Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Poll: UNWIND Cover Art Smackdown!

So our next book, Unwind, has a lot of different cover designs - a LOT.  When this happened before with other past book club picks, everyone in book club had some very DEFINITE OPINIONS about which cover they thought was best (Throne of Glass, anyone?) - so why not get a head start on the debate? 

Here are several of the cover designs for Unwind - click on any picture to make it bigger, and vote on your favorite below!  Don't forget to click the "Vote!" button at the bottom after selecting your favorite cover!

Which edition has the best cover art?

  • English #1                     Polish                         Spanish  

English #2                       Indonesian                      French

  • English #3                    German                        Italian

More polls: Free polls

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Calling All Writers!

Holla holla to my creative writers!  Smithies, your time has come:  in celebration of Teen Read Week in October, SPL is having its own WRITING CONTEST! Here're the deets:

Smith Public Library's Teen Read Week Writing Contest:


The Teen Read Week Writing Contest has begun, and this year's theme is "Seek the Unknown".  Teen Read Week runs from October 13th-19th, but we're holding our contest begins now and runs until October 19th!   
Entries will be judged in two age groups, 6th-8th graders and 9th-12th graders, which equals more people having a chance to win!  Sweet! 


  • Short stories only, please - 1500 words or less.
  • Go with our theme: make sure to incorporate the theme "Seek the Unknown" into your writing! Anything from paranormal, to sci-fi and fantasy, to mystery goes! 
  • Include your info:  make sure your name, contact info, and age group (6-8th graders or 9-12th graders) are attached to your story when you turn it in to the teen reference desk.

Stories will be judged by various staff members, and the two winners will each receive a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble as well as the opportunity to have their story published in the Wylie News and on our library website.
Get writing!  Make sure to get yours turned in for your chance to win!

Friday, September 20, 2013

October: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Ugh, Long Lankin was SO three weeks ago.  Or whatever.  

Time for something new!  Get ready for dystopian craziness - check out our next book, Unwind by Neal Shusterman:

Unwind  by Neal Shusterman 

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.  
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

SHAPOW!  I've been wanting to read this book for a while - it sounds so so good.  If you haven't already signed up in the teen room and picked up your free copy of the book, GIT HERE NEOOOWWW - as of this moment, we only have one copy left to give away!

(No book trailer for this one. 'M srry.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Last Word: Ghost Story!

Creepy tree in the creepy forest surrounding Long Lankin's (alleged) creepy lair.  Photo credit: The Faery Folklorist

Welcome to a new regular blog post called "The Last Word"!  Posted a few days after each meeting, "The Last Word" is going to be just that - one last blog post about the book we read at the previous meeting before we move on to the next book.  In these posts you'll find info on a topic related to the subject the previous meeting's book so you learn more about the book you just read.

*  *  *

So before we quit Long Lankin for good… want to hear a ghost story?

As you might have figured out by now, the legend at the heart of Long Lankin is based on an actual old English/Scottish legend about a creepy guy who goes by, duh, “Long Lankin”.  But did you know that there are some non-mythical, absolutely real places associated with this legend?  Get ready – here’s the real story of Long Lankin.  Read on for the gory details, or just watch the video at the end.

It’s tricky finding info on Long Lankin, because just like everything old in Britain, Long Lankin goes by about TEN DIFFERENT NAMES!  Long Lankin, Long Lonkin, Lang Lonkin, Long Linkin, Long Lynkyn, Balankin, Rankin, Lambert Linkin, Lamkin, Lammiken… it’s worse than Snoop Lion/Snoop Dog/Snoopwhatever.  Whichever name, though, the story starts in the same place: northern England, near a little town named Prudhoe.

Today, this is all that's left of 
Nafferton Castle.  Photo:
So back in 1218(!), the lord of the Prudhoe Castle petitioned the king to stop the construction on a new castle called Nafferton Castle, which was going up less than two miles away (check out all of the places mentioned in this post in the interactive map at the bottom, or click here for the full version).  The lord of Prudhoe Castle reeaaally didn’t like the lord of Nafferton due to some nasty political stuff that happened a few years earlier.  The complaint was approved, and Nafferton Castle was never finished and gradually became an abandoned ruin.  Maybe because of the dastardly dealings of these two guys, or maybe because of the creepy forest it was in, the ruins of Nafferton Castle eventually became more commonly known as Lonkin’s Lair – the lair of Long Lankin himself.

The legend tells of a stonemason – aka Long Lankin – who built a castle for a rich lord, which is thought to be a nearby castle named Welton Hall.  When the castle was done, the lord refused to pay the mason for his work, and the mason leaves, vowing revenge.  A little while later, the lord leaves to go see the king, warning his wife before he leaves to “Beware of Long Lankin”.  He even tells her to nail all the windows shut, just to be sure!
“See the doors are all bolted, see the windows all pinned, And leave not a crack for a mouse to creep in.” 
Oh, the doors were all bolted, oh, the windows were pinned, But at a small peep in the window Long Lankin crept in.

Apparently the nurse of the house, who was taking care of the lord’s baby, was in cahoots with Long Lankin and let him in the house.  These two creepers (the nurse and Long Lankin) the pricked the baby with a pin so he would cry and scream, causing the lady of the house (the baby’s mother) to come downstairs.  Once she does, Long Lankin jumps out of the shadows and kills her AND the baby!  As they are bleeding on the floor, he catches their blood in a silver bowl - probably because at that time, bathing in the blood of a noble was thought to be a cure for leprosy… so Long Lankin probably had leprosy, as well as the incurable disease of being a TOTAL PSYCHOPATH.

