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February 2011 Archives

Celeb Scoop: Tom Jordan
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Sometimes we look around and realize there's one young music artist (or group) who's everywhere at once. It happened with Miley Cyrus and then with the Jonas Brothers. Right now of course it's Mr. Bieber. It's moments like this where it's fun to turn away from the hysteria and check out something fresh.

tomjordan1.jpgYou don't get much fresher than 17-year-old Tom Jordan. This Australian teen has been performing since he was 9 and writing songs since he was 11, and last year released his self-titled debut album. There's something about Tom's music that puts him above trends and hype. Here's what this very sweet guy, who describes himself as an "organic singer-songwriter," had to say to IML.

IML: How old were you when you first picked up the guitar? What sparked you to do it?

Tom: My parents bought me this little guitar when I was about 3 years old. I had no idea what I was doing with it though. I still have that guitar actually, it has tape all around it to hold it together! But I got my first real guitar and guitar lesson when I was 9 because I loved AC/DC and wanted to be like Angus Young, the guitarist.

IML: What do you think performing music at such a young age added to your life growing up?

Tom: It definitely gave me confidence. I think talking to people after I played and stuff led me to having better people skills than a lot of my friends when I was younger. Also, for me to have the opportunities I've had already is so amazing and I've had to learn to be mature and humble about it all.

IML: Of all the songs you've written, what are your favorites, and what are they about? Have you ever written a very personal song that wasn't received the way you'd hoped it would?

Tom: I can't really say I have "favorite" songs of mine because I'm proud of every song I write, but sure, I like some more than others...I've gone through a process while writing for my upcoming album that I've written so many songs but some of them are better than others. As far as personal songs go, I like to be able to relate to every song I write, and yeah, some songs haven't gone down the way I'd planned...I remember I wrote a song for a girl and showed it to some friends and they loved it and said I should play it for her, so I played it for her one-on-one in a music room at school once. We kind of had an on-and-off thing for a while and I wrote her this song because I started to really like her...So I built up the courage and played it for her with high hopes, and at the end of the song she goes, "Awww" and gives me a hug, and that was it. She never spoke of it again! Ha ha ha.

IML: Ouch! Well, at least you went for it. When you're writing a song and get stuck, how do you work through it?

Tom: I hate forcing songs because to me it seems unnatural. If I can't finish a song, I tend to leave it and keep it in the back of my head for ideas.

tomjordan2.jpgIML: You've also done some acting. Was that a natural transition for you?

Tom: Acting was really intimidating. Being on the set of Disney's "As The Bell Rings" was one of the most overwhelming experiences I can remember. I have never done any acting classes and I was surrounded by these professional young actors, but as time went on we all became good friends and that made it all heaps easier.

IML: Who are your role models and musical influences?

Tom: John Mayer for sure, he's the man. I've loved his music since his first album and yeah, I have every single one of his songs on iTunes, haha. Jason Mraz is another musician I love. I listen to so much music though so I have a really broad range of influences, like The Killers, Adele, Amos Lee, John Legend and others.

IML: Whose career out there would you want to have...or not have? Have you learned anything from watching other young artists end up becoming about something other than the music?

Tom: I would honestly love to be Justin Bieber for one day just to see what his day-to-day life is like! And yeah, with some younger artists they become more of an "image" than a musical artist. I would hate if that happened to me. I always want to keep my music honest and organic and hopefully people can relate and enjoy it!

IML: We're sure they will! Good luck and thanks for chatting with us!

Tom: Thanks...and you're welcome!

We love Tom's song "Someone Somewhere"...check out the video here. You can also learn more about Tom and watch his hilarious "TomCast" webisodes at his website at www.tomjordanmusic.com.au, or follow him on Twitter at @tjordan93.




Meet tween dancer Jade Chynoweth
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jade.jpgJade Chynoweth, age 11, is a big fan of TV dance shows like "So You Think You Can Dance." Maybe that's because she's spent a lot of time in the past few months actually dancing with choreographers from those shows, like Mia Michaels, Tyce Diorio, and Wade Robson. Jade was chosen to be an "Elite Protégé" with The PULSE On Tour, a traveling dance workshop featuring the top choreographers and instructors in the industry. In other words, this girl most definitely CAN dance!

As you probably know by now, we love talking to tweens who are doing something extra-cool, and Jade is no exception. Her talent and commitment are truly inspiring, and we're glad we got to meet her on her way to a very bright future.

