Oct 25, 2017 - Autism Welcome Here, Gaming    No Comments

Game Night for Teens & Tweens on the Spectrum

With the help of a fabulous grant from Autism Welcome Here, AWPL began a series of programs for teens and tweens on the autism spectrum. With the help of our newly trained Teen Autism Ambassadors, our Game Night program was a success!

We began the night by showing everyone a visual itinerary to help folks know what activities to expect during the course of the evening. Our visual itinerary was large enough to be seen from across the room, and combined text with pictures for clarity.

For the first half of the evening, we set up various board game stations throughout the community room. Uno, Trouble, and Connect Four were very popular! I finally learned how to play Mexican Train from a helpful volunteer. During board game hour, we also set up Giant Jenga made from soda boxes, which was a huge hit. Our Teen Autism Ambassadors were a bit shy at first, and needed a bit of encouragement to approach teens they did not already know. This will have to be addressed with them at future meetings so that future events go smoothly. Taking the initiative can be tough!

With so many games different games available, attention span didn’t seem to be an issue. Everyone seemed to keep busy and entertained. In fact, we began our second half of the night late in order to accommodate the folks who wanted to finish their board games.

For the second half of the evening, we played some live action games that involved larger groups of people. Bonus: live action games can be really fun just to watch, too! We played a cooperative game called The Floor is Lava and Hungry Hungry Hippos. We had plans to play a live action Flow Free game, but sadly ran out of time. Here’s how we played our live action games:

To play “The Floor is Lava,” you’ll need 4 small wooden boards big enough for teens to stand on. To play in teams, you’ll need 4 pieces per team. Each team lines up and uses the wooden boards to get to the other side of the room, laying down one board at a time to build a pathway, because the floor is made of lava! This game was a huge hit, and the cooperative nature of the game would have made it a perfect icebreaker game. We will keep that in mind for next time!

For Hungry Hungry Hippos, we paired up in teams to recreate a favorite childhood game. We used a sack of pit balls in place of marbles. Each team of two formed a hungry hippo. Teens lay down on scooters while their teammate holds their feet to “steer.” The teen on the scooter uses an upside down laundry basket to catch as many balls as possible. This is a really fun game for everyone! The teens had a blast and took turns steering and catching.

We ran out of time for Flow Free, based on the popular online game, but the plan was to use colored duct tape to make pathways from different points in the room without overlapping any lines. We’ll let you know when we field test it!

We wrapped up the night with a round of apple juice and gluten free snacks.

Want to host your own Game Night for teens on the spectrum? It can be a really cost effective way to introduce inclusivity into your teen program lineup. All of the games we played were donated, Giant Jenga was created by collecting old soda boxes, and our live action games were all low maintenance.

We had set aside a “quiet room” at the beginning of the evening for any teens who felt overwhelmed. While no one needed it throughout the course of the evening, we will continue to have a designated quiet room at out other programs. Our quiet room was set up in our staff room, located near the Game Night event but away from the noise. We added some comfy beanbag chairs for relaxing, as well as adult coloring books and colored pencils, and a few fidget spinners. I hope this gives some peace of mind to our participants, knowing they can escape to a quiet zone if necessary.

All in all the night seemed to be a success!

Sep 28, 2017 - Autism Welcome Here    No Comments

Training the New Teen Autism Ambassadors

Our new Teen Autism Ambassadors’ main mission is to help out at all of our programs for teens and tweens on the spectrum that we will be holding throughout the year. “Improve Your Social Life: Social Skills and Having Fun for Tweens & Teens Living with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities” is a series of programs at our library funded by the Autism Welcome Here grant. Recently, we held a training workshop for our newest ambassadors to learn about disability.


The workshop was led by Lisa Currao, who is also our program facilitator for our series of Social Skills programs. Lisa is a Special Education teacher who is also a parent of a teen on the spectrum. Here are some highlights from her presentation. Feel free to use our notes to train your own Teen Autism Ambassadors.


