Avatar–NOT the Movie

If you’ve always wanted to have an alter ego or hidden identity here’s your chance.   In honor of Teen Tech Week (March 7-13, 2010) some truly awesome librarians have compiled a list of websites where you can create your own Avatar.  If you’re not sure what an avatar is dictionary.com defines it as “a graphical image that represents a person.”  So, in other words it’s one of those cute little cartoony things that kind of looks like you but isn’t you.

Avatars are fun and easy to create and the best thing is, now your parents won’t be nagging you about Internet safety and posting your picture online.  You can just use your Avatar and no one will know what you really look like.  Bonus, creating an Avatar gives you a chance to see what you would look like as a celebrity.

Haven’t you always wondered what you’d look like with a giant, blue Marge Simpson beehive?  Go to SimpsonizeMe.com and find out.  Soon you’ll be attracting swell guys like Homer to all of your online postings.  Or if you wanted to get a part in the movie “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and got beat out by some other wimpy kid, go to the movie site and see what you’d look like as a stick figure.

For most of these sites all you need is an online picture and a little imagination.  They’re so easy I was even able to create one.  Here is another link to a site where you’ll find several other places to create an avatar.  If you always thought you’d make a great anime character, now’s your chance to show the world.

Starved for the sequel????

Good news for those who are ready for another serving of “The Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins. Scholastic publishing company has announced that “Mockingjay,” the third and final installment in this series, will be released August 24, 2010. Sort of unfortunate timing if you ask me, but this series is so engrossing that it just may have teens wishing away their summer so that they can hurry up and get this book.

I’m know I’m one of those who can’t wait to once again “fear the reaper!”  Although Collins isn’t dishing anything about the plot of this book, we can be sure that there will be plenty of adventure, treachery and love triangle action.  Let the games begin!

If you haven’t already become hooked on “The Hunger Games” maybe this booktrailer by Justin Breaux of Saint Amant High School will help whet your appetite.

XtraNormal is Xtra Cool!

The next time your teacher assigns a book report or other class presentation and says that creativity counts, go straight to Xtranormal. This is a free website that allows you to choose characters and make your own movies about anything you want. Their slogan is: If you can type, you can make movies and I’m here to tell you that it’s true.

It just takes a few minutes to set up an account and then get ready to say “Action”. Actually, you don’t really say anything, you just type words in little boxes, choose camera angles (is this your best side?) add expressions, sound effects and movement and you’re Quentin Tarantino (minus the high forehead). Once you’ve previewed your movie and like the way it looks, you can publish it and save it to your Xtranormal account. The best part is, if you have a Youtube account, you can publish it to Youtube with one click.

This is really something worth looking into. Even if you don’t want to do something as lame as a school project, you can make little animated films to put on your Facebook or Myspace page. The possibilities are endless. I just discovered this yesterday and I’ve already written, directed and produced a short film. Sundance here I come!

Fantasy Road Trip Contest

If you’re already worried about how you’re going to occupy your empty hours this summer, here is a contest for you. Listening Library, maker of audio books, is sponsoring a video contest for teen ages 13-18. According to their site, no babies, old-people or weird baby-old people hybrids should apply! But, if you don’t fall into one of those categories, then you should get busy making your video.

Here are the particulars. Create a video between 30 seconds and 5 minutes long that answers the questions: If you could go on a road trip with a character from your favorite audio series, where would you go? What would you do along the way and how would you travel? All of the specific rules and regulations are on the Random House site.

So now you need to write your dialogue, assemble your actors and start filming. If you have some really great ideas, but don’t have a video camera to use, don’t worry we will come to your rescue. Every branch of the public library owns a “Flip” video camera that you can use to film your video. You have to film “on location” since we can’t let you take it home, but you are welcome to use our cameras and our space and can even use our computers to edit and polish your video.

If you don’t have any great ideas yet because you don’t listen to audio books, now is your chance to start. Audio books are an awesome way to pass the time on those long road trips you’ll be taking this summer. Or they can help take your mind off how hot it is while you’re trying to catch rays out by the pool. Here are just a few of the great titles that we have for your listening enjoyment:
The Compound by S. A. Bodeen
The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

What are you waiting for? Doesn’t this sound like fun? The judges are Libba Bray, Tamora Pierce and Rick Riordan, all authors of some awesome adventure books. I’m not sure about all the rules, but you might want to use one of their books to give yourself an edge. (Just sayin’) Each author will choose one winner and the three winners will receive a brand new 8GB iPod Touch. Now that ’s what I call a prize. Too bad I’m an old person and can’t enter. Oh well, at least I’m not a baby-old person hybrid. That would cause all sorts of problems.

If you’re intrigued but want some more information, here is a short video complete with a cheesy mascot that might clear up some questions. You can also look on Youtube and view some entries that have already been submitted and see what your competition is like. Don’t delay, the contest ends August 17,2009.


If you like to read and you like free stuff, check out the authors’ blogs that we have listed in our blogroll. Or look for your favorite author’s blog and find out what they’ve been up to.

Teen authors are some of the friendliest and most generous people on the planet. They love talking to teens and they seem to enjoy giving away stuff like signed books, posters etc.   Lauren Myracle has a contest going on right now to publicize her new book “Peace, Love and Baby Ducks.” If you go to her website, you can sign up and start participating in her daily challenges. You’ll also get a sneak peak at the book and meet other fans of Lauren.

If you follow an author’s blog you also might find out when they might be coming to a bookstore or library near you. Imagine getting to meet your favorite author, assuming you have one, and hearing them read from their books and maybe sign a copy of their book for you. In my world (dorkville) it doesn’t get much better!

Most teen author’s also seem to love to get feedback from their fans or critics. If you really loved a book–tell the author. Or if you hated something in a book, like the ending or a character or something, that author probably wants to know. Awhile ago I read a book called “Ghost Medicine” by Andrew Smith. I liked the book, but on my GoodReads site I said that I thought the language that the teen main character used was kind of phony. He just didn’t really sound like any of the teenage boys that I know. Anyway, a few days later I had a comment on my site and the author had contacted me about my views. He thanked me and offered to send me a copy of his next book! Awesome!

While you’re searching for some cool author blogs, take a peek at this clip from one of my favorite bloggers John Green