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, December 31, 2011

Favorite YA Novels of 2011

What were your favorite YA books released in 2011? Let me know in the comments below! Here are a few of mine:

The Waking: Spirits of the Noh by Thomas Randall
The Fallen: End of Days by Thomas E. Sniegoski
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Doggirl by Robin Brande
Red Glove by Holly Black (second volume in the Curse Workers series)
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best by Maria Padian
The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman
Stay by Deb Caletti
My Not-So-Still Life by Liz Gallagher

Want even more recommendations? Visit my blog, Bildungsroman, for my entire Best Books of 2011 booklist.

Come back to the readergirlz blog tomorrow to see what books I can't wait to read in 2012!

Diva Delight: How to Save a Life

We love Sara Zarr! She's inside our Circle of Stars. And her latest release, How to Save a Life, is an excellent addition to her life work. You will agree the FIVE starred reviews are spot on.

From two perspectives, two stories are told as two girls find their identity following a crisis. Jill is recovering from the death of her father, while Mandy is pregnant, possibly by her abuser. The two find themselves in the same home as Jill's mother plans to adopt the forthcoming baby. How do you learn to trust when you never could before? Who are you following great loss, and can you ever return to who you were before? Side by side, Jill and Mandy's stories illuminate each other beautifully. Golden threads repeat from one voice into the other.

I was captivated by Mandy's asperger-like frankness, and Jill's journey through her anger. Each created such poignant, palpable moments of discomfort for the reader. This work is honest from page one.

Brava, Sara! We celebrate this story holding your voice so beautifully!

How to Save a Life
by Sara Zarr
Little Brown, 2011

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cover Stories: Hooked by Catherine Greenman

Catherine Greenman's Hooked has a cover that gets right to the point. Here's Catherine to talk about her debut cover's creation:

"I didn't have a very clear idea about anything as I was writing Hooked. The writing process, at least for me, as it was my first time, was all-consuming and very mono-focused on the characters and what was happening within the story. Looking back now, I'm amazed at all the things outside of it that I didn't think about at all. For example, I wasn't fully aware that Hooked would be marketed as a young-adult novel. But I guess that's what happens when your protagonist is seventeen years old and speaking in the first person!

"I originally was picturing using an old looking photograph of a young girl standing on a beach in a crocheted bikini. This photo is a touchstone throughout the book that eventually inspires Thea, my protagonist, to design her own bikini line. I was very interested in the idea of what positive steps one can take when they're in crisis, and Thea taking the steps to conceive of and start a business was one of the positive things that came out of her difficult situation. So I thought the photo would be a good illustration of one of the themes of the book.

"A friend was kind enough to lend me her six-year-old daughter and we put her in this bikini (you can see this photo here). To me it illustrates one of the story lines of Hooked -- a photograph taken when Thea was very young inspired her to recreate a bikini she loved wearing as a child. Of course, she didn't just love the bikini, she loved what it represented -- an earlier, less troubled time in her life.

"When I first saw the cover, I worried that it was a little racy. It's a profile of a tee-shirted pregnant belly and half of the belly is exposed and her fly button is undone. So I did what a lot of first-time authors did: I sent it around to my friends to hear what they thought..."

Read the rest of Catherine's Cover Story on melissacwalker.com.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cover Stories: Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey

The first book in Scott Tracey's Witch Eyes trilogy came out this fall, and he stopped by to share the Cover Story!

Here's Scott:

"When WITCH EYES sold, and I first knew that it was going to Flux, I was extremely excited.  Some of my favorite covers of the last few years have come out of Flux, so right off the bat, I was ecstatic.  There was panic, too, like 'what if my cover's the exception?' but we pretend that never happened.  You do that a lot as a writer.  Sweep things under the rug or lock them in the closet and pretend you can't hear them whimper.

"Anyway, when it came to the cover, in my head I'd always pictured something in lots of darks and purples.  Maybe an aerial shot overlooking a town at night, with all their house lights on and a boardwalk or a lighthouse or something.  Or maybe a pair of eyes in photo negative so they're all dark and moody. I think all this is the result of reading too many Dean Koontz and John Saul novels when I was a teenager.

