Readergirlz Issue 5 (June 2007)

Welcome to our June issue! Readergirlz divas Lorie Ann Grover, Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey, and Justina Chen Headley are pleased to present Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey.

Listed in the Top Ten Book Sense Summer Children's and YA Reads, Dragon's Keep has all the elements of the best magic tales - a princess, a dragon, a sorcerer, and a conniving queen, but this story also has a surprising twist.

Just remove Rosalind's golden glove and . . .

"None but Mother and myself knew what hid beneath my glove. Scaly claw of a beast with a black curving talon at the end. We hid the devil's mark from all lest I be burned as a witch."

Rosalind's future hangs on the hope of healing her "beast mark." Yet year on year the potions fail.

Join us on the readergirlz MySpace group to talk about the Beauty and Beast that resides within us all.

Dragon's Keep

Far away on Wilde Island, Princess Rosalind is born with a dragon claw where her ring finger should be. No one, save her mother, the queen, knows her terrible secret. Rosalind must wear golden gloves to hide her claw until a cure can be found. She is a princess, she must be perfect – how else can she fulfill Merlin's six-hundred-year-old prophecy that will restore her banished royal family to its rightful throne?

But Rosalind's flaw cannot be separated from her fate. And soon the bloodthirsty dragon that plagues Wilde Island carries her off. The dragon sees beauty in her talon where her mother saw only shame. And on Dragon's Keep, Rosalind comes to understand the truth behind the prophecy that has haunted her since birth. Is Rosie a princess? Or the spawn of a dragon? Which part of her blood holds the secret to who she really is?

Carey has written a stunning portrayal of the complex relationship between a mother and daughter in a lyrical novel sure to thrill readers who love fantasy -- and those who don't.

What people are saying:

"A rich medieval fantasy, a splendid weaving of bright and dark threads . . . brutalities and beauties, terrors and triumphs -- remarkable achievement."
- Newbery Award-winning author Lloyd Alexander

"The author has crafted something new and magical."
- School Library Journal Starred Review

"In stunning, lyrical prose, Carey tells the story of Rosalind, a twelfth-century princess destined for greatness . . . thoroughly compelling."
- Booklist Starred Review

"Part fairy tale, part mythology, part legend, all around fantastic! Read it! You'll be glad you did."
- TeensReadToo

The While-You-Read Playlist

Here's what Janet recommends downloading for Dragon's Keep.

She chose Yellow by Coldplay for the novel's theme song because, "Yellow is both Modern and Magic. I imagine Kye singing this song about Rosie."

Yellow - Coldplay

Am I The Only One (Who's Ever Felt This Way) - The Dixie Chicks

May It Be - Enya - Lord of the Rings Soundtrack

Feels Like Fire - Dido

If I Laugh - Cat Stevens

Caravanserai - Loreena McKeenit

The Water is Wide - James Taylor

Godspeed - The Dixie Chicks

Return of the King Theme - Return of the King Soundtrack

Bonny Portmore - Loreen McKeenit

Shoutout: Chin-Chin Gutierrez

Chin-Chin Gutierrez Speaking Out on Radio Ibajay

Readergirlz gives a big shout out to our June Gutsy Girl pick, renowned actress and environmental spokesperson, Chin-Chin Gutierrez.

Chin-Chin is the Vice Chair of Mother Earth Foundation. In 2003, she appeared on Time Magazine's cover for the "Asian Heroes" issue where she was hailed for using her celebrity stature to further the cause of ecological awareness. She received The Outstanding Women in Nation's Service (TOWNS) Award in 2004 for her environmental advocacy.

Chin-Chin speaks internationally to raise awareness on global issues of sustainable lifestyles, ecological waste management, sustainable development, women and the environment, and more. She is the perfect Gutsy Girl pick for our June Go Eco Community Challenge. Readergirlz is proud to honor Chin-Chin Gutierrez's amazing worldwide contribution to environmental awareness.

Check out her website!

Readergirlz Community Challenge

readergirlz June Community Challenge: Go Eco-friendly

You love spending summer outside camping, swimming, biking, and hiking. Let's all work together to keep the world green and clean so generations to come will be able to breathe fresh air, drink clean water, swim in unpolluted rivers and oceans, and enjoy earth's amazing array of plants and wildlife.

Are you ready to Go Eco? YouthNoise teens launched a spring campaign this April and came up with a treasure trove of Eco-friendly ideas for you to try.

YouthNoise -- Top Ten Ways to be an Eco-friendly Earthling

Go Eco readergirlz Challenge 1: Lifestyle Changes
* Shorten your shower time (try a timer and cut a few minutes off each day).
* We generate 200 million tons of trash every day in the USA. Recommit to recycling.
* Alternative Summer Shopping: try garage sales, trading stuff with friends, or check this shopping site.

Go Eco readergirlz Challenge 2: Bottled Water

Summer's a thirsty time and water is good for you, right? Check out this info on the Eco-unfriendly side of bottled water. The billions of plastic bottles used for bottled water = more waste.

Companies are buying water rights up around the world. If this trend continues, water will no longer be free! Try buying a reusable water container. Use clean, cold tap water or get your own purifier.

Go Eco readergirlz Challenge 3: Water-free Car Wash

Do you see lots of people outside washing their cars this summer? Why not put on a neighborhood water-free car wash? Check out the YouthNoise winning video from their spring environmental challenge.

More Green Sites to check out:

Hank Green - EcoGeek

Cameron Diaz - MTV Environmental Trippin show


From the YouthNoise website:

Across the globe, youths everywhere are making a difference. Combating issues without blinking an eye, they possess the spirit and strength, along with the heartfelt belief, that they can change the world.

And change the world they do! YouthNoise gives these world-changers, these hope-givers, a voice, a place to connect, and a place to inspire-and be inspired. An activist haven, a socially conscious sanctuary, YouthNoise invites youths to write, to learn, to think, and to act. A virtual conference hall, playground, coffee shop, and classroom, YouthNoise is where the difference begins.

YouthNoise's Mission

[T]o inspire and empower young people everywhere to catapult their passion and idealism into movements to sustain the planet.

YouthNoise's Vision

One day millions of young people around the globe will work together through the YouthNoise platform and beyond it to make their communities and the world a better place for their generation and generations to come.

YouthNoise Girls Speak Out for the Earth:
Crusader: Where on Earth do we Begin?
SkellyBones: Dangers in Your Laundry Basket
bonbon: Green is the New Black

Live Chat

Going Eco! Are you into an Eco-friendly lifestyle? You're not alone. Celebs like Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio (going Green isn't just for girls!) are all making lifestyle changes and Speaking Out to save the environment.

Come chat about Going Eco with YouthNoise teens. Let's talk about the challenges of the Eco-friendly lifestyle. Tell us what works, what doesn't, what you'd like to try.

LIVE CHAT DATE: Wednesday, June 20th.

START TIME: 7 PM Pacific Time / 10 PM Eastern Time

DURATION: One hour.

Janet's looking forward to chatting live.

If you have any additional questions, please e-mail Janet.

Recommended Reads

Our June theme is Speak Out. If you love Rosalind in Dragon's Keep, discover more heroines in these great companion reads:

Sword in hand, Aerin is bold. A great girl adventure.

SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson
Discover the mystery behind Melinda's mute screams. A riveting read.

THE GOOSE GIRL by Shannon Hale
Ani learns to speak out and reclaim her royal birthright. Magical.

These sisters with opposite dispositions really stand by one another.

A powerful book that shows how life-changing reading together can be.

The Ultimate Book Celebration Guide

The Ultimate Book Party

Gather your favorite readergirlz together for a spectacular fantasy book party for Dragon's Keep. Make sure to e-mail us a picture of your readergirlz celebration. If we post it, you'll win a special readergirlz prize!

Take a peek at the fun pics from Janet's Dragon's Keep Book Launch Party.


Janet used to create invitations for her book release party. You can use the cover of Dragon's Keep on the evite or craft your own for snail mail. Rosie writes on dragon scales while she's held captive on Dragon's Keep. Make your own dragon scale invitations on green paper.


Most readergirlz won't want to do a traditional medieval feast complete with such delicacies as roasted peacock, or gilded and slivered calves' heads. Yikes! But you might like a few medieval treats at your party. How about:

Sliced cheeses -- Bram the pigboy is always pestering Princess Rosalind for a bit of cheese.

Fresh fruits -- Serve apples, strawberries, currants and raspberries.

Got a sweet tooth? Medieval cooks baked sweet fruit tarts and custards.


Apple juice or cider -- a medieval mainstay

Dragon's Tea -- Brew black tea or green tea and grind in some fresh ginger to add Dragon Fire.

Craft: Make Your Own Talon

Spell for a Dragon's Claw

You will need:

  • Blue, green, and black Sculpey or FIMO clay (metallic is best)
  • Sculpey or Fimo metallic power in blue, green, and gold (optional)
  • Clear nail polish (optional)
  • Talcum powder
  • The cap of one pen
  • A table knife
  • A rolling pin

    Take a stone-sized piece each of blue and green clay. Warm the clay-stones in your hands and work each into a long worm. Twist the two colors and knead together, leaving some of the marble pattern. Flatten with a rolling pin to the length of your ring finger plus 1/2-inch and wide enough to wrap around your finger. Dust your finger with talc, then shape the clay around your finger, placing the seam on the top. Trim the excess with the table knife. Carefully slip the clay off your finger and set aside. Roll the excess blue and green clay into a very thin sheet, then cut scales with the cap of the pen. Starting at the base of the claw, layer the scales on the back all the way up to where the talon should rest. With a stone of black clay, form the talon into a long, terrifying shape (about 1.5 inches), and affix the talon to the finger carefully. If you have metallic powder, paint the claw before baking. Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for twelve minutes. When cooled, paint the talon with clear nail polish and wear your new dragon claw with pride.

    Thanks to Holly Cupala for the photo and craft.

    Mood Music

    Simply crank up the playlist from above.


    Dress as you please in medieval costumes or comfy jeans and tees. If you want to create a medieval costume to wear to your readergirlz book party, you can find costume ideas here.

    1. The Lord of the Rings (all three)
    2. Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett (1998)
    3. Eragon

  • Discussion Questions

    1. Beauty And Beast:

    Rosie is part princess, part dragon -- both Beauty and Beast. She is taught to be ashamed of her claw and to hide that part of herself. Do you ever feel like you have to hide a part of yourself to be accepted by others?

    2. Best Boy:

    As the author of DRAGON'S KEEP, I'm partial to Kye. I also love Holly Black's Roiben in both TITHE and IRONSIDE. Who is your favorite romantic hero?

    3. Pride:

    On Dragon's Keep, Lord Faul teaches Rosie to be proud of her claw, and she begins to come into her power. Can a “weakness” or “fault” become a strength? What do you think?

    4. Imperfect Princess:

    Rosie doesn't think she's beautiful because of her claw. Girls today are taught by the media that beauty = love. How do you handle the constant commercial hype?

    5. Endangered:

    The dragons in Rosalind's day are endangered. Rosie does what she can to try to prevent their extinction. Do you think girls today can create environmental change and save some of the threatened species now? Can Going Eco help? What are your ideas?

    6. Oops, I thought . . .

    Rosie assumes Kye has rejected her because of her claw. Have you ever assumed someone felt a certain way about you and later discovered it was only in your head?

    Author Chat

    Listen in as Janet chats with the other readergirlz divas about Dragon's Keep.

    Justina Chen Headley: Where did you get your inspiration for your novel?

    Janet: I devour fairytales in winter. One year, after reading one too many "perfect princess" and "evil dragon" tales, I thought I'd turn the typical fairytale upside down and write one where the princess played both beauty and beast. The five-page fairytale I planned to write turned into a five-hundred-page novel, much of which had to be drastically cut later. Rosalind started talking and, well I guess I got a little carried away . . .

    Lorie Ann Grover: Is it autobiographical?

    Janet: No. Yes. No. Hum . . . Okay, I was overweight in High School and didn't feel like the "perfect princess" I was supposed to be in order to be loved. The story came from that feeling of not being good enough or pretty enough by the "commercial" definition of beauty. So I wrote a Beauty and Beast tale and made Rosie embody both.

    Dia Calhoun: What is your writing process?

    Janet: I start by playing on paper. In my journal, I ask a lot of questions to get to know the characters and discover the heart of the story. I also draw weird looking charts to dig around and unearth fresh ideas. I always knew Rosalind would be stolen and forced to raise the dragon pips. What I didn't know was how she would eventually escape and what would happen after. It took a lot of journaling and letting Rosie speak to discover all the plot twists in the book.

    Justina Chen Headley: Do you have animals that pester you when you are writing?

    Janet: We have a cat named Uke. She's beautiful and demanding and sits in my lap as I write. Occasionally she strolls across the keyboard and lets her fluffy tail tickle my nose (both cute and annoying!). If I truly understood my place in the world, I would let her continually traipse across the keys and mess up my manuscript, but humans are very hard to train.

    Lorie Ann Grover: What is your favorite part of writing?

    Janet: I love falling into the story -- getting so completely absorbed in the creative process that I lose track of time and forget where I am. I no longer think, "Here I am writing a book". I am inside it. That's when things really come alive and I discover all kinds of surprises. One occupations hazard I faced while writing DRAGON'S KEEP was the medieval to modern shift. If, let's say, the phone rang as I was boiling thistles in the dragon's cave, I'd practically leap out of my chair. What is that sound? It would take me a moment to regain my modern mind.

    Dia Calhoun: We chose your book to represent our Speak Out month. Can you please comment on why you think teen girls ought to Speak Out?

    Janet: To me Speak Out means taking a stand about things we are passionate about. Not waiting on the sidelines and letting other people speak for us.

    There are so many ways for girls to Speak Out:

    We speak out with our hands when we roll up our sleeves and help someone.

    We speak out with our feet when we go on charity walks or runs.

    We speak out with our hearts when we tell the truth and stand by it.

    We speak out when we talk against injustice of any kind, or when we give voice to the voiceless. For example, our June Community Challenge asks readergirlz to Go Eco and Speak Out for the Earth.

    Readergirlz Speak Out every day by the choices they make.


    Thank you, Janet, for the wonderful interview. To learn more about our featured author, visit her website and

    Additional interviews with Janet Lee Carey:
    Interview conducted by Little Willow of Bildungsroman
    Interview conducted by Cynthia Leitich Smith of Cynsations
    Powells Kids Q&A (Also here.)
    Interview conducted by Michele Dillard of

    Next Month: Goy Crazy

    July's spotlighted title will be Goy Crazy by Melissa Schorr.

    A hilarious novel about falling for the wrong goy.

    Rachel Lowenstein can't help it. She's got a massive crush on a goy: Luke Christensen, the gorgeous star of the basketball team at St. Joseph's prep.

    But as the name implies, he's not exactly in Rachel's tribe. Rachel just knows her parents would never approve.

    Then Rachel's Jewish grandmother issues a stern edict -- "Don't go with the goyim!" -- Sealing Rachel's fate and presenting her with a serious dilemma.

    Everyone's got an opinion -- from her annoying neighbor Howard to her newly social-climbing best friend. Should Rachel follow her heart and turn her back on her faith? Or should she heed her family's advice and try and find a nice Jewish boy?

    With an unforgettable cast of characters and razor-sharp wit, Melissa Schorr's debut novel is an engaging comedy about a girl's decision to go goy crazy.

    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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