Tag Archives: Teen

Taste Eurasia: Teen Summer Reading Program 2

When I heard our theme for the teen Summer Reading Club would be about traveling the world, I knew I wanted to feature a program about foods of the world. Teens love programs where we have real food and not just snacks, and last year we had a huge turn out for our healthy snack program. So this summer we are doing another cooking/food program. I was going to do the whole world, but was required to narrow it down to one area by the main children’s department. Eurasia is both Europe and Asia, so a lot of food options. It took a while to think of foods that would work–where we would have enough time to show the teens how to make it as well as be able to make enough ahead of time so that teens can have samples. I’m hoping the recipes I selected will work for the teens, and that we have a good turn out, but not so much that we run out of food!

Our menu is composed of four recipes from different parts of the world. We’ll be tasting two European dishes and two Asian dishes, two savory and two sweet. Besides making and eating the food, teens will also get the recipes and be encouraged to try these at home.

The first recipe is a spicy carrot salad, typical of Russian summer salads it is sort of a coleslaw type salad. I plan on grating the carrots the day before and mixing the dressing into the salad that morning. We’ll make up a batch at the program, but it really needs to sit so the flavors can set for about 4 hours. I have a fellow staff member who also has a food handler’s permit so he can dish this out, and I bought portion cups from Costco to serve this in. This is VERY easy to make.

Next we’ll be making our second savory dish, Onigiri. This rice balls are a little daunting to make for a group like this, I made a bunch for myself and found it to be very labor intensive and they don’t keep well. But I really wanted to include this as a very typical dish. So I’m going to get two rice cookers and prepare rice and have the teens help make them. Using the portion cups, a little plastic wrap, and spritz bottles, teens will shape their own onigiri. It is pretty easy to make, cut out a piece of plastic wrap, fit into the bottom of the cup, spritz with water, shake off excess, shake a little salt on, shake off excess. Then put a scoop of rice in the bottom, stick in a little filling (we have chopped olives, pickles, or a little tuna salad) and put more rice in. Then twist the top of the plastic closed, getting out all the air, squeeze the ball into shape. Add a little nori to wrap, and eat!

Staying in Asia, we’ll have our first dessert. Mango Kulfi is a traditional frozen treat from India. I found an easier recipe, and will make a TON in ice cube trays, so each teen can have some. We’ll mix up a batch at the event, even though it wont freeze in time to eat, just so we can learn how to make it.

Our final dish is crepes. I’ve got a hot plate, a crepe pan, and a good recipe for batter. Add nutella and bananas and you could be eating from a vendor in Paris! I’m going to do this last so teens can sample the other things we’ve made while I make enough crepes for the participants, though we plan on dividing them so folks can try a bit.


Dystopias and Post-Apocalyptic Teen and Juvenile Novels

As I was perusing the new book cart on Friday, I noticed a theme running through a lot of the teen books. Some part in the back of my mind had already seen this, but it was the presence of four distinct works on this small cart that really brought home the prevalence of dystopia and post-apocalyptic societies in novels. One of my favorite recent teen novels, Life As We Knew It revolves around an environmental catastrophe and the moral and social decisions that arise as a result. Many, many more have come out over the past two years, perhaps drawing on growing concerns over the dangers society faces over consumerism, environmental degradation, technology, biological warfare, and the role of the government in our lives.
These works draw on older traditions, such as The Giver , 1984 , Alas, Babylon , Fahrenheit 451 These books reflect their societies’ concerns over nuclear holocausts, totalitarianism, social Darwinism, and the future of academia. Looking back at what precipitated these dark views of the future made me reflect on what aspects of society worry us today.

I had planned on taking home at least a couple of the new teen novels about dystopian communities, but all of them were given to customers who expressed an interest in novels like these. Even some of the older books were checked out from my pile of prospective reads. I thought I’d share some of those I did get to read, as well as the titles of some I’m hoping to read.

The four books on the new book cart were: Little Brother , The Sky Inside , GemX , The Compound . This one was on the shelf a couple of weeks ago–it also went out fast! Exodus

Since all the new books were snatched up right away, I will have to wait to review them. But I did get three older books in the genre. All deal with post-apocalyptic worlds, two with dystopian societies, and one with a world still in chaos.

The first was “Hole in the Sky” Hole in the Sky The premise was very interesting, as was the setting. The world has been devastated by a flu virus, the majority of people died. A few hid away from the virus and a few survived. Those who did contract the virus and didn’t die were left changed in different ways. Set around the Grand Canyon, the scenery is a crucial part of the story and plot, weaving contemporary concern with the environment and the damming of the Colorado with Hopi beliefs about the sacred world. While it held a lot of promise, it didn’t really flesh out the characters or fully engage the possibilities.

The Secret Under My Skin The second was “The Secret Under my Skin.” This book wasn’t what I expected–it was more. The premise is that the world underwent an environmental cataclysm because of the technology and greed of many people, who had to be destroyed so that anyone would survive. Thus this is a world where technology must be controlled rigidly and people must be protected from the degraded environment. I assumed this would be a book warning about the way society is headed, and it is in part, but it is a hopeful book about humanity’s ability to survive. Well written, and well plotted, this book brings together many topics that concern today’s youth.

The third book has been very popular over the past couple of years, so much so that I had to swipe this copy right when it came in, and almost ended up giving it out to a customer before I could check it out. The City of Ember is on the Middle School reading list, though it really could be read by quite young children. The City of Ember (1st Book of Ember) This book certainly lived up to its hype. At first I thought it was a lot like The Giver, but slowly it unfolded as a unique and complicated book. Ember is a planned city where everything is falling apart, but where no one has any idea or hope about what to do to fix it. Two tweens full of hope and optimism set out to discover what they can about their city and come up with surprising and intriguing information about what their city is. There are two other books in the series with another on the way.

To find out more about the dystopian teen and tween novels out there, check out my goodreads!