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!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Just a Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Friday, April 29, 2011

Poetry Friday: Plastic Salad Forks

My daughter, Ellen Elizabeth Grover, wrote this poem to be performed. I think the strength is still evident when you read it though, and I thought our readergirlz would appreciate the sentiments. Happy Poetry Friday, all!

plastic salad forks 

You girls 

who collect boy's 
firefly hearts 
in glass boutique jars. 
Who peer through 
chic magnifying glasses 
which focus the sun of your 
fluttering eyelashes 
to see how bright your latest addition will burn. 
This poem is not for you. 

That's right, you girls 
of the long black cotton legs 
of the soft plaid shirt-dresses 
of the beautiful 
untamed curls.
This poem is not for you.

You girls
of the scented hair, steaming from the iron
of the green tea frappucino glued to your bronzed hand
with the spine currently arched just so
for the poor poor boy in the front front row.
This poem is not for you.

This poem is for that boy
(in the front, front row)
who wants to save his first kiss
for someone really special
who rolls the sleeves of his crisp white dress shirt
right up to the elbows
who looks at himself in the mirror and thinks
"maybe I'll ask her today." This is for you.
This is for you.

This is for the boy
who isn't too afraid he likes chick flicks.
This is also for the boy who is.

This is for the boy
who lives for the sound of rain
who doesn't look when the brunette in front of him with the beige, low cut top leans over to pick up
what she may or may not have intentionally dropped
who finds he can't decide whether the most beautiful place on a girl is the peach-skin fuzz on her toes, or if it's where the line of her neck disappears behind her ear
who knows the most beautiful thing a girl can do
is pray.
           This is for you.

This is for the boy
who watches Heath Ledger on the bleachers
in 10 Things I Hate About You
and thinks "Yeah,
I could do that."
This is for the boy
who yes, sings, and yes, dances
and also for the boy who can't yet
                                                       but thinks it'd be cool to try.

This is for the boy
who isn't afraid to use words
like "indubitably" and "proverbially"
who can't wait to use words
like "cherish" and "adore"
and who employs the word "cute"
out of the context of some girl's butt.
This is for the boy
who doesn't swear
who loves Shakespeare, the Bible, Tennyson,
who doesn't friend some random girl on facebook just because her profile picture is hot.
           This is for the boy
who wakes up each morning
hugs his mom
and prays to become a better person for her
before grasping the handle of his front door and stepping out into the downpour
into the drenching onslaught of what we girls have in store for them.
Don't let those shoulder blades rust in the rain.
This is for you.

So you girls
who twirl these boys around
your dainty plastic salad forks?
Who giggle as you sizzle them under the heat
of your high high heels?
Shame on you.
                Shame on me.
                                 Shame on us.

And boys?
This one's for you.

Ellen Elizabeth Grover, copyright 2011

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

rgz NYC HOST: Jenny Han's We'll Always Have Summer Release Party!

At Books of Wonder, among Han-made cupcakes and beer, we celebrated the release of Jenny Han's We'll Always Have Summer!

See below for pics of the food (pigs in a blanket went FAST), fellow authors Coe Booth and Bennett Madison and the lovely-in-white Jenny, and, of course, the Pajants (they were total photo hogs, insisting on pictures with both Jenny and the awesome Coe Booth).

Congrats on the release, Jenny! 

Jenny reads a particularly hilarious passage... that ends with a cliffhanger! Conrad!

Blue Moon beer...

Bennett Madison and super S&S Editor Zareen Jaffery (does B not have amazing hair?). 

Jenny made cupcakes!

Pigs in a blanket get fancy on a silver tray!

Coe, my baby bump, and the Pajants

Jenny, humoring me and the Pajants.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cover Stories: So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

This week, Susane stopped by to talk about the cover of her new book, and she's offering a brand-new paperback version of last year's release, Something Like Fate (remember that Cover Story?). Just leave a comment on this Cover Story over at melissacwalker.com and you're entered to win.

Now here's Susane with the tale of this so-NYC cover...

"You've probably heard that authors don't get to decide anything about their covers. We can't just imagine how we want the cover to look and then have it turn out like that. That never happens.

"But it happened anyway.

"My cover designer is amazing. I saw Jim a few months before this cover was designed and he asked me if I had any color ideas. It was so cool that he was asking me about the cover because I had been envisioning the exact cover I wanted for a while.  So Much Closer takes place right in my New York City neighborhood, the West Village. One place I’m infatuated with in my nabe is the High Line. It's this old section of elevated train tracks that was turned into a magical green space with lots of trees and flowers. Some key scenes in So Much Closer take place on the High Line. I really wanted the cover to show my characters on the High Line at sunset or at night. I told Jim about my idea.

"Then it was summer and I was wondering what the cover would look like. My books come out in May, which means their covers are done the previous summer. Even though I knew dream covers never happen, the hopeful part of me never stopped believing that it might be possible. That's me, always dreaming big even when something seems impossible! But I really wasn't expecting to get an email from my editor with an initial cover design.

"With my characters on the High Line at sunset.

"Dude. They actually did a photo shoot on the High Line. I was beyond ecstatic. [Below, the photographer talks to the models on set.]

"Early versions of the cover featured orange and pink sunsets. The first orange sunset involved some serious Photoshop action. Marketing thought it was too much. Jim toned down the sunset. I love the pink sunset version even more than the final cover...."

Read the rest of Susane's Cover Story, and enter to win a copy of Something Like Fate, at melissacwalker.com.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Seattle's Child Wants to Talk to Local Readers!

Writer Rebekah Denn is working on a story about readergirlz for Seattle's Child magazine! If you're a Seattle-area reader who Rocked the Drop, who loves our book picks, or who's just into what we do, she wants to talk to you.

Email her here. (rebekahdenn at gmail)

And thanks!

rgz Community Service Shoutout: YouthNoise

Here's a shoutout to YouthNoise, the youth-led movement for real community change. We've connected with the organization before, including our chat + spotlight in June 2007. Fast forward to April 2011, and check out this tidbit from the YouthNoise newsletter:

Digitize Your Activism - Take Action on the Interwebz!
"More young folks are volunteering in America, and more of us are using our social networks and other online tools to organize friends and make a difference in our communities. Check out this sweet new motion graphic that explains how digital activists like us can take action and change the world."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Release Day! FAMILY by Micol Ostow

Hooray! We're celebrating Family's release day with Readergirlz Diva Micol Ostow! Read about some of the books she read while writing her latest novel.

A chilling, lyrical novel of cult love loosely based on the Manson Family murders, Family is an unflinching look at troubled girls, tainted dependencies, and the dangerous ties that bind.

Watch the trailer with us (if you dare) and look for blood-splattered bookshelves this week. Family is here!

Cover Stories: Kissed by an Angel and Evercrossed by Elizabeth Chandler

Elizabeth Chandler's bestselling Kissed by an Angel trilogy has been re-released with the cover you see at left, and her latest book, Evercrossed, matches that new style. I had to ask her how this cover evolution came about (it's a long way from the look of the first trilogy covers, below). Here's Elizabeth:

"For me, covers as well as titles are the last step in creating a book. I use working titles—very obvious and unimaginative ones—then usually beg for help from my editors. I just don’t have those marketing genes! (I was also bad at titling school projects and research papers.)

"I am as clueless when it comes to imagining covers. My mind is full of images when writing a book, and I cut out and tape up all around my desk pictures of people, places, and things that somehow connect with my novel—these help me to live in the world of my story—but I don’t think about an image for a cover. To me, that feels as if I’m summarizing or crystallizing the story before I truly know it.  I need to let the story spin out through its words before I mentally pull it together enough to know what is right for a title or cover image..."

Read Elizabeth's full Cover Story, and see earlier covers (plus the new cover for Evercrossed) at melissacwalker.com.

Monday, April 25, 2011

rgz Newsflash: Change is in the Air!

Change is in the air! Can you feel it?

We at readergirlz are assessing and redirecting. Active divas Micol, Melissa, and I have decided on a few tweaks as we rewrite and prepare for our own book releases. Micol's is tomorrow! Family premieres tomorrow! 

Back to the point. Here's what you can look forward to:

* The blog will be your point of reference for Cover Stories, industry newsflashes, HOST reports from across the country, as well as Street Team, SALON, and Diva reviews of great YA lit.

* Like our Facebook page to stay up to the the minute on all things rgz. We hope to pull awesome posts from the wall as blog posts! So keep us informed of what you are doing/reading, and we'll let you know if everyone's headed to Twitter for a chat!

* Watch for at least two literacy initiatives a year, like the massively successful Rock the Drop! 

So that's the scoop for your rgz 4.0. We are psyched and hope you are as well. Drop any questions or thoughts in the comments then read, reflect, and reach out!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

rgz Seattle HOST: The Cassandra Clare & Holly Black Tour!

Hi readergirlz,

Earlier this month I headed out to see Holly Black and Cassandra Clare on tour promoting Red Glove and City of Fallen Angels at Third Place Books in Seattle. There was standing room only (see right), unless you wanted to pick your way through tightly packed knees and take the one seat deep in the middle, between the mom with the baby and the big pack of girls. I was eyeing it… but I chickened out.

A few highlights from Holly’s and Cassandra’s Q&A:

Advice for aspiring authors: Read outside your comfort zone; read a lot of nonfiction, because you’ll use it; write a lot; and find a critique partner who’ll tell you when your stuff is crazy.

For Shadow Hunter fans: Cassandra has a new trilogy in the works!

Holly’s favorite part of being an author is meeting other authors, and “not having to pretend [she's] not staring at them in a creepy way.” Love that, Holly! Except tonight, I was the one staring at you in a creepy way.

Cassandra’s favorite part of being an author is getting to talk about her characters with people who know all their quirks and foibles, just like she does.

It was amazing to see these two ladies in action -- they're warm and totally down-to-earth, with wicked senses of humor. Don't miss them if they hit your town on the tour.

See you soon, girlz! --Stephanie

Our Seattle Host, Stephanie Guerra, teaches children’s literature, young adult fiction and a seminar in writing instruction at Seattle University. She also heads a volunteer creative writing program at King County Jail, and researches and speaks about literacy instruction for at-risk and incarcerated young adults. Stephanie lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and children. Her debut young adult novel, TORN, will be published by Marshall Cavendish in spring of 2012.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Contemps Rock the Drop!

More #Rocking from Macmillan Kids

So many drops = tons of photo ops!

Rock the Drop: Photo Op!

We'll be announcing the winners of our #rockthedrop Ruby Oliver book set this week, but in the meantime, the drop pics rock on!

Cover Stories: Illegal by Bettina Restrepo

illegal.jpgBettina Restrepo's Illegal has a windswept but urban cover, which is an intriguing combination, I think. The book is about a girl whose father crossed the boarder from Mexico to the US three years ago. They've stopped hearing from him, so she and her mother make the hard decision to follow him into Texas and try to find him.

"For the cover, I imagined two trailer-truck doors with the title in graffiti. But, I also knew that the art directors they have at HarperCollins could design something beyond my expectations. I only have a silly picture I drew (below). This is why I don't even try to suggest art. I leave the art to the experts.

"I received pictures of the shirt the model wore and they asked if it was okay (it was, I have one similar to it!). Then, when the font came out wonky and Frankensteinish (below) - they quickly agreed [with my objections] and came back with the beautiful barbed wire font.

"They asked me if I like royal blue or the purple. Hands down - purple..."

Read the rest of Bettina's Cover Story, and watch the trailer, on melissacwalker.com.