IML: Jade, can you tell us about how you first got started in dance?

Jade: I started dancing when I was 2 1/2. My aunt owned a dance studio, and I took ballet and jazz classes there. My mom was a teacher back then, and she was really the one who got me interested in dance.

IML: When did you know that you wanted to be more serious about it?

Jade: When I was about 9 years old, I pretty much decided that this was what I wanted to do when I was older.

IML: What do you love so much about it?

Jade: I really like acting out characters in dances, and I like the adrenalin of going on stage and performing in front of people.

IML: How much time do you spend taking classes and training and all that?

Jade: I go to school from 8:30 to 3:40. Then after that, I go to dance every day until 9pm.

IML: Wow! How do you have time to do schoolwork?

Jade: I do my schoolwork after dance, and I stay up a little later!

IML: You do a lot of dance styles. Do different styles make you feel different things when you're doing them?

Jade: Yes, definitely. Even different styles of hip-hop or jazz or contemporary make me feel different things. I dance what I feel. Hip-hop's my favorite, just because I like to get down, I like that hard-hitting grungy kind of stuff. And the characters in the songs and dances are really fun!

IML: What are your favorite music artists, or a particular song you like dancing to these days?

Jade: There's this one song that just came out, "Jar of Hearts," by Christina Perri. Sometimes I just feel more emotional and inspired when I listen to that kind of music. But I also like fast songs that I can dance hip-hop to.

IML: You participate in a lot dance competitions. Do you choreograph your own routines?

Jade: The past couple of years, my solos have been choreographed by Gev Manoukian from "So You Think You Can Dance." He's a really cool guy, he teaches me all my tricks!

IML: Tell us a little bit about how you came to be a Elite Protégé with The PULSE.

Jade: The PULSE has come to Las Vegas every year and we go there as a studio, and we've had the chance to learn from amazing different choreographers and different styles. They gave a lot of different scholarships out. They travel all around the world. To get chosen as Protégé, you take all the classes and the teachers choose Protégés based on people who really connect to the dance or get the moves but still have style. They also give normal scholarships out to people who really try hard and are improving. When I got Protégé, I got to go to New York, and try out for Elite Protégé. It gives you free tuition to the PULSE convention in each city. I've gone to seven of the cities so far, and I assist on stage or go in front so people can watch.

IML: What have you gotten out of it so far?

Jade: I've learned more about being a better dancer and understanding the dance, and my body and my moves. I think along the way I've also learned leadership and how to be a better person.

IML: Are there other dancers as young as you?

Jade: No, I'm the youngest! But it's cool, because I've learned so much from everyone. And as people say, kids are like sponges and they soak in all this information. I think that's true, because even though I'm so young, I try to understand the moves. I try to dance mature and still have fun, and I look up to all the older people that also got Elite Protégé. It really teaches me how to focus and learn better and quicker.

IML: It sounds like an amazing experience! What's your advice to other young people who want to make dance part of their lives?

Jade: My advice is just to be yourself and have fun, get style, and take little pieces form everyone that you see. You can't be someone else. You have to just learn from them. Something that the choreographer Mia Michaels says is that you're born a legend, because you're not like anyone else. You have to use that.

IML: That's good to keep in mind for everything, not just dance.

Jade: Yeah, you have to realize you're unique, no matter what you do!

IML: Thanks, Jade, and good luck!

Jade: Thank you!

To learn more about The PULSE On Tour, visit www.thepulseontour.com. And check out one of Jade's most awesome performances, called "Creature":




DVD Review: "Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary Edition"
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Where do you go when you dream?  Is it some completely random place you don't recognize at all, or is it a land made up of some combo of the people, places and things from your real life? Do you hang out with your crush? Your teachers? Your favorite celebs? Are things basically the same as in the daytime, or are they weird, warped and wild?

AliceInWonderland60thAnnBlurayCombo.jpgPoet and novelist Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) thought, and wrote, a lot about dreamscapes. His two most famous books, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass," read a lot like dreams themselves, following a curious girl through strange and spectacular realms that get "curiouser and curiouser" the deeper she goes. Animals, plants, and even objects like playing cards become bizarre and funny characters, often poking fun at human follies and emotions. The books made Carroll rich and world-famous, and continue to be huge sellers around the globe more than 100 years after they were first published.

