Readergirlz Issue 3 (April 2007)

Happy Poetry Month!

Welcome to our April issue! Divas Lorie Ann Grover, Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey, and Justina Chen Headley are joining readergirlz everywhere to celebrate verse novels this month. We'll be reading and discussing Lorie Ann Grover's novel in verse, On Pointe.

If the word poetry makes your skin crawl, hear us right now:

doesn't have to
be confusing,
leaving you lost
without a clue
of what
it means!

Rather, it can create moments, pictures, and make your mind connect things that you have never connected before. Don't miss out because of some past negative experience. Try reading a verse novel and see what we mean.

So, get ready. A novel in verse carries intense emotion. Reading one is like holding hands with the author to duck in and out of incredible scenes and images. There's a safety in the surrounding white space. There's a chance to breath and think before diving forward again.

Come on, readergirlz. Whether you are a poet who thinks in meter and rhyme, or this form is totally new to you, let's join hands and experience On Pointe!

Girls' Life Magazine Top Ten Summer Read

Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year

Dorothy Canfield Fisher Top Ten Book of 2006

On Pointe

Clare has spent her life training to become a member of City Ballet Company. She's sacrificed free time, friends, and other pursuits to reach her one dream. Her entire family has supported and contributed to help her realize her hope.

But this summer, just before auditions, Clare is having a growth spurt. She's noticeably taller than everyone else in class. Will something completely out of her control steal her dream? Who would she be if dance was taken away? How would she define herself, and could she ever dream again? It seems impossible. Amidst a group of dancers, all training for the same positions, some struggling with anorexia, others driven to succeed by parents, Clare faces the audition that may change her life.

What people are saying:

"(An) introspective novel. . . . From the details of the dance-class routines and the tension and competition among the dancers to the intimate family crises, the teen's voice rings true. (A) finely written novel." School Library Journal

"Grover brings an air of authenticity to this well-wrought free-verse novel about a girl's passion for ballet." Publishers Weekly

The While-You-Read Playlist

Here's what Lorie Ann recommends downloading for On Pointe. These songs reflect Clare's story, or they have encouraged Lorie Ann personally.

Video - India.Arie
I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack
I Believe - Fantasia Barrino
Here I Am - Bryan Adams
What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
Bein' Green - Kermit the Frog
I Like to Move It - Sacha Baron Cohen
There's Hope - India.Arie
Rainbow Connection - Kermit the Frog


Shoutout: Scarlett Pomers

Readergirlz give a shout out to actress Scarlett Pomers of TV's Reba. After her experience with anorexia, she is now the Ambassador for NEDA, the National Eating Disorder Association.

Within the association, she has established the Arch-Angels Fund "to raise awareness and funds for eating disorders advocacy, education and treatment."

Read about Project Chains and how proceeds benefit NEDA. Rock out to the CD by Scarlett Pomers and Jak Paris. Thanks, Scarlett!

Readergirlz Community Challenge

Because anorexia is seen in the dance world, and teens across the country are under great pressure to be thin, we've compiled these warning signs from the credible websites listed below. These signs could indicate an eating disorder:

1. Fear of weight gain that is constant
2. Refusal to eat or harsh limits set on amounts of food eaten
3. Obsessive dieting
4. Extreme weight loss
5. Obsessive exercising
6. False body image revealed by complaints of bloating, nausea, or fatness
7. Oversensitive to cold
8. Tired and unable to concentrate
9. Avoids society
10. Weak immune system
11. Depressed and anxious
12. Downy hair grows on face
13. Period is lost
14. Nails dry
15. Constipated
16. Headaches
17. Hair falls out
18. Visits pro-anorexia websites

If you or one of your friends is in danger, call The Eating Disorder Treatment and Helpline 1-866-494-0866 and visit the website.

These organizations are dedicated to helping those with eating disorders:
NEDA, The National Eating Disorders Association
ANAD, Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

And check out these great related blogs and sites:

Shaping Youth, Amy Jussel
Find help in fighting the media's influence on your mind.

We Bite Back, Sharon Hodgson
Get incredible Post-Proana support!

The Body Positive, Connie Sobczak
Here's a great site to learn to love your body and read about Health at Every Size.

Y Pulse, Anastasia Gordstein
Visit this independent blog for teen/youth media and marketing professionals.

Big Fat Deal, Mo Pie
Read about weight issues in the media, pop culture, and society.
Check out this particular post.

All Made Up, Audrey D. Brashich
This site accompanies our recommended read of the same title.

Respect RX, Courtney Macavinta
Make sure you click here to read about 5 ways to boost girls' self respect. Follow up by reading this amazing blog, "How I Got Thin."

Readergirlz give a shoutout to those who promote healthy dancers:

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Boston Ballet
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Mark Morris Dance Group
The Baryshnikov Dance Foundation
The National Dance Association

For those who support tall girls:

Our Challenge

NEDAW 2007

The readergirlz divas challenge you to coordinate donations for NEDA's Great Jeans Giveaway.

How often do we try to wear uncomfortable jeans because we aren't happy with our own genetic build?

So here's the challenge:

"Be comfortable in your genes. Wear jeans that fit the REAL you."