  • Developmental disability is different from cognitive disability. People with a developmental disability learn at a slower rate than others. A person with cognitive disability needs time to process what is being asked of them.
  • We should be aware of sensory issues that some people may have. Some folks will be sensitive to florescent light, for example, or become overwhelmed easily by noise or other outside factors.
  • Sometimes, people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will compensate for the sensory overload by engaging in stimming, short for self-stimulation. Stimming is a repetitive action like tapping that is used to self soothe.
  • Lisa stressed the importance of using person first language. For example, saying “person with autism” rather than “autistic person.”
  • Don’t force eye contact.
  • Encourage them to join in the activities without forcing them.
  • Specificity is key to encouraging appropriate behavior. For example, say “hands down” instead of “don’t hit” because they might only hear the word “hit.”
  • Touch only to help them learn what they need to do or point them in the right direction.
  • Most importantly, have patience relax, speak softly, and help them see that you are having fun so as to encourage them to join in. Treat them like one of your friends.


The workshop was really informative! After her lecture, Lisa encouraged the audience members to come up to the front of the room and demonstrate some activities that might help us understand what it’s like to have a disability. Here is a sample of the activities:


  • To understand what nonverbal people endure, have prewritten cards ready with a phrase such as “I want a Coke” or “I missed the bus.” Have one person act out the phrase while the audience tries to guess what they are trying to communicate.
  • Experiment with the Stroop Effect to experience processing difficulties. Click here to learn more and print out mini cards or use an online version of the test.
  • Have a participant stand on an uneven board that requires effort to stand on. Have them read aloud from a book while concentrating on keeping their balance.


I hope you find this helpful for your library volunteers!

Sep 21, 2017 - Book Hipsters, Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Our teen book club, Book Hipsters, meets weekly on Fridays after school to discuss everything related to books. Below, Book Hipster Shirley Chen reviews Cinder by Marissa Meyer:

THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING! I would highly recommend this to anyone who’s into cyborgs and robots, but also has taste for a classic. Basically, it’s about a girl named Cinder who had a tragic accident many years ago where she lost her left arm and leg and the only way to save her was to become a cyborg (she’s still human, but she has cyborg parts). She’s the best mechanic in New Beijing-where she lives with her stepmother and her two stepsisters. There’s a deadly disease that’s going around and taking the lives of many that’s believed to be brought to Earth by Lunars (name for the people that live on the moon). The story is very loosely based on the classic, Cinderella. The author really did a great job portraying Cinder as a futuristic Cinderella in New Beijing. I love the setting of the book and I fell in love with the character Cinder, but when I was introduced to Kai, my heart melted. He was so sweet and kind to Cinder and it seemed like he was the ray of sun in Cinder’s hard, tough, life. I absolutely loved every part of the book. Marissa Meyers really did a great job on this book with a mix of fantasy, cyborgs, aliens, love, and making it a classic fairytale.

Game Night for Teens and Tweens on the Spectrum

On September 22, 2017 there will be a Game Night for our new series of programs directed toward teensAutism Welcome Here Grant and tweens on the spectrum. This is the first series of programs to be held at the Albert Wisner Public Library sponsored by the generous grant awarded to the library by Autism Welcome Here.

We will be playing a life sized version of Jenga, Hungry Hungry Hippo and more. Stay tuned after the program for tips on how to recreate this program for your library’s teen patrons.


Nov 13, 2014 - Contests    No Comments

Halloween Short Story Contest: Read the Winning Story!

Artwork by Melanie Loperena

Artwork by Melanie Loperena

This year’s Halloween Short Story Contest winner was a tough decision for our judge, past winner and recent WVHS graduate Nyssa Shaw-Smith Gendelman. “All the contestants did a great job, but the winner really showed a strong narrative voice and thought outside the box” she says. Once again, WVHS junior Lauranne Wolfe has won our short story contest. This year’s theme, chosen by our judge, was “While you were sleeping….” Teens were encouraged to interpret the theme broadly, and they did! Many thanks to our other talented writers.

This year’s Halloween contest was generously co-sponsored by Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe. Our winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to spend on books! Special thanks to Tom Roberts, the shop’s proprietor, for his ongoing support of our teen writing events.

So now it’s time hand the blog over to Lauranne and her story, “Night Song.” Please enjoy!


“Night Song”

by Lauranne Wolfe

            It was a week ago that the man who came to town vanished on a rainy night while everyone was sleeping.

He was an unassuming figure, a stranger passing through. Not memorable, except for the mystery that surrounded his disappearance. The known facts were that he had rented a room for the night, and the next morning it was empty, although his possessions were still there. No one living in the area near the small inn had seen or heard anything. They had all been asleep.

