Category Archives: homepage gallery

First Thursday: Taking a Gap Year on a Budget

October 2nd, 2014rose with elephant 2

There are a million great reasons to take a gap year between high school and college…and one big, expensive reason not to: money. Is it possible to have an exciting, fulfilling gap year without needing an endless flow of dollars? YES! But don’t take our word for it, come to this workshop and find out for yourself.

One of our guests is Sam Bull, who has been a gap year consultant since 1994. He will be talking about how to set up your own, low cost gap year. Other guests will include students who have recently taken gap years and are excited to share their information and experiences with you. Additionally, we will have tons of resources and information for you to take home, so you can explore even more gap year on a budget options on your own.

Registration for this event is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Register here.

This event is open to high school students and recent graduates only.


How to Access’s Premium Content

You may be familiar with’s free study tools, which are endlessly helpful for shmoopeverything from algebra to statistics. With your Mill Valley Library card, though, you can access Shmoop’s Premium content–including test prep for any AP Exam you can think of as well as SAT, ACT, and all of those other fun times standardized tests (scroll to the bottom of the page to see their complete course catalog). There’s also business and career info, writing help and much, MUCH more.

To get started…

1) Just click here

2) You will see something that looks like this:






3) Click “Let’s Go” and you will be taken to a page that looks like this:




4) Where it asks you for a “Magic Word,” enter your Library Card Number (starts with 211110)

5) Create a Username and Password

6) Click “CREATE”

After creating your account, you can log into with your username and password and click on “My Passes” to see your test prep!

*Don’t have a Library Card? Maybe you lost it sometime in the 5th grade? No worries. Just fill out the online application below and stop by the Library to pick up your (free!) card.

Online Library Card Application

What, exactly, do you get with Shmoop’s premium content? Oh, just this:


Health, Physical Education, and Counseling
Technology and Computer Science

Creative Writing Workshops; Wednesday nights from 7-8:30 PM

creativewritinginstagramForget essays and homework; discover what it means to let creativity run wild and write for pleasure at these weekly creative writing workshops. We will read and discuss poetry, fiction, non-fiction, slam poetry, and any other type of writing that strikes our fancy. These workshops offer the opportunity to explore your writing skills in a relaxed, informal environment. Creative Writing Workshops aren’t about getting a good grade or writing a critical analysis, they are about trying new things and creating something exciting to put on a blank page.

313393_283129255049078_100000560186552_1070834_1377457794_nIf you don’t feel like writing, that’s fine too, you are always welcome to just hang out, eat candy, and listen to what others have to say. 

Student writing can be found here.

Like our Facebook page here.

Creative Writing links of interest can be found here.

Contact Katie (workshop facilitator and Young Adult Librarian) here. 

Workshops are open to high school students only

Pictures from “Take Your Rage to the Page” Zine Workshop

Well, that definitely goes down in history as one of my favorite events! Thank you so much to Elly Blue and Joe Biel, Ruby the second most awesome dog ever, and everyone else who attended!

First, Elly and Joe helped us make a list of everything that makes us angry (it was long…)

Hi Elly and Joe! You guys are the best!

Hi Elly and Joe! You guys are the best!



making our big list of angers (2)

making our big list of angers (2)

Then we talked about what zines are and how they can help us express that anger…

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We looked at some examples of zines…before we made our own!

actually so cute

actually so cute

this was my pick

this was my pick




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the creative process...

the creative process…

Ilyana smiling makes me smile, always.

Ilyana smiling makes me smile, always.

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collaborative zine-ing

collaborative zine-ing


Thanks again for a wonderful night! Elly, Joe, and Ruby, come back soon!


Open to high school students and recent grads only. Registration required, register here. 

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014


Joe Biel, one of Microcosm Publishing’s coolest dudes and one of our esteemed workshop leaders.

What pisses you off? What do you want to say about it? Zines give voice to the silenced and publicize stories that the mainstream media refuses to cover. By taking their rage to the page, zinesters not only find a way to articulate their perspective but also share their vision with the world. 

On Tuesday, September 2nd, the Zine aficionados from Microcosm Publishing in Portland will teach you how to turn the issues you care about into a powerful tool for social change. Or, you can  just learn how to use zines to tell a really good story. Take a look at the awesome time we had with Microcosm Publishing last year.

All participants who register will leave with a blank book to start their zine-making endeavors as well as the Microcosm Zine of their choice.

