Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Thank you, Meg Cabot! (+ Tiara Time!)
Here's a big THANK YOU to the amazing Meg Cabot for joining us at readergirlz this month! Things we learned about marvelous Meg include:
1. She loved Slumdog Millionaire.
2. She writes in bed to rock music on headphones.
3. The spying-on-neighbor scenes in How to Be Popular were based in truth! "I used to spy on my neighbor when we were teens! It was fun! (but we never went out...we weren’t even friends!)" says Meg.
We had so much fun this month!
Also, we can't let her go without telling everyone about this awesome Tiara Auction in honor of Forever Princess, the tenth and final book in the best-selling PRINCESS DIARIES series (out now!). More than 25 actors, authors, illustrators, designers, organizations and TV personalities have decorated tiaras in celebration of the book (Meg's is the one up top). Want to see Sarah Dessen's? That's it, above left!
The tiaras will be auctioned online at cMarket from January 1-31 with all proceeds benefiting programs for teens at The New York Public Library’s 87 branches.
And, if you're in NYC, Meg will be speaking about Forever Princess at The New York Public Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue on Friday, January 9th at 7:00 p.m. The free event is open to the public and will take place in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the landmark building.
Just one more way Ms. Cabot helps the world sparkle! Come back and see us anytime, Meg!
Monday, December 29, 2008
Secrets of Charm
It includes instructions on how to sit on the ground elegantly ("Hold your back and head erect. Otherwise your spine curves and your shoulders droop to make a shambles of your figure that not even a winter coat could hide.")
Plus tips for buying a hat ("How many times have you been disappointed in a new hat? What a bonbon it was in the store, and what a bitter dish on arrival!")
And even advice on "Jaw Limbering" ("To relax the jaw, move it in a circular motion and say, 'How about going to town, now?' and "the stores abound with new brown gowns.'")
Hi-larious! This one is a fantastic read. If you've ever stumbled upon a fun and outdated tome, do tell.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Little Willow's Book Bag
Geek Charming by Robin Palmer (coming out in February; companion to Cindy Ella)
Kisses and Lies by Lauren Henderson (coming out mid-January; sequel to Kiss Me, Kill Me)
For Your Younger Sister
Toy Dance Party: Being the Further Adventures of a Bossyboots Stingray, a Courageous Buffalo, and a Hopeful Round Someone Called Plastic by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky (sequel to Toys Go Out)
Solving Zoe by Barbara Dee (coming out in April)
A Pirate's Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates
Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jane Dyer
Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer
This Month's Spotlighted Title
How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot
Friday, December 26, 2008
Cover Stories: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
So I had to ask Elizabeth: How did the cover come about? Here she is:
"My editor at Simon Pulse always talks to me about the cover--the kind of look they're going for--and usually I see samples that they're thinking about using, which come from stock photos, or pictures that have already been taken. For LIVING DEAD GIRL, though, Simon Pulse had a photographer, Russell Gordon, take the pictures.
"The very first cover was just a dress, and I liked it, but worried that it wasn't going to be eye-catching enough. With so many books out there, it's really important to have a cover that pops visually and that will grab a potential readers' attention.
"The final cover was shot in Central Park, I believe (I know it was a park in Manhattan!) and Russell very patiently took about a million shots of different dresses on fall leaves. Oddly enough, the picture that ended up being chosen was one where Russell's leg had accidentally gotten into the shot, but as soon as I saw it, I *knew* it was the right one--it conveyed a sense of menace that the shots of just a dress didn't, and really did a great job of showing what the book is about--and all without words!"
Thanks, Elizabeth! I agree. You guys?
PS-For a chance to win a book by Elizabeth, visit my blog and enter by Monday 12/29!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We've been building playlists this way for almost 2 years. *sigh* I'm thinking they are trying to get us to use their tools instead. This is going to take me a bit to figure out. Here's the full report:
Meg's songs for HOW TO BE POPULAR are still running on our website and you can hear them there. If you are missing them at MySpace, here's the text list below at least.
