall-themed writing prompts!! They might sound sort of vague and basic, but I want to let you have as much room as possible to stretch your imagination. Think outside the box! Make them weird! Make them spooky! It’s Halloween, let’s write some wild stuff!!


  • A ghost story
  • A story set in a cemetery
  • Write about your favorite fall or Halloween tradition
  • Tell me about your favorite Halloween movies, books, or stories and why you love them
  • A story about carving pumpkins
  • A haunted house or town, or even just a particular room that you should probably not go into
  • A creepy door that leads into another world
  • A haunted or cursed object, like a doll or a piece of jewelry
  • A story about witches
  • A story about vampires, werewolves, or zombies
  • Try a different spin on Frankenstein
  • Write me (yes, me personally) a letter telling me why Halloween is the best holiday and no one should convince me otherwise
  • Write an alternate ending for one of your favorite Halloween movies
  • Write an interview with a vampire. What would you ask someone who’s immortal? Bonus points if you write it from the perspective of the vampire!
  • A story about picking apples, visiting a farmer’s market, and/or picking out a pumpkin… but something strange happens
  • Halloween costume mishap
  • A story about a Halloween party

I’ll start you off with those! And if you get going and your story completely derails from the prompt, even better! Let me know in the comments if you tried out any of the prompts, and I’d love to see what you’ve written. Stop by the library to say hi, or send me an email at acallari@pls-net.org

I know you’re all adjusting to a truly unusual and unprecedented school year, so the last thing I want is to make you guys feel like you have more homework. Obviously don’t feel like you have to do anything with these prompts, but I have found in my experience that sometimes giving yourself a break by writing something creative (as opposed to an essay for school) keeps your writing juices flowing. You think in a totally different way by writing creatively than writing academically, and I think it’s important to keep in touch with your creativity when you’re in school. But honestly, the burnout is so real, and sometimes your brain just needs a break. So try out these prompts if you can, try to squeeze in some fun writing time among your school writing time, but absolutely don’t feel pressured to do so. I’m cheering for you guys!

Speaking of trying to write a hundred things at once, now that it’s October, it means NaNoWriMo is just a month away! And despite being buried in work for grad school, of COURSE I’m participating as always, so I’m super excited for that. I think I’ll use the month to revise another draft of the second book in my fantasy trilogy, so then at least I’m not trying to pull a complete and new novel out of thin air in the last few weeks of my semester. That sounds like death, actually.

Before I go, a couple more things: First, this week is Banned Books Week, and we’ve got a great collection of challenged books in the YA room here at the library if you’re feeling rebellious (honestly, these books are banned for truly ridiculous reasons… all the more reason to read them!). 

Secondly, since Halloween is right around the corner, I am taking any and all suggestions you might have for spooky/creepy/scary/horror YA novels that I can put on display in the library! I might also make a list of spookifying books to post on the blog, but I want to hear y’all’s recommendations! Drop a comment or email me or come find me at the library and scream at me about books. Actually, probs don’t scream. It is a library, after all. 

All right, well, that’s all for this week, and I’ll be back soon to talk about my favorite spooky books. Until then, happy writing!

😎✌🏻 Anna

Thursday, October 1, 2020

October Take & Make Craft - WATER BEAD STRESS BALL

I love water beads! These stress balls made from water beads are SO MUCH FUN! 

Not only do you get to play with water beads, but you end up with a colorful squishy ball perfect for when you need to fidget or need to work out a little stress.

You can pick up a kit in the library with everything you need to make your own Water Bead Stress Ball. The kits will be out in the Young Adult area for the month of October, until supplies run out. 

If you weren't able to pick up a kit, all you need is a small amount of dry water beads, an empty water bottle, a balloon, and water. Click here for instructions.

Watch the video below to see me make one at home. Enjoy!

Don't forget to register for our upcoming virtual teen programs:

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Teen Book Review: Far From the Tree

 Looking for your next great book to read? Check out this book review of Robin Benway's Far From the Tree, written by our teen reviewer Sarah B.!

Far From The Tree by Robin Benway

         Family can be questionable and complicated. Sometimes one may find a relative later in their years causing curiosity and wonder. Robin Benway portrays the struggles and hardships three siblings face when meeting each other after more than fifteen years of their lives in Far From The Tree. Follow the journey of finding their long lost mother as Grace and Maya are happily adopted and Joaquin, their brother, has been fostered for all of his life and being able to understand two different stories of growing up. Each sibling has to learn trust with each other and understand the importance of family, even if their deepest and most humiliating secrets are revealed, when they just met.

         Grace and Maya seem to have perfect families, but obviously that is just not the case. Grace has to come back after dealing with a teen pregnancy, Maya’s parents are fighting constantly on top of her mother’s “covered up” alcohol addiction and Joaquin has troubles with accepting that he has a chance of getting adopted. With all the struggles each has to face at home, they soon become transparent to the importance of needing each other. As some more than others are more apprehensive and frustrated with the idea of searching for their mother, their bond becomes everlasting and their protection over each other shines brightly. As they meet more often, they see similarities in each other that make them feel closer and bring more comfort to their crazy lives. 

         Although this summary is quite short, it truly was an uplifting and affectionate book. Benway emphasizes the crucial understanding of sincerity and embracing of one’s flaws. All three siblings struggled with hiding their most regretted secrets about their life to each other, paranoid that judgement or conflict would occur as their situation with meeting was fragile enough. Instead of feeling ashamed about them, it should be something to acknowledge and a way to prosper growth. She creates so much tension but at the same time comfortability between the characters. Joaquin, in my opinion, was one of the most interesting characters to read about. His past can overwhelm him in negative ways and his journey to overcome that part of his life is fascinating. He deals with trust and allowing people to love him as he has dealt with rejection from other families and tries to avoid the pain for himself and the people around him. Each character learns and grows from each other accepting their flaws and embracing their truth. According to GoodReads, readers who read this book also enjoyed With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo. This book follows the journey of a girl’s love for the kitchen and how her talent distracts her from the reality of her family and home situation. Overall this book brought much joy to my heart and I would definitely recommend it!

-Review by Sarah B.

This book is available to borrow through the library, as a downloadable audiobook using the Libby app or through owwl.overdrive.com here: Far From the Tree audiobook. You can also pick it up in print at the library or place a hold it on it here: Far From the Tree at owwl.org

Have you read Far From the Tree? What did you think?  If you haven't read it, are you interested? Please leave any book recommendations in the comments!