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!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Popular(ity) Discussion

In honor of our December book club pick, How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot, readergirlz divas, advisors, and postergirlz shared their thoughts about popularity.

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

Diva Update!

School visits are awesome, and Diva Dia and I recently hit two schools in Auburn, Washington: Rainier and Mt. Baker Middle Schools. We were so welcomed by both. The appearances were thanks to King County Library Systems librarian and Roller Derby queen, Rachel McDonald.

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

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass (juvenile fiction)
Dog and Bear: Two's Company by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (picture book)

This Month's Spotlighted Title
Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White (Read all about it in this month's issue of readergirlz!)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cover Stories: Unraveling by Michelle Baldini & Lynn Biederman

A posting from my blog's Cover Stories series, for readergirlz!

41bwdiHH8DL._SL500_AA240_.jpg Lynn Biederman is my facebook friend, and I fell so in love with her profile pic/book cover, that I had to ask her for a Cover Story. Little did I know there was drama, a teen survey, and saggy boobage involved. Exciting! Here's Lynn:

"I thought about the cover of Unraveling 24/7 as my co-author and I were finishing edits. I'm very visually oriented, and everything in my eclectically cluttered house "speaks to me." So, it was only natural for potential covers to appear nightly, like fashions coming down a runway. (Hello, Violet!) But cover ideas halted when, last minute, we decided to change the title from The Deal on the DL, which stood for The Deal on the Down Low, to Unraveling. The generally accepted meaning of "down low," a situation kept quiet and private, suddenly had an alternate usage according to Wikipedia and a NY Times article released the day our edits were due -- 'down low' also refers to men discreetly having sex with each other. No judgments at all, but not exactly matching the content of our book!

Despite a new title, we still wanted a cover that related to a pivotal part of the story—The Deal. Fifteen-year-old Amanda, frizzy-haired, and frazzled by a toxic relationship with her mother, whom she calls The Captain, thinks a solution to her problems has arrived when Rick, a popular senior, offers her a deal on the down low. The Deal is a date to the big Homecoming Dance in exchange for her promise to sleep with him. Amanda gets caught up in a whirlwind of analyzing friendships, virginity, and family as she weighs The Deal, all of which leads to her unraveling. We offered our ideas for the cover--Amanda in a prom-type dress with a thread coming out of the hem, as if pulling the gown apart, and spelling out Unraveling, our new title, in loopy string-like letters. Our editor, Stephanie Lane, liked the idea and passed it along to the powers that be. Soon after we received cover #1.

UnravelingComp_Final.jpg So, what did we think when we first saw this cover? We freaked. We screamed. We thought about torching the project and moving to Alaska (pre-Palin!). But we're not dramatic, so we called our editor, who listened to our objections which included that the female pictured looked nothing like a 15 year old. In fact, we thought she appeared older than us--"even our boobies are perkier" my co-author and I told Stephanie. We agreed, however, to take a few days to let the cover sink in and see if our opinions changed.

During this brief totally-sweating it period, I looked at covers in bookstores and online, took note of trends, and developed a quick cover survey for girls 14-16, which I arranged to have handed out in a local high school. (Survey asked about fonts, colors, fave covers, etc.) Michelle lived in Ohio at this point, so she also gave out the survey and we compared NY teens and Ohio teens for more information. Then, we took our new wish list to Stephanie. We told her we wanted a photographic cover, set against white background, with a young teen matching the description of Amanda, and we wanted to see her face, not have a headless image. And we sent pictures of prom dresses and asked that it be lavender like the one Amanda wears in the story. We also talked colors and fonts for title (teens said font matters!) and Stephanie graciously took our comments to the art department.

41bwdiHH8DL._SS500_.jpg When we saw Take Two, we again freaked and screamed but this time out of total joy. What emerged is our beautiful, glorious cover. Our editor and everyone at RH loves, LOVES the cover. We get so many awesome comments about it and it completely matches the mood and tone of the story and captures Amanda, our main character, right down to her wild frizzy hair. We are so grateful to our editor and Kenny Holcomb, the art director. They both cared deeply about two never-been-published authors' opinions. How great is that?!"

It's so great! I love that Lynn and Michelle got their voices heard--and the cover is 1000x improved because of it, and the willingness of their editorial team to rework things. How gorgeous is that final cover? I love her hair, her dress, her gaze. Yay. Happy story.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ellen Emerson White's Artful Covers!

Alea, also known as The Pop Culture Junkie, has a great series on her blog about Lookalike Covers. The whole series is fun to read through, and we especially love that she's been focusing on our featured author's covers this month.

