BIG DREAMS, SMALL FISH Written and illustrated by Paula Cohen (Levine Querido; $17.99, Ages…
WHAT PRICE POPULARITY?
GLITTER GIRL GUEST BLOG & GIVEAWAY
I’m delighted to turn this post over to guest bloggers,
Toni Runkle and Stephen Webb
(click here for website), authors of Glitter Girl
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $7.99, ages 10 and up, also available as an ebook). Runkle and Webb, writing partners for close to a decade, and parents of young daughters, also call Los Angeles home. Today they’ll be addressing an all too common tween topic which incidentally is the premise for their terrific debut middle grade novel, Glitter Girl, featuring Kat Connors. There’s lots of great stuff to glean from this post so read on.
Friendship and loyalty vs. popularity – what works, what doesn’t and why is this such a big issue for girls?
Now I ask you readers and parents of girls, who amongst you has not had to deal with this troublesome tween dilemma? Ahhh, if only I’d had this book to hand to my daughter when she went through the trials and tribulations of tweendom. But you can have it!
Click here now to enter for a chance to win a free copy of the book courtesy of Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Giveaway ends December 16, 2013 at midnight PST. Be sure to write GLITTER GIRL in the subject line and include your address. You can also enter on Facebook by posting a comment, but you’ll need to LIKE us for entry to be valid. Good luck! – Ronna
LIFE IN THE FAB LANE
Hi! I’m Kat. Welcome to my blog. I may be from a small town but I’m also Glitter Girl Cosmetics’ newest trendsetter. Thanks to my flair for fashion and my popular style blog, I’ve been chosen to be an Alpha Girl, which means I get to try out all the Glitter Girl products before they hit the stores.
Forty-eight hours after she blogs about the goodies in the new line, every girl at Kat’s school is sporting the gear. Kat’s popularity skyrockets, but Jules—Kat’s BFF—seems to be the only one who’s not buying into the Glitter Girl lifestyle. Is Kat willing to sacrifice her friendship for life in the fab lane?
RUNKLE & WEBB: Ah, the friendship and loyalty vs. popularity question. The age-old decision faced by adolescent girls since the beginning of time. We’re pretty sure there are cave drawings in northern Spain depicting this struggle.
We are parents of young daughters so we have seen this struggle first hand. Also, despite what our daughters may think, we used to be young once, and while that was many moons ago, the scars of adolescence still linger. It’s an exceptional person who doesn’t have them. Mythical, in fact.
This is because as kids reach adolescence, an emotional drama begins to unfold. They become more – no, actually they become painfully, self-aware. They examine every detail of their being, down to the pores on their noses. They are trying to figure out who they are, where they belong – if they belong. It can be a very difficult time. There is a great deal of insecurity. Add to the mix the emergence of the “mean girl mentality” that begins at about age 11 or 12 and continues into middle school and girls have a particularly rough road into their teen years.
So of course, what adolescent girl wouldn’t want to be popular? The allure of everyone knowing your name, looking up to you, even liking you – the idea of not only fitting in, but standing out – not only is it intoxicating, it allows you bypass all the angst that comes with being the misfit.
The problem is, while being popular looks good on the surface, it isn’t always what’s right deep down inside. In one of our daughters’ schools, there was a group of girls who called themselves “the populars.” And these girls were indeed well known. They fancied themselves the prettiest, coolest girls. But they achieved their “popularity” through exclusion. Because that is the greatest power of popular kids, their exclusivity. Like private clubs, they gain their cachet by leaving people out. The “populars” pride themselves on their exclusivity, so when they deign to invite a girl in, she feels special.
And to a young girl trying desperately to belong, it seems like a huge honor. But there can be a big price tag for joining the private club. And that cost is the loss of your own identity and uniqueness. You become a follower because if you don’t follow, you’re out. And following sometimes means doing things you wouldn’t normally feel right about doing – like being cruel to other kids. Because unfortunately, these popular kids aren’t content to just exclude. They also pick on the kids who don’t fit in, who are different or don’t dress as well. The kids who haven’t found themselves yet. And if you’re part of a group that picks on others, even if you’re not actively participating – the fact that you’re standing in silence while those popular girls make fun of and hurt others, makes you complicitous. It’s a strong, self-assured kid who can stand up to that and say, “No! I won’t be party to it,” because the result is, not only do they lose the perks that come with popularity, they no longer belong, they are ostracized and become targets themselves. Who wants that? This dynamic repeats itself in playgrounds and cafeterias all across America, across the world, one can imagine. And the kids on the outside have to band together just to survive the wrath of these self-appointed popular kids.
We deal with this very issue in Glitter Girl. Our two main characters, Kat and Jules have been best friends since they were two. But upon reaching middle school, the girls take divergent paths. Kat emerges as a very popular “it” girl, while Jules is more down-to-earth and disdains all that is superficial. Jules doesn’t fit in with Kat’s new group of friends who don’t like Jules at all. And Kat is torn. She’s a nice girl, but she really likes being popular. Matters get worse when the Glitter Girl company chooses Kat to host a super exclusive slumber party for the most popular girls in school, as a way of launching their newest line of tween products. And even the company executive, the grown-up version of the popular mean girl, doesn’t want Jules there. Not only because Jules doesn’t fit in, but also because she questions the herd mentality of it all.
Ultimately, Glitter Girl at its core is about the choice between popularity and friendship. Between the chance of a lifetime (because Kat has a chance to be the face of the whole product line) and her Best Friend Forever.
We won’t give away the ending by telling you what Kat does. Let’s just say that, as parents, it’s the choice we hope our own daughters would make in the ancient friendship/loyalty vs. popularity debate.
Because one of the perks of being older is that we’re wiser. And we know, from experience, that real friends aren’t people who make you (and others) feel badly about themselves. Real friends make you feel good about yourself and always have your back. We know that it doesn’t matter what others think of you, what matters is what you think of yourself. And we know, when all the growing pains are finally behind you, the realization comes that there is so much more to life than what a handful of self-professed “populars” thought was important. What’s important is family, devoted friends and being true to yourself.
Unfortunately, you can’t force a kid to understand this. Usually they have to come to that understanding themselves, through experiencing it firsthand. It’s how we all did it. It’s part of growing up. But hopefully, if kids read our book and take it to heart, when they are faced with the choice between popularity and friendship, they might save themselves a little heartache. As writers, it’s our ultimate goal. As parents, it’s our sincerest hope.
Here’s a link to the GLITTER GIRL book giveaway rules.