Given the fantastic source material, Walt Disney had his work cut out for him in adapting Carroll's stories to the screen. But feature animation, it turns out, is the perfect way to bring Carroll's dreamy writing to visual life, and the Disney version of "Alice on Wonderland" went on to be a huge hit and a timeless treasure of fantasy filmmaking.

Disney has just re-released Alice in a 60th anniversary Blu-ray and DVD package, complete with the fully restored feature and a nice selection of extras, including a thought-provoking behind-the-scenes documentary.

Our Favorite Things:

The girl power. Alice is no shy thing. Anyone who jumps into a seemingly bottomless hole just to follow a white rabbit has got some guts, and she seems unruffled by most of Wonderland's challenges. She says what she thinks, asks for what she wants, and can be pretty resourceful when necessary. Considering this movie was made in the era of Disney princesses that didn't do much more than look gorgeous and sing to cute little animals, Alice is one of animation's first steps towards a more "modern" character.

The colors. We were lucky enough to see this new 60th anniversary release on Blu-ray disc, and TBH, it looks awesome. From the very opening scene in the flowery English countryside, the colors seem to just pop off the screen with bright, dazzling lusciousness. We'd bet that even original movie audiences back in 1951 (yeah, we're prolly talking 'bout your grandparents) didn't see an Alice this pristine and colorful.

The voices. From Kathryn Beaumont as the sweet but befuddled title character to Ed Wynn as the maddest of all Mad Hatters, AIW has what is possibly the best line-up of voice actors in animation history. Our absolute favorites are Bill Thompson (the marble-mouthed White Rabbit), Verna Felton (the hot-headed Queen of Hearts), and Sterling Holloway (the other-worldly Cheshire Cat). Disney fans will surely recognize Holloway's voice; he was Kaa the hypnotic snake in "The Jungle Book," as well as the voice of "Winnie the Pooh."

teaparty.jpgThe Mad Tea Party. This scene isn't just a great bit of cartooning, it's an expertly-choreographed routine of slapstick comedy. It's the craziest moment in a crazy story, and we also give it props as the inspiration for one of our favorite theme park rides (gotta love those spinning teacups...unless you get motion-sick, of course). A very merry unbirthday to you!

The Walrus and the Carpenter. Alice experts might know that this story is taken not from "Wonderland," but "Through the Looking Glass," but we love that it's in this movie, because it's just so twisted and weird.  The baby oysters are so adorably cute in their little bonnet-shells and then...well, we won't spoil it, because, well...nobody likes spoiled oysters, right? Let's just say that it's funny, but also a bit creepy.

If you're a fan of the recent Tim Burton version of this story, you might enjoy seeing the original film treatment. And as is usually the case with these animated classics, it's a great Family Movie Night choice because your little sibs will probably enjoy it as much as your parents (and even grandparents).

IML's Rating: A-



Advice on Valentine's Day
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Today, we're wondering: Does anyone ever actually have a good time on Valentine's Day? Maybe if you're in the lucky 1% of people who are happily, securely going out with someone, we can see you enjoying the holiday. But if you're going out with someone but things are a little weird, if you just broke up with someone, if you're not going out with anyone, if you have a crush who doesn't know you exist, if you have a crush who knows you exist but isn't sure how he/she feels about you, if you don't have a crush at all, or if you're a human being with any one of a hundred other situations that we haven't mentioned...Valentine's Day can be, well, not so much fun.

The whole thing is just a lot of pressure and a big marketing ploy to sell cards, candy, and red teddy bears, right?

heart.jpgOkay, we're not really that cynical. Valentine's Day doesn't have to be so all-or-nothing. It's one of those things that really is whatever you make of it, and a "valentine" can be so much more than an object of romance. Do you have parents, siblings, friends, or relatives who help you feel the love in your life? And how about being a valentine to yourself? Can you celebrate the things about you that you're proud of, happy with, and maybe even love? Think about how to make the holiday your own.

Once you've done that, hopefully you won't stress over dances and other V-Day events planned at school or in your community. But if you're still stressing, here are some ideas:

  • Go with friends. Even if you have a crush and are tempted to try and go with him or her, take that angst out of the equation. You'll probably have more fun with your buds anyway, and who knows...maybe something natural will happen with that crush once you're there.