In the spotlight are Ellen Emerson White's The President's Daughter, as well as White House Autumn. Check out the covers, and then come talk about them with Ellen and the readergirlz at the forum for the few days we have left in November!

Happy Thanksgiving, readergirlz!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Diva to Diva: Shanghai Fashion

Remember when I started Diva to Diva with a video awhile back, and I asked Justina in Shanghai, China to show us the teen fashion scene? Well, here's her response, for crying out loud. Ha!

Lorie Ann ~rgz diva/author

So my good friend and co-diva of readergirlz, Lorie Ann Grover, challenged me to find the most fashionable figure in Shanghai. Out to lunch with my family, I spotted The One:

Hip down to the dog's four-sneakered paws.

Fashionable or questionable?

Today I am thankful for all things ludicrous that make me laugh.

Justina, ~rgz diva/author

Monday, November 24, 2008

Letters to a Bullied Girl

When teens Emily and Sarah Buder read a newspaper story about Olivia Gardner, a girl at a nearby high school who was being bullied relentlessly by her classmates, they knew they had to do something.

Olivia had transferred schools twice, but her epileptic seizures made her an easy mark for bullies. Emily and Sarah were appalled to read about the way she'd been treated, and they decided to write Olivia a letter, and ask friends to do the same. They hoped for 50 letters. They got 6,500.

Their inspiring story was in USA Today last week, and Letters to a Bullied Girl, a book with 200 of the letters, from people of all ages all over the world, is on sale now.

Hooray for girl heroes, changing the world.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks for Teens

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (We'll be discussing it at readergirlz in January, so read it over the holidays!)
Just One Wish by Janette Rallison (Coming out in March)

This Month's Spotlighted Title

Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White (Read all about it in this month's issue of readergirlz!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cover Stories: Dead Girl Walking by Linda Joy Singleton

The lovely Linda Joy Singleton shared the Cover Story for the first two books in her Dead Girl... series on my blog this week, and I want to share her with readergirlz! She did such a great job summarizing the stories within her interview that I'll just let her take it away...

Here's Linda:

"I was asked for ideas for the cover and I said that I wanted a shadowy image of a girl with a bright light behind her as she walked away, to represent when my heroine Amber has a near-death experience where she sees her beloved grandmother and childhood dog, but then on the way back from the light she makes a wrong turn into the body of a popular, beautiful, troubled girl.

Dead%20Girl%20Walkingsmaller.jpg "Flux/Llewellyn often asks the author for cover suggestions. Then they let the art department and whoever is at their top secret meetings make the decisions (okay, the meetings probably aren't top secret, but as as author who would love to know what really goes on, they always sound mysterious to me).

"They hired a professional photographer to design a silhouette cover and they also have an art department that works on it, too. When I saw the first version of the cover (left), I thought it was dramatic and I liked the skeleton-ponytail DEAD GIRL logo.

"To be honest, I had hoped for a beautiful cover like TANTALIZE or WICKED LOVELY. I was pleased, though, because this cover was dramatic and what I like to call a 'selling cover' -- meaning it would grab readers' attention in a bookstore. Still the first version was a little too quiet with a silhouette of a cut-out girl with her hands on her hips, looking sort of like a SuperGirl pose. I liked it--didn't love it.

Dead%20GirlDancing1.jpg "Fortunately when they created the cover for DEAD GIRL DANCING (left), they came up with a different style with more action, showing a silhouette girl dancing with a fiery orange-red background. My (ex) editor Andrew liked this style better, so switched the first cover of the first book to make this design before it went to print (below).

"I'm very glad they came up with the more active design and I'm eager to see what they decide to do with the third book (tentatively titled DEAD GIRL IN LOVE).

"DEAD GIRL WALKING did have two different versions but that's not normal. Usually I don't see covers until they're ready to go. DEAD GIRL WALKING was the only exception since they changed the cover from the original version -- which really pleased me.

DEADGIRLcover2.jpg "I like the cover a lot. I think it's mysterious, dramatic and hints at romance, too. But it's DEAD GIRL DANCING, the second book, that has the cover I really, really love. I can't wait for that book to come out in March 2009. It's more mysterious, too, with a stalker, an evil cute guy and spring break wildness."

I really like the final version for the DEAD GIRL WALKING cover, too--having the character look over her shoulder like that brings more energy, I think. Thoughts from you guys?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Robin Hobb/Fantasy Author "chooses" a Professional Assassin to "marry!'