Sorry for the inconvenience. Trying to rock on,
Let the Good Times Roll - The Cars
Brown Sugar - The Rolling Stones
God Save the Queen - Sex Pistols
Young Americans - David Bowie
Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
My Sharona - The Knack
London Calling - The Clash
Heart of Glass - Blondie
Blitzkrieg Bop - The Ramones
Cantina Band - Star Wars
The Gift of Giving
Then just write out a card to that person, telling them which organization is getting some love in their honor. Not sure where to donate? Luckily, John and Hank Green, the vlogbrothers, have given us lots of choices with their Project For Awesome, where lots of vloggers submitted YouTube videos about their favorite charities. So go to YouTube, search "project for awesome," and find out about tons of amazing options for this perfect last-minute gift.
Seriously, it's a heartwarmer. Happy Holidays!
Monday, December 22, 2008
rgz SALON: Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games, reviewed by Nancy Pearl
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 Nancy!
Gregor the Overlander, Suzanne Collins' first novel, is one of my all-time favorite fantasies. A brave eleven-year-old hero, page-turning adventures, moral dilemmas, and a super ending made it a perfect book for middle-grade readers. Now, in The Hunger Games (the first volume of an intended trilogy), Collins has written a remarkable and thought provoking novel for teens about the oppression and dehumanization of its citizens by an all-powerful central government, evoking George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. At the same time, it’s an impossible-to-put-down action-adventure-romance story. Panem is a wealthy and powerful city in post-apocalyptic North America; it’s surrounded by twelve outlying, poverty stricken districts that serve, in effect, as colonies providing the resources needed to maintain the capitol’s wealth. Sometime in the past the districts attempted a rebellion, which Panem brutally put down. As a reminder to the districts of their powerlessness, the Capitol requires each one to choose, by lot, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, the ultimate TV game show, a fight to the death on live TV, in which the last contestant alive wins fame and fortune. The Games are treated as a huge celebration in the Capitol, with pre-game up-close-and-personal interviews of each “Tribute,” betting on, and opportunities to send aid to, one’s favorites, and round the clock watch parties. The story is told in the voice of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who we get to know and care about deeply during the course of the novel. When her beloved 12-year-old sister, Prim, is chosen by lot to be the girl tribute from district 12 (formerly know as Appalachia), Katniss bravely, and to the astonishment of all (but within the rules of the game), volunteers to take her place, and sets off on the most dangerous, and exciting, “adventure” of her life. And the reader gets to accompany her every step of the way. One of the things I found so remarkable (and disorienting and disturbing) about this book is the way it was able to pull me, emotionally, into the excitement of the celebration and the adventure of the game itself, almost as if I were experiencing it as a wealthy citizen of the Capitol, even though I knew, intellectually, that what I was reading about was a government forcing children to kill other children. The Hunger Games, surely destined to be a classic of teen literature, is a superb choice for book discussion groups of all ages.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
National Haiku Day!
Read, write, or share a haiku today. Or visit the Haiku Society of America. Thanks for letting me know, Little Willow!
Here's mine for the celebration:
The crow hops among
curled leaves cupping snowed berries.
Flakes fall in my eyes.
Lorie Ann Grover, 2008
Anyone else want to share?
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Little Willow's Book Bag
Band Geeked Out by Josie Bloss (coming out in April)
Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah
For Your Younger Sister
Sunny Holiday by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
This Month's Spotlighted Title
How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot
Friday, December 19, 2008
New site! I Heart Daily
I just wanted to announce my new venture. iheartdaily.com is a free email newsletter and website that delivers one item each day from the world of entertainment, fashion, beauty or news. (And that means we’ll totally cover great YA books, of course!)
Each day, you’ll find out about one thing we think you’ll like. The band you should hear, the girl who’s making a difference in the world, the new lip gloss color that looks good on everyone, the undiscovered author who is writing amazing books. You’ll never hear about stuff we hate, just stuff we heart. We’re nice that way.
