One is that the event — it stands for “comic book conventions,” if your knowledge of comics ends with Archie and Jughead — is being held here at all.
Comic-cons are very popular — they include contests, games, workshops and more, and they are not just for teenagers — but they usually take place in convention centers and hotels.
A 2nd story line is what’s on tap: a talk by Paul Kupperberg (longtime comic author and former editor at DC Comics); a cartoon workshop with Christopher Hart (author of over 50 how-to-draw books); a trivia contest (run by former “Jeopardy” contestant Staples semifinalist Emily Greenberg); a showcase of artwork by local high school talent; a costume contest; comic books for sale; a card game and video game…you get the idea.
Oh, yeah: There’s food too.
But the best story line — for me, anyway — is that tomorrow’s Comic-Con has been planned entirely by teenagers.
Teen planning members joined the library’s Jaina Lewis (sitting) at a Connecticut Library Association presentation last month.(From left): Matt Walton, Zoe Ginsberg and Shira Gitlin. All 3 are Staples students.
For over a year, teen services librarian Jaina Lewis has worked with a teen committee. They organized the Hunger Games and Haunted Library programs; they’re running the library’s Memorial Day float, and they are very excited about Comic-Con.
Jaina loves the group’s excitement. “They don’t think of the Westport Library as a place where they can’t do things,” she says. “They think of it as a place where they can make their ideas happen.”
For Zoe Ginsberg, the best part is “focusing on how great everyone in Westport is.”
She helped gather presenters from around the area. “These aren’t just stars coming for a paycheck,” she says. “They’re real people, with real talent. At larger Cons you can only see the talent from a distance. Here, everything will be up close and personal.”
Matt Walton appreciates being given rein by Jaina to pursue whatever he’s interested in.
In fact, he says, “I’ve honestly never read a comic book. But there’s so much variety in what’s going on — TV, film, virtually every kind of entertainment and media available — that I’d have a great time even if I wasn’t involved.”
(Comic-Con admission is $8, payable in advance or at the door. To register or for more information, click here or call 203-291-4809.)
The popular teen services librarian calmly recommended 2 books — the summer reading requirement — for dozens of procrastinating middle and high school students.
Each recommendation was personal. Jaina probed likes and dislikes, and found out what they’d enjoyed reading in the past. (If they enjoyed something. Or ever read a book.)
“Lots of kids haven’t been in the library since they were little kids,” she notes. “The ones who say they don’t like to read — they’re the fun ones for me.”
For them, Jaina recommends books with plenty of action, controversy and/or interest. “Slow books,” with lots of character development, are “not always fun for non-readers,” she says diplomatically.
The hottest young adult titles this summer are The Hunger Games, Divergent (about a dystopian Chicago), Dead to You (a kidnap victim returns to his family years later, and has difficulty acclimating), and the Matched trilogy.
Her encyclopedic knowledge of books wows teenagers. “I have to know a little bit about everything,” Jaina says. One girl asked, “Have you read every book in the library?”
To increase visibility, Jaina spends her afternoons at a desk in the teen section, across from the Maker Space.
“I catch a lot more people who wouldn’t go to the reference desk or ask for advice,” she explains.
After 6 years at the Westport Library, Jaina knows what makes teens tick.
She created a Zombie Club, for very enthusiastic middle schoolers. They meet once a month to play board games, watch zombie movies and socialize.
Teenagers feel welcome at the Westport Public Library.
Soon, Jaina will lead a “headband workshop” in the Maker Space. She’ll show kids how to create special headbands that glow with LED lights.
On November 2, Jaina and several high school volunteers will host a “Haunted Library” event. There’ll be a haunted labyrinth, a paranormal society, a band (and of course food).
If you’re not a teenager, you may not have heard of The Hunger Games.
But Jaina Lewis and Bill Derry have. And that’s good news for Westport’s youth.
Jaina (the Westport Library‘s young teen librarian) and Bill (the much-0lder but quite savvy “assistant director for innovation and user experience”) are collaborating on a unique, and very cool, event — for 12- to 18-year-olds only.
On Friday, March 9 (7:30-10 p.m.), the 74th Annual Hunger Games take place in the stacks.
No, you did not miss the first 73. The 74th Games are where The Hunger Games — the 1st novel in a young adult trilogy by Ridgefield author Suzanne Collins — begins.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem — the former North America — the dark story portrays 12 districts, all slaves to the capital, where citizens are kept hungry and isolated.
In the Hunger Games, 2 “tributes” — 1 boy and 1 girl from each district — compete in a televised fight to the death in a dangerous arena. Eventually, only 1 remains.
The books — translated into 26 languages — are a worldwide phenomenon. A movie of the same name will be released on March 23.
Seizing on the intense interest — and, in Bill’s words, “showing an experiential side of the library, supporting reading and learning, by really moving inside of it” — Westport’s Hunger Games are set to begin.
The publicity is as stark as Collins’ Games themselves. “Food rations will be given,” the flyer says. “Only Tributes in grades 6-12 are eligible to attend. Parents will not be in attendance: parents must entrust their children to the Capitol.”
Tributes can earn prizes for themselves and their District by training in survival skills, testing their Hunger Games trivia, and competing in a Tribute costume contest (it’s important to look great before the battles).
Plenty of planning has gone into the event. Many high school and middle school students have helped with sets and lighting. Local vendors have donated food. Two bands — Disabled Time and Amplitude — will play.
The library’s Hunger Games are attracting a wide range of participants, Bill says. Some were avid readers of the trilogy; others found out about it from friends.
A gladiatorial battle to the death in a post-apocalyptic world. Costumes, food, music — all in the library stacks.
What’s not to like?
(Registration costs $18, and ends Tuesday, March 6. Click here to register. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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