"It had worked out that just before Brian (my editor at Flux) asked me for images from covers I liked, and images that 'fit' the book, I stumbled onto this picture.  It was a photo manip that someone had made, and posted on Tumblr.  A pair of large (possibly feminine - it was hard to tell) eyes, overlaid above an image of an old castle on fire.  I sent it along too, mostly because the idea of eyes overlooking something was fantastic - and perfect for my book..."

Read the rest of Scott's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Poetry Friday: Sonnet 130, read by Alan Rickman

Oh, thank you dear, Miss Erin, for sharing this with me. What a Christmas gift! Happy Poetry Friday, everyone!

(Thanks to discosherpa for the original post!)



Alan Rickman reads Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
   As any she belied with false compare. 
LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Monday, December 19, 2011

Watch for It: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Girls of No Return

We HEART Laini so much! And wow to her latest novel! Between multiple starred reviews and a movie sale, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a must to find. You must read it before it hits the big screen. Laini is as fresh are ever. All the divas are talking about this one. Congrats, Laini!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor
Little Brown Books, 2011

And here's a heads up sneak peek for February, 2012. Watch for The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin. Kirkus calls the work, "A smashing debut." I was intrigued and held in wonder and suspense from the first page. Be prepared for a journey into the wilderness and into self. Congratulations, Erin! Enjoy the moment!

The Girls of No Return
by Erin Saldin
Aurthur A. Levine Books, February, 2012

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cover Stories: Between by Jessica Warman

Jessica Warman has some amazing covers, and her latest is no exception. Check out the Cover Story:

"It’s funny – I’m the most non-visual person I’ve ever met.  Truly.  My mom is an amazing realist painter, and while I can appreciate the beauty of her work, I just don’t find the visual arts nearly as engaging as I assume most people do. Same thing goes for great scenery, great decoration – anything visual.  I see images of the Grand Canyon and am like, 'Yes, it’s beautiful, but…  once I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it.' I can remember going to Niagara Falls as a kid and thinking, 'Okay, here we are, I’m looking at the waterfall… what now?' It’s very odd – at least I’m told that it’s odd by my friends and family. My point being: I can never really visualize what I want for a cover, because my mind sort of doesn’t work that way. I tend to think exclusively in a narrative. Weird, I know.

"My publisher didn’t ask for my input at first, but I was shown an early version of the cover VERY early on, and I absolutely loved it. I felt like it perfectly captured the tone and content of the book. I made it my background on my computer, and I’d look at it multiple times a day… which is saying a LOT, considering the fact that I’m pretty deficient when it comes to my appreciation of the visual arts!

"There was also the first version of the Egmont cover for the UK edition of the book (right) with the woman underwater with her hair and dress sort of suspended all around her. I tend to really trust people who do things professionally that I know nothing about – for instance, people who design book covers and know what sells – but I was a bit startled the first time I saw this version. For some reason it felt very 1970s to me, and I’m not exactly sure why..."

Read the rest of Jessica's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles (available in March 2012)
Sprinkles and Secrets by Lisa Schroeder

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cover Stories: Jessie ♥ NYC

Keris Stainton was here last year to share the Cover Story for Della Says: OMG!, and now she's back with the tale of Jessie ♥ NYC!

Here's Keris:

"I didn't really think about the cover when I was writing the book -- I'd made a collage so I just pictured that... although it did have the Empire State Building smack bang in the middle!

"After I'd delivered the book I actually dreamed the cover and the title. I told my editor and she asked me to send over the details, so I made a few mock-ups and she loved them.

"The first version I saw was black and white (right) and then the next one was gold, but not as fabulously shiny as the finished product...

Read the rest of Keris's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Ryan Gosling Reads YA

Last night, I stumbled upon a new Tumblr filled with references to YA books, combined with...Ryan Gosling. Yes, indeed. For what it's worth, I think he's a good actor. (1) If this Tumblr gets people to read, I'm all for it!

