Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tween Literature: A Glimpse Inside Our World... Oh Yeah, and the Light's On!

TWO YEARS EARLIER -- May 2012—Part One

Whew!  I can’t believe I got through this school year.  Only 18 more days until summer vacation, and I’m so ready!   


Hey yawl ...I'm Layla, also known as Lamo Layla, the Country Hick, by these girl bullies at school who hate the air I breathe.   They don't get how really awesome I am, or maybe they do. 

If you ask me, middle school girl bullies are like weeds with flower buds.  They look pretty but they screw up your garden every chance they get. 

Big City Hillbillies?

I hail from a small town about 50 miles outside of Norfolk, Virginia.   You think if I didn't say hail from and yawl, I wouldn't have my new nickname? 

But it's Seventh Grade...
Anyway, I was pretty bummed when my parents told me I had to start seventh grade up North in this gi-normus city.  I guess, environmental engineers are desperately needed in the city of tall buildings and smog.  Go Figure.  Daddy didn't need much convincing.  They had him at "city."

It's a Flower Power Book!

(Flower Power Book Series)

Just like Violet in  Luv Ya Bunches: A Flower Power Book by Lauren Myracle ...I'm the new kid in school and the neighborhood.

What Violet, Katie-Rose, Yasaman and Milla have in common besides all being named after flowers--nothing.  Yasaman is a computer whiz, Milla is third in command of an A-list crowd and Violet calls herself a film director-in-training. 

A Filmmaker on the Verge

I'm a filmmaker-on-the-verge.  I keep my flip camcorder in my backpack and pull it out when nobody's paying attention.  I've got some great blooper footage.   I may need it sooner than I think.  
They would probably be best friends if it wasn't for the evil queen bee, Modessa, who Violet calls Medusa.  Social worlds crash just like in my middle school.  It's like my world is playing out in this book. 

It's a Brave World After all

Speaking of my world, Daddy hails originally from New York City ...Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn to be exact.  He hasn't lived there in a bunch of years.  The closest he's been to Brooklyn on a regular basis is through a pack of Nathan hot dogs.  I can count on a few fingers past one hand, how many times I've been there.  I know, crazy ...right?  

Here's a photo of Bed-Stuy in 1962, two years before Daddy was born.    

And here's what it looks like today.

You Look Like My Mama

Mama despises ...no--past tense.  Mom despised the city before she discovered dollar stores, Pho (noodle dishes) and chi-chi coffee bars.  I'm worried ...she hasn't said "yawl" in months.

Last Saturday, Mama brought home, The DivaGirl's Guide to Style and Self-Respect,  It's your pocket book to success! ...by Cheryl Ann Waddlington with Sonya Beard.  It's diva defined!

Diva is a Word?

Before we moved city-side, Mama never even said the word "diva" in my direction.  "Baby Girl" was her favorite pet name for me, which I used to cringe at.  I’m kind of missing it—big time …weird, huh?   But now, I'm this cool iCafe Girl Diva and have a new DivaGirl's guide to show me the way.  I hate to admit it …but I’m kind of liking it too.

I can use this girl's hands-on guide to help with fashion, makeup and handling myself in the 'real world."  

I'm okay in the self-esteem department, but I know my Modessa, (Violet's evil bee)—I call her Tory-the-Terrible—could stand to read a few chapters.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how happy she is after tormenting me.  

Lately, she's been calling me "Fried Grits and Bacon."  Everybody down South knows you don't fried grits with bacon. 

Anyway, "The DivaGirl's Guide to Style and Self Respect" also deals with serious issues that can hurt our self-esteem and ability to succeed. It explains all the "whys," so we can make the right decisions.

Goodbye Country Living

Like I said before, I could count on almost two hands how many times I’ve been to Brooklyn?  I guess since Daddy's parents moved near us when I was a toddler, and Mama's parents were already there ...we couldn't keep our Brooklyn family away if we wanted to, which we didn't.  They loved visiting us down south.  And it didn’t hurt that they could stop by Virginia Beach on their way home.

We don't see them so much now, since we're not in the country anymore.  But we're only a state away, just inside the city limits.  I guess it's not the same, because now we visit them. 


At least, we have a lawn with a lawn jockey and a backyard.  I fought to keep the lawn jockey I found in the trash.  I have a thing for old stuff, which gives Tory-the-Terrible and her mean crew even more material to torment me.  I don’t care, I like what I like. 

Our new home had to have a lawn and I was prepared to roll my neck and pushed my mouth out forever to get it.   Okay, so it's not exactly the five acres we had before, but it's better than a concrete jungle.

A Concrete Jungle Gym?