Come check out the site and sign up for the newsletter if you like what you see!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Press Release: End of the Year Celebrations!
For more information contact:
Sara Easterly, Publicist for readergirlz
Sara Easterly & Friends,email@example.com
READERGIRLZ CELEBRATES ANOTHER YEAR OF BIG SUCCESSES
Thousands of teens influenced by the organization in its mission to promote teen literacy
Dec. 18, 2008 (Seattle, Wash.) – As 2008 draws to a close, readergirlz (rgz) reflects on a year of successes in its quest to promote teen literacy and leadership in girls. Wrapping up its second year, the organization has many successes to celebrate:
- Receiving a distinguished 2007 James Patterson PageTurner Grant.
- Partnering with 20 book publishers to give 10,000 books to teens patients in hospitals across the United States and Canada as part of rgz Operation TBD.
- Launching rgz TV (www.youtube.com/readergirlz), a series of candid interviews with award-winning authors the likes of Sonya Sones, Paula Yoo, John Green and Sarah Dessen.
- Hosting more than a dozen celebrated authors in nightly themed chats as part of rgz Night Bites—a celebration of Young Adult Library Services Association's (YALSA's) Teen Read Week™. The accompanying book trailer was viewed more than 6,600 times.
- Expanding with a new franchise named readertotz, a unique board book blog that aims to raise awareness of the infant toddler book as a significant format of children's literature.
- Bringing new divas into the mix: Melissa Walker, author of the popular and award-winning Violet series (Violet on the Runway, Violet by Design, and Violet in Private); and Holly Cupala, debut novelist of the tentatively titled A Light That Never Goes Out (HarperCollins, 2010).
- Creating the rgz salon, a book-reviewing collective of several esteemed names in young-adult literature: Nancy Pearl, NPR Book Lust Reviewer/librarian; Rene Kirkpatrick, Book Buyer/Seller at Third Place Books in Seattle; Sharon Levin, librarian; and Judy Nelson, librarian and past president of YALSA.
- Receiving a "Best Web Site Award" by the American Library Association's Association for Library Services to Children, (ALSC).
- Speaking at the Washington and Oregon Library Media Association Convention, the YPulse Conference, the Kidlit Blogging Conference, and on a panel with Colleen Mondor from GuysLitWire to YALSA librarians about engaging teens to read through social networks.
- Being featured in a READ poster with nationwide distribution.
- Garnering coverage in GalleyCat, Publishers Weekly Children's Bookshelf, Fuse #8, School Library Journal and Christian Science Monitor.
Most notable, rgz has touched the lives of thousands of teen readers. The organization has more than 8,500 friends on its MySpace profile (www.myspace.com/readergirlz), with more than 50,000 views, along with over 3,000 views on its new blog (http://readergirlz.blogspot.
"I love being a part of readergirlz," said one forum regular. "I feel so special! I feel like I finally belong somewhere, finally!"
"I love reading even more now since you girls have inspired me!!!" said another readergirl.
Looking ahead to 2009, rgz isn't planning on slowing down:
- Operation TBD will be back by popular demand—the organization is currently accepting book and audiobook donations from publishers to distribute in April to thousands of teens in hospitals as part of Operation TBD '09.
- Several of the rgz divas will speak at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in April.
- Blogging teen dynamo Miss Erin (http://misserinmarie.
blogspot.com) will head up a rgz Street Team dedicated to contributing young adult book reviews.
- Renowned blogger Shelf Elf (http://shelfelf.wordpress.com
) will join the postergirlz.
- rgz will be announcing an exciting partnership with GuysLitWire (guyslitwire.blogspot.com).
- Mitali Perkins will transition to rgz Talent Scout to keep tabs on the latest industry buzz.