So far, people have posted images recommending books written by Lauren Myracle, Libba Bray, Laini Taylor, Sarah Dessen, John Green, David Levithan, and more. There are also, of course, Twilight references, Harry Potter mentions, and other such things. I created this example, which references the fantastic novel Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron:(2)

The blog's administrator made this variation:

Reblog this, tweet this, popularize the Twitter hashtag #ryangoslingreadsya and pick up the books that these fun images are covertly recommending.

(1) Have you seen The Believer? If not, do!
(2) I very much enjoyed the novel, and I hope the film does it justice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rgz Salon: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, Reviewed by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

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 has had multiple print runs and is 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 top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Today, she reviews Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel):

"YALSA recently announced its shortlist for the William Morris Award honoring the best debut YA novel of the year, and one of the finalists is Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray. I agree with the accolade, as this is one of the most fascinating and challenging books that I’ve read in a long time. It recounts a little-known episode in the history of the Second World War, but one close to the author and her family. Her mother was able to escape Lithuania for the United States during the war. Other members of her mother’s family did not, and they became victims of Stalin’s brutality once Soviet forces overran the Baltic nations and eastern Poland in 1939—the same time that Hitler occupied western Poland and most of central Europe as a result of the non-aggression pact between these two despots. Sepetys uses their experience as the foundation of her stunning debut.

"Between Shades of Gray begins in June 1941, when Soviet forces control Lithuania but the threat of a Nazi invasion is growing. Fifteen-year-old Lina Vilkas, her 11-year-old brother, and their mother are deported from their comfortable home in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, first to a collective farm in southern Siberia and then to a barren work camp near the North Pole. They are three of several hundred thousand people from Soviet-occupied Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Poland sent to Siberia along with millions of others on the even of the Nazi invasion. They have been considered enemies of the state and potential Nazi collaborators because of their wealth and nationalist political views. Lina’s father has already been 'disappeared,' and the rest of the family searches for news of him among the other deportees. On the journey, Lina meets Andrius, a handsome and courageous boy two years older. They are later separated. She witnesses the death of her mother and countless others and finds an outlet for her fear and sorrow through her art, drawing the barren landscape that Sepetys so vividly describes.

"Sepetys’s fictional account reads like a memoir in the style of Esther Hautzig’s The Endless Steppe, which describes a Polish-Jewish family sent to Siberia under similar circumstances. In that sense, it doesn’t have a traditional story arc but rather is a chronicle of the protagonist’s first two years of a twelve-year captivity, with the 'climax' the arrival of a kindly Soviet doctor who treats the ailing internees, teaches them to cure and store fish so they will survive future winters, and helps them connect with an indigenous village nearby. Reflecting the real events, Sepetys leaves unresolved what happens to most of the characters, though she gives the reader a powerful surprise ending. Defying the 'political correctness' of much historical fiction, she also paints an authentic portrait of the Lithuanian characters’ culture and attitudes, including the subconscious anti-Semitism that explains their later collaboration with the Nazis in exterminating over 90 percent of the country’s Jewish population between 1941 and 1944. She does so not directly but through a complex, troubling, and ultimately convincing portrayal of the Bald Man, a Jewish deportee who joins Lina and her family at every stage of their terrible journey." -Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Congratulations, Siobhan Vivian!

We give a celebratory shout out to Siobhan Vivian and her love Nick! As she said, "We got hitched!" This is the BEST wedding video ever. Take a look.

 Congratulations, Siobhan! We heart you!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rgz Salon: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, Reviewed by René Kirkpatrick

René Kirkpatrick has been a bookseller and book buyer, specializing in children's and teen literature, for many years.She has a degree in elementary education and reads widely across all genres. She is currently a buyer at Third Place Books.

We're honored to have her here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where four of the top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Here's René, discussing Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater.

"This was, hands down, the Children’s Book Department’s favorite book this year. How can you not keep reading when the first line in a book is, 'It is the first day of November, and so, today, someone will die'.

"On a small island wreathed in fog and mist, two people prepare to race their horses for a massive pot of money. Sean and Puck have very different reasons for wanting to win the race but they are both determined to do it, only Puck is the first girl to ever sign up, and she wants to race her pony, and Sean has never lost a race on his water horse. As the two of them begin to get to know each other, we learn more and more about the lives they live on the island and how they are all entwined with the water horses that come out of the icy sea searching for flesh.

