Connecting Teens at Trails West

The Trails West teens do not mess around. This past October 17-23, libraries around the country celebrated Teen Read Week, and at the Kansas City Public Library’s Independence branch, it was all about competing – and connecting.

Throughout the week, Teen Services Library Assistant Amanda Barnhart conducted a Battle of the Books poll, with more than 100 patrons voting on eight young adult titles. To some folks’ surprise, Harry Potter claimed the ultimate victory, defeating newer series like Twilight, The Hunger Games and Bleach.

The Hogwarts stalwart wasn’t the only story of an old favorite beating out the newcomers. In a triumph of primitive technology over digital diversions, a Connect Four tournament capped Teen Read Week at Trails.

Indeed, that 1970s Milton Bradley classic and originator of the catchphrase “Pretty sneaky, sis,” is back.

Branch manager Ritchie Momon says that he hasn’t seen as much interest in a game since the Speed card craze of a few years ago.

And on October 24, around 10 teens turned out for the retro-cool Connect Four tournament. They found that even though the game’s history may trace as far back as the 18th Century, to the game known as the Captain’s Mistress (an alleged favorite of Captain James Cook), Connect Four is quick and instantly gratifying.

“It’s superfast. You can whip out a couple of games while you’re waiting your turn for video games,” Barnhart said.

Lacking space monsters and plasma rifles to blast them with, Connect Four may never win out over high-adrenaline video games like Halo, but it has its appeal.

“It’s a game you played as a kid that you’re not gonna forget,” Steven reflected. “Not many games are like that.”

Unfortunately, young Steven’s childhood memories didn’t help – he lost to chess whiz David, who advanced to the final round to be defeated by Shay. Kit-Kats were distributed, a lightning round followed, and the teens went home from a day of battles well-fought -- and a week of books well-read.

If you’ve got time for a fight, here’s an online version of Connect Four. Watch out: the computer opponent is pretty sneaky.