rgz

readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Rock the Drop, 2015

Monday, November 30, 2009

rgz RAVE! Homecoming

This will be a wild night, readergirlz! Join us for rgz RAVE! with 19, yes 19 rgz Circle of Stars authors. Most are past rgz featured authors and are returning by popular demand tonight for one big Homecoming Party.




The authors are, in alphabetical order: Coe Booth, Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey, Cecil Castellucci, Justina Chen, Rachel Cohn, Holly Cupala, Liz Gallagher, Nikki Grimes, Lorie Ann Grover, Ellen Hopkins, Sarah Miller, Mary Pearson, Mitali Perkins, Dana Reinhardt, Laura Resau, Melissa Walker, Ellen Emerson White, and Rita Williams-Garcia.

The chat will go live at the top of the hour.

Homecoming RAVE: Tonight!!!!

Don't forget tonight: the rgz Circle of Stars is coming home!

6 pm PDT/9 pm EDT here at the readergirlz blog, join us and readergirlz featured author alumni, all at the same place for one wild and crazy rgz RAVE! Here are just a few of the all-star cast:

Coe Booth, Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey, Cecil Castelucci, Justina Chen, Rachel Cohn, Holly Cupala, Liz Gallagher, Nikki Grimes, Lorie Ann Grover, Ellen Hopkins, Sarah Miller, Mary Pearson, Mitali Perkins, Dana Reinhardt, Laura Resau, Melissa Walker, Ellen Emerson White, Rita Williams-Garcia, Sara Zarr...

...and others from the young adult community who jump on in. It will be a Fan Fiesta!

November: Roundup of Discussion Questions

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Did you catch all the chatter about Sweetgrass Basket? If not here are all the links. Feel free to drop your comments still! Thanks, Marlene!

November Newsflash
Roundtable
Marlene's Post of Awesome
Second Post of Awesome
Things to Know about Marlene
postergirlz recommends
Recommended Read: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Party Time!
rgz LIVE! with Marlene

Discussion:
Heritage and Ethnicity
Homesickness
Girls Can't What?
Are you like your sister?
Innocent and Accused
Friendship Invaded
Betrayed by a Friend
Running away


Thank You, Marlene Carvell!


Here's a big DANKE to the incredible Marlene Carvell for joining us at readergirlz this month!

We loved hearing stories from Marlene and learning about her awesome feminist side and hearing her strong voice for those who need their stories to be told.

We've so enjoyed having you here this month. Thank you, Marlene!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott (coming out in 2010)
In a Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth (coming out in 2010)

For Your Younger Sister
The Rule of Three by Megan McDonald (sequel to The Sisters Club)
Cinderella Cleaners #1: Change of a Dress by Maya Gold (coming out in 2010)

This Month's Spotlighted Title
Sweetgrass Basket by Marlene Carvell

Author in Residence: Third Contest with Beth Kephart

And here's a report from our Author in Residence, Beth Kephart!

readergirlz author in residence

For the third Readergirlz contest, writers were asked to choose a photograph of themselves at a turning point in time. They were then to write of that moment in present tense. They were next to take that moment and recast it in past tense. Finally, they were to reflect on what each tense made room for in terms of storytelling.

Our winner is Kiera Ingalls, 17, of Wayne, PA, who did a masterful job of twice telling a wild turkey story and reflecting on what the exercise yielded. We had two runners up: Carly Husick and Lucia Anderson. Kiera wins a signed copy of Nothing but Ghosts, and I replay her entry in full here. Look for the fourth and final readergirlz writing contest tomorrow; the winner of that contest will receive an advanced reading copy of The Heart is Not a Size.

Present Tense:

I follow my brother’s quick steps in the dewy grass to the roaring creek. The slime of salamanders lingers on my small fingers as I rub the bumpy skin of a toad. My brother Roscoe starts to meander towards the woods. Quickly following him I make sure not to drop the fidgety toad that I cusp in my hands. Under the tree cover there is a myriad of vibrant green “monkey brains”. I pick one up and the citrus scent wafts right up to my nose. From the corner of my eye sudden movement catches my attention. I drop the monkey brain as Roscoe dashes after a wild turkey. He lunges at it once only brushing the tail fathers. He sprints up again making another attempt this time acquiring a feather. With another grab the agitated turkey turns around and bites Roscoe. My brother stops, allowing the wild turkey to fade into the distance. I approach my brother and after seeing that he still has all of his fingers we take our time back home. Looking down my brother faintly knocks on the heavy mahogany door. My mother slowly opens the door appearing disgruntled. I gaze up extending my arms in front of me to expose my bumpy finding to mommy. In return she extends her accepting arms to Roscoe and I for a hug, and in relief we leap into them.


Past Tense:

We jumped in the creek looking for slimy squishy creatures and we walked through underpasses beneath major roads. Wandering through the woods my brother, Roscoe, and I discover fox skulls and fragrant Osage Oranges. As we started back to the house Roscoe spotted a wild turkey and decided he would try to catch it. I’m not sure if he intended to have it for dinner, considering he was a very picky eater and would only eat turkey and lettuce sandwiches for some time, or if he wanted to domesticate it as a pet. Nevertheless, he was chasing the poor animal and grabbing at its feathers. I t must have been Roscoe’s second or third attempt to grab at the turkey, so it turned around and bit him. At that moment Roscoe decided it was time to head home. We hesitantly knocked on the front door and our disappointed mother answered. Although she was greeted by two once clean children that were now soaked, covered in mud, infested with ticks and most likely infected with giardia-- presenting fox skulls, toads and Osage Oranges-- she still accepted us with open arms and a smile.


Reflection:


Writing this event in present tense following with past tense revealed to me the humor of the event that was unfathomable at the time it happened. In general this process allows for interpretation of a past situation with the end result presenting intriguing differences. In my story for example the present tense introduces apprehensive characters and the past tense illustrated a couple of fearless pioneers.


Congratulations Kiera, Carly, and Lucia! Thank you, Beth!

My website

Cover Stories: Candy in Action by Matthue Roth

Matthue Roth shared his Candy in Action Cover Story on my blog earlier this year, and here's the scoop:

"The moment that my publishers accepted the Candy in Action, I knew what the cover was going to look like. It wasn't even a matter of, what do I want it to look like. I just knew. It was going to be a sleek, glossy cover with black widescreen boxes at the top and bottom. Then the center was going to be a bright, vivid picture of the Los Angeles coast at night, taken from overhead--all neon lights and a million sparkling house parties--and then a black silhouette of a girl doing a kung-fu drop kick over it. That, uh, never happened.

"The publishers didn't ask for my input. I gave it to them anyway. My first book,
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Never Mind the Goldbergs, was with Scholastic. At most big publishing houses, if you're a first-time writer and you're really nice to them, you get to say 'no' once, and they might listen to you. I said no three times--I was a total diva. They were cool with it each time, though. [MW note: And Matthue ended up with an awesome cover for that book, I think!]

"Candy was put out by an independent company--which means they're risking a lot more on me, in terms of money and their own time, but it also means that they care about what you think. My editor was totally supportive throughout the book, and we kept discussing the cover together. We went back and forth with all these ideas, almost as though we were fantasizing about it. Well, we were.

"The first cover they sent me--I was in Israel, on the road, and the only way to get internet was in the main shopping district, to sit in front of the storefronts. I downloaded the first cover they had. I don't want to say I didn't like it. Ok, though--I was repulsed. It was green and brown, and it looked so generic...it was the opposite of why I loved Soft Skull. My editor talked me down, though. She was like, 'this is why we do trial runs.'

"The second cover (left), the distributors loved. I hated it again, though--it was a too-skinny girl with blond hair and no face. It felt, well, too porny. And there was this strange Karate Kid motif going on that I liked personally, but didn't know if anyone who wasn't a super geek would pick up on it.

"Again, one of the great things about working with a small publisher--it's not a procedure; you can do basically whatever you want to, and as long as it looks good, they're cool with it. One of the reasons I wanted to go with Soft Skull was because they don't do a certain type of book; they just do books that they love. And the design is almost always amazing. Daniel Nester's books about the band Queen are the size of 7" vinyl records; Matthew Sharpe's Jamestown was done as an old map.

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"Eventually, both my editor and I wanted to do a pop-art cover--you know, like the Ray Lichtenstein paintings that look like
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old comic strips (right). She had a friend, Jaime Mendola (who actually worked for Penguin, yet another major publisher) who took on the project for fun. She came at it with this great portrait of Candy as a Lichtenstein painting (left, the original hardcover cover).

