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!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Teen Boat! by Dave Roman and John Green
What Boys Really Want by Pete Hautman
First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

For Teens
Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala (coming out January 2012)

For Kids
Toys Come Home: Being the Early Experiences of an Intelligent Stingray, a Brave Buffalo, and a Brand-New Someone Called Plastic by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinksky

Non-Fiction Pick
Geek Girls Unite: Why Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Will Inherit the Earth by Leslie Simon

Friday, October 21, 2011

Poetry Friday: "A Fond Farewell" by Christie Waldon


In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and my dear friend Christie, I'm reposting her poem she wrote the night before her bilateral mastectomy earlier this week. Here's to all the ladies experiencing breast cancer. Share your love and support, rgz!

A Fond Farewell

At twelve you embarrassed me. I wanted to wish you away.
(I had grown up with brothers, after all, and wanted to go shirtless forever!)
But that was before.
Before I knew how fun it was to actually fill a bikini top. :-)
Before I knew how fun it was to bra shop. (NOT!)
Before I knew that when a woman sets out to lose weight, it usually starts with the boobs.
Before I was married.
Before I knew what it meant to be blessed with a body part that could actually sustain life.
Before I knew that someday I'd lose you.

And so, on this mastectomy eve, I will say "Thank You."
Thank you for appearing out of nowhere that summer before 6th grade.
Thank you for holding up my strapless wedding dress.
Thank you for faithfully producing life-sustaining, fat-roly-thigh nourishment to my three precious babies.
Thank you for pointing the way all these years. (Hahaha, I crack me up!))
Most recently, thank you for showing me what gravity actually looks like.
Thank you.
Though you never defined me, you did accent me.
I will miss you.

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

rgz Seattle HOST: The Pen Fatale Tour

Here's another entry from our Seattle HOST, Stephanie Guerra! Her debut young adult novel, TORN, will be published by Marshall Cavendish in spring of 2012.

Hi girlz!

The Pen Fatale tour stopped in Seattle and I enjoyed a fun night at Third Place Books with Mary Pearson (The Fox Inheritance), Gabrielle Zevin (All These Things I’ve Done), Alyson Noel (Dreamland) and Jessica Brody (My Life Undecided).

My camera decided to die just as the ladies started speaking, so I don’t have any pictures to share, but check out these lovely book covers, instead. 

I love hearing authors describe the conception of their stories, and the round-up was particularly fun this time:

Jessica Brody admitted (shame-facedly) that she was watching The Hills when she came up with the idea for My Life Undecided. She became so irritated with The Hills characters for their poor decision making that she thought the audience should be able to vote on their choices. She decided to build a story around the idea, in which her indecisive main character blogs about her life and agrees to make decisions based on an audience vote. Fun premise!  And Brody has actually put it into action, on her website, www.mylifeundecided.com, where members can anonymously post questions for a group vote.

Gabrielle Zevin found the inspiration for her story in 2008, when the economy was taking a nosedive. On a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a ticket seller told her, “You should give more than the suggested contribution, because we might go under any day now.” This made Gabrielle wonder what the future might look like if the arts and libraries were no longer funded, and if each year things got a little worse instead of a little better. Then she threw in a mob family, and some laws against chocolate, and All These Things I’ve Done was born.

Mary Pearson’s conception story is moving and thought-provoking. When her daughter was diagnosed with a “good” kind of cancer, for which treatment was effective, Mary wondered: what if her daughter had been born fifty years ago, when the treatment didn’t exist? And what kind of medical technologies might be possible fifty years in the future? She began to research, and found that futurists are predicting computers advanced enough to scan and upload human minds, which became the seminal idea for The Fox Inheritance.

Alyson Noel told a story I think many authors can relate to. She found herself so drawn to Riley, a character in her Immortals series, that she had to develop a spin-off series around her. Riley kept popping up in The Immortals wearing crazy outfits, speaking funny lines, and Alyson found herself giving a secondary character more time and attention than she’d expected. She said it was very difficult to remove Riley from the story, and at that point, she knew she’d have to give Riley her own story to tell.

And finally, here’s what you can look forward to from these wonderful authors:

Jessica Brody’s next book, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, will be coming out next year. She assured us she does not hate her father, like the spoiled heiress in this book, whose father delays her inheritance and insists that she work a different low-wage job each week for a year. She also has a fantasy trilogy in the works.

Alyson Noel will continue the Riley Bloom series, and she gave us some exciting insights into Whisper, in which Riley goes to Ancient Rome and becomes enchanted with the excess and glamour of the time.  Apparently there’s a fight with a Gladiator ghost! Good stuff.

