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!

Monday, August 31, 2009

August: Roundup of Discussions


And here are all the posts dedicated to Kendra and Coe this month. If you missed any, click the link, check it out, and drop a comment!

Our August Newsflash!
Welcome, Coe Booth
postergirlz companion recommended reads
guest blog: Tanita S. Davis
guest blog: Sherri L. Smith
Kendra: Lorie Ann
guest blog: Paula Chase
rgz LIVE! chat transcript

Being a young mother
How close are you to your parents?
Discovering your talents
Friend drama
Getting physical
What makes a good father?
NYC, South Bronx
Thank you, Coe Booth!

Thank You, Coe Booth!

Here's a big THANK YOU to the amazing Coe Booth for joining us at readergirlz this month! Things we learned about Coe include:

1. She never outlines--she wings it and lets the story take her where it wants to go!
2. At first, Coe didn't think writing was a career. "I thought people just wrote books for fun," she says. "So I went to school and got a master's degree in psychology!"
3. She gets feedback from her writer friends, The Longstockings!

We had so much fun this month!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim
Paparazzi Princess by Jen Calonita
Dancing on the Head of a Pin by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Non-Fiction Pick
Kiss My Math by Danica McKellar

For Your Younger Siblings
Piper Reed Gets a Job by Kimberly Willis Holt, illustrated by Christine Davenier
Standing for Socks by Elissa Brent Weissman

This Month's Spotlighted Title
Kendra by Coe Booth

Friday, August 28, 2009

August: NYC's South Bronx


So many people in the chat commented about Coe's books being set in the Bronx. Have you ever been? What city would end up almost being a character in your stories? Give a shout out here!

Book Party With Kendra!

Kendra is big into set design, so author Coe Booth thought up some great ways to have a Book Club party that's themed just for this month's featured read. Her awesome ideas:

nvite: Playbill-designed evites, inviting guests "Backstage at the Theatre!"

Food: Kendra has a bit of a sweet tooth, so serve her favorite snacks: Chick-o-Sticks, small cups filled with dry Lucky Charms and other sweet cereals, and (of course) Devil Dogs!

Décor: Hang large sketches and blueprints of set designs. Place wooden miniature models of various theatrical sets on tables all around the room.

High School Musical, Fame, and the TV show Glee

Provide paint, paintbrushes, and artist smocks. Have partygoers paint the model sets during the party.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cover Story: Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume

Jennifer O'Connell is here to share the story behind her anthology about lessons from the YA master, Judy Blume:

everything.gif "The first time I saw the cover for EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME I loved it. I was relieved. That hasn't always been the case.

"I've had a book where I just about cried the first time I saw my cover (it was changed, thank God), a cover that completely offended me (it was changed) and a cover that had me scratching my head and thinking, 'Are they serious--how can they not think this is completely inappropriate?' (it was also changed). Then again, I had a book whose cover I despised, they kept it, and I still hate it with every fiber of my being.

"I've also had books where I loved the covers the first time around. But with this anthology I was wondering how they'd capture so many different things in a single cover: there are essays from writers for adults and writers for young adults; there are writers who chose to write about very serious topics and those who were more lighthearted; essays are about growing up and being a grown up; they're about the impact of Judy Blume's writing, but they're not as much about her impact on the contributors as writers as they are about her impact on them as people. The essays could be enjoyed by women who grew up reading Judy Blume as well as their daughters.

"When I received the email with the cover I instantly thought they got it right. A girl on her bed reading. It was me. It sounded like the authors who contributed. It could be the readers of the collection. And the wallpaper in the background was perfect--I had big flowers on my wall growing up, even if I've graduated to plain, tasteful earth colored paint as a 'grown-up.'

judyblumetrade.jpg "I loved the pink on the hardcover, but when the paperback version came I wasn't really expecting the change to blue. It threw me. I emailed all of the contributors with the picture to get their feedback. They loved the bright blue. I thought they were just being nice. I wasn't convinced.

"Now the blue has grown on me. I even like it. Where the first pink cover was quiet and soft and girly, the blue cover is bolder and not afraid to ask for attention. It's the same cover but different. It's a lot like the writers in the collection--we're the same girls who loved reading Judy's books growing up, but different. I hope that readers of the essays find that they see themselves in the cover, and in the essays."

Ooh, I love how Jennifer got all deep on how the hardcover and paperback reflect the authors and the readership. I really like both of these covers--the colors work for me either way. And I love the detail of the girl's ring!