The police found only one hint: his raincoat, washed up on the beach.

Despite the fact that no one knew the man, these events caused a lot of stir, as it was a small town of graying seaside houses, where nothing went on outside of tourist season. It was the beginning of November, which meant the town was devoid of anything interesting to do. Rumors and wild speculations, old town legends and ghost stories, and the odd new report all revolved around the disappearance of the man, as people are often apt to harp on a mystery, even when it won’t get them anywhere.

I was talking to you on the phone two days later, when you mentioned the man who had vanished.

“They say he was a traveling salesman,”

“Who?” I asked, though I already knew.

“The man. Who disappeared. On our beach,” you said. I could tell you were upset about that, Tom. We both loved the beach, and we nearly always met there.

“What do you think happened?” Not a shocking question coming from you. Your brain was always producing questions and thoughts, quotes and ramblings.

I wasn’t really that interested in the subject, so I said, “The owner of the gift shop is telling everyone that the man must have hit his head on something and gotten washed out to sea.”

You snorted, “Not possible. That’s almost more unlikely than the one that old fisherman is telling. He claims the man must have been a criminal trying to hide his tracks by faking his own death. Everyone is forgetting that the police found his raincoat. Which means that he took it off, and who takes off their raincoat in the rain before mysteriously disappearing?”

“Well, I don’t know then,” I said. “What do you want to do tonight?”

I changed the subject because I was afraid to talk about it. There it was, clawing its way to my mouth, and I couldn’t let that thing out. Not now, because it wasn’t safe, the thing I kept inside me.

You understand everyone Tom, or you work until you do. Except for one person: me. You don’t know me at all. You can’t. I think that’s part of why you initially found me so interesting. We met three months ago, on the beach we now consider our own, and the one the stranger disappeared on.

I was wading in the water, up to my knees, watching the ripples the careful steps I took made in the water, a disruption of the normal chopping of the water’s up-and-down, uneven rhythm. I was focusing on the ripples, trying to determine their pattern, but every time I thought I had finally figure them out, the ripples changed. Eventually, I came to the realization that I was not alone.

I raised my head, brushing my long, wet hair from my eyes, and turned to face the beach. I saw you, standing in the sand, watching me through clever green eyes, a tall, slightly stooped figure. Those green eyes caught me, and we both stared at each other.

I wasn’t embarrassed in the least. I simply don’t understand embarrassment. I was there, and I existed, and why should it bother me to be stared at?

However, I wondered why you were watching me, and I asked you.

You gave me that mysterious half-smile, the one you get when you’re deep in thought about something, curious about something new. “I was wondering why you were staring at the water so intently.”

Something about your eyes, so like the sea, made me answer. I explained the ripples and the impossible, ever-changing pattern.

“I wanted to understand it,” I told you, finishing.

“You were looking at the water for ages, just standing there.”

“Well, I was still trying to figure it out.”
A small laugh from you, “That might take awhile.”

“I have time,” I said simply. It was the truth, but then I added, “But I find, the more you look at something, the more complicated it gets. Especially people. I can never figure them out.”

“Well, isn’t that what makes life interesting? Say, what’s your name?”

I lied. I don’t have a name, not in the way you meant, but I gave one anyway, the closest to truth that I could get.


“Oh… do you like to sing?”

“No. I never sing,”

I do sing, but not for people. Not for you, and you don’t want me to, Tom. Trust me.

“Well, Melody- Who-Doesn’t-Sing, would you like to join me in getting the best ice cream in town?”

We went to the ice cream shop and kept talking all the way, I already having decided that you would be my next boyfriend. And you were. We were always together over the next couple of months. People got used to seeing Tom, the high school boy who’d always lived there, with the reclusive girl who’d only recently come here. My one worry over the next couple of months was your mythology books. You were always in them, always telling me old stories that I already knew, about ancient gods and magical creatures and monsters. I was always worried that you’d tell the wrong story, and put the pieces together.

Besides that, it was like in one of those fairy tales; an endless happily ever after. We kissed for the first time on the starlit beach. You smelled of honey, Tom. It made me wonder if I could do this, pretend to be something I wasn’t, ignore the void in me. But the thing inside me was there. I couldn’t escape it because it was part of me. That man disappeared while you were all sleeping. And he wasn’t the only one.