Don’t know what a zine is? Check out this lovely little film by Jacob Carroll:

Throw Back Thursday: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Published September  2011 by Greenwillow

423 pages

This was one of those books that had been on my to-read list for years and I finally got around to it recently. When I picked it up, I didn’t know what it was about other than a vague memory of it looking good. I was pleasantly surprised. Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns turned out to be a whirlwind of plot twists, character growth, and a magical foreign land that sprouts up before the reader’s very eyes.index-1

Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza is the sullen daughter of the King of Oroville and the overshadowed little sister of the crown princess and honored diplomat Alodia. She is overweight, over studied, and doesn’t really have any friends other than her nurses. The two things Elisa can take solace in are food, and the fact that she was blessed by God on her naming day when he put a godstone in her belly button. This stone keeps her company, fills her with warmth, lets her know she is  destined to do great things. She just hasn’t done any of them yet.

This is how we meet Elisa on her sixteenth birthday and her wedding day. Her father has given her in marriage to King Alejandro de Vega of Joya Arena who whisks her away to his castle, demands she keep their nuptials and her godstone a secret, and doesn’t explain why any of it is happening. Adventure ensues and Elisa is forced to reckon with her self worth and self image as she confronts desert rebels, native tribes, and an ancient war between two peoples. The writing provides Elisa with a strong voice and the plot seems to speed up with every word.

Though the first book in this series is great on it’s own, what really makes it phenomenal are the two that come after. The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom finish out this amazing trilogy, each chapter better than the last. For all three books, Elisa fights to do what is right against enormous odds and struggles to determine the will of God after seeing many foes excuse their actions with religious fervor. Readers who enjoy action, romance, three dimensional characters, and a strong female lead will love this trilogy.

Genre: Fantasy

Keywords: strong female lead, religion, royalty, adventure

Best Quote: “God’s will. How many times have I heard someone declare their understanding of this thing I find so indefinable?”

Throw Back Thursday: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Published September 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing

384 pages

To read this book is to fall in love. Based on an incredibly detailed version of the myth of the Greek warrior Achilles that goes way beyond what we heard as kids, The Song of Achilles is told from the perspective of Prince Patroclus. Exiled at a young age for an accidental crime, Patroclus finds himself a refugee in the court of King Peleus of Phthia and his son, Achilles. Patroclus is mesmerized by Achilles’ beauty, his confidence, his strength, and his godly parenthood (his mother is a minor goddess of the sea). When Achilles chooses Patroclus to be his closest companion, Patroclus is shocked but very pleased. The boys grow up together and grow into each other as their bond deepens beyond friendship.index-2

This book is an excellent and interesting history lesson as it details the events of the Trojan War and incorporates other key mythological characters, including Odysseus. Although the beginning of the book is slow, I read the first forty pages and then put it down for several months before I finished, it is worth every minute. This book is also not for young readers, as the battle scenes and intimate scenes are equally intense and full of adjectives (I would say it best fits high school readers).

This book is many things, but most of all it is an overpowering, heartbreaking, awe inspiring love story. Achilles and Patroclus fight armies, parents, gods, and a prophecy to be together for as long as they can. While the reader is swept away by the action and romance, they will also get the rare experience of reading a book in which the ending is roughly known–I mean, most people know the story of Achilles. This produces the odd effect of traveling back in time to prevent a loved one from having a terrible accident but arriving in time to watch the accident happen in slow motion, hoping against hope that it might all turn out okay at the last second.

As armies clash and every character holds their breath to find out if love will outlast fate, the song of Achilles comes together in a beautiful collage of life, love, and death.

Genre: Myth/Romance

Keywords: greek myths, romance, war, friendship

Best Quote: “I think: This is what I will miss. I think: I will kill myself rather than miss it. I think: How long do we have?”


View of Metropolis by Ben Daly

Kind of like a dream to break your neck looking up at these walls parting away for the living to navigate through. Even the childless adult who never grew up looks out his tall window at a sky that has enough warmth to look back at him. The bar owner and his cigarette look up through the high forest of right angles in more amusement than jealousy. He never needed a higher place than where he was. Far above is the CEO, and far below are the crustaceans of men who truly live in the shadow of his work. The moon doesn’t have many words for it, but spectates the battles of lives the running people fight on the pavement. How many are running from something? Will the blue sky ever see a day with these people at rest? Will they ever have a real sunset in their lives? The mechanic can never answer as he stares up out of his lonely warehouse. Even the young ones who live behind the skyline ask their parents if they have faced this question. Night is haunted by anger and orange lights. Sometimes they run more now than while the sun is out.