What do you guys think?

PS-If you like looking at hardcover vs. paperback covers, check out Alea's series on this very thing! It's awesome.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

rgz LIVE! with Coe Booth

Welcome, everyone, to our live chat with Coe Booth! Here is your chance to ask Coe questions about her fabulous book KENDRA, or just find out her favorite flavor of ice cream. So, let's go! CoverItLive will go live at the top of the hour...

Tonight: rgz LIVE! with Coe Booth!

Make no mistake, Coe will be in the rgz house in just a few hours to chat with us at rgz LIVE! at 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August: Fathers

Kendra's father Kenny has strengths and weaknesses as a father. What traits are most important to you in a father?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bumpaholics and Martha Brockenbrough

Martha Brockenbrough

Did you all hear the buzz our media specialist Martha Brockenbrough is getting about her bumpology? She's talking about bumpaholics over at Women's Health:

"The Belly-Rubbing High

Thanks to the influx of feel-good hormones and fawning from friends, family, and perfect strangers, having a baby can make you feel like a superstar. The problem: for some women, wanting to recapture that adoration pushes them to procreate again...and again.

Read the whole article by clicking here. How often do you think teen girls are lured into pregnancy hoping for an idealized baby experience only to discover the reality of motherhood? What a perfect discussion for our book Kendra! So what do you think?

And way to go, Martha!

~the divas and postergirlz

New rgz SALON Appointment!

I'm so happy to announce we have a new rgz SALON appointment: Lyn Miller-Lachmann! She is both an author and the editor of MultiCultural Review. We recently chatted at ALA where she spoke of one of her contributors, Sandhya Nankani who has reviewed YA titles, like our own Mitali Perkin's Secret Keeper. As we continued to chat, Lyn herself graciously offered to donate her time to rgz and review YA multicultural works. Perfect, right?

Lyn's newest novel is:


Give a big welcome to Lyn! And watch for her posts as early as September.

My website

rgz LIVE! with Coe Booth on Wednesday!

Don't forget, readergirlz: our rgz LIVE! chat with Coe Booth is coming up on Wednesday at 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern. Don't miss the fun!

August 2009: Paula Chase

Today's guest blog comes from Paula Chase, author of the Del Rio Bay novels. The first book in the line, So Not the Drama, is one of this month's postergirlz recommended reads. (Read the August 2009 issue of readergirlz.)

Mission: Discovery
by Paula Chase

Self-discovery is messy. Sometimes ugly. Oftentimes difficult to face. Always fascinating.

When I started the Del Rio Bay series, the whole point was to take my main character, Mina, through a maze of ordinary hurdles that would ultimately help her discover who she was. I knew who she was, on the surface, but even I didn’t know what mettle she was made of until the books went on.

On some legs of the journey (So Not The Drama), she realized that what she had was better than what she thought she wanted. And on others (Who You Wit'?), she fretted so much about maintaining what she had that she risked losing it. Each time, she was faced with not only battling outside forces like bitchy frenemies and backstabbing ex-boyfriends, but also herself. And without a doubt, she was a more formidable "adversary" than any of her actual opponents because the burden we put on ourselves to make the "right" decisions can crush us if we let it.

Writing Mina taught me that a character can be perpetually optimistic, damn near bubbly some people may label her, well-liked, surrounded by support and still lack confidence in herself. But it's that lack of self-confidence that pushes Mina and can push many of us to be our best. What I love about Mina and Kendra, in Coe Booth's novel, is they're not the ballsiest chicks in the lit arena, but they posses a feisty spirit that won't let them give up, even when they so desperately want to. I'd like to think that a grown-up version of Mina recognizes that as her greatest virtue.

- Paula Chase

Vote for YALSA's Teens' Top Ten!

Voting begins today for YALSA's Teens' Top Ten list!

Stop on by the official site now through September 18th to vote for your fave YA books, then tell us about your vote!