Two days after the conversation we had on the phone, a woman vanished on the same stretch of beach, and you asked if we could stop meeting there. You were worried something would happen to me, to us, you said. You told me it wasn’t safe.

“These disappearances… they aren’t accidents,” you said it with such certainty that I began to wonder again, Tom. Had you noticed something?

I had always dismissed the idea that you might have figured me out, but now I thought that maybe you knew me for what I was after all.

I could feel the thing working its way up to my mouth again. I don’t have feelings, Tom, but I wondered.

My hair was wet and ripping, my eyes were blue, like a stormy sea you had said, I always wanted to be on the beach, and I was tall, and lean, built for swimming.

Did you put the pieces together? You might have.

There is one other thing that you can’t have known, though. Where mortals have feelings, I have a void, a dark and dangerous empty abyss. It has one occupant; the Song, constantly trying to worm its way up, to destroy, to kill. It is always hungry, always curious, like me, to understand these things you humans call emotions, especially the one called love.

Except that I don’t understand. And the Song destroys what it can’t understand. The one thing I do is wonder. So, that’s what I did. I wondered if you had known what I was all along.

I ignored it, “It’s still our beach, right?” I said. I needed the beach. I needed the sea.

“Yes and when everything’s settled, we’ll go back to it,” you said. We agreed on that.

But then the Song was rising, and I knew that it wouldn’t be ours for long, Tom. I knew the way sailors know they are in trouble when they see the gray of storm clouds. The Song was pushing its way to my mouth, to be sung. The voices wanted release. But something blocked them, and I nearly choked as I struggled to breathe. The Song was stuck, and nothing should have been able to do that. I gasped for air; feeling cold as it slunk back down into the void to bide its time.

Something in me had fought the Song.

“Are you alright, Melody?” you asked, concerned hands reaching out to brush my shoulder.

“Fine. Just a little…cold.”

“Is something bothering you?”


“I love you, Melody. You can tell me.”

“Nothing is wrong. There’s nothing.”

Then, Tom, you looked me directly in the eyes, and said, “I know whatever is wrong, whatever is bothering you, and you will do the right thing. You will fix it.”

You kissed me on the cheek, warm, honey-scented skin brushing my own.

Soon after we said our good-byes, and after I hurried down along the beach, ignoring your request because I knew I was in no danger, I paced back and forth on the sand. You did know. I knew it. I thought of you at home, mythology books at your feet, wondering at the world. You thought you had fallen in love with a human girl, but you realized that I was really a Siren. I don’t know what that felt like, Tom, but I was sure it was fairly unprecedented.

The Song was burning in my throat.

I paced back and forth for a while along the shore, into the night, trying to make sense of my mind.

I have lived an eternity, and all my relations with mortal boys ended the same way: under twenty feet of water and with the Song’s voices in the night.

The Song had gotten stuck on you though. Somehow, I found myself slipping in through your open window, into your bedroom. I stood over your sleeping, breathing, human form. Different memories washed over me, as I looked at you lying there, one hand dangling off your bed, the other clutching The Odyssey to your chest.

Your smile. Your endless questions. Your hands waving excitedly as you spoke of the last book you had finished reading.

I love you, Melody.

Melody, a truth and a lie in one. The Siren disguised as a mortal girl. You had given your heart to me, but there was no love returned to you, Tom. Unless… love was the thing that had blocked the Song? Was it possible? I didn’t know, and in any case, it didn’t matter.

I considered unleashing the Song, really contemplated it. But one more glance at your sleeping form made me shake my head. I owed you one, because I finally felt I understood something about mortals. Without feelings, they simply aren’t.

I left you then, Tom. I walked down to the beach under the pearly moon with its translucent light. I slipped beneath the water and swam far out. Only when I was miles away, safe miles away from where you slept did I pull myself out onto a rock. Because now that I was away from where you slept, I would let the Song’s voices out. I would just be myself: a Siren singing her night song to the cold, ancient stars.

Maybe you’ll hear the voices when you’ll awaken Tom. I know you’ll walk along the beach. You’ll try to find me. The only sign of me will be a whisper in the breeze, and you’ll smile. Because you love me, and you know it’s better this way. For both of us.