Readergirlz divas Lorie Ann Grover and Dia Calhoun had a fascinating lunch with Robin Hobb, acclaimed fantasy author.

Robin graciously consented to an interview. Dia Calhoun thought of all the questions she would love to asked as a fantasy author, and never is, and posed these to Robin.

1. What magical power that you have created in your fantasy novels would you choose for yourself and why?

Robin: Oh, I'd definitely want the Wit!

I've always been very close to my faithful animal companions. J I do talk to them a lot and I've always felt that in return, I've understood a great deal of what they've tried to tell me. And teach me. So I'd truly relish the chance to converse with them in detail.

2. Which of your fantasy worlds would you best like to live in and why?

Robin: I'd want to live in Buckkeep, in the time of Fitz's youth. I'd love the wild place around it, and the action of a lively seaport time.

But if I were given the chance to go for a month-long shopping spree, then I'd want to head down to Bingtown. The wonderful items in the stores there are things that I'd love to own: windchimes that play endlessly varying melodies. Precious gems that are also perfume. A box that allows you to share a dream with your beloved.

After all, if you can imagine a thing, you can probably find it for sale in Bingtown.

3. Which of your fantasy characters would you like for a best friend and why?

Robin: I'd choose Nighteyes, the wolf. Especially since the first question in this interview gave me the Wit. I've always been much more comfortable with animals than people! I've always loved how animals live in the moment without endless worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. I think that's why they're so restful to be with.

4. Which of your fantasy characters would you marry (let's assume you have to pick one!) and why?

Robin: Now there's a tough question! 'Marry' to me means forever and ever. That takes someone steady and rational, even though I'll admit that in my reckless youth it was the bad boys who attracted me. At the age I am now, I'd be much too old for any of my dashing and handsome protagonists. I think I'd have to settle for Chade and try to reform him! Professional assassins aren't steady and reliable, perhaps, but at least we'd never run out of interesting things to talk about. And I think our housekeeping styles would mesh remarkably well.

5. If you had to bring one of your fantasy characters to live in our world, which one would you choose and why? Where would you take him/her first?

Robin: I think I'd choose Patience, because with her endless curiosity and willingness to try new things, I think she'd be the most adaptable. As to where I'd take her first, why the Japanese gardens at Point Defiance. I think she'd be charmed and fascinated. Of course, if I took her to the glass museum here in Tacoma, she'd instantly want to get involved with that. That's why she would be so much fun to bring into our world. She'd immediately want to engage with all of it.

Thank you, Robin, for a fun interview! Learn more about Robin Hobb at her website

Dear Mr. President...

Ever wanted to write a letter to the president? Thousands of teenagers across the country are penning their thoughts for President-Elect Obama at Writing Our Future (Little Willow first saw this at Sno-Isle Teens!) Add your voice to a google doc, and see your silhouette appear on the map!

And there are still a few more days when you can come chat with featured author Ellen Emerson White about her Presidential Daughter series and our featured book, Long May She Reign. Join us in the forum.

See you there!

PS-Don't forget to enter our Blog-o-Hunt contest!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Twilight: The Lost Script

Wondering what the dialogue will be like for the upcoming Twilight movie? Well, wonder no further. Martha Brockenbrough, readergirlz media specialist and MSN Cinemama columnist,
has imagined it for us, based on the movie's publicity shots, in her singularly hilarious style.

Thanks to the lovely CuppaJolie for the link!

Holly Cupala, author & rgz diva

Monday, November 17, 2008

2008 Winter Blog Blast Tour Schedule

Per the fabulous Chasing Ray, here is the schedule for the Winter Blog Blast. Lots of great author chats at super blogs. What are you waiting for?

Lewis Buzbee at Chasing Ray
Louis Sachar at Fuse Number 8
Laurel Snyder at Miss Erin
Courtney Summers at Bildungsroman
Elizabeth Wein at Finding Wonderland
Susan Kulkin at The YA YA YAs

Ellen Dalow at Chasing Ray
Tony DiTerlizzi at Miss Erin
Melissa Walker at Hip Writer Mama
Luisa Plaja at Bildungsroman
DM Cornish at Finding Wonderland
LJ Smith at The YA YA YAs
Kathleen Duey at Bookshelves of Doom

Ellen Klages at Fuse Number 8
Emily Jenkins at Writing and Ruminating
Ally Carter at Miss Erin
Mark Peter Hughes at Hip Writer Mama
Sarah Littma at Bildungsroman
MT Anderson at Finding Wonderland
Mitali Perkins at Mother Reader

