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!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tell Me a Secret Roundtable

Little Willow: Hi everyone! Welcome to the roundtable book discussion of TELL ME A SECRET by Holly Cupala, this month's spotlighted title at readergirlz. We have with us today many fantastic book bloggers as well as readergirlz divas and members of the postergirlz lit advisory council. I’d like to thank everyone who is joining us today as a participant – and remind everyone who is reading this roundtable that you’re welcome to join us in September for our discussion of Maureen Johnson’s novel Suite Scarlett and the sequel, Scarlett Fever. If you’re interested, please leave a comment below.

Let's jump right into the discussion for TELL ME A SECRET now, without any further ado!

Little Willow: Miranda looked up to her big sister with wide eyes. While it wasn’t hero worship - Miranda definitely knew some of the things Xanda did were “wrong” or risky - it was clearly the common idolatry a younger sibling may have for an older sibling. Who here had similar experiences? Do you still look up to your older siblings now, or has your relationship changed? For the adults in the room: How has the sibling dynamic changed in adulthood?

Holly Schindler: I recently read an article that claimed your sibling is actually your life partner. (Your parents are there for the beginning and not the end; your spouse is there for the end and not the beginning.) Your sibling (especially a sibling close in age) is the person who hashes it all out with you: childhood, teen years, adulthood.

Little Willow: Oh, wow. I’d never thought of it that way, but it makes sense.

Holly Schindler: My own brother is just about 16 months younger than I am...and we’ve DEFINITELY grown closer as the years have gone by. Sibling rivalry has become more of a sincere friendship--two people rooting for each other...of course, I can still put him in a headlock every now and then, just to keep him in line...

Author in Residence Lisa Ann Sandell: Creating Worlds

Our third awesome Author in Residence, Lisa Ann Sandell, is back with her fourth and final video for us! Check out her mini-issue at the rgz website.

Throughout her visit, she has been posting at the readergirlz blog (watch her first vlog, about writing inspirations, here, and her second, about how art influences her, here).

Here is the fourth of Lisa's vlog entries about creating worlds from the real world around us:

Thank you for your gorgeous contributions, Lisa! We heart you!

August: Discussion Roundup

Yes, we've loved hosting our dear Holly! Drop into any of the month's conversations, if you missed them!

Living in a Sibling's Shadow
Welcome, Holly
Reach Out
Things to Know
Our LIVE twitter chat with Holly!
Vlog: Holly shares her secrets
Party it up
Postergirlz Recommended Companion Reads
Thank you!

Thank You, Holly Cupala!

Here's a big gracias to the awesome Holly Cupala for stepping into the spotlight at readergirlz this month!

We loved hearing more about Xanda and Rand's inner lives and journeys.

Some highlights:

Hearing about the creative outlets and online friends of readergirlz!

The Live Twitter Chat!

Holly vlogs her secrets!

We've so loved watching you shine this month. Thank you, Holly!

Monday, August 30, 2010

rgz Newsflash: Run, Andrea Ross!

I know many in our community remember the beloved podcasts over at Just One More Book! Mark and Andrea gave us wonderful years filled with their picture book passion. Here's my interview with Mark about readergirlz. We had a lovely time chatting.

The blog was suspended shortly before Andrea was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, 2009. Now in October, 2010, she'll be running to raise money. Here's what Mark says:

"Andrea is currently the number three fundraiser for the Ottawa Run for the Cure, taking place on October 3. Of course, when she first decided to run in support of breast cancer research, she never considered that our amazing communities (online and off) would band together to help her raise $4120 in six weeks."

If you'd like to help, you can join her effort to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation by clicking here.

Run, Andrea! We are cheering!

Love to you, ~the readergirlz divas

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rgz Newsflash: ReaderKidZ

So excited to share a site with your younger sibling in mind: ReaderKidZ! For 3 years, the readergirlz divas have been asking someone to come forward and spearhead a site with the middle grade reader being the focus. The ladies of ReaderKidZ have done just that. In fact they are focusing on picture books to grade 5.

Here's their Mission Statement:
Providing teachers, librarians, and parents with the resources and inspiration to foster a love of reading in kids, K-5.

So check them out and spread the news. There are several great features to explore like the Author in Residence and Tool Box. The layout is inviting and accessible. So much to love!

Here's to the authors/educators for running the work: Debbie Gonzales, Dianne White, Nancy Bo Flood, and Stephanie Greene. Thanks, ladies, for contributing to literacy!