- readertotz founders Lorie Ann Grover and Joan Holub will contribute weekly blog posts that feature the best contributions in the board-book arena and recommend monthly community service projects appropriate for families with young children to enjoy.
readergirlz is the foremost online book community for teen girls, led by five critically acclaimed YA authors—Dia Calhoun (Avielle of Rhia), Holly Cupala (A Light That Never Goes Out) Lorie Ann Grover (On Pointe), Justina Chen Headley (Girl Overboard), and Melissa Walker (the Violet series). readergirlz is the recipient of a 2007 James Patterson PageTurner Award.
To promote teen literacy and leadership in girls, readergirlz features a different YA novel and corresponding community service project every month. For more information about readergirlz, please visit www.readergirlz.com and www.myspace.com/readergirlz, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
LIVE! Tonight! Meg Cabot!
And during the day, to psych up, visit Girl Week at Reviewer X's blog.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Cover Stories: Something Happened by Greg Logsted
His novel, Something Happened, is about Billy, an 8th grader struggling with the death of his dad. His mom is very distant, and his friends just don't get what he's going through. His new English teacher, though, the young and beautiful Miss Gate, offers friendship... and maybe more.
I'm really interested to read this book, which was originally going to be a Middle Grade book but then was bumped up to the older age group--Young Adult. I like that it's from the point of view of a 13-year-old boy, too--that feels new to me. Plus: Scandal!
Without further ado, here's Greg:
"My first idea for the cover of Something Happened was the cover image from a movie "Romance & Cigarettes" that had a woman lying on her back, holding a cigarette, wearing red heels and, um, suggestive clothing. Because the original title for Something Happened was "Sock Puppets in Love" - which I scrapped because, great as it was, it didn't fit the serious tone of the book - I thought she could have a sock puppet in her hand instead of the cigarette. Well, of course a cover with a cigarette and a woman in suggestive clothing wasn't appropriate for a YA book - even I recognized that! I did share my "Romance & Cigarette" idea when asked my thoughts - for some odd reason, no one went for it. Btw, I do not smoke.
"The original cover design (above, full jacket) was cartoon-like with a yellow background and a car driving on a zig-zaggy street - a far cry from the beautiful colors and tight sweater we wound up with for the final cover. Truthfully, the original cover was a lot of fun...for a completely different kind of book (just like the original title).
"Because they eventually decided to publish it as a YA rather then a MG, the cover changed. The woman used as a model for the final cover actually works at Simon & Schuster. But she's headless in the picture and no one has ever told me her name, unfortunately. Still, she does look like the kind of woman a teenage boy would find, um, hot.
"As for the final cover, I honestly was pleased with it. I love it."
I think it's pretty enticing too, and it sounds perfect for the mood of the book. What are your thoughts on the covers?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
rgz LIVE! with Meg Cabot on December 18th!
We are chatting it up with Meg on Thursday, December 18th, 6:00 pm, Pacific, at the rgz MySpace group forum! Hope you all can make it. Meg is just a blast! She's up for talking about all of her work so feel free to drop in. We'll share some holiday cheer with each other.
Lorie Ann Grover ~rgz diva/author
Monday, December 15, 2008
Twilight Dolls: Creepy But Fashionable
I don't know about you guys, but I'm a little freaked out by the Twilight dolls. Heard this news from trendhunter.com via ypulse.com... the dolls will be out in spring 2009.
On the plus side, I do love their Pacific Northwest fashion sense. Bring back flannels and grays, browns and dark blues, please!
What do you think?
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Little Willow's Book Bag
Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott (coming out in March)
Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender (coming out in April)
After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr (coming out in May)
For Your Younger Siblings
Judy Moody Goes to College by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter Reynolds
The Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems
The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum by Kate Bernheimer
Give a Goat by Jan Schrock West
This Month's Spotlighted Title
How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot
Friday, December 12, 2008
Books as Gifts!
We are loving all the online buzz about giving books as holiday presents this year! Here are a few spots where you can get must-buy advice and add your own purchases to the recommendation lists:
First, Book Reporter tells us all the many reasons why books are the perfect gift!
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks author (and National Book Award nominee) E. Lockhart's recommended list for "boyfriend and teenagers."
