sara@saraeasterly.com

</p>text-indent:0in”></p>text-indent:0in”></p>text-indent:0in”>More than a dozen authors to converge on rgz forum to chat with ravenous teen readers

</span>Arial”>

</span>Arial”>Sept. 18, 2008 (Seattle, Wash.)</span>mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Young Adult Library Services Association’s (YALSA’s) </span>mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:Arial”>readergirlz (rgz) is excited to present Night Bites, a series of online live chats with an epic lineup of published authors. The chats will take place at the rgz forum, Oct. 13-17, 2008.

  • Multicultural Bites with authors Coe Booth (TYRELL), An Na (THE FOLD), and rgz diva Mitali Perkins (SECRET KEEPER)
  • Verse Bites with rgz diva Lorie Ann Grover (ON POINTE), Stephanie Hemphill (YOUR OWN SYLVIA), and Lisa Ann Sandell (SONG OF THE SPARROW)
  • Contemporary Bites with Ally Carter (CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY), rgz diva Justina Chen Headley (NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL), and Maureen Johnson (SUITE SCARLETT)
  • Fantasy Bites with Holly Black and Ted Naifeh (THE GOOD NEIGHBORS), rgz diva Dia Calhoun (AVIELLE OF RHIA), and Tamora Pierce (MELTING STONES)
  • Gothic Bites with Holly Cupala (A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT), Christopher Golden (SOULLESS), Annette Curtis Klause (BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE), and Mari Mancusi (BOYS THAT BITE).
  • groups.myspace.com/readergirlz) beginning at 6 p.m. Pacific Time (9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time), Oct. 13-17.

    www.youtube.com/readergirlz

    About readergirlz

    Avielle of Rhia), Lorie Ann Grover (On Pointe), Justina Chen Headley (Girl Overboard), and Mitali Perkins (First Daughter: White House Rules). readergirlz is the recipient of a 2007 James Patterson PageTurner Award.

    www.readergirlz.com and www.myspace.com/readergirlz, or contact divas@readergirlz.com.

    About YALSA

    For more than 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, films and audiobooks for teens. For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists.

    Ó2008 readergirlz

    ###

    Readergirlz Videos!

    So exciting, because now I can see slayground in video on my computer, and it’s almost like being there with her! (I like to pretend she’s talking *just to me*.) I actually am having to stop and pace myself so I don’t run out of Little Willow video.

    Makes me so happy.

    First, an aside: you may have noticed in my posts that I tend to include anecdotes and that I am not especially impartial or matter-of-fact in my reviews.  The reason for this is that I started this journal to be a personal reading journal, and so I use it to chronicle my own experiences of books.  This is different than someone who writes exclusively for their audience.  I do try to be interesting and to consider my audience interests, but

     remains a personal journal, and so the content will always have a personal touch.

    And now, on to the review.

    In Dia Calhoun’s Aria of the Sea, Cerinthe Gale, a 13 year old resident of the kingdom of Windward, moves from her small island to the capital city in order to audition for the School of the Royal Dancers.  As she attends the school, though, Cerinthe finds that her late mother’s dream for her to be a professional dancer is in conflict with her own talent for healing and her devotion to the goddess the Sea Maid.  Cerinthe blames her own error in healing for her mother’s death, and so when her rival, Elliana, is injured, Cerinthe is reluctant to help because she fears another failure.  It is at this juncture that Cerinthe must choose who she will become.

    I’m afraid to reveal much more of the plot than this, because I don’t want to spoil more for you.

    There are quite a few things that Dia Calhoun does incredibly effectively in Aria of the Sea.  First, she conveys Cerinthe’s homesickness with startling accuracy.  I missed Cerinthe’s imaginary home island myself, reading about Cerinthe’s feelings.  Second, she paints a true-to-life portrait of teenage rivalry; while my art when I was Cerinthe’s age was theatre and not dance, I experienced hostility from multiple corners of my tiny theatre world.  Elliana very much reminded me of girls I knew, right down to the realization Cerinthe had that though Elliana may be wealthy, that didn’t mean she was truly happy.  Nobody wants to be married off according to her parents’ will, after all.  Third, Calhoun aptly describes the pain one feels when one’s faith has deserted her.  Cerinthe, who has always heard the voice of her goddess the Sea Maid, ceases to hear her once she comes to the capital.  Calhoun describes Cerinthe’s sense of abandonment with great intensity.