"So deliciously fabulous, so atmospheric and romantic in all the definitions of the word, it is a book for breathing in and reading slowly. I read it in one long draught and carried it with me everywhere I went after I was done. It is a definite re-read and should be on every horse lover’s shelf. But, please, even if horses aren’t your favorite animal, pick it up and read it just so you can enjoy the way Maggie writes."  14 and up. $17.99. Scholastic.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cover Stories: The Cold Awakening Series

The amazing Robin Wasserman is back to share the story of the cover--and title!--changes for her latest trilogy. Here goes:

"The last time I got to pontificate on this blog, I talked about how much I loved the cover my publisher had come up with (true) and how much we’d struggled to come up with the right title for the book (also true), and then ended with this: '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.'

"As they say…famous last words.

"Because fast forward three years later, and these books are getting brand new covers. And brand new titles to go with them.

"And I couldn’t be happier.

"Not that I didn’t like the original look for the trilogy, but who doesn’t love a makeover? (You’re talking to a girl who spent all of high school convinced that if she whipped off her glasses and shook out her ponytail in just the right way, she might become homecoming queen.) (Didn’t happen.)

"My editor first contacted me about the repackage about a year and a half ago (which means before the third book in the trilogy even came out!), and as I had the first time around, I jumped at the chance to weigh in:

'I'm so excited about the idea for new covers for these books! I'm the first to admit that I'm visually/artistically challenged, to put it mildly, but since you kindly asked if I had any thoughts on the subject, I took a look around to see what jumped out at me, and actually, I found that everything I gravitated toward had a sort of similar look, so I'm sending them along to you, in case anything sparks your imagination. You'd mentioned you were thinking iconic, which I think is a cool idea -- and I'm wondering what you think about using the *body* as a object, so to speak (ie instead of a chair or an apple or whatever), since that really gets at the heart of the trilogy.

I'm not talking about headless girl parts, so much as something like this - or even this.

In a sort of similar vein.

"We were all agreed that we wanted to move away from the photographic look of the original covers and find some kind of object that would really capture the theme of the trilogy. My editor and designer weren’t sure my idea of using the human body would work, so they suggested we try to find objects the evoked the same feel. I loved the way they were approaching it:

"'We’ve been talking a lot about the ideas of frailty v strength, something beautiful masking something unnatural, rebirth, etc—all with an iconic approach.' ---my awesome editor

"They told me they were going to look around from some stock photos of things that might capture this frailty/strength, natural/artificial divide, like cracked eggshells, frozen flowers, and silhouetted fruit.

"Which I thought was a great idea…but not as great as the idea they sent over a couple weeks later..."

Read the rest of Robin's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Friday, December 9, 2011

rgz Seattle Host: Katherine Schlick Noe

"Hi girlz! Last night I went to a launch party for Katherine Schlick Noe’s debut novel, Something to Hold. I have never seen Secret Garden Bookshop so packed; it was literally wall-to-wall people. It was an emotional moment for me, because Katherine has been a loyal writing partner for years, and it’s wonderful to see her book in final form, and to see all the excitement surrounding her publication.

"Something to Hold is a lovingly told piece of historical fiction about eleven-year-old Kitty, a white girl who spends 1962 on Warm Springs Indian Reservation because of her father’s work as a forest manager. At first, Kitty feels alienated from the Indian kids, and longs for the security of an all-white school. But as she awakens to the richness of Native American culture, and sees firsthand the social injustices toward Native Americans, her feelings shift. When she befriends the girl that she feared the most, the change in Kitty fully takes root. As she learns to stand up for her beliefs, and discovers that 'belonging' is a something she carries in her own heart, she finally transcends her feelings of rootlessness.

"The book is drawn from Katherine’s life experience growing up on Indian reservations, and the voice and setting reflect that intimate knowledge. The language is poetic and evocative, and the imagery rich and varied. Katherine has a gift for conveying deep meaning in small, everyday objects: a piece of fruit, a leather bag. Her details bring time and place alive in a way that is both haunting and moving. While the book is classified as middle-grade, I think it “reads up” very well and should appeal to girls in the 7th –-9thgrades.