Our own Little Willow blogs on sparknotes.com about the right book picks for all sorts of recipients, plus book-related gift ideas (think literary music mixes, writing journals, and multiple copies of a title for a new book club!)
Amor and Summer Secrets author Diana Rodriguez Wallach brings us The 12 Books of Christmas!
Yahoo!'s SHINE recommends gifts for the literary fan.
Add the titles you've picked out to the growing list at When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Buy Books.
Who else has a list of great book gift ideas? Let us know.
UPDATED: A fantastic list from Chasing Ray!
Happy book shopping!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Martha Brockenbrough, our media specialist
Here's a shot of us, pinched from Jolie's blog (Joni, Martha, Holly, Jolie):
I was a Martha fan long before I met her, and she's just as hilarious and approachable and brilliant in person as in her columns, books, and SPOGG (The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar). Here, she chats about Bob Dylan, laying, lying, and...naughty chickens:
Holly Cupala, Author & rgz diva
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Thanks for the Blog Love!
We are so happy that Sarah, of Sarah's Random Musings, and Jen, of Jen Robinson's Book Page, have named the readergirlz blog among their favorites!
We got the I Love Your Blog award from Sarah and the Butterfly "Coolest Blog" Award from Jen. Both come with logos, featured here, and both ask that we pass on the love. Wow. We read so many blogs that we're not sure where to start! Author sites and blogs are among our favorites, so here are links to the authors we've featured this year and where they write when they're not, you know, writing books:
Kirby Larson, author of Hattie Big Sky
Nikki Grimes, author of Bronx Masquerade
Sarah Dessen, author of Just Listen
Kelly Bingham, author of Shark Girl
Shannon Hale, author of Book of a Thousand Days
Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Prom
Jay Asher, author of 13 Reasons Why
Melissa Walker, author of Violet in Private (+ new rgz diva!)
Paula Yoo, author of Good Enough
Rachel Cohn, co-author of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Ellen Emerson White, author of Long May She Reign
Meg Cabot, author of How to be Popular
Get lost in these authors' worlds, readergirlz! Thanks to Jen and Sarah for the awards and the inspiration.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Great Blogosphere Reads This Week
* 2009 debut author Neesha Meminger on Race and YA Lit (Racialicious.com):
"All you have to do is stroll through the aisles of a bookstore to see that the fantasy, mystery, romance genres are stocked full. And not with fantasy, mystery, or romance by authors of Color."
* New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound on a New Rochelle school that's censoring (ie, tearing up!) Girl, Interrupted in the classroom:
"Pages from the middle of the book have been torn out by the school district after having been deemed 'inappropriate' by school officials due to sexual content and strong language."
* The LA Times on Stephenie Meyer's online connection with fans:
"It wasn't just that Meyer's fans came to her blog, but that she went to theirs, writing posts and commenting on the things they had written."
Monday, December 8, 2008
Meg at the Movies!
We knew that the title we're talking about in the rgz forum, How to Be Popular, is at MTV.
According to Publisher's Weekly, producers Joan Singleton (Because of Winn-Dixie) and Harry Winer (House Arrest) just secured film rights to Meg's All-American Girl series (American Girl and Ready or Not).
In addition, per PW, "Avalon High is at the Disney Channel; The Mediator is with producer Julia Pistor; The Heather Wells Mysteries is at ABC Family, as is Jinx; and The Queen of Babble is with producer Jeff Sharp of Sharp Independent."
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Little Willow's Book Bag
Mind the Gap: A Novel of the Hidden Cities by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
Black Box by Julie Schumacher
Headlong by Kathe Koja
This Month's Spotlighted Title
How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot
Friday, December 5, 2008
rgz Party Recap!
I, rgz Diva Melissa Walker, had a really fantastic book party this week at Butter (ahem, where Blair Waldorf eats) with Gamer Girl author Mari Mancusi, who rules. Here she is signing her book. Isn't she pretty in purple?
