Staff Picks & Recommendations - Books, Movies, Music & Online Courses

Teen Reviews - Books
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Picked by D.P. grade 11 on Friday, February 03
Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is a collection of short war stories centered in Vietnam. Tim O'Brien's writing blurs the line between fiction and reality, making this work often times up to reader interpretation. Many of the stories have portions directed at the reader, making the experience both emotional and personal. I began reading this novel as a school assignment, and finished...
Teen Reviews - Books
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Picked by D.R. grade 11 on Friday, February 03
The novel Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg is a witty and realistic LGBTQ+ themed novel which follows the story of Rafe, a young adult who was openly gay in highschool. Rafe then transfers to an all-boys boarding school with a goal in mind - to not label himself, as to be able to "fit in" and not be seen as "weird". This plan starts off well, as he makes friends with several jocks, all of who...
Teen Reviews - Music
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Picked by N.D. grade 10 on Friday, February 03
One album for any modern rock fan, is MANIA by Fallout Boy. With 10 songs, this album easily energizes anyone who listens to it. It does have some adult language and adult themes as most music does, but that is in no way negating from the value of each song. I’d strongly recommend Church, the fifth song in the album, to start. It’s choir background vocals mix beautifully with the rock vibe,...
Teen Reviews - Music
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Picked by N.D. grade 10 on Friday, February 03
If there is one album I could talk about for hours on end, it’s “How To Be a Human Being” by the Glass Animals. It’s been my favorite album of all time since it released. It contains 11 songs, and they all represent the lives of different characters featured on the album cover! The themes of the album are very dark, including drug/alcohol abuse, sexual assault, prostitution, depression, murder,...
Teen Reviews - Movies
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Picked by N.D. grade 10 on Friday, February 03
As a long time fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, I would recommend all of the movies in succession. But if there had to be a favorite, Dead Mans Chest absolutely takes the cake. The movie is just enthralling from minute one, with such intense world building, stunning visuals, and layered characters? How could I not recommend it. The stakes always feel so high and genuine, and the action...
Teen Reviews - Movies
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Picked by N.D. grade 10 on Friday, February 03
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) is one of the most underrated disney movies of all time. For fan of the disney classics, this movie is a must watch. The outstanding animation alone is enough to pull you in just as it starts, with Disney’s usual charming cast of characters and incomparable musical score to keep you entertained up until the end. I will admit, this movie is a bit darker in its...
Teen Reviews - Books
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Picked by A.R. grade 8 on Friday, February 03
S.E. Hinton's "The outsiders" is one of my favorite stories to recommend to people, no matter who they are. I read this originally last year, and picked it up again as I liked the story so much. This book has loveable characters, classic lines, and has made me tear up on multiple occasions. I would read this book a third time, and many times more. I love this story, and this is a rare occasion...
Teen Reviews - Books
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Picked by A.R. grade 8 on Friday, February 03
"The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells may be an old story, but I believe it's still well known today for a reason. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, not only for the characters and amazing plot, but the pacing of the story as well. It didn't feel too rushed, it didn't drag on some parts for too long, it was well-paced. Another aspect of the story I enjoyed is the descriptiveness. H.G. Wells was...
Teen Reviews - Books
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Picked by G. grade 8 on Friday, February 03
The Making of a Navy Seal- Brandon Webb, John David Mann. When Brandon was just 16 when he was arguing so much with his dad on a family trip, that his own father decided to kick him off of the boat. He was left in the South Pacific Ocean all by himself, and had to find his way back by himself. Once he gets back to America, after going to school, he ends up trying for the Navy, but he wants to be...
Teen Reviews - Books
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Picked by A.R. grade 8 on Friday, February 03
"The Mist" By Stephen King is a good short read, being a novella rather than a full novel. I enjoyed the story, and despite the small length of the story, was full of riveting characters and suspense. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors by all accounts, and this story is just added on to the pile of great literature written by him. Though when contrasting the book to the movie, the book...