Martin Millar at Chasing Ray
John Green at Writing and Ruminating
Beth Kephart at Hip Writer Mama
Emily Ecton at Bildungsroman
John David Anderson at Finding Wonderland
Brandon Mull at The YA YA YAs
Lisa Papademetriou at Mother Reader

Mayra Lazara Dole at Chasing Ray
Francis Rourke Dowell at Fuse Number 8
J Patrick Lewis at Writing and Ruminating
Wendy Mass at Hip Writer Mama
Lisa Ann Sandell at Bildungsroman
Caroline Hickey/Sara Lewis Holmes at Mother Reader
A.S. King at Bookshelves of Doom

PS-Check out even more Bookish Sites To See at SparkLife!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rgz LIVE! with Ellen Emerson White, on Tuesday!

Discuss our featured book, Long May She Reign with the author herself! Ellen Emerson White will be chatting live at the readergirlz forum on Tuesday, November 18th at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST.

The chat will last for about an hour.

See you there!

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks for Teens
Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian (Coming out in March 2009)
Skinned by Robin Wasserman

For Your Younger Sister
Piper Reed, the Great Gypsy by Kimberly Willis Holt
Vunce Upon a Time by Siobhan Vivian and J.otto Siebold

This Month's Spotlighted Title
Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Today's Pretty Special.

First, it's America Recycles Day, and you can find a cool event going on year you on the National Recycling Coalition's website. Like, near me in NYC, there's "Green Screens" Electronic Recycling Event, where I'm totally getting rid of my old phone with zero guilt. Yay!

Second, it's National Adoption Day! This year's goals are to: "Finalize adoptions from foster care in all 50 states, celebrate and honor families who adopt, raise awareness about the 129,000 children in foster care waiting for adoption, encourage others to adopt children from foster care and build collaboration among local adoption agencies, courts and advocacy organizations."

I actually just donated a ton of Young Adult books to a foster care center near me, which was really fun, and cleared space for new reads. Think about what you guys can do today to celebrate these events!

Our own Little Willow has a list of great books that deal with adoption up on her blog. Anyone have more picks?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Secrets of Our Featured Author

A few secrets we've learned about featured author Ellen Emerson White and Long May She Reign:

* What our heroine Meg likes most about living in the White House ("It would be a tie between the tennis court and the live feed at the White House of speeches and press briefings and the like.")

* Ellen herself really likes Jack, Meg's love interest in the book ("To me, he seems like a perfect freshman year boyfriend... Picking a guy like him is a sign of genuine healing on her part.")

* Ellen wants to know what readers think about President Powers (in the book) vs. President-Elect Obama...

Join in the readergirlz forum to discuss these topics with us, and with our featured author. I mean, how often do you get to go back and forth with the author directly? F-U-N.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Word cloud for Holly's work-in-progress novel

This is a Wordle word cloud for my current work-in-progress, CREED:

Wow. That's pretty cool.

readergirlz, try it and post your clouds!

Holly Cupala, rgz diva & author

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Not Reading NEW MOON... Yet

Sci Fi Wire posted about the fact that Kristen Stewart, the actress playing lead character Bella Swan in the movie version of Stephenie Meyers' Twilight, hasn't read the full series--just the first book.

Stewart's rationale is that Bella doesn't yet know what happens in the next chapters of her life, so the actress doesn't want to either. It sounds like fairly solid method acting to me, but others are criticizing her for not finishing the books.

What do you guys think?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Write4Kids honors Mitali Perkins!

The good people over at Children's Book Insider have put together a video to highlight some great blogs of the day, including our own, awesome Mitali Perkins! Check it out!

Happy Veteran's Day!

Holly Cupala, author and readergirlz diva

Monday, November 10, 2008

First Families

Since Long May She Reign, our featured book this month, is one about a first daughter, I thought it would be fun to post some photos of our recent (and future) first families. Imagine how hard it must be growing up in the White House, especially if they catch you in your awkward years. At least none of these girls have had quite the adventures that Meg Powers has! Are you reading, readergirlz?

PS-I'm adding the Kennedys because they're so photogenic. Sorry, had to!

PPS-Don't forget to enter our Blog-o-Hunt contest!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Long May She Reign Roundtable

Two readergirlz divas and two members of the postergirlz (our teen lit advisory council) recently got together to discuss Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White, our book pick for November 2008. Here's a sneak peek at the roundtable:

Little Willow: I was pleased to read a story with a female President of the United States. What did you think about Meg's mother? And her father, the First Gentlemen? And her little brothers?

