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!

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.