Also there (with me) were awesome authors Bennett Madison (The Lulu Dark mysteries) and Deborah Gregory (Cheetah Girls series and Catwalk).
And Mari and I got to rub elbows with Scott Westerfeld (Uglies) and Diana Peterfreund (Rampant). They came with fellow fabulous authors Justline Larbalestier and Maureen Johnson.
And my ELLEgirls were there too! Here's me in the center of Linnea, Mariel, Erin and Marie.
Mari put games on the table, so here's Becky, Jeff and Dave getting into Hungry, Hungry Hippos.
It was a blast!
And you know what else is fun? TALKING TO MEG CABOT! Come on over to the rgz forum and join us!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Girls Can't WHAT?
Annoyingly, the answer is yes!
So far, we've met great girls though this site, including Joey Davenport, who can throw a spiral football better than most guys, and Tammy from Fort Worth, Texas, who's one of the few women exterminators!
Now you can share a story about overcoming that "you can't" moment in the Your Story section of the site. Submit an essay, a poem, a video, whatever works!
And then come join us in the readergirlz forum, where we're talking with ultra-smart glamour girl author Meg Cabot!
We'll tell you what girls can do--anything.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
readertotz Press Release!
For more information contact:
Sara Easterly, Publicist, email@example.com, 206-632-8588
READERGIRLZ EXPANDS WITH A NEW FRANCHISE: READERTOTZ
Celebrated author/illustrators Lorie Ann Grover and Joan Holub launch readertotz in an effort to recognize the infant-toddler book as a vital addition to children's literature.
December 2, 2008 (Seattle, Wash.) – readergirlz co-founder and author/illustrator Lorie Ann Grover and author/illustrator Joan Holub have just launched readertotz (http://readertotz.blogspot.
While picture books, books for beginning readers, middle-grade novels and young-adult literature have been recognized with major awards such as the Caldecott, Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal, the Newbery, the Printz and the National Book Award, it is rare to find such esteem given to infant-toddler books—despite their importance in instilling a life-long love of books and reading in the youngest readers.
"Board books are certainly overlooked and misunderstood, and they serve such an important purpose in introducing babies and toddlers to books," said Rotem Moscovich, Associate Editor, Scholastic. "What they are, how they work (and taste). The board makes it possible for them to do it themselves, and also to feel comfortable with books."
Taking the lead from readergirlz, which boasts more than 8,000 members, readertotz will showcase high-quality literature. Lorie Ann Grover and Joan Holub will feature weekly blog posts that highlight the best contributions in the infant-toddler book arena and recommend monthly community service projects appropriate for families with young children to enjoy. Also included each month: an age-appropriate playlist and a recommended book for the older sibling.
"readertotz is our effort to raise the bar in board and novelty book literature," says Lorie Ann Grover. "We're challenging our colleagues to write great books for the youngest readers and encouraging the industry to publish those works. Eventually, we hope to work with the American Library Association to establish an award for infant-toddler books that's equivalent to the Caldecott and Theodor Geisel Award."
Lorie Ann Grover (http://lorieanngrover.
readergirlz is the foremost online book community for teen girls, led by six critically acclaimed YA authors—Dia Calhoun (Avielle of Rhia), Holly Cupala (A Light That Never Goes Out) Lorie Ann Grover (On Pointe), Justina Chen Headley (Girl Overboard), Mitali Perkins (First Daughter: White House Rules), and Melissa Walker (the Violet series). readergirlz is the recipient of a 2007 James Patterson PageTurner Award and the Association for Library Services to Children, ALA, Great Web Sites Award.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Rgz and Bloggers Unite for World AIDS Day
We're joining with Bloggers Unite to spread awareness of World AIDS day today, and there is a wealth of information on how you can get involved here.
Since we at readergirlz are book lovers, we have to mention the lyrical Push by Sapphire, a graphic, harrowing story of a girl named Precious who deals with pregnancy, incest, abuse, HIV, and, in the end, hope.
What other books have you read that deal with HIV and AIDS?
