new series: It Chicks

Seeing the popularity of Gossip Girls, Clique Series and other chic-lit for teens, Hyperion Disney approached Ms. Tia Williams over a year agout about creating the very first chik-lit series for girls of color (Black, Latina, Indian, Filipino .  .  .  )  Ms. Williams previously worked as a beauty editor for Teen People Magazine.  She pitched a series based on students at a New York City performing arts high school, the idea was accepted and It Chicks was the result.  15 year old Tangie Adams’ is the main character and the series begins with a look into her first weeks at Louis B. Armstrong School of Performing Arts.  Other characters include

THE DREAMER: Hip-hop dancer Tangie’s the only one who doesn’t know how fly she is…will her insecurity be her undoing?
THE DRAMA QUEEN: Fame runs in Skye’s family, but she’s about to discover that the superstar doesn’t always get the guy!
THE BAD BOY: Grafitti-artist CJ is a little rough around the edges, but diamonds eventually find their own shine…don’t they?
THE BOMBSHELL: Eden is Armstrong’s top actress; will attention from a platinum-selling rapper help or hurt her career?
THE WILD CHILD: Izzy’s hot and her rhymes are, too…but her scandalous past might threaten everything she’s worked for.
THE SILENT THREAT: Aspiring filmmaker Regina caters to her idol’s every whim, but every sidekick has her breaking point.

Her blog, Shake Your Beauty, gives more info about the book, including more information about the products mentioned (advertised?) in the story.

Legislative Action For Adolescent Reading

From the International Reading Association:

On March 22, 2007 Senators Jeff Sessions and Patty Murray introduced the Striving Readers Act of 2007 (S. 958) in the United States Senate. This bill will vastly expand the capacity of schools to help older students who struggle with reading by establishing adolescent literacy initiatives aimed at increasing high school graduation and college readiness.

The legislation will expand the current Striving Readers Program, which funds only eight grants. The Striving Readers Act of 2007 will make funding available to every state to implement schoolwide adolescent literacy programs, support statewide initiates, and allow data collection and rigorous evaluation to document program success. In addition, this bill will prepare teachers to incorporate literacy strategies in core academic classes and will assist parents by training them to support their children’s literacy development.

The International Reading Association endorses expanded services for adolescent readers and urges members to contact their Senators to sign on to this legislation. A sample letter is provided.

Alisa Valdes Rodriguez

I can remember someone on one of my listservs asking if Ms. Rodriguez would make a good speaker to bring to her high school.  Chica lit writer, what can she have to say, right?  OH!! HOW WRONG!!!  I had the pleasure to hear Ms. Rodriguez speak last night at Bulter University [GO BULLDOGS!!] and am so glad I fought the tired I was feeling so that I could get inspired and enlightened.  Of course she spoke about her books and gave an insight into the over arching themes some of them contain, as well as how she used her characters to defy stereotypes.  Since the myth of stereotypes was the theme of the evening, she explained how her own family history defies the stereotypes too many have about “Hispanics” (a term created by the US Census Bureau).  By presenting many facts about Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico and the US she makes you realize that you really need to follow your history to undertand the bonds that do exist in the Americas between people of color, regardless of the divide and conquer messages we are often fed.  Very interesting evening indeed!

AND!! Dirty girls social club is about to become a movie!!

Summer Science Program for High School Students

Spelman College, a historically black college for women, is pleased to announce the 2007 Howard Hughes Biomedical Summer Science Program. The program is a five week residential program for high school students interested in pursuing a career in biology, biochemistry, medicine or other life-science related fields. The curriculum is designed to provide students with an integrative science educational experience, while developing their laboratory, research and scientific literacy skills. Students will learn about the breadth and variety of biology disciplines by engaging in hands on projects and interacting with scientists in their “native” professional environment. The curriculum also provides students an opportunity to develop interpersonal skills by participating in group projects and scientific presentations. Visit the school’s website to find out more or contact Ms. Tokiwa Smith, Howard Hughes Program Office – (404) 270-5855, ttsmith@spelman.edu

Applications must be completed on-line. The 1 page essay can be uploaded on the online application and mailed seperately. There is no financial cost to the student or their family for this program. Application Deadline: 30 March.

BOOK REVIEW: Simply Divine

Simply Divine by Jacquelin Thomas

2006, Pocket Books

Main Character:  Divine Matthews-Harrison

Divine is a middle-schooler embroiled in the life of her pop-star mother.  She knows all about her father’s addictions and infedelities.  She’s been trained on how to appear for the press when in public.  She lives on the surface.  Suddenly, her world crumbles when her father is accused of murder.  No attempt is made to keep any of the details away from Divine.   When her mother has to enter re-hab to escape a long-term jail sentence, Divine is sent to live with her relatives in Georgia.  Her uncle is a preacher and it is through his voice that we hear the main message of this book, that of forgiveness.  This is done quite skillfully in a manner which doesn’t come off as ‘preachy’.  Divine learns to fit in amazingly well with the strict, no bling life style.  While she finds religion and becomes less materialistic, she never seems to recover her innocence.

A contemporary read for young teen girls looking for something more wholesome.

themes:  talents; family; forgiveness; vocabulary

Wanna go to Africa?

Found on the LM_NET listserv this weekend:

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist with the New York Times is seeking to raise wareness about conditions in Africa. Last year he took a university tudent with him to observe and report what is happening. Last year’s student visited the Central African Republic and Cameroon.

This year he is seeking 1 uinversity student and 1 HS or MS teacher to ccompany him. In a recent column, he asked for applications. More information can also be found on his myspace page.

I considered applying for this myself. I visited Cameroon in 1999 and I would love to go back to see how the country may have changed. The year I went, Cameroon had been voted the most corrupt country on the planet by Transparency Intl. A pipeline was being developed to run through the country from Chad (the poorest country on earth) and out to the Atlantic Ocean at Kribi ( a gorgeous beach town). Although hundreds of millions of dollars was expected to boost the country’s economy, it was feared that the government would keep the wealth to itself. The World Bank eventually withdrew its backing when Chad reneged on its plans to distribute and invest the funds.

I visited with a group of teachers and although I visited from Dja reserve at the southern tip, all the way up to Rumsiki in the northern mountains, I didn’t get the opportunity to make a lot of personal contact that you would on this trip. I spent too much time in vehicles and meetings. I learned a lot about the educational system, the economy and the lingering effects of colonialism. The country is still split in two, with one part influence by Britain and the other by France. We saw wild animals because we went looking for them. Animals do not roam the country!!

While I saw so many of the material things people don’t have, I saw patience, I saw true hospitality and I’ve seen joy that I’ve not seen elsewhere. I saw no gray hair. People get malaria (we took anti-malaria pills with us), they get tuberculosis and childhood diseases for which there are no doctors or corner drug stores. I saw schools that reminded me of the 1940’s in the US. I saw children who wanted to come to the US to learn.

I came back more patient. Less materialistic. Wanting to give more of the little bit I have. The thing is, if you try to send anything to anyone in Cameroon, it disappears in the post office.

You learn to make a difference through prayer and by making others aware. So, if you’re a teacher or college student, consider applying for this opportunity. Note that this isn’t a free trip! You’re expected to share the experience. Teachers become better by what they continue to learn and experience.  Double that for librarians because we touch even more students.

Believe me, you probably won’t be able to stop talking about this trip for a long, long time!