Gabrielle Zevin is working on a sequel to All These Things I’ve Done. It continues the story of the futuristic organized crime family, and it takes place in Mexico, where chocolate is legal. I love that Gabrielle is exploring what it’s like to be a girl in a family/social structure that typically disenfranchises women. As she put it, “When women try to claim any power in the Mob, they get slapped around.” I’m glad somebody is talking back to that.

Mary Pearson is working on the third and final installment in the Fox Trilogy, tentatively titled Fox Forever. She said any more info than that would be a spoiler. Whatever it is, I know we're all looking forward to it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

rgz Newsflash: Shine Removed?

I came home from the library today, totally happy to have found Shine on the shelf. I was excited to read Lauren Myracle's new work, knowing it was going to be intense and profound. Knowing it was nominated for the National Book Award. And then Little Willow pointed me to Libba Bray's blog.

The Foundation asked Lauren to recuse herself from the finalists as her nomination was an error. Graciously, Lauren did so. We applaud her integrity and send our loving support.

For me personally, Lauren is still on the list. No doubt.

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Happy Teen Read Week!

Hey readergirlz!

We wish you all great reading as we celebrate YALSA's Teen Read Week! "Picture it @ your library" is this year's theme. In keeping with that, we recommend p*tag, the first YA poetry e-reader collection. With 31 poems inspired by 31 images, this work is a perfect fit for this year's TRW.

P*TAG (PoetryTagTime)
So check it out. Support a poet. And take a stab at writing to the images yourself.

Oh, and did you see the Teens' Top 10? What do you think?

Happy Teen Read Week!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Friday, October 14, 2011

rgz Shout Out: You Go, Demi Lovato!

Last month, we posted about Demi Lovato's grateful and encouraging statements as she thanked her fans for supporting her through her recovery. Then we watched her appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, where she was very candid about her struggle with eating disorders and with cutting.

Sometimes, the truth can be the hardest thing to admit - but it's the most important. If you find yourself in an unhealthy situtation, don't be afraid to reach out for help. The people who truly love you will be there for you, no matter what, and they can help out. If you are hurting in any way, reach out to someone you trust and take the first step towards a brighter tomorrow.

If you don't see the video below, click here to watch it on YouTube.

Poetry Friday: To Be Heard, Best Documentary, NYT

How perfect is this for Poetry Friday? Woot!

So much to say about this documentary To Be Heard. Justina Chen and I were privileged to be asked to screen the film and offer comments awhile back. It was a blast and very much like critiquing a novel. We felt at home with the producers and other guests as we dissected and discussed the early work.

The film was completed and eventually, we were guests at the Seattle Film Festival where the documentary ended up sweeping the awards. As the above poster shows, it's done the same in many cities. Here I am with Pearl, one of the three featured poets in the documentary. She's a resilient powerhouse! 

And now The New York Times just named To Be Heard the best documentary of the year! 

"Ultimately, though, the intimacy of the portraiture is so raw that it transcends sociology. These students — Anthony Pittman, Pearl Quick and Karina Sanchez — are three of the most authentic and complex young adults you’ll find in any film this year. And each is a genuinely great writer: technically accomplished and emotionally overwhelming. They aren’t just the subjects of “To Be Heard.” They’re its stars."

To Be Heard will be playing in New York City from 10/12 through 10/18 at the IFC theater and in Beverly Hills from 11/4 through 11/10 at the Laemmle Music Hall theater. If you are nearby, GO! 

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Thursday, October 13, 2011

rgz Circle of Stars: Trailer for You Are My Only

So happy to share our former rgz Author in Residence Beth Kephart's new trailer for her next novel. My review for You Are My Only ran here. Don't miss this book when it releases at the end of the month. Don't-miss-it. 

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

rgz Newsflash: National Book Award Finalists!

2011 National Book Award Young People's Literature Finalists
Franny BillingsleyChime
(Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, Inc. )
Debby Dahl EdwardsonMy Name Is Not Easy
(Marshall Cavendish)
Thanhha LaiInside Out and Back Again
(Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)
Albert MarrinFlesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy
(Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)
Lauren MyracleShine
(Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS)
Gary D. SchmidtOkay for Now
(Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Young People’s Literature Judges: Marc Aronson (Panel Chair), Ann Brashares, Matt de la Peña, Nikki Grimes, Will Weaver
Hot off the National Book Award site. Congrats, authors and thanks to the judges! Well done!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz 

Cover Stories: Wintering Well by Lea Wait

When I went up to the Albany Children's Book Festival in the spring, I sat next to Lea Wait (yay for alphabetical order!) and we got to talking about one of the books she had on her table, Wintering Well. Of course, we got into Cover talk, and I heard the amazing story behind this book's two covers. And now Lea's here to share it:

"I’ve usually had a good relationship with my editors at McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster) regarding covers. Discussion for the cover of Wintering Well started innocently enough, when I asked whether the artist who had done the artwork for my previous two historical for McElderry would also be doing the cover of Wintering Well. I was told that, no, a digital photograph would be used this time instead of original art. When I pressed the issue (I really liked the artist’s work, and thought all my covers should have the same look) I was told Barnes & Noble wanted all middle reader books to have digital photo covers, so if I wanted my book to be in B&N, that’s the way it would be.