The forest around Nafferton Castle is SERIOUSLY CREEPY.    
Photo credit:  The Faery Folklorist

It’s around this time that lord of the castle, on the road to see the king, has a sudden feeling that something bad has happened back home.  He returns to his castle to find the still-warm bodies of his murdered wife and child, and seeing Long Lankin fleeing the scene, pursues him back into the forest, all the way to a creek called Bogle Burn (creepy fact – at that time, “bogle”, or “boggle”, were names for the devil; this is where the term "bogey man" comes from).  Long Lankin climbed a tree next to a pool along the creek, and the lord of the castle prepared to shoot him down with his arrows.  Rather than be captured and executed, Long Lankin jumped into the pool, sank, and was never seen again…

Still, this pool is said to be bottomless, and the water in it is said to be black, cold (even in summer), and never goes still, but is always moving and bubbling.  And on cold, misty nights, Long Lankin – whose body was never found – is said to haunt the forest and the ruins of Lonkin’s Lair, snatching children wandering out after dark.


Photo credit:  The Faery Folklorist
Photo credit: The Faery Folklorist
The creek of Bogle Burn near where
Long Lankin supposedly drowned.
Photo credit:

Locations in the Legend of Long Lankin!

View Long Lankin in a larger map


Long LankinMainly Norfolk: English Folk and Other Good Music, Reinhard Zierke
Publications of the Folk-lore Society, Volume 35, pp. 190-193
Structure Details for Nafferton Castle, SINE Project, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
93A: Lamkin,
Whittle Dene Fairies, The Fairy Folklorist
Lamkin, Wikipedia
Lamkin, The Living Tradition Magazine,
'Beware of Long Lonkin that lies in the moss': The Legend of Long Lonkin, tynevalleywalking
"Whittle Burn Near Whirl Dub",

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September Sum-Up: Bustin' Rhymes + Scary Stories!

Cora and Mimi be crazy rappin' fools, yo
So last Thursday was our first meeting of the year in which we talked about Long Lankin by Lindsey Barroclough.  If you weren't there, you missed out - the discussion was awesome! Convo went WIDE, from Slender Man to ancient Roman methods of execution, scary movies to the meanings of English slang words (non-profane ones, anyway), poverty in post-WWII England, and the real meaning of honor - and shame.  Also Doctor Who.  I know.  Whut.

Did we like Long Lankin? Consensus sez: it was a bit too long with the scenes in between the spooky bits, but YES, we liked it and would recommend it to our friends!  So if you haven't finished reading Long Lankin yet, get on it!  It might be hot outside, but it's cold and creepy inside that book. Then...

We also played a Long Lankin-y game at the meeting!! And if you missed the meeting, you can still play here on the blog!  

First, some back story:  so the premise of Long Lankin (the book) is based on this old English/Scottish legend, which you can read in the form of a ballad (look here for the whole thing).  In part of the ballad, the lord of the manor is warning his wife about the dangerous Long Lankin (this is the bit of the ballad that's printed on the front cover of your copy of Long Lankin):

Said my lord to my lady as he mounted his horse,
'Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the moss.'

Said my lord to my lady as he rode away,
'Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the hay.'

So here's the game: create new stanzas for the poem by re-writing the ends of the first and second lines of the stanzas above! Here's how to do it:

"Said my lord to my lady as he _____________,  {an action he might do - in 4-5 syllables, if you can!} 
'Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the _____.'" 
{a place that Long Lankin could live - it needs to
RHYME with line 2(!) in 1-2 syllables}

Confused?  Here's an easy example:

"Said my lord to my lady as he put on his shirt,
'Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the dirt."

You can also break the formula for the fourth line of the stanza if you want; instead of filling in a play that Long Lankin could live, just re-write the entire fourth line and replace it with some dangerous fact about Long Lankin - making sure it rhymes and that the line has about five (5) syllables, of course:

"Said my lord to my lady as he combed his moustache,
'Beware of Long Lankin - he'll steal all your cash!'"
We went back and forth in the meeting: one person would come up with something to fill in the first blank (the action in line 2), and then everyone else tried to come up with something that rhymed for line 4!  


Said my lord to my lady a
s he put on his socks
'Beware of Long Lankin who lives in...
          «  ... a box
          «  ... a mosque(?)

Said my lord to my lady as he combed his hair,
'Beware of Long Lankin… 
          «  He lives at the fair!  (like, inside Big Tex or something?)
          «  ... hey, do you see my socks anywhere?

Said my lord to my lady as he ran down the street,
'Beware of Long Lankin -
          «  He's got stinky feet!
          «  He ain't got no beat!  (he's a terrible rapper, really)
          «  He ain't got no… beets?

Said my lord to my lady a
s he put on his pants,
'Beware of Long Lankin - 
          « I think I'll do a dance!' 

Srrsly, you guys are hilarious.  Now it’s your turn!  Try it out yourself – leave us a rhyme in the comments! If you can’t think of how to start, try completing the rhymes below and leave a comment with your answer (that means you too, library staff! I know you've been reading this - just comment anonymously!).  If you were at the meeting and want to take credit for one of the SWEET RHYMEZ above, email me or comment.  Thoughts on the book are welcome, too! 


Said my lord to my lady as he sipped up his tea
‘Beware of Long Lankin,   … ____________

Said my lord to my lady as he buttered some toast,
‘Beware of Long Lankin,  … ____________

      > BONUS POINT!:
Said my lord to my lady as he put on his dublet,
‘Beware of Long Lankin,  … ____________