The voices will awaken you, Tom.

But they will not let you drown.

I will not let you drown. Not you.





Spark a Reaction Short Story Contest

Congratulations to Lauranne Wolfe for writing “Silent Fire,” winner of this summer’s teen short story contest. Special thanks to all of our teen writers who entered, and very special thanks to Sharon Linnea, our judge. Read “Silent Fire” below!

“Silent Fire”

            The air conditioner is at full blast, shades on every window pulled down. I count my blessings that I’m sitting in this cool house instead of my own steamy home. My house doesn’t have air conditioning, but Mrs. Wright’s does. I’m very happy to be watching her daughter on this sweltering Saturday in July in Southern California, where the thermometer reads ninety-eight degrees. Since it is set in the shade, it’s probably even more unbearable out than I think it is.

A small hand taps my shoulder. I crane my neck to see Ally Wright leaning over me. I spin around to see her better, at level with her since I’m sitting on the floor. She just went to get a board game she wanted to play with me. I see that the petite seven year-old is holding a box with colorful drawings on it. It’s Clue Jr, her favorite game. Ally loves mystery. Her favorite books are The Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew. She also likes to swim and run around in dress-up with a plastic sword and wooden shield. It’s impossible to keep her away from her cuddly pet kitten, which she named Tiger because of his orange striped fur. I love watching Ally. She’s this really cute, energetic, and spunky little girl.

Now she’s sitting, pulling off the top of the box and setting the game up. She smiles at me when I look up, and her little hands flutter, signing Let’s play!

Ally is deaf. I’ve known her since she was a toddler, and I know American Sign Language, which is why I watch her when her mom has to go somewhere.

I sign back to her, asking what piece she wants. She picks out a piece, then I do, and we start the game. Ally wins easily.

What do you want to do now? I sign.

Can we go outside? She asks.

It’s too hot! I answer. Ally, I think, is used to the weather. But I moved from Alaska five years ago, and still haven’t gotten used to the heat. My parents are scientists, and they had to come here to start a new research project. I still think we should have stayed in a climate zone that didn’t involve us frying in the summer. Here, I wear sleeveless shirts with shorts from May to October, and I still feel too hot sometimes.

Ally is frowning, so I suggest that she get her kitten.

She brightens immediately, running into the next room to come back with Tiger nestled comfortably in her arms. We pet the tiny cat a while, laughing as he tries to pounce on my fingers and licks Ally’s hand with his tiny sandpaper tongue.

The kitten falls asleep on Ally’s lap as she strokes him. Tiger must be the world’s most petted kitten, I think with a smile. Not wanting to disturb him, she decides to read some of a Boxcar Children book I brought with me to give her. I stand up and look at family pictures. Ally as a happy smiling baby, family photos of Mr. and Mrs. Wright with their daughter, and my favorite picture: Ally in my lap, giving me a hug.

I smile at it. It reminds me of all I have to thank the Wrights for. When I moved here, a timid eleven year-old, I had a lot of trouble making friends. I preferred reading to sports, quiet to chatter, and I missed my best friend, Katy. The daughter of another researcher, we’d been together longer than either of us remembered. She was the reason I could sign, because she too, like Ally, was deaf. I’d never thought anything of it. Here at school, during lunch, I’d hide behind a book, avoiding everyone.

I was doing this one day in study hall when a voice came from behind me.

“I didn’t know you knew ASL, Julie,” I jumped, and then saw it was my English teacher, Mrs. Wright. I’d been signing the book as I read without really noticing what I was doing, because I’d always done it with Katy. I was feeling particularly lonely that day.

I nodded at her and gave a tentative smile, because she was my favorite teacher.

“Where did you learn?” she asked.

I hesitated, but found myself telling her all about Katy. She listened intently, and said, “I’m working on my sign language. My daughter, Alicia, is deaf, and I’m trying to teach her to sign, except that I’m just learning myself. If you’d like to sign with me once in a while, it would be a big help.

Throughout middle school, I would slip into Mrs. Wright’s class during study hall to sign with her. We’d also stop a few minutes to talk in the halls. She was determined and was soon able to sign rapidly. In turn, she helped me to open up a little, suggesting a book club I would enjoy and pairing me with other students with similar tastes. I slowly began to have a couple of good friends. When I entered eighth grade, she asked me to watch Ally for the first time, and I was immediately captivated by the joyous little girl. Now, about to start my junior year in high school, I was always the first person she asked to baby-sit.

