Sunday, February 01, 2009

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The Zany Zoe Strikes a Nerve with Literary Marketers Wanting Her to Review Their Clients Books! This is Not Such a Bad Way to Start a Writing Career for a 12-year-old Who Has a Real Zeal for Books and Writing and a Long Trail to Prove Her Worth Even Though She Still Considers Herself a Nerd
By Diana L. Chapman

The day Zoe Alea Strickland got home from school and found two e-mails from publicists asking her to review their clients books, thrills ran up and down her spine and she told my niece, Wendy, who in turn emailed me.

This news shows me what I constantly tell kids – if you do something different, you find your niche and someone else notices – the sparks might fly and take you in a direction, one that was never even expected.

Zoe, a 12-year-old, admitted nerd who lives in Santa Rosa, reviews mostly young adult books on her blog:

“When I found the e-mail that they sent me, I was literally jumping around my room with joy,” Zoe e-mailed “I think it was possibly the best day I have had in 2009 so far. Then, when I got home after school there was another e-mail from a different publisher, that sent me the summary of a book that is going to be published soon, and they asked if I wanted to review it.”
What makes this story great to me is the peculiar thing about Zoe. For a long time, she disliked books. She read here and there and when she had too, but she hadn’t found much she cherished or looked forward to in print.

And then the Harry Potter series rolled out and it seems – like thousands of other kids across the globe -- Zoe not only began to read, she became obsessed with reading. And that’s what happened to Zoe who hasn’t put down books ever since.
“Just the thought that there may be other books out that are as good as Harry Potter amazed me,” she explained, which took this read-headed, curly-haired kid on a different course “and there will always be a special place in my literary heart for them.”

The difference, however, between her and other pre and mid-teenagers is she decided to review what she read by establishing a blog. It didn’t matter to her that she was only 12 or may not have enough of that “literary experience” some publishers would require.

Besides guts, what she does have – and that puts her ahead of everyone else – is that she can give ideas for reading to other youth and inform parents on how a younger person might react to a book. Also, unlike many teenagers, she reads obsessively which allows her to do this job.

“When I read a book, I get sucked into the book’s world, and I am so overwhelmed with the world that I am in and seeing that I am doing something, though it may be fictional. Books are also a way for me to escape from things that are going on in my life that seem stressful and a little overwhelming.”

Her top books are both “wonderfully,” written by John Green: Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska. Although Green writes more for high school students, she wrote me, “he puts a lot of thought into his books.” Of course the J.K. Rowling comes next and four on her list is: “I Am the Messenger,” by Markus Zusak.

In 2008, Zoe read 106 books; this year, she’s challenging herself to read 300. And yes, she does write herself and has some works in process that she’s just “letting unravel.” Her audience for her blog is currently her most special audience, “ultimately I write for people who want to read my opinions, because to me, those people mean a lot.”

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