Move over, Moms! With so many tasty recipes, beautiful photos, and easy-to-follow directions, Teen Cuisine by Matthew Locricchio will inspire young adults to head for the kitchen and start cooking like they were aspiring gourmet chefs.

With a focus on organic, made-from-scratch dishes, Teen Cuisine is perfect for the teenager who is serious about learning to cook. The recipes do not rely on prepackaged or canned items thrown together for a convenient, but less than nutritious, meal. Instead, the book concentrates on creating savory meals with fresh, easy-to-find, inexpensive ingredients. 

Even better, the more than 50 flavorful dishes are broken down into small, easy steps with comfort-food favorites like Max Mac and Cheese and Chicken Pot Pie along with pizza recipes from three different regions of the United States. Teen Cuisine’s menu also includes delicious breakfast, snack, soup, salad, sandwich, side dish and dessert offerings. And for the more inexperienced teen cooks, there are also sections about kitchen safety and essentials, culinary equipment and utensils, and “chef tips” on many pages.

Anthology of Rap

What do hip-hop artists Common and Chuck D share with two English professors at Yale? They’ve all worked together to compile The Anthology of Rap, the first major publication celebrating the growth of hip-hop from a burgeoning underground music in the South Bronx to an influential, billion-dollar music industry traversing languages and cultures across the globe.

As Matt Labash of the Wall Street Journal points out in his review of the Anthology: for most people, five living rappers are easily more nameable than five living poets. Hip-hop’s larger-than-life MCs have become the poets of popular culture and modern life, influencing an entire generation of young people’s tastes in music, fashion, and culture.

Fire

This heat wave is no joke. The National Weather Service has placed KC under an excessive-heat warning through this weekend, and the city is encouraging area residents to take solace in cooling centers, such as public libraries. All this begs the eternal (and infernal) question, What to read?

Here are 10 books, both fiction and non-, that we found especially appropriate for these sweltering summer climes.

Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford – Can’t stand the heat? Visit Buford’s kitchen.

Into the Inferno by Earl Emerson – Seattle firefighter investigates a mysterious illness that has decimated his department.

California Fire & Life by Don Winslow – Claims adjuster investigates a series of arsons.

So you’ve developed your arts and crafts skills for some time now, and you’ve gotten pretty good. In fact you’ve gotten really good. People see your work and say things like, “Wow, you should sell those,” or “You could make money doing that!” Maybe you dream of quitting your day job to devote more time to doing what you love best.

It you haven’t made the leap yet, I advise to you to stop and truly think about it, and research it, because you will find that all that extra time (and then some) you thought you’d have to simply create is now devoted to producing, marketing, and selling. There is an also an art and craft to good business, so lucky for you, the Kansas City Public Library has plenty of resources to help you learn those skills to start and grow a craft-based business.

Side note – although this blog entry is mainly directed at crafters, I hope that artists, writers, musicians, actors, and performers of all stripes may find some of this information useful. Please refer to the bibliography appended to this entry for some titles specific to your profession.  

Miss Black America by Veronica Chambers

Miss Black America is a story about a girl named Angela who is growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970's when black pride was strong. Her life is good, she has a loving father and a loving mother. But one day she coms home from school and finds her mother gone. It's after this moment that her whole life falls apart.

She spends almost every waking moment wondering Why? Why did she leave us? Where? Where did she go? What? What did she leave our Family for? But with her mother gone her magician father must raise her...alone.

He also keeps her mothers disapearance a secet. As Angela matures into a more independent woman she still struggles over why her mother left their family In this heart moving novel Chambers tells about what it's like to live in a world of trouble and of hope. The sensations and situations of this book will get under your skin in more ways than one.

Reviewed by Sky - Age 14

Check out Miss Black America at the Kansas City, MO Public Library.

Robber Bride

It’s easy to appreciate fiction’s dedicated heroines. Who doesn’t admire Jane Eyre or Miss Jane Pittman?  Neither is it difficult to muster animosity for callous villainesses such as Lady Macbeth or Madame DeFarge.

But what about those characters who straddle the line by stirring up feelings of love, hate and everything in between?

We know we shouldn’t ape their actions, but we admire their chutzpah. Their battle cries are a mixture of “All be damned” and “So be it” — an intoxicating blend of challenge and acceptance, whether they’re Carrie Bradshaw in pursuit of the perfect pair of shoes or Medea in pursuit of the perfect revenge.

It’s not the ramifications of their actions we admire – no one could endorse spending the whole paycheck on Ferragamos or Medea’s concept of sole custody. It’s the dedication to a vision these women see as an integral part of themselves, no matter how ill-advised. And they manage to make us love them for it, even as we disapprove.

Nick Holmes

Nick Holmes has one of the best summer jobs ever: traveling around town, reading books to kids. While reading for a group of children on a recent July day, Holmes got some of the best feedback imaginable.

Working on behalf of the Kansas City Public Library's Summer Reading program, Holmes was sharing a book with a group of kids at Palestine Missionary Baptist Church. As is usually the case with Summer Reading, prizes had been given out to the kids for reading a prescribed amount of hours (up to 12 total), and one of those prizes was a toy sketch pad.

Midway through Go Away Big Green Monster, a girl in the audience wrote a message on her sketch pad and held it up for Holmes to see. 

I love this book, her message read.

Young book lovers at local church activity centers aren't the only kids the Library is reaching this summer. In what is probably the biggest Summer Reading Outreach initiative in Library history, from June 13 through August 5, Holmes and his crew are taking the love of reading to 20 non-Library locations. Their goal: to enroll 2,500 kids in the Summer Reading program.