So, really, Mrs. Wright was the reason I had slowly begun to like living here. Without her, I wouldn’t have any friends, and I certainly would not have met a little girl as wonderful as Ally.

After another minute or two of looking at the pictures on the wall, I flipped on the TV to news, something that Ally found boring, as she did most TV programs. Therefore, I only turned it on if she was reading. The news was talking about some sort of bombing, so I hurriedly flipped to a local news channel. It seemed nothing had changed. The drought was still gripping the state, and if anything, the forest fires were getting worse. Luckily, although there was one not far from where we were, it didn’t seem as if the fire was expected to spread all the way to this area.

I turned the TV off, hearing the door open and close at the front of the house.

“I’m back, Julie!” called Mrs. Wright breathlessly. I stepped into the entryway to find her hauling grocery bags, several of them digging into her wrists.

I rushed to help her carry them into the kitchen, and she said, “Oh, thank you. Sorry I’m a bit late. I had to pull over to let some fire trucks through. I hope the fires stop soon.”

I agreed, putting things into the fridge. Despite her protests, I insisted on helping bring in the rest of the groceries. In turn, she insisted I stay for lunch. The three of us had just sat down when there was a knock on the door.

Mrs. Wright hurried to the door. I peered into the foyer to see a fireman talking to her. “…wind is blowing this way. We’re worried the fire might spread down here. This is just to say that you might want to pack your most important belongings…in case you do need to evacuate. We don’t know for sure at this point.”

Mrs. Wright was agreeing, sounding worried, and then the man was gone.

“Maybe you ought to go home, Julie,’ she said.

“Don’t worry,” I answered. “You might not have to leave at all, and I’ll help you pack, just in case.”

Luckily, she seemed to decide it wasn’t time to argue, sending me to help Ally get together her favorite items as well as some clothes. I then proceeded to load the car, while Ally and Mrs. Wright packed some more. I looked toward the dried forest, feeling the wind blow into my face. I saw a plume of acrid smoke rising from the trees. It was still distant, but not nearly as far away as I would have liked. I swallowed hard and continued setting bags in the trunk. I remembered hearing that this fire had started as a campfire that had not been set up properly and had then escalated out of control. How silly this was: a drought, a forest, and a small campfire. One spark caught, and the flames were now tearing through forests and houses, even threatening my former teacher’s home.

This one little spark should have just been insignificant if the vegetation wasn’t so dry.

I hurried back in and put the last bags in the cars, having in fact loaded my mom’s up as well, glad that I had gotten my driver’s license the week before. Only a minute had passed after I had returned into the kitchen when I heard another knock on the door. I knew who it was even before I saw the firefighter telling Mrs. Wright that they were evacuating the neighborhood immediately.

Ally ran down from her bedroom just as Mrs. Wright turned to go find her. We both saw the panicked look on her face.

She signed Where’s Tiger?

Mrs. Wright glanced at me, “Wasn’t he asleep on the couch?”

“He woke up,” I said. “I don’t know where he is.”

Mrs. Wright looked troubled, “If we can’t find him, we’ll have to go anyway.”

I looked at Ally’s stubborn face and calculated the chance of her leaving her beloved Tiger behind. Zero.

“Give me five minutes,” I told Mrs. Wright. “I don’t think she’ll come without her cat.

No. signed Ally, and I silently cursed. I’d forgotten that she’d recently begun to read lips.

I hurried out of the foyer, leaving Mrs. Wright to plead with Ally, as the little girl shook her head, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Tiger!” I called. “Tiger!”

I ran through each room, peering under and behind furniture for a telltale puff of orange fur. Nothing.

Painfully aware that time was passing, I was becoming frantic. Tiger wasn’t curled on Ally’s bed. He wasn’t stretched in the sun on the hallway’s window seat, from which I could see the fire, burning ever closer. He hadn’t leapt into the hamper and gotten tangled in a shirt, something the silly kitten had done before.

I couldn’t find him.

“Julie! We need to leave!”

I knew we did. I still took a little more time on the way down, glancing around and calling Tiger.