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Picked by Jane on Monday, January 30
On Christmas night in 2017 Hannah and her husband host a family dinner at their home for her parents and brother Mako and sister-in-law Liza. Mako announces that he has reserved an expensive cabin in the woods for the four of them and Hannah’s best friend Cricket and her boyfriend.  Mixed feelings about a weekend together are concerning but they put their feelings aside to show gratitude for a...
Teen Reviews - Books
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Picked by A.R. grade 8 on Sunday, January 22
"Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden is now by far one of my favorite books. I love the characters, the story arc, and development in their personalities throughout the book. This was my mom's favorite book too, and now I see why. She was the reason I found out about it in the first place. This book had me laughing, crying, and everything in between. I would recommend this book to not only...
Teen Reviews - Music
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Picked by M.F. grade 12 on Sunday, January 22
A true work of art, Gemini Rights by Steve Lacy was released on July 15, 2022. Since then, it has reached the top ten of the Billboard 200 chart. Lacy stated that this album was inspired by a recent break up, and it portrays exactly those feelings throughout each song. The intention behind it was also to follow his idols in style and in greatness. The genre that Gemini Rights is listed under funk...
Teen Reviews - Movies
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Picked by S.M. grade 11 on Sunday, January 22
I watched the movie Moonrise Kingdom directed by Wes Anderson, and loved it. The movie’s humor is perfectly dead pan and well placed. It’s characters are relatable and captivating. The story is perfectly confusing and whimsical, as expected from Wes Anderson. Despite it’s oddity, the movie has a deeper emotional core, and is uplifting in it’s own unique way. The film portrays childhood in a...
Teen Reviews - Movies
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Picked by S.M. grade 11 on Sunday, January 22
I watched the movie A Monster Calls, and highly recommend giving it a watch. It is adapted from a book by the same name, and in my opinion is a very faithful adaptation. The story is deeply impactful, and is told wonderfully. It hits its emotional beats purposefully and effectively. Along with it’s story the film has very impressive visuals, using several different artistic mediums. The film uses...
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Picked by Jane on Tuesday, January 10
Joel Backman is the Broker. He was a very successful power broker that received a secret compromise on the world’s most sophisticated satellite surveillance system. When the creators of the program are killed and a senator that helped him to make a deal with foreign countries for the program is killed, his involvement is revealed and he is sent to prison for 16 years. He takes his secrets with...
Teen Reviews - Books
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Picked by A.M. grade 8 on Tuesday, January 03
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is an amazing young adult fiction for anyone looking for an interesting book to read. The book is set in the 60s and tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis, his friends and brothers, the so-called 'greasers', and their enemies - 'the socs'. The book is set in Pony's point of view, and shows how stereotypes can misinterpret and impact someones life. The book pulls you in...
Teen Reviews - Books
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Picked by G.G. grade 12 on Tuesday, January 03
And Then There Were None is a mystery novel written by Agatha Christie in 1939. Despite being rather old, the novel is captivating to the degree expected of modern books. Ten strangers are invited to come to a mysterious island, which is said to be owned by the Owenses. When people start being mysteriously killed, they must work together to survive and discover how to save themselves. This book...
Teen Reviews - Books
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Picked by G.G. grade 12 on Tuesday, January 03
Grendel, a novel by John Gardner, is a unique take on the ancient epic poem, Beowulf. This book flips the original premise on its head by telling the story from the perspective of Grendel, the monster that Beowulf defeats. Grendel is a societal outcast who is looking for his place in the world. Because he is a monster, he has no friends and is left to wonder what the point of his existence is. It...
Teen Reviews - Books
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Picked by A.M. grade 8 on Tuesday, January 03
Code Name Verity is a young adult/historical fiction book written by Elizabeth Wein. The story is told in 2 parts. In part 1 it is British spy Julie (Code name: Verity) writing her confession to a Nazi officer in a diary. The confession is her way of getting out of captivity and she is being tortured and watched as she wrote it. In part 2, the story is told by Julie's best friend, Maddie (Code...