    What Aria of the Sea does best, however, is demonstrate the difficulty that lies in a choice between two callings.  Cerinthe is a very talented dancer, and well-trained.  She is less well-trained as a healer, but displays more talent.  The choice between these two callings is heart-wrenching.

    I would especially recommend Aria of the Sea to fans of fantasy, coming of age stories, and the arts.  I would more generally recommend it to anyone who likes a moving story.  I’d be especially likely to put it in the hands of girls in the twelve to fourteen age range, whom I think will identify heavily with Cerinthe.

    Book: Aria of the Sea (Affiliate Link)
    Author: Dia Calhoun
    Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
    Original Publication Date: 2003
    Pages: 272
    Age Range: Young Adult
    Source of Book: Library

    Miracle got her name because, as her grandmother Gigi tells her, she was born from a dead woman.  Miracle’s father, Dane, was a prodigy and published his first novel at the age of 13.  Miracle likes to spend her days helping Gigi with her work as a medium, practicing dancing, and sitting in her father’s company.  One day, as Gigi is conducting a seance to contact Miracle’s dead mother, the Ouija board tells them that Dane is gone.  They rush to his room in the basement to find that he’s melted; all that’s left of him is a pile of clothes.

    Dancing on the Edge explores how our family shapes who we are and what we believe.  Miracle strongly believes in the symbolism of colors and numbers, in auras, portents, and omens.  She starts to question her beliefs when she first meets her Granddaddy Opal and he tells her, “If your mama was dead when you were born, then you was never born.”  I picked up this book because it was a readergirlz recommendation in May for Mental Health Month; throughout the course of the book Miracle loses and finds herself again.  By the end of it, I was sniffling and tearing up.  That is the mark of a good book.

    Books Read: 1
    Pages Read: 244
    Time Spent Reading/Reviewing: 3.25 hrs

    (You can expect longer reviews of most of my 48 Hr Book Challenge Books in the coming weeks.)

    Interesting Tidbit: Two of the Challenge Participants were students in the split level 3/4 classes where I did my student teaching; they weren’t MY students as I taught level 4 and my mentor teacher taught level 3, but they are still in that “my former student” brainspace.  They happen to be on the list of top 10 coolest former students.  (I’ve only had about 200 students so far, being somewhat new to this whole teaching thing, but still.  Top 10 out of 200, not bad at all.)  I hope I can convince them to participate in the Pirate Challenge when it comes around.

    Millicent Min has an impressive resume.  She started elementary school at age three, has over seven television appearances to her name, and is the subject of more than six articles on the subject of gifted children.  Now that she’s eleven and a half, she’s about to start her senior year of high school.  She is, in short, a genius.

    In Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Millicent must endure the summer between her junior and senior years of high school as she counts down to the day she will be free from the company of children, and finally be able to spread her wings in college.  This summer, her parents have signed her up for volleyball classes and offered her services as a tutor to friend of the family and obnoxiously typical twelve-year-old boy Stanford Wong.  On the upside, they’ve allowed her to register for a poetry class at a local university, and this summer she’s made her first friend.

    I love this book.  There is no way to express it better than that.  Millicent goes through all the difficulties of being a smart kid, and she experiences them to the extreme.  Her alienation, awkwardness, and pride are all emotions with which anyone ever considered “that smart kid” can identify.  Her precociousness is charming and alarming; it seems slightly wrong for a girl of almost twelve to prefer spending time with her poetry professor to attending slumber parties.  At the same time, for those of us who are the same way, it seems just right.

    Like many other children’s and young adult books, Millicent Min, Girl Genius shows us how much change can happen over one summer.  Millicent starts off knowing it all, needing no one, and socializing almost exclusively with her grandmother.  By the end of the book she realizes she has a lot to learn, comes to appreciate her parents more, and starts hanging out with kids her own age.  I strongly recommend Millicent Min, Girl Genius to anyone who loves to laugh, has ever felt like they knew better than the rest of the world, or has been told they’re too smart for their own good.

    Book: Millicent Min, Girl Genius (Affiliate Link)
    Author: Lisa Yee (lisayee)
    Publisher: Arther A. Levine Books
    Original Publication Date: 2003
    Pages: 256
    Age Range: Middle Grades
    Source of Book: Library
    Other Blog Reviews: propernoun.net, Planet Esme
    Links: Lisa Yee Interview at Bildungsroman,

    Favorite Quotes (page numbers from the hardcover edition):
    Continue reading

    The April issue of readergirlz is now online.  This month’s book is On Pointe (Affiliate Link) by Lorie Ann Grover, a verse novel about a ballet dancer who finds herself getting too tall for her passion.  As April is National Poetry Month, a verse novel is an especially appropriate choice.  My local library system has only one copy of On Pointe, and that copy is on hold for someone distinctly not me.  That’s good; it means it’s getting read!  None of the local bookstores have it, either; I just ordered it from Amazon, and expect to have it read by mid-month.