I passed the basement door, which was slightly ajar. Wait a minute. I called down the stairs, “Tiger!” A faint mew replied. Relief coursed through me.


“I hear him! He’s in the basement!” I hurried down the steps two at a time and saw quickly what the problem was. The silly creature had managed to scale a pile of crates, to climb into one through a gap between two boards, but couldn’t find his way out. I pried the crate open to rescue him, plucking him out of it as he squirmed. I held him to my chest, and his tiny claws dug through my shirt. Wincing, I dashed upstairs. Ally stopped crying as soon as she saw me holding her pet.

Thank you. She signed.

We have to go, I signed back. I’ll give you Tiger once you’re in the car.

She nodded, and the three of us sped outside. I peeled Tiger’s claws off my shirt and dropped him into Ally’s lap as soon as she was securely seated in her mom’s car, then I ran to my own car. The smoke was being carried by the wind, making my eyes water as I jumped in and started the engine. I drove behind Mrs. Wright out of the valley that her little village was nestled in. When we were safe from the fire, she parked her car on a rise, where many of her neighbors already stood. I stopped too and got out of my car. Ally stayed in her seat, petting Tiger contentedly.

“She knows we might lose our house,” Mrs. Wright said without preamble. “But she’s happy as long as she has that cat and her family, including you.” She was standing in the grass, staring down at the canvas of forest that stretched beneath us, burning.

There was not a sound, and we watched the flames flicker below us, feeling the wind blow.

“I guess it shows that she’s got her priorities straight. Or that she’s just braver than we are,” I said.

“Or both,” said Mrs. Wright.

“Or both,’ I agreed. We both turned to look at the car. Ally’s face was pressed to the window. She smiled at us, pointing to herself, crossing her arms over her chest, and pointing to us.

It was her favorite sign. One I’d always signed to Katy every time we saw each other. The first sign Mrs. Wright had learned when she found out that Ally would never hear her say those words.

I love you.

We both signed it back.

“The funny thing is, even though we might…might lose our house,” stumbled Mrs. Wright ruefully, “one look at Ally makes me feel better. We have our family and friends, after all, no matter what. That’s really all that matters.”

“Definitely,” I said, swallowing hard. “I think everyone knows it. But it takes a bit of a spark to make people really see it.”

That got a shaky laugh from Mrs. Wright as, side by side, with Ally snug in the car with Tiger, we continued to watch the silent flames consume the woods, smoke climbing, then slowly dwindling in the wind.

Sep 18, 2014 - Battle of the Books    No Comments

Regional Battle of the Books 2014!

Congratulations to our regional Battle of the Books team! On September 6, Team Warwick placed second out of twelve local library teams in a series of some pretty close matches! They competed in a trivia contest based on eight pre-selected titles that they spent all summer reading, with study help provided by team captain Lauranne Wolfe. Our team members are: Aidan Bele, Anika Bucek, Juliet Lepre, Lizzie Lepre, Sarah Markowitz, Gene McCabe, Lauren Perillo, Jennifer Preciado, Danny Walker, and Lauranne Wolfe. Special thanks to our alternates Sarah Thorsen and Abiel Nuños for supporting the team. Very special thanks are due to Abiel for helping out in the prize room! Thank you also to Frank Wolfe for the photos.

Team AWPL 1Team AWPL 4 Teen Battle of the Books 2014 AWPL Team Sept 2014Team AWPL 5


Team AWPL 6

Top 5 Feminist Fantasy Choices for Your Summer Reading

Our Book Hipsters are hard at work putting together their Top 5 lists for the Teen Summer Newsletter. Want a sneak peek? Read on for the expanded version of one of our own AWPL Book Hipsters. Lauranne’s Top 5 Feminist Fantasy Books is below! If you like her style, be sure to check out her own blog. And be sure to look out for the annual Summer Newsletter, where you’ll find all of our summer programs and events, as well as great suggestions for your summer reading.

Feminist Fantasy by Lauranne, 16

1. Tamora Pierce is an excellent author of many series about strong, female characters, including lady nights, magicians, spies, and members of a city’s guard. My favorite setting is her kingdom of Tortall. This world has several series, The Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, Protector of the Small, the Trickster’s books, and the Beka Cooper series (each containing two to four books), set in it. Younger YA readers may be interested in her Winding Circle Universe, which also has several series set in it.