"Witnessing Katherine’s writing of this book has been one of the great lessons in my own writing life. Above all, I’ve learned from her the art of revision (please don’t miss her amazing post on the topic). Something to Hold began as a set of disconnected stories—pearls in their own right—not united by a central plot. It was fascinating to see Katherine weave a rock-solid narrative thread through her disparate shorts, a process which she likens to weaving a basket. It helped me understand both the commitment and flexibility required for effective revision, and also the very different processes that authors embrace as they bring their works to completion."

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.

Poetry Friday: Christmas Troll, Gift Tag

Hey rgz!

Did you see the holiday e-poetry collection, Gift Tag? It was compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. I'm so happy to be in this work with other poets who write for children and young adults. Each entry was motivated by an image. You might click and purchase the book for yourself and gift it to others for just $2.99. It's spot on for little ones and older readers. Gift Tag is full of holiday memories, thoughts, and wishes you'll want to read again and again. You will love it! As a teaser, here's my entry. Happy Poetry Friday!

Tucked Between Branches
A green puff swirls
Like angel hair
Golden eyes wink
Beside warm white lights
A round belly bulges
Like a plump ornament
My Christmas tree troll
Curls a smile
And reaches out to me

Lorie Ann Grover, 2011
LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Alanna Holt Speaks About Misrepresentation

Dear Alanna Holt:

Three cheers for sharing your thoughts on how the media (mis)represents woman. We don't know you personally, but your YouTube video for the Miss Representation project was right on, to the point, and will hopefully go viral. Best of luck to you, Alanna!

If you can't see the video above, click here.

Rgz Salon: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Reviewed by René Kirkpatrick

René Kirkpatrick has been a bookseller and book buyer, specializing in children's and teen literature, for many years.She has a degree in elementary education and reads widely across all genres. She is currently a buyer at Third Place Books.

We're honored to have her here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where four of the top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Here's René, discussing Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor.

"Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a fabulous fantasy filled with demons and angels, starlight and hell. The story focuses on blue-haired art student Karou who runs mysterious errands for a person who may not be human while she tries to get through school. When black handprints begin to appear on door lintels around the city, she becomes swept up in a war between winged beings and the only family she’s ever known.

"A big, thick book that guarantees hours of riveted reading, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a great book for the teen (or older!) reader of fantasy. The story takes place in Prague and seems to be firmly anchored in the here and now with this other world just out of sight. I would read it again just to see what I missed the first time around." 14 and up. $18.99. Little Brown.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rgz Street Team: Olivia reviews The President's Daughter series by Ellen Emerson White

The rgz Street Team is a group of teens who bring YA reviews to our blog, led by Postergirl Miss ErinFind out more.

Today, Olivia reviews The President's Daughter series by Ellen Emerson White, which has been a readergirlz featured series!

"Though the relationship between a famous mother and her teenage daughter seems to be a common theme in many young adult fiction novels, the President’s Daughter series by Ellen Emerson White provides a refreshing take on this situation.

"The four novels in the series focus on Meg Powers, who is a 16-year-old high school student in Massachusetts at the beginning of the first book. Meg’s relatively normal life is completely transformed after her senator mother successfully campaigns to become the next president of the United States, and Meg and her family move into the White House to begin their new life. 
"But though some teenagers might embrace the fame that comes from being the president’s daughter, Meg resists the attention and has difficulty with the acclimation. And while Meg seems to admire her mother’s grace, she secretly takes issue with some of her mother’s decisions and desires a stronger connection with her.
"While the first two books of the series (The President’s Daughter and White House Autumn) are engaging, a more intense and gripping storyline develops in the third book (Long Live the Queen), when Meg is kidnapped and held hostage by terrorists. Meg’s relationship with her mother takes a riveting turn as Meg has to come to terms with the fact that her mother did not stray from her policy ('can not, have not, and will not negotiate with terrorists') even when her own daughter was kidnapped. The repercussions of this unexpected attack continue through the most recent and longest book, Long May She Reign, which follows Meg as a student at Williams College attempting to recover. Interestingly enough, the first few books in the series were published in the 1980s, while the last was published after an 18 year break in 2007.
"Though the plot lines themselves are enthralling, the series is taken to a new level by the impressive characterizations and the author’s ability to bring Meg’s situations to life, especially in some of the more dramatic moments of the serires. The character of Meg, witty and somewhat cynical, is a spirited heroine that pulls the reader in to her story. Meg’s supporting cast, including her younger brothers, friend Beth, and father, are also well-developed and help to add humor and background to Meg’s path in the novels.