Look through your closet and give your old or new uncomfortable jeans to your favorite charity. Organize readergirlz or your whole school to rethink body image acceptance and donate jeans to a good cause.

Learn more about how NEDA celebrated this great event and be inspired to continue the work by visiting this link.

Recommended Reads

Aria of the Sea, Dia Calhoun

Make Lemonade, Virginia Euwer Wolff

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies, Sonya Sones

Cut, Patricia McCormick

Your Own Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath, Stephanie Hemphill

All Made Up, Audrey D. Brashich

The Ultimate Book Celebration Guide

The Ultimate Book Party

Book a meeting with your favorite readergirlz for an On Pointe party. E-mail us a photo of your celebration!


Create an evite with To be author-authentic, download the book cover image.

For hand delivered invitations, punch a hole in a tea package and attach it to your invite with a pink ribbon. For content, how about:

Dance on over to celebrate On Pointe!

We'd love for you to join our Company.

The curtain rises on April 2007, at 12345 Readergirlz Blvd, at 6:00 p.m.

Come and share your hopes and dreams: past, present, and future.

Food and Drinks

Do you want snacks or a full meal?


Just for fun:

* Popcorn

* Dill Pickles

* Ice Cream, French Vanilla

* Diet Soda

For elegance:

* Tea

* Lattes

* Biscotti

To recreate a meal with Clare:

* Have everyone bring a microwave dinner

* Or pick up Teriyaki and egg rolls

* Or serve tomato soup, grilled cheese, and Jell-O

* Or how about bratwurst, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes

We don't recommend Grandpa's warm prune juice!



* Now's the time to dig through your closet! Is there an old tutu in the far back? Old ballet shoes maybe?

* Or how about a vase of sunflowers or a small bouquet of pansies?

* Scatter the pieces of Scrabble, Dominos, or Checkers on the tabletop.

* Stack dance magazines as your centerpiece.

* Decorate place card settings with a few bobby pins.


Crank up the On Pointe playlist and dance!


Follow up your book discussion with one of these films:

Thin, a documentary by Lauren Greenfield

The Turning Point

The Company

Shall We Dance

Strictly Ballroom

Baryshnikov by Tharp - Lorie Ann's former classmate, Deirdre Carberry performs with Mikhail Baryshnikov in The Little Ballet.

Discussion Questions

1. Clare feels she's out of control as her body matures. Was/is this an issue for you?

2. If your outlet for your passion was completely removed, what would you do instead? Could you try that now?

3. Have you been tempted to lose weight for the wrong reasons: peer pressure, the media, your family?

4. Clare feels beautiful when she dances. It is as if she is “turned inside out.” What makes you feel this way?

5. Are you under pressure from others to achieve their dream as Clare was?

6. Sometimes others can see who we are when we can't. Grandpa sees Clare is already a dancer. Have you ever ignored anyone else's input about yourself?

Author Chat

Listen in as Lorie Ann chats with the divas about herself and her work.

Janet Lee Carey: Where did you get your inspiration for On Pointe?

Lorie Ann: I was a member of the Miami Ballet Company until I grew too tall, six feet. On pointe, I'm actually 6'8"! After ten years of study, my dream died with a phone call from the dance master. I dealt with the disappointment by shutting the door on dance. I couldn't watch or think about it. Until twenty years later, when I met Dia Calhoun. She had just published her book about ballet, Aria of the Sea. Chatting with Dia unlocked my doors. I knew I had a story to tell and a dance to reclaim.

Justina Chen Headley: So you are saying this story is autobiographical?

Lorie Ann: Unlike your work that we looked at last month, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies), I have to say most definitely, my work is autobiographical! About seventy percent is my experience. My grandpa, Reuel Grant Garber supported my dance whole-heartedly. (Check out my dedication.) I did dance and audition for a company. I had a seventeen-year-old cat named Mija. And I knew a fabulous caregiver named Mabel.

However, my story occurred in Miami, Florida. I set On Pointe in the Northwest because that's where I make my home now. My other novels, Loose Threads and Hold Me Tight, were set in Miami, and I felt like I wanted to share my beautiful community of Sumner in this work. Walking down Main Street you might bump into Judge Hammermaster, see the former Mayor in the park, and definitely see the high school, home of the Sumner Spartans! And right now the daffodils actually are blooming and everyone's gearing up for the Daffodil Parade.

In this work, both the mother and father are fictitious. Although they are named after my in-laws!

Janet Lee Carey: Did your grandfather really suffer a stroke?

Lorie Ann: He did, but his recovery was fuller than Clare's grandpa. He was able to hear my grandmother read my book to him before he passed away just a year ago. Mija, my seventeen-year-old cat, also has died. It is sweet to revisit them in the book. I love that other people can hear my grandfather's wise words.

Dia: What's your writing process?

Lorie Ann: I try to write daily. I work on one novel at a time. I also illustrate and write board books. When my left brain is empty, I give my right brain some exercise. I squeeze all my work around homeschooling my daughters and being a readergirlz diva.

Justina: Who are your writer friends?