Winners will be announced during Teen Read Week, October 18-24...and just wait until you see what we have planned this year for Teen Read Week at readergirlz! Do you remember last year? Here's last year's trailer:

More news about Teen Read Week at readergirlz in our September newsletter!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Teen Pregnancy in Fiction

In addition to stories about teenage couples dealing with unexpected pregnancies, one must consider protagonists such as Kendra, who are the result of teenage pregnancy. Novels such as these might also deal with the topics of adoption, abortion, or miscarriages. Some may be more blunt than others. Some may be tragic or traumatic, while others are perhaps too happily ever after. There are many books which touch on these subjects. Here are just a few:

Borrowed Light by Anna Fienberg
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape) by Carrie Jones
- This is the sequel to Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend.
Gingerbread sequence by Rachel Cohn
- Read them in order: Gingerbread, Shrimp, Cupcake.
A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd
Angel's Choice by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Making the Run by Heather Henson
Fact of Life #31 by Denise Vega
Almost Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles
After by Amy Efaw
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
Slam by Nick Hornby
Hanging on to Max by Margaret Bechard
I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin

Have you read any of these titles? What did you think? What did you learn from them? Do you have any additional recommendations?

A little something from readertotz

Hey rgz,

I was featuring this from Sesame Street over at readertotz and realized it's perfect for us here! Anyone love Cecile?

rgz liltle sister site

Happy as a clam!

My website

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Black is for Beginnings by Laurie Stolarz, adapted by Barbara Randall Kesel, artwork by Janina Görrissen
Hot Girl by Dream Jordan

For Your Younger Siblings
Rumblewick's Diary #1: My Unwilling Witch Goes to Ballet School by Hiawyn Oram, illustrated by Sarah Warburton
Babymouse: Dragonslayer by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

This Month's Spotlighted Title
Kendra by Coe Booth

Friday, August 21, 2009

August: Getting physical


Kendra has a physical relationship with Nashawn early on. Is this common among your friends or do things move more slowly? Which is best for you?

Cover Stories: Something Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

somethingmaybefinalcovertoMelissa.jpg Elizabeth Scott is one of my favorite people, and she is a master of teen romance! Something, Maybe does not disappoint--you will love the chemistry in this book.

Here's Elizabeth with her Cover Story:

"I really didn't have an idea for the cover--the original title for the book was LIVE! NUDE! MOM. [Elizabeth explains the title change here]--and I just knew I wanted something that played on the surprise and energy of the title. What it would be, I had no idea!

"My editor and I did talk about it, and we agreed that we wanted to go for something that had a similar feel to BLOOM and PERFECT YOU since both of those are romances as well. And since both of those covers have a very specific look, we needed something like that.

"So my editor sent me a bunch of pictures--and we picked one--and luckily, it still worked when the title was changed to SOMETHING, MAYBE.

"The image was a stock photo that Lisa Fyfe, who is a fabulous designer, played around with to capture the feel of the book (and to make sure Hannah's hair was blond on the cover since it is in the story!)

"The moment I saw it in the packet of photos I was sent, I knew it was the right one. And it stayed the right one even with the title change, which means it really captured the book!

smcover2.jpg "My editor is fabulous about cover design, and she always asks for my thoughts. In the end, the big change that was made was taking the cover from white to blue, which really made it more eye-catching. And as I said, Lisa changed Hannah's hair color so it matched her hair color in the book, and played around with the bracelets on her wrist so they were more noticeable. It's strange, but subtle changes can really make a cover pop! And, of course, the cover itself went from being white to blue--which maybe doesn't seem that big, but it really made a difference!

"I love the cover! I think it captures the spirit of the book really well. And here are all the pictures I was sent back when we were first looking for covers--and you'll see this was back before the title was changed!"

smcover1.jpg smcover3.jpg smcover4.jpg smcover5.jpg smcover6.jpg smcover7.jpg smcover8.jpg smcover9.jpg

How fun is it to see all of those covers!? Thanks to Elizabeth and Simon Pulse for sharing them. I think they made the right choice. How about you guys?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 2009: GirlForce

GirlForce by Nikki Goldstein is this month's non-fiction recommended read, selected by the postergirlz. GirlForce encourages teen girls to be healthy: to find a healthy balance between school, work, family, and friends; to live well by eating healthful foods, exercising, resting, and reducing stress; to be self-confident and self-aware, each to a healthy degree.

I passed out copies of GirlForce to some of the high school girls that frequent my store. Some of us took the quizzes together. Sometimes, Megan and I would have the same three or four answers in a row, including the (not-given) option of "all of the above," which would make us completely crack up. Katie and I took the self-esteem quiz at the same time. Not only did we both pass on question #2, but our total sums were only one point apart.

I spoke to each of the girls about GirlForce at length. We discussed their quiz results and what they thought of the book and the concepts and ideas it presented and introduced to them.