Welcome, Meg Cabot!
This book was a NY Times bestseller, and MTV has optioned the film rights!
Join Meg and the readergirlz in the rgz forum all month to chat about Steph's plight, popularity, and why Let the Good Times Roll, by the Cars, suits this book's soundtrack.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
A Popular(ity) Discussion
Martha Brockenbrough, author of Things That Make Us [Sic] and founder of SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar:
I grappled with the idea of popularity in middle school, and realized it could come from wearing a certain type of clothes, having a certain type of hair, and more nebulously, projecting a certain kind of attitude. I was a little behind in the clothes department, but probably could have convinced my mom to buy me more stuff if I really wanted to. What I decided, though, was that I would rather not have to do some of the things I saw the really popular girls doing. I wanted to be popular, but I wanted to be liked for the positive stuff I did and the kind way I treated others. I wanted to transcend the social norms. It wasn't that I *didn't* want to be popular, though I'm sure I would have said at the time that I didn't care about it. I just didn't want to have to sell my soul for it.
It was painful at times. I got invited to a lot more parties in middle school. Some of those parties were annual events, and I felt it acutely when my name was no longer on the list. I heard people talking about who was there and what happened, and I had to erect a protective barrier around myself so that I wouldn't have to feel the pain of exclusion. In part, I protected myself with achievement. Even if I was not popular, I was still a good athlete. I was still smart. I still played music well. Also: I had a fierce perm, which was decade appropriate so do not judge. Few people had larger hair. It makes a fine piece of armor.
I'd say I still carry this barrier to a degree, and I have to remind myself that I'm perfectly likeable -- that my presence is welcome and that I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not to find friends. I don't seek popularity in the way that you'd define it in high school...there is no longer a cool lunch table, and no one I know checks the label of your pants to make sure they're an OK brand. But I still want people to love me for who I am, and I still carry fear that they won't.
It's funny. I'm a writer now ... I get fan mail and hate mail in equal quantities. My pulse races when I see new mail in the inbox, for fear it's someone hating how I think or write. I'm not going to change who I am or what I believe to win false friends, but I would love to be in a place -- 20 years after high school graduation--where I am not wounded by the rejection of others.
I really feel for people who are struggling with this, and I think this is one reason I have such love and compassion for teens and such affinity for YA literature.
Melissa Walker, author of the Violet books:
I admit it: I longed to be popular when I was a teenager. Outwardly, I made fun of certain cliques and pretended not to care when I wasn't included in certain parties, but the truth was, I wanted people to know me. More importantly, I wanted people to like me.
But what I know now (and oh, how I wish I knew it then!) is that the truly "popular" people were the ones who were confident enough to be nice to everyone around them. I was in LOVE with a guy named Jeff in high school. Why? Because he was on the football team, was cute, was smart, and - here's the key part - he actually talked to me. He smiled, said hi, took time to ask about my day. I realized that the other "popular people" were objects of my admiration in a superficial way, but Jeff was someone I truly liked because he was a confident and caring person. And that's always the best - and most lasting - kind of popular. We're still friends today!
Lorie Ann Grover, author of On Pointe:
I'm thinking middle school is when popularity is defined most narrowly. If you can grind through it, you will have the rest of your life to find your peeps. That's really the bottom line: find people that matter to you, those you can relate to.
If you find yourself in the "popular" group, know you have a much bigger responsibility. Your influence is wider and people are watching. Don't lose yourself to maintain your position. If you are tempted to do so, maybe you haven't found your peeps after all.
Once you find a group that has meaning to you, foster your friendships. Who cares if everyone knows or watches? You've found a place to nourish others and be nourished. That's what matters.
It's good to remember that whatever popularity is gained, there's always a bigger group out there that never recognizes it. Actors, statesmen, even countries pass from popularity and are forgotten. So, find your small corner of the world, and be a good friend. Matter to your peeps.