Lorie Ann: Well, the divas of course! And the state of Washington is full of great children's lit authors. There are just too many to list. But closest are Joan Holub and my writing mentor Laura Kvasnosky. I, like you, have to mention Janet Wong. She's my fairy godsister.

Janet: Since your work is more heavily autobiographical does you family support your efforts? 

Lorie Ann: Oh, yes! Although my immediate family hasn't really appeared in my books yet, except for my husband, David, in Loose Threads. My brothers have basically been whining to appear in a story from the start. They said it was about time when Hold Me Tight came out. I believe it's hardest on my mother as my books shift details about really happened. Fiction and reality get so jumbled. And those memories I'm writing about aren't her pleasant ones. I don't believe my natural father has been able to read Hold Me Tight. Despite everything, everyone supports me! Isn't that amazing?

Dia: It is! Would you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a writer?

Lorie Ann: Well, when the door closed on my ballet career, I pursued fine art at the University of Miami. My titles on my paintings grew longer and longer. They began to be poems even. I realized I wanted to create picture books to join my two interests. My editor Emma Dryden is the one who challenged me to create my first novel. With a little nudge, I was off!

Justina: Do you dance now?

Lorie Ann: Well, I certainly can't do ballet. I have rheumatoid arthritis that affects all the joints in my body. But with a few braces and without a flare, I can dance ballroom and do a bit of swing dancing. I love it so much! I'd encourage everyone to try other forms of dance. My mother-in-law is a great example. At seventy-three, she's taking Zumba classes for the first time!

Janet: As girls finish On Pointe, what else might they read?

Lorie Ann: Dia Calhoun's Aria of the Sea is a must read, as my work was inspired from hers. Glimpse another side of ballet in this amazing fantasy, and see Cerinthe find her true voice. Read the fabulous Make Lemonade by Viriginia Euwer Wolff, considered by many to be the first YA verse novel. Booklist has compared my writing to hers.

Sonya Sones is a master of the verse novel. Pick up her great read, One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies.

Considering other self-damaging illnesses beyond anorexia, Patricia McCormick's verse novel Cut offers up understanding and help for a teen tempted to hurt herself.

Your Own Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill is garnering wonderful reviews. Find out why.

A strong non-fiction work is All Made Up by former model, Audrey D. Brashich. Remind yourself where true beauty lies and combat the media's influence.

Thanks so much for the great interview, divas! I send a wave to all readergirlz and look forward to chatting with you each at the MySpace group site.


And thank you, Lorie Ann! To learn more about our featured author, visit her website

Next Month: Phoenix Dance

April's spotlighted title will be Dia Calhoun's PHOENIX DANCE.

On the island of Faranor in the kingdom of Windward, twelve princesses dance their shoes to shreds each night. No one knows why. Not the king and queen, not the knights, lords, or ladies-in-waiting. When the queen blames the royal shoemaker, his apprentice Phoenix Dance puts her life at risk to solve the mystery. She braves magic spells, dragons, evil wizards, and the treachery of the princesses themselves. As Phoenix faces these dangers, she finds herself caught in her own dangerous dance inside herself -- a dance of darkness and light, a dance that presents her with the greatest challenge of her life.

This captivating companion to Dia's other Windward adventure, Aria of the Sea, weaves a retelling of Grimm's fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses with the tale of an imaginative young woman's struggle to understand an unpredictable, and sometimes overwhelming, part of herself.

The Ultimate readergirlz Group Guide

How to set up your own readergirlz group:

Ten Tips for Starting Your Own readergirlz Book Club

1. Contact other girlfriends who love to read and chat about books as much as you do, and invite them to join readergirlz. Be sure they stand by the readergirlz Manifesta!

2. Your group can be any size, but staying below 12 seems to work well. Everyone has a chance to share. Will your group be all girls or will it be a mother/daughter group?

3. Consider if there's one girl who will always be the leader or will the leader change from month to month? That person might download readergirlz monthly info and discussion questions for the group and send out meeting reminders.

4. Consider where you'll meet. Homes, a library, a bookstore, or a school classroom are great choices.

5. Is your group going to have a party each month where you follow the great readergirlz suggestions? Who will take care of the food, decorations, and music? The fun preparations might rotate through the group.

6. How long will your meeting last? Two hours is a good amount of time to gab about a book.

7. Have a commitment from everyone to keep to the readergirlz monthly pick and avoid gossip. Redirect discussion that strays.

8. Share your opinions, but be willing to hear other points of view. Everyone doesn't have to agree. Differences make great discussions!

9. Once your group is meeting regularly, be respectful of the other members and ask before inviting another readergirl. Groups can be tight with each other, and everyone needs a say before an addition.

10. As all true readergirlz are, be a great friend in the group and out. These are friendships for a lifetime!

Readergirlz Ground Rules

So here's the deal: readergirlz encourages healthy discussion and debate about the books we're celebrating. What does that mean?

1. Keep it clean: no swearing and definitely no personal attacks, threats, porno, or cybersex. That is very uncool and un-readergirlz-ish.

2. Keep it pure: no ads of any kind, please. This is about the book, the whole book, and nothing but the book.

3. Keep it safe: don't share your personal info in any of our public forums. 

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