I also asked the readergirlz divas and the postergirlz to take the body type quiz at the GirlForce website and we discovered each person's "type" element, Earth, Fire, or Air. Here are our results:

readergirlz divas
Lorie Ann Grover: Air
Melissa Walker: Fire
Holly Cupala: Fire
Dia Calhoun: Air. "I don't think this fits me, because I love routine."

rgz media specialist
Martha Brockenbrough: Fire

rgz Seattle Host
Liz Gallagher: She scored equally across all three elements. "I think I'm a natural Earth, but am gaining some of the more active tendancies of the others."

Little Willow: Fire
Miss Erin: "All of the above!" She scored equally across all three elements. "From the descriptions, though, I'd call myself Fire."
HipWriterMama: Earth
Jackie: Earth
Shelf Elf: She scored equally across all three elements. "I think I'm more Air than anything else."

Bookstore Girls
Megan: Fire, Air
Doyin: Fire
Christina: Earth
Katie: Fire

Take the body type quiz and then leave a comment below with your quiz results.

Check out the book for other quizzes and, of course, for the text itself!

Read the August 2009 issue of readergirlz.

Read Little Willow's interview with GirlForce author Nikki Goldstein.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Defending Bella, What a Girl Wants

Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray has posted her latest discussion in the "What a Girl Wants" series. This time she asked us about vampires. I stuck with my position, rgz! Here you go:

Lorie Ann Grover
: "I don’t typically read horror, so I can’t comment on the general trend in the vamp books, but I have read the Twilight series. Awhile back, Martha Brockenbrough, author and MSN Cinemama, wrote an article with my opposing point of view: Does Twilight Suck the Brains Out of Teens? She fell on the yes side, and I fell on the no. Going back and reading my entry, I still agree with my position. Edward’s the hot, superhero in teen lit who raises the bar for today’s boyfriends. His looks aside, here's a quote:

“Note how completely enamored Edward is of Bella. He sees her weaknesses and finds her humanity endearing. He listens to every word. He never pressures her for sex. She pursues him. Into that perfect mix, pour danger, that alluring trademark of any great hero, just enough for tension to vibrate. We cheer as he denies himself because of his passion for her.”

Is Bella a passive role model for teen girls? I still say she can be seen as a positive role model. She isn’t consumed about her appearance. She’s strong in school and anticipates college. She thinks of others, acting with generosity to family and friends. She solves crises through her actions. So she’s attracted to a dangerous boy. She weighs her possibilities and acts.

In 2007, we hosted Stephenie Meyer at readergirlz. Next month we are featuring Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

Katsa is a very different heroine, but the sparks fly when she crosses Po. Who doesn’t like a little romance? I obviously do."

My website

Things to Know About Featured Author Coe Booth

The lovely Coe Booth, author of Kendra, has shared a few things about herself with us:

Favorite drink while you write: French vanilla coffee

Favorite bookstores: Strand bookstore

Favorite library: NYPL Bronx Library Center

Inspiration: Eavesdropping on people, especially on trains. Also, people-watching around the city.

Dream book tour: Traveling around the country in a rock-star-type tour bus!

Cure for writer's block: Loud music, Häagen-Dazs Caramel Cone ice cream!

Favorite outfit: Broken-in jeans and pretty tops.

Stilettos or Uggs? Ugh. Neither. I'm a flip-flops kind of girl!

Next up: The sequel to Tyrell (fall 2010)

We can't wait for more Coe books! Keep drinking that French Vanilla Coffee, Coe! Find out more about her on readergirlz.com.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August: Friend Drama

Have you ever been in a position where you wanted to do something you knew would cause problems between you and a good friend? How did you resolve that issue?

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 2009, Thoughts on Kendra: Lorie Ann


Why did I first reach for Kendra? Well, there was Coe's amazing reputation through Tyrell, and now she had chosen a female protagonist. Perfect! We need more female African American characters. The scale seems to tip to the male's experience.

I immediately was engaged by the baby mama story fourteen years down the road, from the child's point of view. What a fresh perspective, right?

The story problems are stacked one on another. What does a child do when a mother continues to place herself first. What does one do with an overbearing grandparent? Sexual attraction? Vast disappointment?

The rgz divas were psyched to try to feature this work. Thankfully, Coe was back from Switzerland.

Kendra is bringing great discussion to rgz. Thanks, Coe! Here's to more days ahead and rgz LIVE!

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