2. The Throne of Glass Series, by Sarah J. Mass, is set in a world where magic has died. In the first book, the imprisoned and most feared assassin in the world, Celaena Sardothien enters a contest to win her freedom. In the palace of the tyrannical king who rules the world, however, there is something stalking her and her fellow competitors. The sequel, Crown of Midnight, as well as The Assassin’s Blade, a collection of novellas describing Celaena’s past, are out. The third book, Heir of Fire, is expected to come out in September.

3. A Widdershins Adventure, by Ari Marmell, is about a witty thief named Widdershins, hiding from a dark past. Her closest ally is a god named Olgun, who rides in her mind. Unfortunately, something horrible is haunting her city, and she is in mortal danger. There are several books out in this series, the first one being Thief’s Covenant.

4. Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen is good for the lovers of old legend. Robin Hood is recreated in this story following his fellow outlaw, Will Scarlet- who happens to be a girl in disguise and is on the run from her past. The band of thieves, who are trying to protect Nottingham, are further endangered by the arrival of the thief-taker, Guy of Gisbourne, who is connected to Scarlet’s past. The second book in this series is Lady Thief.

5. Foiled, by Jane Yolen, is an urban fantasy graphic novel, which is a change of pace from the other books listed. Aliera Castairs loves to fence, but is a social outcast. She is beginning to wonder where she fits in, but her strange fencing foil, and a boy in her class who may be a troll- literally, might be the answers to her question. This light read is continued in Curses, Foiled Again!

Book Hipsters Book Review: Champion by Marie Lu

Hello Readers!

Once again, our Book Hipsters have reviewed a round of books for you. Today, we’re featuring Kathryn’s review of Champion by Marie Lu, the third and final installment in her series that began with Legend. Are you a fan? Did you miss our Legend discussion? Leave a comment below!

Book Hipsters meet every Friday at 3:30pm in the Board Room. New members are always welcome!

Title: Champion

Author: Marie Lu

Reviewed by: Kathryn, Age 12, Grade 7

Series: Book #3 of the Legend series

Genre: Science Fictionchampion.indd

What grade would you give this book? B+

Summary: It is a book about a war between the colonies and the Republic of America. The two main characters, Day and June, are fighting for the Republic and Day has to give up his brother for testing to find a cure for the disease that started the war.

What do you think of the cover? I don’t like the cover because it does not have much to do with the book.

Does the cover accurately reflect the contents? No, but one dream Day has is represented by the cover.

Were you disappointed with the book for any reason? Yes. It wasn’t as good as the first two books.



AWPL Foundation 2014 College Scholarship Competition

college scholarshipThis just in! The Albert Wisner Public Library Foundation has announced this year’s essay topic for their annual college scholarship competition. Three $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to graduating seniors who reside in the Warwick Valley School District. Read on for the details or click this link for a downloadable version: AWPL Foundation Scholarship 2014

“For the eighth consecutive year, the Albert Wisner Public Library Foundation is offering college scholarships to be awarded in a writing competition. Applicants will submit an essay, not to exceed 2,000 words in length, on the following topic: “If I were a wealthy philanthropist, how I might give to benefit my community.”

Submissions will be judged on the basis of responsiveness to the topic, overall literacy and grammatical accuracy, relevance to current events and/or community concerns in the Warwick area, and other criteria as the judges think appropriate. Authors of the three essays judged to be the best of those submitted will each receive $1,000 toward the cost of college tuition, paid directly to their college.

Any high school senior who resides in the Warwick Valley Central School District is welcome to participate. The student need not be enrolled in Warwick Valley High School.

Essays are due to the Library by 5:00pm, April 19, 2014. Students should bring six (6) printed copies of the essay, together with a cover sheet showing his/her name, mailing address, phone number and email address to the Circulation Desk. The essay must not contain any information that identifies the writer; judges will not know who wrote each essay. To ensure fairness to all applicants, the April 19th deadline is firm and final.

The three scholarships will be awarded in early May by Foundation member Glenn P. Dickes and Susan D. Dickes, who have sponsored two scholarships since the competition’s inception in 2007, and by Carol Hope Arber, who added a third award in 2012. Both the Foundation and Library deeply appreciate their generosity.”