  • Have fun with the outfit. Dress in whatever makes you feel good (and comfortable), rather than what you think will impress someone else. You and your friends might come up with some kind of "theme" and coordinate. If you want to make your outfit special but can't afford a whole new getup, buy (or borrow) one cool accessory like earrings or a belt.

  • Dance. That may seem like a big "duh," but sometimes it seems like that's the only thing people aren't doing at these things. Here's an opportunity to just let loose and move. Make a pact with at least one friend that you'll be the first people on the dance floor, and see how quickly others join in. Or make it your mission to get a teacher or other adult chaperone to boogie down. Try to think positively and not so much about what people might think of you; chances are, they're jealous that you're having such a good time.

  • If you can't bring yourself to dance, then do some People Watching. Not so much to gather gossip, but rather, just to learn about behavior. Pretend for a minute that you're an alien scientist come to Earth to study the strange social habits of young humans. Try it; it's pretty fun! 
Share your own advice on our How To Have Fun At A Dance You Said It page, and don't forget to send an IML Valentine E-Card to someone special!





Celeb Scoop: Ryan Newman
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ryannewman.jpgMost of the performers who are popular with tweens are a little older, maybe in their teens or even early twenties. Not Ryan Newman, who you may know as Ginger, the conniving little sister from Disney XD's hit show "Zeke and Luther." Ryan is 12, and although her life is very different from most other kids her age -- she goes to school "on set" and connects with fans online -- she's trying to balance a promising career with the day-to-day experiences of being a normal tween.

Ryan got her start in the biz doing commercials, then at age 7 starred in the films "Zoom," where she got to play a young superhero, and "Monster House," where she became the youngest actor to ever be motion-captured. She went on to play the young Miley on "Hannah Montana" before starring in "Zeke and Luther." Her first musical endeavor, the single "Happy Universal Holidays" on which she collaborated with co-star Adam Hicks, will be followed by more songs to be released soon.

Ryan recently talked to IML about her acting and music, her crazy busy schedule, and how she deals with friendship challenges.

IML: How are things on the set of "Zeke and Luther" this season?

Ryan: They're really great. Coming back from hiatus after the last season, everyone's all grown up. All the boys are driving, they're all over 18. It's so weird because I'm the only one in the classroom now!

IML: What's been your favorite episode so far?

Ryan: I really loved the episode "Old Nasty," where Ginger takes skateboard lessons from Luther. It was so much fun to film because I got to skateboard and work with the skate coordinator, learning those things. It was a really fun episode with a big group of us, and that's always lots of fun. And lots of stunts too!

IML: What can viewers expect this season? Anything special?

Ryan: Well...there's a little change in Zeke's living situation, but I can't tell you what! You'll have to wait and see! A lot of guest stars from the second season are coming back, and lots of amazing stunts. Be prepared to laugh!

Thumbnail image for Zeke_and_luther_cast.jpgIML: We're sure people will! So how and you and Ginger alike, and how are you different?

Ryan: We're alike in that we're both perfectionists. Ginger is the best at whatever she does; I may not be the best at whatever I do, but I definitely try for it. We're very different because Ginger is always playing pranks on her brother...she's very conniving and mischievous, trying to outwit Zeke. And I'm not like that at all!

IML: You have an older sister. You don't torment her the way Ginger torments Zeke?

Ryan: No! I don't play pranks at all. Me and my sister get along really well.

IML: What kind of comments do you get from fans?

Ryan: They're so sweet, I love all the fans around the world. I have a Twitter so when people Tweet me, it's crazy to hear them say Ginger's catchphrase "Oh yeah, baby." I'll get Tweets in other languages, which is really cool. Some people tell me that they play the same pranks that Ginger plays!

IML: You've been acting since you were 3 and you've already had quite a career. What would be your dream role?

Ryan: Probably to do something like "Glee" because I'd get to sing, dance, and act...everything I love to do. It would be great to have a role that combines it all.

IML: So now people will get to know you as a singer too. Tell us a little more about the singles you've been working on.

Ryan: I have three original songs that I co-wrote. I did "Happy Universal Holidays" with Adam Hicks for Disney for our "Bro Ho Ho" Christmas episode. That was so much fun, to work with Adam. It was amazing. I've always been so inspired by his work and I sat right next to him when he wrote "In the Summertime," and I was just blown away. I never knew how much work it was to rap! Or even to write a rap. He makes it look so easy.

IML: You've co-written the other two songs. How did you come up with ideas for the songs?