"Perhaps most impressively, Emerson White was able to create a relatable story out of Meg’s unique situation. Though Meg could easily act spoiled, pompous, or distant from normal teenage issues as the daughter of the president, she is grounded and many of her experiences in high school are typical for a teenage girl. Her less common experiences, such as her kidnapping, remain believable as Meg responds to these situations in a way that most readers would likely envision themselves responding, and though she is the president’s daughter the author makes it very clear that she is a real girl with real feelings and reactions.

"The novels are also refreshingly unpredictable: the reader is unsure of how each novel will end, and is compelled to keep reading to find out. I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction, and the last two books especially to those interested in psychology and post traumatic stress disorder."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Diva Delight: Dan Eldon, Safari as a Way of Life

Do you know the story of Dan Eldon? His life and work as a photojournalist? Chronicle Books has released a collection of his imagery, collages, and pursuits in Jennifer New's Safari as a Way of Life. Here is a visual biography that will inspire your own journey.

Dying in the field at the age of 22 in Somalia, Dan Eldon's philanthropy, creativity, and robust life are caught in this collection. The above left spread is included in this work. (Further imagery can be found in The Journey is the Destination.)

Every page of Safari as a Way of Life is moving and inspiring. Whether it is Dan's photo in Newsweek, his record of starving Somalian children, or his homage to a recent love interest, the man's spirit and life are captured and shared. You cannot leaf through this work and leave unchanged.

Along with journal collages, postcards, an iron-on, a poster, and sticker in Safari as a Way of Life, Jennifer New has pieced together Dan's biography with her own words and others who knew him well. You can learn more about Dan at http://www.daneldon.org/site/ and daneldon.com

Do not miss this book, readergirlz. It embodies so much of what believe in our community. Read, reflect, and reach out!

Dan Eldon, Safari as a Way of Life
by Jennifer New
Chronicle Books, 2011

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rgz Salon: Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai, Reviewed by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

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 has had multiple print runs and is 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 top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Today, she reviews Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins), a National Book Award Winner for 2011:

"The novel begins during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year that also serves as the birthday for all Vietnamese people. This year, in 1975, Ha is ten years old, and even she perceives the concern among her family and neighbors that the next Tet will see cataclysmic changes. The government in Saigon is barely hanging on, and within months, the Communists gain control of the entire country. Ha’s father, a South Vietnamese Navy officer, has been missing for years, but his fellow officers urge Ha’s mother to flee the country with her four children—Ha and her three older brothers Quang, Vu, and Khoi. After weeks in a refugee camp, they find a sponsor in Alabama and move to their new home where they encounter language difficulties and prejudice. To gain acceptance and assistance, they have to be baptized as Christians and attend church, though Mother clings to the old ways in secret. Ha and her three brothers struggle, grow, and find ways to make a life in their new land, and by the next Tet, all have begun to find a direction.

"Loosely based on the author’s own immigration experience in 1975 at the age of nine, this novel is told in verse that reflects the protagonist’s grappling with an unfamiliar language. Because Vietnamese is a pictorial language, images play a strong role in the narrative—the papaya that Ha misses, other typical Vietnamese foods and their poorly-matched American counterparts, the chick that Khoi hatches and tries to bring with him, Vu’s motorcycle and karate moves that make him the most popular of Ha’s family, the bully that Ha calls Pink Boy. Many of the poems rely on sound—alliteration and onomatopoeia—to depict Ha’s first efforts to learn English. Her teacher is 'MiSSS SScott' and her tutor 'MiSSSisss WaSShington.' She thinks of her first two friends, Pam and Steven, as 'Pem' and 'SSsì-Ti-Vân.' Along with evoking the process by which a confused immigrant learns a new language, Lai gives all her characters—not only Ha but also her three brothers and her mother—distinct desires and personalities that make them memorable and compelling." -Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rgz NYC HOST: Pajants Party at Books of Wonder!