"O – KAY! My editor then asked what the main character in my book, Will, looked like. I described him as I did in the book. It was 1819; he worked on a Maine farm; he wore a smock over long trousers, had sun-bleached hair and blue eyes. She hired a young model, clothed him appropriately, and I thought the result was a great cover (above left), even if it was a photo and not a painting.

"Shortly after the book was published I got an email from the mother of the model. She wanted to tell me that her son, Sasha, was modeling to save for college. She also thought I’d like to know he’d been adopted from Russia as an older child, since she’d read in my bio that I’d adopted four older children. I was delighted to know, and added Sasha’s story when I was asked about the boy on the cover – as I frequently was.

"Eighteen months later, Wintering Well was published again, this time in paperback. My other books had made this journey before, and their covers had traveled with them: the same cover appeared on the paperback as on hardcover.

"So I took a very deep breath when I opened an envelope with an advance copy of the paperback edition of Wintering Well and came face-to-face, not with Sasha, but with a boy I’d never seen before..."

Read the rest of Lea's Cover Story on melissacwalker.com.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

rgz Newsflash: Courageous Creativity

I was graciously invited to contribute to Flying Chickadee's zine, Courageous Creativity, in the month of October. In their words:

"Through this zine we present stories of courage and creativity sourced from people like you and me, living, working, being courageously creative and changing themselves and others in our community. Our writers come from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life - they are small business owners, state employees, corporate CEOs, non-profit founders and volunteers, professionals, scientists, sociologists, artists, activists, mothers and fathers, and friends." 

The editor was kind to inquire about readergirlz and my personal life. My essay is entitled "Joy in the Midst of Trial." Take a look! The entire zine is created with such beautiful quality. Here is their Facebook page, as well. I know you will be uplifted by these "transcultural stories of courage, creativity and change!" Here's a shout out to our amazing community. Thanks for the years of love and support, rgz!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cover Stories: The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin (Paperback)

I noticed that Josh Berk's novel, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, got a completely revised paperback cover this summer, so I asked Josh to come back and share the new Cover Story. Because his original one? Highly entertaining.

Here's Josh:

"As mentioned in my previous Cover Story, Will Halpin (the star of THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN) was once a cartoon and is now a real boy! On the cover of the hardcover, Will (along with his co-stars Ebony and Devon) was rendered cartoon-style by French artist Philippe Petit-Roulet. It was a very cool cover (right), but for the paperback I was informed that my publisher was going to 'go in a different direction.' (I'm not sure why I put that in quotes because it may not be a direct quote.)

"Various other directions were suggested. For example, one had as its central image an old diagram of the lobes of the human brain. It looked a lot like this:

"The title was zooming out of the guy's ear. It looked really awesome to me, but it was decided that it didn't exactly say 'teen friendly.' There was also a version of the cover pitched which had a bunch of crows spelling the title in yarn. I thought this was great too! (I'm not hard to please I guess...) It's hard to explain, but it looked awesome. Alas, it was deemed as not exactly the 'teen vibe.' (Note: Teens don't love crows? They should. Crows are awesome. Maybe teens hate yarn.)

"So the next cover pitched was this black and white image of a dude walking in the woods..."

Read the rest of Josh's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Friday, October 7, 2011

rgz Seattle HOST: with Alexa Martin and Amber Kizer

Here's a great entry from our Seattle HOST, Stephanie Guerra! Her debut young adult novel, TORN, will be published by Marshall Cavendish in spring of 2012.

Hi girlz!

I recently went to see Alexa Martin (Girl Wonder) and Amber Kizer (7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes, Gert Garibaldi’s Rants and Raves: One Butt Cheek at a Time, Meridian, Wildcat Fireflies) promote their new books at Third Place in Seattle. It was a fun, intimate evening, with lots of great information from the authors about their inspirations, vices, and writing processes. Here are some fun facts:

Alexa’s vice is Louisiana style coffee, which is mostly cream and sugar. Amber says hers is “food, and I’m not a vegetarian. Baked goods.”  I loved hearing that! I’m always comforted by women who like caffeine and pastries as much as I do.