    This month’s issue of readergirlz includes a playlist, community challenge, slideshow, party ideas, discussion questions, author interview, and recommended reads.  The first song on the playlist, “Video” (Affiliate Link) by India Arie, is one of my favorite songs in recent years.

    For more books about dancers, take a look at Little Willow’s I Am a Dancer booklist.  To read about real-life dance experiences, read her article Dance Dreams.

    I’ve started writing the response to Writer as Blogger, Blogger as Writer.

    I’ve decided to make it a point to go to the library weekly. And each week, I’ll tell you what I got.

    Today’s library haul:
    1. Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Lisa Lee – recommended by readergirlz
    2. The Last Dragon, Silvana de Mari – Cybils Finalist
    3. Pucker, Melanie Gideon – Cybils Finalist
    4. A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, Dana Reinhardt – Cybils Finalist
    5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Visitors, Laura Anne Gilman and Josepha Sherman – in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Out of the Madhouse, Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder – in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    7. Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie – While I was mid-Capt. Hook it occurred to me I ought to finish reading the source material, which I started long ago but never finished.

    A quick rundown of my life at the moment: I teach full-time and I’m in a play. I’m only in my second year of full-time teaching. My house is a mess! I have so many papers to grade, and I’ve been sick on and off a lot recently.

    So today was going to be catch-up day: I was going to clean the house, grade papers, and of course schedule in a little relaxation.

    I didn’t wake up until 10:30 am, and all I’ve done so far is lounge in my pajamas, play on the internet, eat cookies, and read Justina Chen Headley’s Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies).

    I fear I’m not a very good book reviewer, because I can’t find words besides “This book is good! Read it!” I think what happens in this book, and indeed in most good books about young girls, is a transformation and a self-acceptance. In Nothing But the Truth it happens over a summer; for some people it takes longer. I’m trying now to figure out when it happened for me. At this point in time, I like myself a lot. Not in the sense that I think I’m vastly superior to others, but in the sense that I’m never worried about trying to fit in. So books like this one make me think “How does that process happen?” Of course it’s different for every girl. (I’m sure it happens to boys, too, but I never was a boy.)

    As a high school teacher, I see a lot of girls who aren’t satisfied with themselves. I see others who are. I wish sometimes I could follow some of them, and see how they change when they are adults. I think that has to be one of the most wonderful things you can do – watch a person grow up. I liked watching Patty grow up. I liked watching her grow from awkward to self-possessed. I liked watching her ideas about others change as her ideas about herself did.

    A great strength of Nothing But the Truth is the interaction of its female characters. Patty, our protagonist, is at the heart of the story, but we see how the other girls and women in her life help her grow and change. When we discover why Patty’s mother is the way she is, for us as much as for Patty, life takes on new levels. When Jasmine pushes Patty outside her comfort zone, we wonder what exciting opportunities may lie outside our own. And what is most reassuring is that after this transformative summer, Patty hasn’t had to give up any of her former self; she’s only added new dimensions.

    In Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies), we see how a girl can grow and change and find out who she is, without losing a sense of who she was. We can be in the present, look to the future, and remember the past. And I think Patty’s most important discovery, and mine too in reading this book, is that the events that shape us do just that – they shape who we are and what we become. But they don’t determine it. That’s up to us.

    Book: Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) (Affiliate Link)
    Author: Justina Chen Headley
    Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
    Original Publication Date: April 5, 2006
    Pages: 256
    Age Range: Young Adult
    Source of Book: Public Library
    Other Blog Reviews: Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Bildungsroman

    Today I dropped by the library and picked up the readergirlz pick for this month, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies).  I’m only a few pages in but I like it so far.  I’ve gotten away from YA lit and that’s a shame as it brings me fond memories and a lot of times it’s better than the other stuff.  In the past couple of years I’ve really enjoyed Rachel Cohn’s Gingerbread and Dyan Sheldon’s Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.  Lola Cepp is my alter ego, you see.  (Even though her parents gave her my sister’s name, if a bit misspelled.)