"But Candy was supposed to be a young adult book, and because Candy is 18 years old, the major bookstores wanted to shelve it in adult fiction. So when the
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softcover came out, we wanted a redesign. Fred Chao, who writes and draws the comic book series Johnny Hiro: Half-Asian, All Hero, had already drawn one version of the cover. We used that for the cover of the CD--there's a 12-track soundtrack of original songs by different bands that you can download for free--and, since the hardcover had come out, Fred had started doing book covers for Harper.

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"He'd always wanted to do a project for Soft Skull, and I'm a huge fan of his stuff. He took on Candy--again for free, and again because there are all these truly goodhearted people in the world who love independent presses--and did a bunch of original art for it. I love the look he gave it--it's kind of retro and kind of ultra-modern, Indiana Jones meets Moulin Rouge. [That's the final paperback cover, left.]

"Each version of my cover was completely different. This might have been a mistake, or maybe it was just a miracle; but either way, it was really inspiring. Candy is so many types of books--it's part Veronica Mars and part college novel and part romance and part travel story. And each cover was a different way of saying, you're not going to know what to expect.

"In the end, I feel Love. Glowing, shining love. Soft Skull gave me a bunch of hard copies of just the cover, and I can't decide what to do with them. I think I want to dip them in gold."

I think the final paperback is the best Candy in Action cover. It tells a story in one image, or frame, and it gets across the pop-art-action feel of the story. What do you guys think?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lorie Ann Grover's BEDTIME KISS FOR LITTLE FISH!

Just a note to cheer on our own Lorie Ann, whose board book, BEDTIME KISS FOR LITTLE FISH, was featured in Parents magazine this month as one of the top 20 books of 2009 for kids!
Hooray, Lorie Ann and Little Fish!

November: Running away

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Mattie runs away from the boarding school. Have you ever felt like running away?

rgz Salon: After by Amy Efaw, reviewed by René Kirkpatrick


René Kirkpatrick has been a bookseller and book buyer, specializing in children's and teen literature, for many years. She has a degree in elementary education and reads widely across all genres. She is currently a buyer at Third Place Books.

We're honored to have her here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where four of the top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Here's René, reviewing After by Amy Efaw.

Devon Davenport is an exemplary student, a responsible babysitter and an award winning soccer player. How can she not know she's pregnant? When Devon wakes up ill one morning, cramping and puking, she is horrified when she finds herself actually giving birth. Unable to deal with what has happened, she puts the baby in a garbage bag and puts that in the garbage can in the alleyway. Hours later, now home sick from school, she is confronted by the police who have found the package and are sure she is the mother.

After follows Devon's life as she is arrested and put in Remann Hall, a juvenile facility in Tacoma, WA. We are with her as she begins to remember how all of this came to be and as she begins to realize how dire the repercussions will be. Based on real stories from the media, After is one of those books that has will keep you enthralled until the very end. If you liked Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson, you will like After.

Ages 13 and up. Viking Books. Hardcover, $17.99.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Get ready for the rgz RAVE Homecoming!

The rgz Circle of Stars is coming home!

Join us Monday night for an unprecedented chat at the readergirlz blog, 6 pm PDT/9 pm EDT, with a huge list of readergirlz featured author alumni, all at the same place for one wild and crazy rgz RAVE! Here are just a few of the all-star cast:

Coe Booth, Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey, Cecil Castelucci, Justina Chen, Rachel Cohn, Holly Cupala, Liz Gallagher, Nikki Grimes, Lorie Ann Grover, Ellen Hopkins, Sarah Miller, Mary Pearson, Mitali Perkins, Dana Reinhardt, Laura Resau, Melissa Walker, Ellen Emerson White, Rita Williams-Garcia, Sara Zarr...

...and others from the young adult community who jump on in. It will be a Fan Fiesta! Spread the word!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

rgz Street Team: Vanessa Reviews Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

The rgz Street Team is a group of teens who bring YA reviews to our blog, led by Postergirl Miss Erin. Find out more.

Today, Vanessa reviews Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr:


"Sara Zarr did a great job handling the touchy subject of religion in Once Was Lost. We meet Samara Taylor, a pastor's daughter going through the ups and downs of life under a microscope. We see right away how hard it is for Samara to find her own faith in God when always forced to put on the happy show for the church's parishioners. Now with her mom in rehab, her dad constantly busy, and a girl from church gone missing, Sam's faith is more confused than ever before.

"Dealing with a missing person in a small town puts stress on everyone involved. With Sam's pastoral dad drawn into the mix to comfort the family, Sam ends up getting a lot of alone time. We see lots of inner conflict and self-exploration, but not in a boring way. Sam's thoughts are both revealing and confused at once. She's not afraid to say 'I don't know what I want' when she gets to those moments of unrest without explanation. We don't leave Sam there, though. We see her become true to herself, re-establish some relationships, and finally come to terms with God in her own way.