Dia Calhoun, author of Firegold:
I went to an alternative high school where the kids were so involved in individual pursuits and being individuals that there were no issues around popularity. Everyone was unique, and we were all pursuing interesting projects. The same was true at the ballet school where I took class every day. So I never tried to be popular, or felt that I was unpopular. I did worry about what other people thought of me, but that is a little different. The whole concept of popularity is a teen concern, which fades away once you become an adult. (Have you ever heard adults talk about trying to be popular?) I believe that if you just be who you are, and pursue your own interests, you will find friends.And being true friends with a few people is far more rewarding than being popular. The pressures of having to maintain popularity are enormous! Always worrying whether what you do or how you look will affect your popularity rating. This is existence for the sake of how others perceive you. You can never be authentic that way. Just be who you are!
Holly Cupala, author of A Light That Never Goes Out:
I think acceptance and community are basic human needs – too often, the popular community is perceived as more valuable when really, the most valuable community is one that supports you for who you are and helps you become who you were meant to be, and vice versa. I learned this the hard way, but luckily my true friends forgave me and are still in my life. Those kinds of friends are a gift for life.
HipWriterMama, member of postergirlz, the teen lit advisory council for readergirlz:
I will never forget my brushes with popularity during my high school years -- from the time one of the wrestling jocks had a major crush on me (!) in my freshman year, to when one of the most popular girls in my junior year became a true friend, to when a group of senior girls looked at me with a whole new set of eyes. All fascinating experiences for a girl who was not popular, who didn't always fit in.
I was one of those fortunate teens who could mingle with almost any group, but only in the fringes. To be in the core center of a group required an effort, a true belief that one belonged. I was a consummate rebel and unwilling to jump through hoops. Perhaps I was scared, or maybe I just didn't want to commit. It's funny, I'm really not sure now.
But I do know, looking back, that I always wanted to be accepted for who I was, not for what I represented. I hated being pigeon-holed as the Asian, the smart kid, the first chair violinist. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the people who were most likely to see me for who I was, were the teens I thought were the least likely to.
This knowledge has been invaluable over the years and has shaped how I interact with people. There are people who will defy the definition of what it means to be popular, what it means to be beautiful, or exceptional. Yes, there are those who will always play the popularity card to the hilt, and be the epitome of every teen angst movie out there, but there are also the people out there who yearn to be seen for themselves, who believe in letting others shine, of letting people have their moment, and being true.
Little Willow, readergirlz webdiva and member of postergirlz:
I was never the most popular girl in school, though I admit I was possibly the loudest - volume-wise, not sassy-wise. I'm naturally talkative and outgoing. I always knew what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew what I liked and what I didn't like, and no one could change my mind or my opinions. In high school, I knew a lot of people, and a lot of people knew me, but I didn't hang out with the same people all of the time. I often said I had a lot of acquaintances, but not a lot of close friends. That was and still is fine by me.
I once saw a poster that declared, "What's right is not always popular, and what's popular is not always right." As hokey as that sounds, I think it's true. I am a big fan of doing the right thing. I certainly hope that others like me, but I'm unwilling to change my beliefs, my plans, or my priorities to fit in. No way! I have a strong moral compass that I follow every day. My true north has nothing to do with popularity or fame and everything to do with personal truths and happiness.
Submit Your Feedback
How about you, gentle reader? What have been your experiences with popularity? Feel free to leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments below or at Bildungsroman.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
After the school visits we hit her teen book club to discuss the writing life.
And then we participated in rgz LIVE! with Ellen Emerson White online at the group forum in the Auburn Public Library's Teen Zone.
The greatest news in Divaland is that Justina Chen Headley is back in the states! After an amazing three months in China, she's home again, ready to write, and celebrate the upcoming release of North of Beautiful on February 1.
Here she is at the airport yesterday am after a 24 hour flight, looking beautiful as always. Note the gorgeous handbag!
Holly and I are so happy to have Justina home! The entire rgz team is cheering! Catch her at the forum and give her a shout out, everyone!
~Lorie Ann, rgz diva/author