Alexa shared a fascinating story about her formative writing experiences. She was diagnosed early with a learning disability, and went through school feeling “less intelligent” than the other kids. Special education helped her achieve success in literacy, and in fact, she began to overcompensate for her disability, producing “very clean copy.” I can attest to that. Her writing is crisp and clear, with her verbs doing most of the work.  When she uses an adjective, it’s the perfect one. What an amazing example for anyone struggling with a learning disability.

Amber told us about her inspiration for one of the settings in Wildcat Fireflies.Helios is a restaurant she visited many times with her family, and over the years, she formed a bond with the owner. When this woman was fighting cancer, Amber told her that Wildcat Fireflies would be “her” book. The owner then revealed that she’d made a bucket list, and one of her dreams was to leave something lasting. With Amber’s book dedication, she felt she could check off this dream.

It was also inspiring to hear about writing process from these two very different authors. Amber aims to produce ten new pages of work each day, while Alexa works more slowly, piecing together memories and weaving them into her books. I’ve heard these two types of writers termed “gushers” and “bleeders” (sorry if that’s a bit dark) and I’d say these ladies each fit one of the categories. You should have seen Amber’s storyboard, which is an organized miracle of boxes, numbers, and different colored marker. Alexa, on the other hand, prefers to work more organically.

Finally, both ladies shared a “Top Thirteen” book list in honor of Banned Books Week, which I’ve included below. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll check out these talented writers, if you haven’t done so already!

Alexa loves:

This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

For Esme, with Love and Squalor by J.D. Salinger

Forever by Judy Blume

Watership Down by Richard Adams

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt

And Amber’s favorites:

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

Black Juice by Margo Lanagan

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson

Izzy Willy Nilly Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt

Cover Stories: Playing Blue by Holly Schindler

Holly Schindler is here to talk about two of her novels, A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt. They have really different feels (Playing Hurt makes me want summer back!--and A Blue So Dark has a much eerier feel--I love underwater covers lately).

Here's Holly to talk about each cover:

"While the covers of my YA novels—A BLUE SO DARK and PLAYING HURT—are both stock images, the end result is pretty night-and-day different, as is the content of the books (A BLUE SO DARK explores the possible link between mental illness and creativity, and PLAYING HURT features a romance between two former athletes.)

"The covers have two completely different functions. A BLUE SO DARK is a metaphorical cover; it speaks to the emotional content of the book. It’s a poetic representation of what happens in the book. PLAYING HURT is a literal interpretation.

"I love both covers—but of the two, PLAYING HURT’s my favorite, because I think it better steers the book toward the right readership.

"When A BLUE SO DARK was released, it was frequently purchased on Amazon by readers who also purchased paranormal titles..."

Read the rest of Holly's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Diva Delight: Under the Mesquite

When Kirkus gives a star and says, "a promising deeply felt debut," listen! And I did. Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall is a verse novel of beautiful realism.

Living on he border of the U.S. and Mexico, Lupita navigates high school, her heritage, her homes in Texas and Mexico, and her mother's diagnosis of uterine cancer. As the eldest in her large family, Lupita carries the weight of daily life and anxiety while her father supports her hospitalized mother.

The book skips quickly along through seasons and years as just the most poignant moments are shared, whether they be crisis or quiet. The symbol of the resilient mesquite tree echoes its strength from beginning to end.

At readergirlz we most definitely applaud Lee & Low for adding a brilliant Mexican American voice to young adult literature.  Read Under the Mesquite for the rich culture and shared human experience of pain, loss, and rebirth.

Under the Mesquite
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Lee & Low, 2011

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Saturday, October 1, 2011

National Student Day is October 6th!

Thursday, October 6th will be the first-ever National Student Day, created in order to celebrate the volunteer efforts of college students around the country. Here's the scoop from the National Student Day website:

"The goal of this day is to celebrate and promote social responsibility by students across North America! Do you volunteer as a Big Brother or Sister? Help out at a homeless shelter? Are you looking to find ways to give back to society and others? Then this day is for YOU! Your college store wants to recognize the good deeds you do - and encourage your peers who might be looking for a gentle push towards helping others.

"Look no farther. NationalStudentDay.com is your online hub for information about volunteerism, links to social media, and a way to win BIG. College stores will act as the physical location for the main event.

"But that's not all. Students have the opportunity to win huge prizes for the most popular example of volunteerism.

"Click here to create a login to register and post an example of how you give back to your community. Students will be able to submit text, photos, drawings, or video. Then urge your friends to vote for you. Spread the word via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to capture the most votes and win! The 10 most popular examples of student volunteerism will win prizes ranging from scholarships to iPads."

They are giving away:
A $3,000 Scholarship
A $2,000 Scholarship
A $1,000 Scholarship
7 iPads

Voting will end on Friday, October 14th at 5 PM EST.

Good luck, everyone! Thank you for serving your community and helping your world!