Ryan: They're just things that happen in my life, things I want to tell people, lessons learned that I want to make sure people hear about. They'll be released soon but I'm not sure when. People can check out my Twitter page, @ryrynewman.

IML: How is singing different from acting? Does one experience help with the other?

Ryan: It definitely helps to have the acting experience going into singing, because when you're singing you have to portray the emotion you were feeling when you wrote the song. They're the same thing in a way, it's expressing your emotions through words.

IML: What's a typical day like for you when you're on set?

Ryan: Pretty hectic! It kind of varies a little bit, but normally I have to get up really early and go to set and get hair and makeup, and wardrobe. Then sometimes I'll go to school or straight on set. Then whenever I have a chance throughout the day, I'll go and do school.

IML: When you're not shooting, what are you doing?

Ryan: I am singing and dancing -- I'm a dancer so I do four hours of dance a week of ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary. I also play the piano and I just started learning the guitar.

IML: Whoa! How do you balance all of that? Do you ever feel stressed out about how to get it all done?

Ryan: Yes, definitely. I stress out a lot. Being a perfectionist doesn't help with that! It's hard but you've got to make a schedule, deciding "I'll get this done then and this done now, and whatever happens happens." The people I surround myself with are very supportive and helpful with everything.

IML: What's your favorite way to just hang out and have fun, when you do get the chance?

Ryan: Either hanging with my friends, my old school friends, or watching TV or playing music. It helps relax me.

IML: How do you keep up your friendships with such a crazy schedule?

Ryan: My best friend from school lives right next door, so that makes it a lot easier. I go to a dance class with one of my other best friends. And I have them over and we go swimming, or go to the movies. I work really hard to make sure to see them as much as I can.

IML: So you have time to be a normal 12-year-old?

Ryan: Yes!

IML: Do people recognize you when you go out?

Ryan: Yes! It's funny because I've known these girls for a long time so they're used to it, but it is weird because I'm just Ryan to them but to other people I'm Ryan Newman. I love when fans recognize me. Most of the time they don't have the guts to come up so I'm like, come here, say hi! I don't bite!

IML: Do you have any role models, in life and in your career?

Ryan: Probably my parents. I couldn't do this without them, and I don't know how they do it because they're working so much harder than me. In my career, I'd say Taylor Swift or even Lea Michele. I love that Lea is a singer and an actor.

IML: What do you think it means for a girl to be "strong"?

Ryan: I think strong is being who you are without any influence from anyone else. Being in this industry, it's really hard to do because you're getting criticism form everyone and everywhere. You have to hold true to your values. There are people who like me because of what I do, and there are people who don't like me because of what I do! It's really hard because people judge you without knowing you.

IML: So you have to find the people who like you for who you are?

Ryan: It was really hard for me to find friends in school, like actual real friends, when I first started out in the industry. I wouldn't tell anyone. Then once they were my really close friends and I knew they were hanging out with me because of who I am, not what I've done, then I'd tell them. Then they'd be totally cool with it because they already knew me for me.

IML: Thanks for chatting. We're sure everyone will love hearing about what you're doing. Good luck with everything and we can't wait to hear your new singles!

Ryan: Thank you so much!



Book Review: "Bitter Melon"
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On IML we often see comments and questions from tweens about parents who are super-strict, or pushing their kids really hard at school, or generally having sky-high expectations for everything, or even using hurtful words to express anger or disappointment. Sometimes, a person is dealing with all of these things at once, and that's a lot to handle. Really, a ton!

Take a look at a recent advice question from Jessica, age 12. Wow.

Sometimes one of the many factors in this kind of situation is a parent's ethnic background and culture. As we talk about a bit in our Immigration section, being from one country and raising your family in another can cause all sorts of fireworks.

Bitter_Melon.jpgWe enjoyed a recent book called "Bitter Melon," by Cara Chow (Egmont USA). "Bitter Melon" is about Frances, a Chinese-American teenager whose one job in life is to get into Berkeley and become a doctor to fulfill her single mother's ambitions for her. She's going along with this until she accidentally discovers a speech class at school and turns out be a natural. While pursuing her new passion, Frances finds herself hiding things from her mother and questioning the way she's been raised. She knows she must be obedient to her mother but also craves the chance to live her own life. 