Note: ReaderKidZ operates independently from readergirlz and readertotz.

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August: Which Secrets Are the Most Terrifying?

Holly says, "Many characters in TELL ME A SECRET have devastating secrets. What kind of secret would be most terrifying for you?"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cover Stories: Fat Vampire by Adam Rex

Adam Rex's Fat Vampire cover appealed to me immediately. Plus, the tagline, "A never coming of age story," made me laugh out loud. I had to have Adam stop by to tell its tale. Here's Adam:

"I had a lot of ideas for this book cover. I have a sketchbook filled with them. I'm an illustrator as well as an author, so I'm in the happy position of always assuming I'll have a lot of input regarding the cover image. Even in the case of Fat Vampire, which is my first book which contains no illustrations whatsoever.

"So I have a few thumbnail sketches of the slushie cup option that are very similar to the finished cover. I also experimented with a couple silhouette designs, one of which I illustrated in a finished form that appears on the case, beneath the jacket. I have a couple designs that feature my main character, Doug, with a bat head. I have a couple ideas that would have featured model shoots with teen girls eating red popsicles, which are melting, blood-like, down their necks. In these Doug the vampire is leering from the background. Anyway, I had a lot of ideas, not all of them good..."

See some of Adam's sketches, and read the rest of this Cover Story, at melissacwalker.com.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
The Julian Game by Adele Griffin
My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman
Mindblind by Jennifer Roy
When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer

For Your Younger Siblings
The Naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Patrice Barton

This Month's Spotlighted Title
Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stand There for Esther

Thanks, John. We will remember.

rgz, our September Outreach will be for Esther's family. xox

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Cover Stories: Stealing Death by Janet Lee Carey (+ Giveaway!)

stealingdeathfinal large.jpg
Original Readergirl Janet Lee Carey's Stealing Death is newly out in paperback! In a starred review, School Library Journal called the book "fantasy at its best--original, beautiful, amazing, and deeply moving." (And you have a chance to win it!)

Here's Janet to talk about the two different covers:

"I had some ideas for the STEALING DEATH hardback (left); Kipp standing in front of his burning house with his arms out to prevent the Death Catcher from taking his family, or just a hand stealing a black sack (the Death Catcher's soul sack). I'm glad now the artists didn't go with either of those images. Both the HB and the PB covers focused on the characters and the ghost mare, ChChka, Kipp steals to make his getaway.

"The artists for the HB and the PB wanted to capture the right Zolyan clothing for Kipp who starts the story as a farm laborer, and for Zalika who goes from a high class landlord's daughter to escaped prisoner in nomadic dress.

"When queried about their clothing for the PB, I sent links like this one Ethiopian Women focusing on the pics with more traditional dress from the site.

"The Zolyan landscape was modeled on the arid climate in Sub-Saharan Africa. I looked to the more traditional clothing in pics of men and women living in drought conditions. Images speak. The desperate living conditions I saw in the photos spurred me on to get involved with PlayPumps now a part of Water For People. I also challenged readers to get involved on the 'giving back' page on my website.

"My first response to the HB cover = Magical! The night flight on ChChka captured the adventurous aspect of novel, as well as the romance between Kipp and Zalika. It didn't evoke the darker elements of the novel. Later feedback said the image appealed more to younger teens than older teens, so they changed the paperback..."

See the paperback cover and hear more of Janet's story, plus enter to win a copy of the book, at melissacwalker.com.

August: Would You Give a Second Chance?

Holly says, "How did you feel about the ending? Do you think you would have given Kamran a second chance?"

Follow up: Have you ever given someone a second chance?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August: How Would You Have Handled Miranda's Situation?

Holly says, "How do you think you might have handled Miranda's situation? Do you think she handled it well or badly?"

Story Secrets: DELACROIX ACADEMY: THE CANDIDATES by Inara Scott + Giveaway!

It's very exciting to be posting about my friend Inara Scott (fellow Northwest debut author who invited me to talk TMAS at Romance Bandits!), whose debut paranormal thriller, THE CANDIDATES (DELACROIX ACADEMY) hit the shelves this week! Her novel promises suspense, secrets, and very definitely some romance.

PLUS Inara has generously offered not one but TWO giveaway copies. Check out the entry rules below, and give a warm (and maybe even fiery!) welcome to Inara!


DELACROIX ACADEMY: THE CANDIDATES is the first in a new series about Dancia Lewis, a girl with powerful -- but uncontrollable -- psychic powers. When Dancia is recruited to attend prestigious Delcroix Academy, despite her lackluster grades and concerted attempts NOT to be noticeable, she can't help but wonder why. And then there's the attention she's getting from the hottest guy at the school, and the conspiracy theories from her new friend Jack. Dancia's going to have to unravel the mystery, before it's too late.

Holly Cupala: Delacroix Academy looks fiery and fabulous. Where did you get the idea for it?

Inara Scott: My favorite genre when I was in high school was fantasy (David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey) and there were always very clear good guys and bad guys in those stories. I wanted to explore the idea of a world in which there were mysterious, paranormal forces, but no clear way to tell the good from the bad.
For me, it came down to a question -- what if you had a superpower, but bad things happened when you used it. Would you use it anyway? Hide? How would you deal with the pressure, and the responsibility...

Read the rest for a chance to win a copy of DELACROIX ACADEMY: THE CANDIDATES here!

~Holly Cupala

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rgz Salon: Sharon Levin "Who says kids aren't reading?"

Awesome book reviewer/book evangelist Sharon Levin is here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where four of the top kidlit experts clue us in to reading and YA trends.

Here's Sharon:

"Who says kids aren’t reading? I find myself constantly defending kids and their reading habits to adults who seem to feel that kids aren’t reading at all, distracted by texting, computer games, and really bad movies (really, Jackass 3D?!?!?!?).

"Thirty five years after I was in junior high (go ahead, I’ll wait while you do the math) I am FINALLY cool to teens BECAUSE I read their books (believe me when I was an actual junior high student I was anything BUT cool). I find I can talk to almost any kid because I just ask them what they’re reading and then the conversation goes from there. I do not cut down their tastes (even if they’re reading Twilight, we are all allowed our ‘trash’ reading) and I love to hear how they view various characters and plot.

"We know the stereotype of 8th graders: too cool for words, into fashion, video games, boys or girls and perhaps sports. Excited about a book? Nope, that’s not what we think of. Well, let me tell you about my morning.

"Today, I paid a surprise visit to my daughter’s 8th grade Language Arts class (YES, I asked her permission first, so it wasn’t a surprise to her, just the teacher and her classmates). I had gone to Kepler’s (our local, independent bookstore) to pick up Mockingjay, the final book in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy that was just released.

"I knocked on the classroom door and when I walked in, I didn’t say a word, I just held up the book and grinned. There was a moment of silence and the room just exploded. The kids who knew the book (about 85% of them) were going 'Woo Hoo! No way!! I want it!!' as I handed the book to their teacher (it was a gift for her) who hugged it and said, 'Mine, all mine.' (Yes, she’ll share, but she’ll definitely be reading it tonight.) The kids who didn’t know it were saying, 'What? What’s happening?' Guaranteed, all those kids will be getting Book 1 today, in order to be in the loop. This is the closest I will ever get to being treated like a rock star (if you ever heard me sing, you'd realize why, even my rabbi wouldn't let me lead a round at my daughter's Bat Mitzvah and I don't blame him a bit). :-)

"Of course, I also handed a copy to my daughter, so she can start reading it during SSR (Sustained Silent Reading) today (why else do you think she gave me permission to come into her class on the second day of school?).

"I left with a huge grin on my face and realized that I had not said a single word while I was in the room. I didn’t have to, the book said it all."

August: The Soundtrack to Tell Me a Secret

Featured Author Holly Cupala hand-picked songs for the playlist that accompanies Tell Me a Secret this month (and how cool is that peek at the mix, left?). Listen to the full soundtrack with the player in the right-hand sidebar or in the August issue!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Story Secrets: DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS by Beth Kephart + Giveaway!

Perhaps you've been waiting anxiously for this day because a gorgeous, brilliant, and much-anticipated book is hitting the shelves at this very moment. That day has arrived!

Today, Beth Kephart's latest exquisite novel, DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS, is born! So if you happen to be at the bookstore for any other reason, please pick it up and savor it like the rarest and finest of chocolates.

I'm thrilled and proud to welcome Beth to a special edition of Story Secrets to spill some of her DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS secrets - and she has generously offered to give away one book (see entry info below)!


DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS is the story of twin sisters set against the backdrop of 1876 Philadelphia, the Centennial year. When the novel opens, Katherine has lost her sister, Anna, to an untimely death and, feeling responsible, is unwilling to live on. She chooses a hot Saturday in early September to make her way to the Centennial grounds, where all the noise and commotion of the international exhibition does nothing to permeate her sadness. Chased by Anna’s former lover and contemplating suicide, Katherine is saved, at the exhibition, by an unlikely turn of events and by a boy, an animal whisperer of sorts, far outside her social class. The present day story is leavened by numerous flashbacks, where we meet Anna herself, and her lover.

Holly Cupala: Such a fascinating premise, Beth! Both sisters and a beloved city. Can you tell us about how the idea began?

Beth Kephart: I had been working on a book (an unusual “autobiography”) about a Philadelphia river—a book called FLOW: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PHILADELPHIA’S SCHUYLKILL RIVER— and I kept encountering images and stories of old Philadelphia that led me in this direction. I love my city, and I always return to it in my imagination.

Read the rest of Beth's secrets and enter to win a copy of DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS here!

~Holly Cupala

August: Why Things Happen

Holly says, "'We don't always know why things happen until down the road,' says Nik. What do you think about that?"

Cover Stories: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June by Robin Benway

Robin Benway shared her Audrey, Wait! Cover Story last week, and she's back to tell the tale of her newest release's gorgeous art.

Here's Robin!

"I thought that after having gone through cover anxiety with Audrey, that April, May & June would be a breeze. So wrong! So very very wrong! It's so nervewracking to get the image of your book cover emailed to you!

"I had originally always had this idea in my head of three linked paper dolls again a navy blue background with the words 'April May June' written over their heads. I loved this image, but I was pretty sure that my publisher didn't want that as the cover. (It's probably why I became a writer, rather than a cover designer)...

Read the rest of Robin's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com, and enter for your chance to win a signed galley copy of the book!

Monday, August 23, 2010

August: Postergirlz Recommended Reads

Did you love Tell Me a Secret? Are you looking for more stories of sisters and self-respect? Check out these additional postergirlz recommends. They are perfect companion reads!

Jumping Off Swings
by Jo Knowles
For Keeps by Natasha Friend
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Borrowed Light by Anna Fienberg
The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman
The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

S.E.X: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get
You Through High School and College by Heather Corinna

August: Friends in Unlikely Places

Holly says, "When Miranda finds support, it's not at all who she expected. Have you ever found friends in unlikely places?"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Happy Wedding Day!

One of our readergirlz postergirlz, blogger and rock star YA librarian Jackie Parker, is getting married today! So from all of us at readergirlz...

Happy Wedding Day, Jackie and Kyle!

Rgz Salon: Lyn Miller-Lachmann Reviews Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes

Rgz SALON member Lyn Miller-Lachmann has been the Editor-in-Chief of MultiCultural Review; the author of the award-winning multicultural bibliography Our Family, Our Friends, Our World; the editor of Once Upon a Cuento, a collection of short stories by Latino authors; and most recently, the author of Gringolandia, a young adult novel about a refugee family living with the aftermath of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. The book is now in it's second print run and available for order! (Don't forget to read the fascinating Cover Story for Gringolandia.)

We're honored to have Lyn 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. Today, she reviews Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes (Chronicle Books, 2010).

"When her single mother, a graduate student, signs on to a research project in Costa Rica, 12-year-old Izzy Roybal is sent to her grandmother’s house in a New Mexican village even though Mom and Nana 'don’t see eye to eye.' Mom is a footloose scientist while Nana has never strayed from her Mexican-American roots and community. Not only has Mom kept Izzy away from her cultural heritage for twelve years, but she has also kept the youngster away from any information about her Anglo father, who died before Izzy was born.

"Before leaving California for New Mexico, Izzy finds her father’s baseball, on which is written, 'because…magic,' with the words in between clearly missing. Izzy is eager to find the missing words and with them the truth about her father. Nana and Nana’s friends counsel patience. There are tortillas to prepare and decorations to put up for a birthday party. To pass the time, Izzy works on a story she is writing about a girl whose life parallels hers. Then she meets 13-year-old Mateo, a guitar-playing neighbor with an interest in finding buried treasure, and Maggie, a six-year-old orphan who is cared for by her grandmother Gip, Nana’s best friend. Mateo introduces Izzy to Socorro, the village healer, who offers more clues to Izzy’s past, but Izzy’s desire to discover everything at once puts others in danger.

"Cervantes’s debut novel reveals the rich fabric of the community and a spunky and appealing protagonist. Izzy’s energy and impatience ring true, as well as her feeling of being out of sync with the village at first. The same feeling of being at odds with her surroundings helped to drive away Izzy’s mother, but the youngster’s desire to connect with her past bonds her to people with whom she otherwise has little in common. Cervantes uses elements of magic realism as markers of the characters’ emotional transformation in a way that is subtle and natural. Most compelling, though, is the connection between the athletic, tomboyish Izzy to the father she never knew, a promising baseball player until the tragedy that took his life." -Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cover Stories: Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

The super-fun Robin Benway has two Cover Stories for our enjoyment. We'll start with her awesome debut, Audrey, Wait!, and you'll get the tale behind her new cover (for The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June) later this week.

Here's Robin!

"In my first book, Audrey, Wait!, Audrey is a character who loves music, so I always had an image of a girl's wrist covered in wristbands. Not bracelets, but the sort of wristbands you get when you have to queue up in line for a concert or to get backstage. I thought that'd be so cool! When Audrey sold, however, my publisher hired Rodrigo Corral to do the cover. I was over the moon at this news, since I had seen so many of his book covers and thought they were beautiful.

"When Razorbill first emailed me the image that would become the hardcover Audrey cover, I was driving down to Orange County and my phone at the time couldn't download photos. My agent called me and was saying, 'Did you see it? Did you see it?' and I was FREAKING OUT because I couldn't see it and I didn't have my computer with me and I was an hour away from home and I NEEDED to see my book cover!

"So I did what any rational person would do: I drove to the nearest Apple store, hopped onto a computer, and pulled up the image...."

Read the rest of Robin's Cover Story and see foreign editions of the cover at melissacwalker.com.

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Bang Bang You're Dead by William Mastrosimone (play)
You by Charles Benoit

For Your Younger Siblings
Layla, Queen of Hearts by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Patrice Barton
I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth The Trip. by John Donovan

This Month's Spotlighted Title
Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

Friday, August 20, 2010

Party It Up: Tell Me a Secret

Planning your own book group get-together? Here are some party ideas from the author.

Invite: A handmade flyer with a shadowy bird, bidding you to follow

Décor: Miranda's labyrinth art, mysterious photos, safety-pin fashion

Food: Appetizers from Café Shiraz (Kamran's parents' restaurant!): kebabs, hummus and pita, Mrs. Ziyal’s famous stuffed figs, pomegranates.
Movies: Juno, Speak, anything sci-fi for Kamran

Craft: A double-sided collage to show your outer and inner life

August: Have You Ever Felt Like an Outcast?

Holly says, "After her secret is revealed, Miranda feels like an outcast. Have you ever felt like an outcast?"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

rgz Shout Out: Jet City Bombers, Roller Derby

Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

Thanks to Herald Net for this write up on roller derby! That's our own Auburn Public Librarian, Rachel McDonald, in blue on the left. Let's just say, she's not your mother's librarian! Go, Rachel!

Her team, The Jet City Bombers, is going to regionals in October in Sacramento.

Any other roller derby rgz out there?

“This is an amazing time to be playing roller derby,” said Kate Mossman of Everett, aka missu sunshine, a 37-year-old librarian at the Everett Public Library. “It's really taking off.”

My website

Story Secrets: LOVESTRUCK SUMMER by Melissa Walker!

It wouldn't be summer without chatting with readergirlz diva and author Melissa Walker, author of LOVESTRUCK SUMMER - exactly the book you want to pick up for a lazy August day (especially if that day happens to involve beaches or indie music or charming Austin types or all of the above).

This book is a delight - I even overheard my husband thumbing through a few pages and laughing at Melissa's hilarious depiction of Quinn's romance tribulations. So I'm very pleased to invite Melissa to chat all things Lovestruck and Summery with us today!


Lovestruck Summer is the story of Quinn, an indie rock girl who came out to Austin, Texas for a music internship. She also plans to spend long, lazy days in the sun at outdoor concerts -- and to meet a hot musician or two. Instead, she's stuck rooming with her sorority brainwashed cousin, who now willingly goes by the name 'Party Penny.' Their personalities clash, big time. But Sebastian, a gorgeous DJ, definitely makes up for it. Sebastian has it all: looks, charm, and great taste in music. So why can't Quinn keep her mind off Penny's friend -- cute, All-American Russ with the Texas twang? Two guys + one girl in the live music capital of the world...

Holly Cupala: Melissa, tell us about your inspiration for LOVESTRUCK SUMMER.

Melissa Walker: I went to a wedding in Austin one summer and I loved EVERYTHING about the town! I took notes on all the places we visited, and I knew I had to set a book there one day...

Find out more of Melissa's summery secrets here...

~Holly Cupala