    I’ll be writing more about the book as I read and finish it.  My reading goals for 2006 were to read 26 books, which I surpassed, and to keep a list of them, which I did.  To keep up with that rate, I’m a bit behind.  I need to read 5 books in the next week to catch up.  That’s not going to happen.  Two might be achievable, though.

    When I was at the library looking for Justina Chen Headley, I looked at the YA paperbacks.  G is right next to H, and so I stumbled on many, many books by Chris Golden, who is both an excellent author and a nice guy (and, for the record, should really not make phone calls while he’s driving – nor should anyone else).  I was tempted to snatch up as many of Chris’s books as I could carry but then I realized the library loan period is 3 weeks, and I’m just not going to finish all the books of his they had in that time.

    So I said, “Self, it’s the library.  They’ll still be here.  You can read his books later.”  And believe me, I will.

    And now it’s time for me to go to bed.  More soon!

    Inspired by readergirlz, I’ve started this reading journal.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    INSPIRING TODAY’S GIRLS TO BE TOMORROW’S HISTORY
    YOUNG ADULT AUTHORS CREATE AN ONLINE BOOK SALON FOR GUTSY GIRLS

    SEATTLE, March 1 – In honor of Women’s History Month, four young adultauthors are launching readergirlz, a new online book salon celebrating gutsy girls in life and literature.

    Starting on March 1, readergirlz founders Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey, Lorie Ann Grover, and Justina Chen Headley will unveil a monthly book selection, featuring young adult novels with gutsy female characters.

    More than just a book club, readergirlz aims to encourage teen girls to read and reach out with community service projects related to each featured novel. As well, readergirlz will host MySpace discussions with each book’s author, include author interviews, and provide book party ideas, including playlists, menus, and decorations. All content will be available through the readergirlz website (www.readergirlz.com), MySpace (www.myspace.com/readergirlz and groups.myspace.com/readergirlz), and LiveJournal (readergirlz.livejournal.com).

    “We want girls to be the best women they can be,’ explains Headley. The inspiration for readergirlz came from Headley’s book tour last spring where she made a special effort to visit urban communities that couldn’t otherwise bring in authors. She recruited three critically-acclaimed novelists—Calhoun, Carey, and Grover—to start readergirlz as a way to talk to teens about reading and writing.

    “Readergirlz is a way I can connect wonderful books to girls I’d never be able to meet otherwise,’ agrees Calhoun.

    The founders hope readergirlz will change the way girls experience literature and see themselves. “I want to challenge girls to go for their dreams,’ says Carey. “I learned how brave girls can be through books, and I want to share the power of literature with girls, wherever they are.’

    Using MySpace and a website, the readergirlz founders, dubbed the divas, plan to provide a rich literary experience for teen girls online. “We already have over 750 friends on MySpace. From surveys to playlists to author interviews, we’ll provide young adult readers with fun, meaningful content,” explains Grover. “Why not harness the powerof MySpace to get girls to think critically about what they want to bein the future?’

    Each book selection will dovetail to a topic, identified by the readergirlz divas and prominent children’s lit bloggers as topics teen girls should know about in this millennium.

    The first topic is Tolerance, a theme explored in the kick-off book selection for readergirlz, Nothing but the Truth (and a few whitelies). As prominent blogger, Jennifer Robinson of jkrbooks.typepad.com, noted, teens “need to know that when they are mean or intolerant to other people, they’re doing damage.’

    In conjunction with the first novel, teen girls will be encouraged to visit www.tolerance.org to learn how to safely stop bullying and to apply for one of the organization’s Mix It Up grants to break social and racial barriers within their schools.

    ABOUT THE READERGIRLZ FOUNDERS

    Dia Calhoun is the winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, and author of five young adult fantasies,including Avielle of Rhia and The Phoenix Dance.

    Janet Lee Carey won the 2005 Mark Twain Award for Wenny Has Wings, and her forthcoming young adult fantasy, Dragon’s Keep, has already received a starred review in Booklist.

    Lorie Ann Grover is a former ballerina-turned-verse-novelist whose acclaimed work includes On Pointe and Loose Threads, a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age.

    Justina Chen Headley sold her first two novels at auction, including her debut, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies), named Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best.

    For more information about readergirlz, please visit their website (www.readergirlz.com), MySpace (www.myspace.com/readergirlz and groups.myspace.com/readergirlz), and LiveJournal (readergirlz.livejournal.com).

    Contact: Justina Chen Headley at justina@justinachenheadley.com

    Would you like to receive the readergirlz newsletter in email? Sign up below!

    Sign up for our Email Newsletter