Have you been following the Twitterhood of the Butt-Lifting Pajants, readergirlz? (If you haven't, you can check out the thread on twitter, natch, using the hashtag #pajants.)

What are the pajants, you ask? A magical pair of pajama-jeans (as seen on tv!) traded and worn (and photographed and signed) by a staggering roster of YA authors, inspired by the titular mythical jeans of Ann Brashares' mega-popular book series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The pajants even have their very own Facebook page, where you can see participating authors modeling the magical garment in question.

Diva Melissa Walker took a turn with the pajants this past spring -- check out her Photo Friday documentation of her experience. And here she is today, at Books of Wonder in NYC, participating in a massive signing with tons of other pajants-sharing authors!
That's her sitting next to E. Lockhart, who dazzled the audience with a hilarious slideshow of the pajants' many travels and adventures. What you can't see in the picture is how insanely packed the event was with writers, readers, and bloggers. To accommodate the crowd, we all sat cross-legged on the floor, as folks like the inimitable Lauren Myracle held court.

I should live so large as these pajants, I tell you! The event was great, and I had a fab time seeing so many of my favorite authors and kid-lit people in one place! Also -- snacks!

The pajants will soon be auctioned off on behalf of Reading is Fundamental. Follow them on twitter to get all of the details!

The Make It Safe Project

I just learned about The Make It Safe Project at Lee Wind's blog. I hope that you (yes, you, wonderful readers) will help support Amelia's efforts. Here's more about the project, as detailed at their website:
The Make It Safe Project donates books about sexual orientation and gender expression to schools and youth homeless shelters that lack the resources to keep their teens safe.

Giving: We donate books to K-12 schools, their Gay-Straight Alliances (a group that educates the school community about equality), and LGBT-inclusive youth homeless shelters nationwide. For information on how you can help give books or receive books for your school or shelter, please click here.

Support: If you are wondering what starting, leading, or joining a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) would be like, you can browse through stories written by teens who have been involved with GSAs here.

Advice: If you have experience starting, leading, or being in a GSA, you can anonymously submit a story about your experience here.

One book can save a life.

For every $100 raised, the Make It Safe Project sends a pack of GLBTQ books to a school or youth homeless shelter. The pack will include around ten of the books on the following list:

Fiction Books
Ash by Melinda Lo
Annie On My Mind by Nancy Gardener
Empress of the World by Sara Ryan
Luna by Julie Anne Peters
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger
Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez

Nonfiction Books
It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller
GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens by Kelly Huegel
Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens by Kathy Belge
Kicked Out edited by Sassafras Lowry
Like Me by Chely Wright
Let's Get This Straight: The Ultimate Handbook for Youth with LGBTQ Parents by Tina Fakhrid-Deen

If you are a student, teacher, parent, or principal at any K-12 school or a volunteer or client at a youth homeless shelter in the USA and your school or shelter is in need of books, please contact the Make It Safe Project.

Friday, December 2, 2011

rgz Newsflash: Win a Kindle!

This just in from our beloved iheartdaily.

"We've teamed up with our fine friends at Figment for the  Books of 2011 Contest where you have a chance to win a Kindle loaded with each of our five favorite books of the year -- that's 10 books!

Here is your mission, if you wish to accept it: Write a review of your favorite book published in 2011. Submit your entry by December 16 at 11:59 p.m ET. Help choose the top 10 finalists by voting for your favorite entries. The finalists will be read and judged by I Heart Daily's very own Melissa Walker, author of Small Town Sinners and four other young-adult novels.

How to enter:

1. Read the full rules here
2. Sign up for Figment
Write a review of your favorite book published in 2011, of no more than 300 words, and press “Publish Now"
4. In the details tab, tag your story iheartdailybooks
5. Wait the 2 hours it sometimes takes to see your piece appear below"

How perfect is that, readergirlz? Get those submissions in. Happy holidays!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz