Next Month: 31 Flavorites

YALSA and readergirlz have teamed up to present an amazing month long experience to celebrate YALSA's Teen Read Week. The readergirlz divas will be hosting 31 authors for 31 days! Readergirlz across the world will be able to chat nightly at our group forum with a different YA author each evening in October at 5 PM PST/8 PM EST. Here's the full schedule:

Week One
October 1st: Meg Cabot
October 2nd: Tiffany Trent
October 3rd: Brent Hartinger
October 4th: Lorie Ann Grover
October 5th: K.L. Going
October 6th: Nikki Grimes
Week Two
October 7th: Ellen Hopkins
October 8th: Justina Chen Headley
October 9th: Chris Crutcher
October 10th: Ann Brashares
October 11th: Sarah Mlynowski
October 12th: Cecil Castellucci
October 13th: Kirby Larson
Week Three
October 14th: Tanya Lee Stone
October 15th: John Green
October 16th: Sara Zarr
October 17th: Deb Caletti
October 18th: Rachel Cohn
October 19th: Kirsten Miller
October 20th: Mitali Perkins
Week Four
October 21st: Sonya Sones
October 22nd: Lisa Yee
October 23rd: Carolyn Mackler
October 24th: E. Lockhart
October 25th: Janet Lee Carey
October 26th: Gaby Triana
October 27th: Lauren Myracle
Week Five
October 28th: Holly Black
October 29th: Cynthia Leitich Smith
October 30th: Dia Calhoun
October 31st: Stephenie Meyer

Download the 31 Flavorites poster!

The poster is available as a large PDF, a small PDF and a JPG.

Download and print the 31 Flavorites bookmark!

Put one in the book you're currently reading and give others to your book-loving pals.

Spread the news, friend the readergirlz MySpace site and group forum, and get ready to hang out with your favorite authors and readergirlz!

Readergirlz Issue 8 (September 2007)

Welcome to our September issue. Readergirlz divas Lorie Ann Grover, Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey, and Justina Chen Headley are pleased to present National Book Award finalist Sold by Patricia McCormick.

Join us on our readergirlz MySpace group to talk this month with Patricia McCormick about her heartbreaking and inspiring story of Lakshmi, a young girl from Nepal who is sold into sexual slavery.

We hope Lakshmi's resilience and courage inspires readergirlz everywhere. Our deepest thanks to Patricia for writing this book and bringing to light this often hidden, global crisis. May Lakshmi's plight propel many of our readers into taking action in support of children's rights around the world.

Novel description:

Lakshmi's life on a hillside village in Nepal is poor but full of simple pleasures. Until her family loses everything in the monsoon and she meets a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid working for a wealthy woman in the city. Soon Lakshmi learns the truth: she has been sold into prostitution.

An old woman named Mumtaz runs her brothel with cruelty and cunning - telling Lakshmi she is trapped there until she can pay off her family's debt, then tricking her out of her modest wages so she can never leave. Eventually the day comes she has a chance to escape. Will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life?

Starting with the September issue, the readergirlz divas are pleased to present a downloadable pdf poster featuring each month's pick. So click here, download, print and post - and celebrate readergirlz all month long.

What people are saying:

"Told in a series of haunting vignettes, Sold is a harrowing account of sexual slavery. When 13-year-old Lakshmi is sold by her stepfather, she leaves her mountain village in Nepal and is taken to a city where she is kept prisoner in a brothel. Alternating lyrical imagery and precise detail, Patricia McCormick gives voice to the terror and bewilderment of a young girl who is brutally robbed of her childhood and future but who finds strength to survive and ultimately triumph."
-- National Book Award citation

"McCormick provides readers who live in safety and under protection of the law with a vivid window into a harsh and cruel world -- one most would prefer to pretend doesn't exist."
-- Kirkus

"Sold is a demanding and at times painful book to read. These challenges, however, only serve to heighten the impact of the powerful and important novel that sheds light on a global crisis."
-- Teenreads.com

"Heartbreaking . . . McCormick's research for this novel involved interviewing women in Nepal and India, and her depth of detail makes the characters believable and their misery palpable. This important book was written in their honor."

-- School Library Journal

Live Chat

Join readergirlz on our group forum for our live chat with Patricia McCormick, author of SOLD, on Thursday, September 20th at 7 PM Pacific / 10 PM Eastern

Chat Title: SOLD: The Tragedy of Sexual Slavery

Chat Description: Add your voice to the discussion about a tragedy that affects nearly a million children a year. Your views, your questions, your experiences – they all make a difference.

How does a girl wind up in sexual slavery?

What happens to girls in the brothels?

How young are the girls? How many have AIDS?

What are people doing to stop this practice? What can I do?

Come talk about it!

The While-You-Read Playlist

Here's what Patricia recommends downloading for Sold.

Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield

Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae

Drops of Jupiter - Train

If I Could Change the World - Eric Clapton

     

To the right: Photographs by Achinto Bhadra

"Another Me is a vivid record of trafficking survivors' imaginings of themselves as human, animistic, and divine beings of power, love, revenge, and freedom. Kolkata-based documentary photographer Achinto Bhadra and counsellor Harleen Walia guided 126 girls and women through a 'healing journey of psychological transformation.'" -- The Nepal Times

Shoutout: Joyce M. Roché

President and Chief Executive Officer, Girls Incorporated

The readergirlz divas are thrilled to give a shout out to this groundbreaking trailblazer who is all about getting girls to be strong, smart and bold. And that is what readergirlz and this month's featured book, Sold, is all about. Not only is Joyce the head of Girls, Inc -- a group we readergirlz love -- but she has been a trailblazer in the corporate world.

Community Challenge

If Patty McCormick's Sold moved you as it did us, then start collecting your loose change and join a national movement of students in "Loose Change to Loosen Chains."

The International Justice Mission will use the loose change students collect from friends and family to rescue victims of slavery and other forms of oppression. This project was started by a 7th grade student who raised more than $8,500 to support IJM's mission.

The group has provided students with everything they need to kick off their own Loose Change to Loosen Chains movement, so check out their website now!

Postergirlz Recommended Reads

Our September theme is Strength.

Fiction:

The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeiffer
Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud

Non-Fiction:

When I Was A Soldier by Valerie Zenatti

 

       

The Ultimate Book Celebration Guide

Gather your favorite readergirlz together to discuss Sold. Make sure to e-mail us a picture of your readergirlz celebration. If we post it, you'll win a special readergirlz prize!

Invites

Here are a couple of different ideas for invitations. Picture choices for your invitations:

1. Download pictures from Another Me, Transformations from Pain to Power - Photographs by Achinto Bhadra. These photos feature girls who once worked in brothels and are now free -- and beautiful.

2. Download the picture of the girl on the cover of Sold. Her face is innocent and compelling.

3. Download pictures from MaitiNepal.com -- a shelter for girls of the red light district.

Eats

Keep it simple.

Make it a pot luck and consider donating the money you’d normally spend on food and drinks to an organization that helps save children in poverty or in prostitution.

Another option: Indian food.

Decorations

1. A globe or a wall map showing Nepal and India.

2. Download pictures from Another Me, Transformations from Pain to Power - Photographs by Achinto Bhadra.

Mood Music

Just download the While-You-Read Playlist and crank up the music.

Movies

1. Born Into Brothels
2. Water
3. Moonsoon Wedding
4. Salaam Bombay

Discussion Questions

  1. Lakshmi experiences a profound betrayal of trust by her family. She’s also one of the millions of girls who are survivors of sexual assault. Have you or anyone close to you experienced this kind of pain?
  2. Even in the brothel, the grimmest place imaginable, there are acts of kindness, moments of humor. Has an unlikely person--a former ‘enemy,’ an outcast, someone else in pain--ever reached out to you when you needed kindness? How did that make you feel? How was it different from getting support from a friend?
  3. Writing the book meant traveling to the red light district of Calcutta and to the foothills of Nepal. Have you ever done something where you surprised yourself with your own bravery? What inspired you to take such a risk?
  4. Lakshmi is literally locked in and trapped by her captors. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt you had no way to escape?
  5. One of the saddest moments in the book is when she submits to her own oppression, saying she’ll do anything, sleep with anyone if she has to. Have you ever done something you regret because you knew you had to?
  6. Lakshmi's experience takes place in a country far away and far different from the one you may know. Have you ever seen children in your own country suffering from poverty, neglect or abuse? What feelings did it evoke?
  7. The book is told in a series of vignettes. How does it resemble short poetry you write?
  8. Lakshmi had a simple hope: to earn money to buy a tin roof for her family. Despite her sacrifice her dream never came true. Have you ever experienced that kind of disappointment?
  9. When Monica goes home, she’s shunned by her family – for something she did to help them. Have you ever been unfairly blamed or punished for something you did with the best of intentions?
  10. Elie Wiesel said, "Let us remember: what hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander." What can we do to stop trafficking?

Author Chat

Listen in as Patricia McCormick chats with the readergirlz divas about Sold.

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

Patricia McCormick: In the past year or so, the trafficking of children has gotten a lot of attention. But five years ago, when I had a chance meeting with a photographer who was working undercover to document the presence of young girls in brothels overseas, I knew immediately that I wanted to do what none of the journalists had done so far: tell this story from the point of view of one individual girl.

Lorie Ann Grover: How did you personally relate to this book or to your main character, Lakshmi?

Patricia McCormick: I’m a survivor of sexual abuse and so I think I related to that feeling of betrayal and loss of innocence. I was also able to use some of my own feelings to imagine what Lakshmi’s experience might have been. I say I’m a survivor, not a victim, because I think there’s a huge difference there. I don’t see myself as damaged goods; if anything my experience has made me more attuned to and more passionate about the suffering of others. I probably wouldn’t be a writer if I hadn’t had to find a way to express a lot of those pent-up feelings.

Dia Calhoun: What is your writing process? Do you ever get writer's block?

Patricia McCormick: I try to write every day – but sometimes I spend the whole day in search of the perfect cupcake. I go to a place with no phone, no Internet, no TV because I need the quiet and the lack of distraction. My key advice to people who want to write is to cultivate a sense of comfort with solitude, with your own company. I also think it helps to write at the same time every day. When I show up at my computer regularly, inspiration shows up, too. If I absolutely positively can’t write, I go for a walk – that seems to loosen up my thoughts. If all else fails, it also gets me closer to that perfect cupcake.

Janet Lee Carey: What kind of research went into the making of Sold?

Patricia McCormick: I spent a month in India and Nepal tracing Lakshmi’s steps--going from poor, isolated villages in the Himalayas all the way to the teeming red light district of Calcutta. I took notes and photos observing the sights, the smells, and the customs -- to give the book authenticity. I also interviewed mothers who lost their daughters, girls who had been sold into prostitution -- and a man in jail who said he sold his girlfriend because he wanted to buy a motorcycle. What I saw was devastating that I couldn’t eat or sleep or write for almost two months.

Justina Chen Headley: Has your family been an important factor in your career?

Patricia McCormick: My family growing up discouraged me from becoming a writer -- mainly because they were worried I wouldn’t be able to make a living. But I always wrote, from the time I was in fifth grade and wrote terrible plays my best friend was nice enough to perform in. When I left college, I got a degree in journalism because it seemed like a great way to be a writer, within a structure that guided and supported me. I loved being a journalist. It was a passport to follow my curiosity just about anywhere. I even worked for a while as a movie and book reviewer -- but that only made me realize I wanted to be writing the stories, not reading or watching stories by someone else.

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

Patricia McCormick: Closing up my computer at the end of the day and seeing something that didn’t exist the day before, something I made up out of nothing. That’s very satisfying.

Dia Calhoun: We chose your book to represent this month's theme, Strength. Lakshmi is amazingly strong and resilient during her captivity. Because of this, she is able to find her way to freedom. Can you please comment on why you think teen girls need strength?

Patricia McCormick: No matter how many advances have been made, girls still face discrimination, abuse, and violence in numbers far greater than men do. The answer is not to be daunted or discouraged by that, but to find the strength -- and the support -- you need to prevail. And to remember that asking for help and accepting it from even the most unlikely sources is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.

Divas: Thank you, Patricia, for the wonderful interview.

To learn more about our featured author, please visit her website http://www.pattymccormick.com

Also drop by her MySpace page http://www.myspace.com/patriciamccormick

Discuss the book at http://groups.myspace.com/readergirlz

Additional interviews with Patricia McCormick:
Website Q&A
TeenReads
Hyperion Books for Children

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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If you have any questions about this issue or anything else related to readergirlz, please feel free to email divas@readergirlz.com

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