Guess where I now go to school.  Yep, that's right ...in the concrete jungle surrounded by tall buildings.  I lost that one.  It's not in my new neighborhood, but it's where my mom teaches math.  I'm just glad she's not my math teacher.  

You'd think she was though ...math problems never go away after the 3 o'clock bell.   That's if we had a 3 o'clock bell.  Somebody at this city middle school, where math, science and computer geeks rule—decided to give the bell's job to a computerized British lady.  I’ll admit it, her fancy voice makes us feel good about going to another boring assembly.  Triple Ugh!  We call her Betty.   We took "Byte" added another "T" and booyah!

A Middle School Web Show 

Last September (shortly after I got here), Betty announced there would be tryouts for a new web show for sixth graders and one for seventh graders.  Whichever group produced the most educational and off-the-wall programming would get a big surprise at the end of the year. 

So I had no problem hanging out with Jenny and her friends in Caught in the Web (How I Survived Middle School), who started their own webcast like here.  It became a hit at Joyce Kilmer Middle School.  What's good enough for Jenny is good enough for me.  I ignored the ugly kids and their nasty comments and won the producer spot.   I see a webcast ratings’ war in my future. 

To be honest, I never thought of reading the Dork Diaries:  Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life before I moved here.  I was part of the happening crowd at my old country school.  I was the one-to-watch, not the one-to-be laughed at.  I'm not proud of this, but I opened the book, looking forward to seeing me again.  But this time I didn't.  

I did relate to Nikki's battle with her Mom over getting an iPhone.  I see one in my hot little hands when I sleep.  Not happening ...when I wake up.   Mom says there’s nothing wrong with my pay-as-you-go flip phone.  I totally disagree.

I So Almost Forgot...

Anyway, Nikki is kind of a mean girl herself.  But I like that she sketches and write about her not-so-fabulous life in a snooty school.  Okay, there are two things we have in common. 

Excuse me for a second, Miss Kiki's pointing to the monitor.  Oops ...I forgot to introduce this week's text-webisode.  I still can't believe I'm this week's host.  So cool! 

Tween Literature:  A Look Inside Our World...

Welcome to this week's text-webisode:  Tween Literature:  A Look Inside Our World ... Oh yeah, and the Light's On.  What helped me through this year of crazy was reading.  See, it kind of took forever for the kids to stop teasing me.  I guess I act, sound, look and dress funny to them.  Like they don't act, sound, look and dress funny to me.  

It was cool reading about the same stuff other kids were going through.  I also found this doubly cool virtual cafe, iCafe Woman Moderne, an inter-generational café for women and girls inside this awesome Art Moderne home.  I love that it’s midcentury modern.  

iCafe Girl Moderne

Me and my friends (I met here) hang out at iCafe Girl Moderne.  Actually, Miss Kiki bought a second Art Moderne home, seven months before I got here.  The iCafe Girls out mostly at that one, but we visit each other regularly, so we can learn from each other.

New Home Sweet Home

My house is in the same neighborhood and looks like the iCafe Woman Moderne spot, but it’s an Art Deco—1920s to 1940s.  Oh, there it is.

This Week's Text-Webisode...

Miss Kiki, the owner of the iCafe Woman Moderne, sends her Miracles and Blessings!  These are my picks for—

Layla, you already gave us your picks by telling your story.  

I did?  Oh, I guess yawl ...I did.  YaYa (my Grandmom Douglas) calls me a chatterbox when I get wound up.  

Yes, you did and it was great. 
(to the web camera)
You won't find vampires, wizards, serial killers in these books ... Layla picked ones that turned on the light.

I picked the stories I see me in.  But I didn't mention the Shadows on Society Hill: An Addy Mystery (American Girl Mysteries)http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=icawommod0c-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1593691629 yet.  I loved it too!

Look Miss Kiki, Addy's carrying a lamp.  Is that symbolic or what.  In her story, we see how people are mean to her and her family.  That’s a real part of our American History, but her story also shows how she and her family experience kindness.   

New Millennium kids don't know about that stuff because our ancestors worked hard to make things better for us in 2012.  I think we should honor them by at least learning about the time before us, the good and the bad … and do better.

Well put, Layla.

MAY  2014

I hope you enjoyed visiting our Layla from two years ago.  At the time, it was only aired in our small corner of the cyber-world, but now we’re sharing it with the rest of the cyber-world.

Moving to a new state, starting new schools are often traumatic experiences for kids, especially tweens.  But today’s popular tween fiction is helping smooth out life’s little bumps.  

In our Part 2 text-webisode, we’ll check in on Freshman Layla as she finishes her first year of high school.  Once again, she'll explore the books that got her through this new chapter.

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