Lorie Ann Grover: It was believable, I thought. Each character was equipped with skills and a personality fitted to the role carried in the story. And each acted accordingly with the trials they were presented. I think Meg's mom is an awesome president!

Dia Calhoun: Amazing the horrible dilemma her mother faced as president: duty to her country or duty to her daughter. I can't even begin to comprehend this. I thought Meg's relationship with her mother was realistically portrayed in all its complexity. I'm so glad they come together at the end of the book.

Jackie Parker: Each and every character around Meg had a backstory - a reason why they acted they way they did. EEW wasn't afraid of showing the repercussions of their humanity. It's staggering.

Want to read the entire discussion? Click here!

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks for Teens
Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
In the Cards: Life by Mariah Fredericks
* This is the final volume in the In the Cards trilogy. Read them all, and read them in order!
- Love
- Fame
- Life

For Your Younger Sister
Zibby Payne and the Red Carpet Revolt by Alison Bell

This Month's Spotlighted Title
Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Kidlitosphere Comment Challenge

Kidlitosphere Comment Challenge has been organized by MotherReader and Lee Wind for November 6 - 26, 2008. Everyone is invited to participate to help build a strong kidlit community.

The guidelines say to post a minimum of 5 blog comments per day for three weeks. Check in with Lee or Pam on Wednesdays. The final report date is November 26th, and a swag prize is being given to the winner of a drawing from those who dropped 100 comments.

You can read all the details about the challenge here.

So what are my thoughts? Hm. I think I'm going to drop my comments everyday and not really count. I'll try to hit five and then not think beyond that. I mean once I start, I end up bopping around all over. Like right now. I'm supposed to be packing for my trip to MIAMI!

So, I will keep the spirit of the challenge and check in on Wednesdays, and I'll watch the tallies. So that's the plan, Stan. As they say on Sesame Street. Now, I'm off to pack.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Cover Stories: Skinned by Robin Wasserman

Over at my author blog, I interview authors about their book covers on Mondays, and I'll be cross-posting here at readergirlz when I can, so here's this week's story!

I'm so behind on my to-read pile, but I'm aiming to finish at least three books this week, and I have a signed copy of Skinned waiting for me (and then for you, on Win-It Wednesday) soon! I've heard such great things about this book, and I can't wait to dive in. For the meantime, I'll have to be content with the awesome Robin Wasserman's compelling Cover Story. Enjoy!

"I've never pretended to have good taste (or any taste, for that matter) when it comes to the visual arts. Back when I used to work in publishing, the cover designers all loved me, because I was happy for them to do whatever they wanted. (Figuring that it was their job to have better taste than me. They certainly couldn't have had worse.)

"So when it comes time for me to weigh in on covers for my own books, I generally go with a 'silence is golden' policy. But when we were working on SKINNED, I did send along a selection of cool cyborg images that I found online. I thought this might help them find a way to depict the fact that Lia (the main character) is both human and machine. These were my favorites:


"Not that I wanted Lia to look quite this mechanical, but I thought it would be good food for thought! In the end, they decided to go with something a little less...bizarre.

"At their request, I gave them a description of the main character: 'Long blond hair, pale, smooth skin, perfect proportions, a Barbie doll come to life. Preferably blue eyes, though it doesn't matter so much. If possible, the eyes should somehow be (digitally?) made to look a bit off—some kind of machinery whirring at the center of the pupil, or an iris color that's too solid, or slightly too bright. Something to make them look totally inhuman.'

"They found the perfect cover model:


"And once they had their Lia, things moved pretty quickly. Here's what the rough version of the cover looked like:


"And here's the final cover:


"Points if you can figure out the differences. (It took me quite a while. I'm always mystified by the way such tiny changes add up to something big.)

"The major difference, obviously, is the title. We started with Skinjacked, but when it turned out this term was going to play a prominent role in another Simon & Schuster book, we groped around for something else. Anything else. I came up with about a million options (Skinflyer, Skincrash, Skin Deep, etc etc etc -- I have a document on my computer of at least a hundred sub-par options) until finally settling on the simplest one of all. My editor promised me that after a few weeks of looking at SKINNED on the cover, I wouldn't be able to imagine the book being titled anything else.

"She was right."

Wow--I love this story, Robin, and I'm blown away by the process. I also think the title is perfect, and I'm glad the font got bigger so you can see more clearly how it glows on the cover. What do you guys think?