We felt that many IML'ers could relate to Frances' story and enjoy the heartfelt, honest writing (we give it a rating of B+!), so we asked the author, who was born in Hong Kong and emigrated with her family to the U.S. as a child, to give us some behind-the-pages insight.

IML: Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration for "Bitter Melon"? How much of your own experiences as a teenager trickled into the book?
 
Cara: Though my mother and I enjoy a very positive relationship today, we definitely struggled a lot when I was a teen. My mom wanted me to be the best, and her way of motivating me was by being very hard on me. Unfortunately, her parenting strategy did not have the effect on me that she had intended. I wanted to make her proud, but I always felt like a disappointment to her, and this really affected my confidence and self-image as a teen.  Those tumultuous feelings became compost for my imagination as I created the fictional world of Frances Ching over a decade later.
 
Another source of inspiration was my maternal grandmother.  My mother and her siblings shared a deep loyalty to one another and to their mother.  They survived war and poverty and took very good care of their mother until she died.  My grandmother had her own bedroom in both my mother's house and my uncle's house, which were walking distance from one another so that my grandmother could choose which house she wanted to sleep in from night to night.  I knew that this loyalty was the product of culture, the culture of filial piety, which means "respect for parents and ancestors."  On the one hand, I deeply respected and admired this family style.  On the other hand, I pondered its potential pitfalls.  What if the aging parent was difficult, dysfunctional, or even abusive?  Should the grown child fulfill her obligation to the parent, or should she break free of that obligation?  Should she betray her parent or herself?  That question became the seed for "Bitter Melon."
 
IML: We see a lot of comments and advice questions on our site from kids whose parents are recent immigrants to the U.S. What are some of the common problems these tweens face?
 
carachow.jpgCara: Children of recent immigrants often experience greater pressure to conform and to succeed.  This is because immigrant parents have to sacrifice so much to live in the US so that their children can have the opportunities that they couldn't have, and it's human nature to expect a big return on a big investment.  Another reason for this pressure is that most recent immigrants to the U.S. come from non-western cultures, which tend to be more socially conservative and less individualistic.  Had their children grown up where their parents had grown up, most of them would probably not think twice about sacrificing their own needs and desires for the welfare of their families because everyone else around them is doing the same.  Instead, they're watching their American peers having more freedom to express themselves and choose their futures.  They may question and resent their parents yet feel guilty about their doubts and resentment.
 
IML: What's your advice for young people who are struggling, like Frances, to find their own voice, but don't want to be disrespectful to or dishonest with their parents?
 
Cara: There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because every family is different.  That said, I would suggest that young people in this situation find safe places in which to express their true thoughts and feelings.  That could be a journal (with a lock perhaps!) or a trusted friend or mentor.  The advantage of a private journal is that no one can criticize or embarrass you, but the advantage of talking to friends or mentors is that they can offer support, encouragement, and advice.  Reading helps too.  One of the reasons I wrote "Bitter Melon" was so that readers who identify with Frances can find solace and validation. 
 
IML: What are your thoughts on the recent buzz about Amy Chua's memoir "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother"? Many of the IML'ers on our site are talking about it.
 
Cara: As the writer of a novel that explores the pitfalls of "Tiger mothering," I was pretty shocked and troubled to read an article that seemed to be supporting a style of parenting similar to how Gracie raised Frances.  Then, as I watched Chua defend herself and her book on TV, I got confused as to where she actually stood.  On the one hand, she argued that the choice of excerpt and the title of the article ("Why Chinese Mothers are Superior") misrepresented her book as a whole, which was about how she learned to be less extreme in her parenting.  She also argued that the tone of the book was intended to make fun of herself.  On the other hand, when asked if she would do anything differently if given the choice today, she replied that she would do things much the same way.  I think I'll have to read her book myself to figure out exactly what she is trying to say.
 
As the product of Tiger parenting who is now a mother herself, I am critical of that parenting style.  Though it can push kids to achieve high levels of academic and professional excellence, it can also push kids towards high levels of anxiety and depression.  It can suppress creativity, dampen kids' love for learning, and damage their relationship with their parents.  There must be more constructive ways to bring out the best in young people!
 
IML: Anything else you'd like tween readers to know about your book?
 
Cara: There's a forbidden romance in the story...That's not the focus of the book, but it sure piques readers' interest!

IML: Thanks, Cara! We're sure that lots of young readers will identify with Frances' journey and enjoy going on it with her. Good luck with everything.

Cara:
Thank you!