Throw Back Thursday: My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

Published March 2008 by Dial

403 pages

Anthony Keller (nicknamed T.C.) is a freshman in Brookline MA, right outside of Boston, and he is convinced he is in love with Alejandra Perez, whom he’s only just met. Alé is the new kid in school, having just moved to Brookilne after being raised in D.C. and Mexico City as a diplomat’s daughter with a secret passion for musical theater. Augie Hwong is T.C.’s “brother,” in that they decided they were going to be brothers in first grade and everybody just went along with it until it was kind of true. Meet the three most lovable, lively, and relatable characters in teen fiction history.

Told from all three perspectives, this book takes these three characters through their freshman year, which all three have claimed to be the “most excellent year” of their lives. This book has it all: first love, comic relief, new friends, best friends, families, devotion, and loss. As three lives become irrevocably intertwined, T.C., Alé, and Augie will cope with the trials of high school in many forms.

The writing is hilarious and the characters jump right off the page. Kluger does a great job of mastering the mle and female voice without reverting to gender or gay stereotypes. The many connected plot lines include Alé’s struggle to confront her parents about her love of the stage, Augie discovering his sexuality, T.C. continuing to recover from the death of his mother eight years earlier, and a little deaf boy named Hucky who has been waiting for Marry Poppins to come and live with him since he was four. Bursting with heart and overflowing with love, My Most Excellent Year paints the picture of a family that the reader can’t help but wish was their own.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Keywords: family, friends, love, high school

Best Quote: **Instant message conversation**

Augie: Does everybody else know?

T.C.: About my epitaph?

Augie: About me being gay!

T.C. Not everybody. There’s a night watchman at a Dunkin Donuts just outside of Detroit. He doesn’t know yet.

Creative Writing Links and Wisdom

Thanks to the weekly Creative Writing Workshop for high school students, I do a lot of reading about writing. It seems selfish to keep such a plethora of knowledge to myself. If I find an article/post/cat gif that I, in my totally subjective way, find pertinent to the craft of writing, I will share it here. Generally speaking, I will only post the title and/or first few lines of something, with a link to the full text. If nothing else, this will be a useful repository for me to collect the interesting writing articles I find and usually promptly forget about. There may only be a few pieces to start, but I promise to continue to add more. If you come across something you think should be here, email me or post it to the Facebook page (which pretty much only I read) and I will repost here.  Read/Write on!


  • All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.– ERNEST HEMINGWAY

  • I don’t follow Quora much but this showed up in my inbox and if Lois Lowery is talking about the process of writing a novel, I want to read what she has to say.
  • This illustrated version of Charles Bukowski’s “air and light and time and space” is awesome. 
  • I am living by this excerpt from Anne Lamott’s great book on writing, Bird By Bird.
  • I mean, you can be sure I am going to include lots of quotes from my boy Hemingway on this page: 

“When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day next you hit it again.” - ERNEST HEMINGWAY

  • Although this does not bode well for me, as I am actually the least athletic/exercise-y person alive, I am sure what Rebecca Makkai says is true:

“My cures for writer’s block are alarmingly pragmatic and physical. So pragmatic that they arrange themselves in list form! To wit: 1. Get up and walk around. A few years ago, I realized that the solutions to most of my writing problems would come to me in the bathroom. It wasn’t the bathroom itself, of course, that was magic, but the act of getting up from my desk and walking there, getting the blood flowing, and tearing my eyes away from the computer screen. So now, when I’m staring down a huge plot problem, I take a long walk—without a notepad. It’s nearly always solved by the time I get back. 2. Vitamin B. It’s better than caffeine. It makes you both calmer and smarter. I keep a bottle on my desk. 3. If you can, sleep late. That last cycle of sleep is when the weird dreams come, the ones you’ll actually remember. (And how great is it to say, “I have to sleep late for work?”) 4. Yoga. My point with all of these being: Writing isn’t entirely mental. You’re a physical being, and sometimes when your writing is broken, it’s your body that needs attention, not your mind.”
—Rebecca Makkai via The Millions

  • Finished a draft of something? Here are six questions to ask your reader to ensure they give helpful feedback.
  • Failure is Our Muse by Stephen Marche (good, because one of my stories keeps getting rejected and it’s giving me a sad!)
  • “You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.” JOSEPH CAMPBELL

  • What Writers Can Learn from “Goodnight Moon” by Aimee Bender
  • Fiction Writer's Cheat Sheet by RipleyNox

    Fiction Writer’s Cheat Sheet by RipleyNox