"As a church-goer myself, I will admit that I was antsy at the beginning of the story. 'Is this going to be one of those anti-God things?' I asked myself, unsure of how I would feel at the end of it. I was pleased though. Zarr brings Sam to a peaceful point with God that doesn't seem forced in any way. Readers will understand that God is available if they look, while not feeling pressured by a sparkly altar scene.

"With my background, I think this book is the perfect exploration of some of teens' big worries about religion. Sam voices the very questions on God that every teen asks. Do her answers come? Not really. At the end Sam finds peace in faith, but without any blazing lights or theological discussions. And that is how faith is, stepping out of the box and realizing that some things are not meant to be completely understood. Sara Zarr plays neutral, but hits with 100% accuracy. Job well done." -Vanessa

PS-Read the Cover Story for Once Was Lost.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

rgz LIVE! with Marlene Carvell

Join us for a rgz LIVE! chat with Marlene Carvell, author of the poignant and lovely verse novel, Sweetgrass Basket. The chat will go live at the top of the hour. Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with rgz!

















Monday, November 23, 2009

rgz LIVE! chat with Marelene Carvell: tomorrow night!

Don't forget the upcoming chat with SWEETGRASS BASKET author Marlene Carvell, tomorrow night at the readergirlz blog!



See you there!

National Book Award Dinner Photo Montage

I just wanted to share the beauty and joy of the National Book Awards Dinner. So here are a few photos of the magical night!

Dia and I were all gussied up. That's a bird in my hair!



The venue was gorgeous! Flower petals all over the table.



Cipriani's on Wall Street was beautiful!


In attendance were Andy Borowitz, Gore Vidal, Joanne Woodward, and Dick Cavett. Let alone greats in the publishing industry.

We thanked rgz friends and judges Coe Booth and Nancy Werlin. These ladies, along with Kathi Appelt, Carolyn Coman, and Gene Luen Yang, had worked so hard choosing the finalists!



At our table were the charming daughters of Philip Hoose, Young People's Literature winner for Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Here he is kissing his daughter right after the announcement. :~)

Also at our table was Poetry Winner Keith Waldrop for Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy. That's the award before him!



Needless to say, we were cheering for Laini Taylor and Rita Williams-Grarcia! Arthur Levine even dyed his goatee pink to match Laini!



What a night to remember! Thank you National Book Foundation! Congrats to all the finalists and award winners!


November: Betrayed by a Friend

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In Sweetgrass Basket, Mattie feels betrayed by her friend Gracie, yet she understands Gracie is not as strong-willed as she is. Have you ever felt betrayed by a friend? Were you able to forgive that person?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rgz Salon: Rene Kirkpatrick Reviews Forest Born by Shannon Hale


René Kirkpatrick has been a bookseller and book buyer, specializing in children's and teen literature, for many years. She has a degree in elementary education and reads widely across all genres. She is currently a buyer at Third Place Books.

We're honored to have her here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where four of the top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Here's René!

Forest Born, by Shannon Hale, is a great addition to the Books of Bayern series.

Beginning with Goose Girl, the Bayern novels offer high adventure and fantasy. In this, the fourth book in the series, we meet Rin, a young woman of the forest who finds that she has a power over people that compels them to do what she wants. Unable to handle the way it makes her feel, she leaves the forest and the trees she understands and goes to the city to become a handmaid to the queen.

When Bayern becomes embroiled in war, Rin and the women she calls the Fire Sisters go to the kingdom of Kel to fight the queen who wants them dead. Along the way, Rin begins to understand her powers and how they can be used to help those in desperate need.

High excitement, great romance, funny, Forest Born is a good addition to any library.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

rgz RAVE! New Moon Frenzy

New Moon chat at readergirlz on November 21st

It's time! Did you go see New Moon yet? If so, jump into the frenzy at the top of the hour. Watch for prizes awarded by Gypsy Wings and rgz. Welcome to TwilightMOMS! And here we go...

rgz RAVE Tonight for New Moon!

New Moon chat at readergirlz on November 21st

It's tonight, rgz and Twilight Moms! I saw the movie yesterday. Can't wait to dish...

Tenth comment in the chat software, during the chat, wins Gypsy Wings' necklace. My mom is dying for it. :~)

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