Nick Holmes

Nick Holmes has one of the best summer jobs ever: getting paid to read to kids. While reading for a group of children on a recent July day, Holmes got some of the best payback imaginable.

Working on behalf of the Kansas City Public Library's Summer Reading program, Holmes was sharing a book with a group of kids at Palestine Missionary Baptist Church. As is usually the case with Summer Reading, prizes had been given out to the kids for reading a prescribed amount of hours (up to 12 total), and one of those prizes was a toy sketch pad.

Midway through Go Away Big Green Monster, a girl in the audience wrote a message on her sketch pad and held it up for Holmes to see. 

I love this book, her message read.

Young book lovers at local church activity centers aren't the only kids the Library is reaching this summer. In what is probably the biggest Summer Reading Outreach initiative in Library history, from June 13 through August 5, Holmes and his crew are taking the love of reading to 20 non-Library locations. Their goal: to enroll 2,500 kids in the Summer Reading program.

Every week here on the Teen Blog, we’ll be posting a roundup of the previous week’s Summer Reading book reviews submitted by our KCPL teens. To find out how you can get your reviews posted, check out the Teen Summer Reading page. And stay up with what’s going on this summer on our KC Library Teens Facebook page.

And without further ado, the latest batch of book reviews…

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
"I would rate this book a 9 out of 10. I like how the author sticks to the point." J-A.S. @ Westport

Forget You by Jennifer Echols

It can happen at any age and any time. It’s the engulfing panic that maybe you chose the wrong career. Maybe you committed to the wrong person. Maybe you made all the wrong decisions. Maybe you’re living the wrong life.

For any woman who has wondered “what if” during her life, here are stories of other women who wondered, who dared, who tapped unknown reservoirs of strength and discovered the right person was actually living the right life all along.

Drinking the Rain, Alix Kates Shulman

For Alix Kates Shulman, it happened in the early Eighties. She felt herself slipping away in this unfamiliar world. Drinking the Rain is her enticing memoir of self-rediscovery during a summer spent on a remote Maine island. Schulman revels in her newfound independence as she collects rain water to drink, gathers mussels from a tide pool for dinner, and watches the ocean tides. Her solitary summer reveals numerous mini-miracles of life.

The Pull of the Moon, Elizabeth Berg

Though all employees work with the catalog at one time or another, not all are actually in the catalog. Our new Missouri Valley Special Collections director, however, is a noteworthy exception. Watch a video interview with Eli Paul...

Thomas is unsure about several things. He can’t remember where he is from, how old he is, or how he wound up in this place called “The Glade.” All he knows is that he is looking for answers, and all of the boys around him seem very unwilling to answer his questions. Where are they? Who put them here? And what are these vicious creatures known as “Grievers?”

Thomas arrives at the Glade in an elevator-like shaft with no memory, just like all of the other boys there his age. The boys in this isolated homestead are all in their early and mid-teen years, although no one is sure of their exact age. They raise the animals and crops for their food, they all have assigned jobs, and they live inside a huge and winding Maze.

So begins The Maze Runner, book one of a young adult dystopian sci-fi trilogy by James Dashner.

Every week here on the Teen Blog, we’ll be posting a roundup of the previous week’s Summer Reading book reviews submitted by our KCPL teens. To find out how you can get your reviews posted, check out the Teen Summer Reading page. And stay up with what’s going on this summer on our KC Library Teens Facebook page.

And without further ado, the latest batch of book reviews…

Outrunning the Darkness by Anne Schraff
My favorite character is Jaris. I love that he sticks up for himself and his pop. –A.S. @ Central

Astonish your school by grabbing a Tom Sawyer e-book.

The Kansas City Public Library is bringing back The Big Read this year, and you needn’t plunk down cash to buy in. You can download e-book versions of this year’s selection, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain from the Library’s website to keep and use on your e-reader free of charge. 

For the fourth year, the Library has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to help fund a series of public programs to get everyone reading and talking about the same book. This year’s Big Read selection hits closer to home than ever before.

In fact, it’s going to be hard to escape the sounds of Sawyer this fall in Kansas City. One of the first productions in the brand-new, gush-worthy Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will be the world premiere of Tom Sawyer – A Ballet in Three Acts, performed by Kansas City Ballet. As a special treat for our community of readers, the Library is partnering with KC Ballet to bring patrons a preview of the production, featuring Tony-winning composer Maury Yeston. Other Big Read events – including a visit from Autobiography of Mark Twain Vol. 1 editor Robert Hirst – will be announced soon.

Andersonville Diary

For July, I thought something quintessentially American was called for, and as this is the sesquicentennial of the start of the Civil War, John Ransom’s diary of his 14 months as a P.O.W. in the Confederate prison system seemed a natural choice. 

Ransom was born in 1843, and joined the Union army in 1862.  He held the rank of sergeant and was the Quartermaster for Company A of the 9th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry. He was captured in Tennessee in 1863 and, after spending some time at Belle Isle prison in Virginia was sent to what is perhaps the most infamous prison camp in that brutal war – Andersonville in Georgia. 

Ironically, Ransom “flanked out” (i.e. he jumped the line) to get out of Belle Isle, where he was first imprisoned, figuring any other place had to be better – was he ever wrong.  In his first year at Andersonville, he writes, the combination of lack of food, poor conditions and a brutal administration result in the death of about half the prisoners at the camp. 

For example, one of the “dead lines” that prisoners are not supposed to get near is along the only source of fresh water in the camp, with the result that prisoners suffering extreme dehydration risk reaching beyond the line to get some fresh water, and are shot for their troubles.

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