Most Awesome Young Adult Books of 2008 is
"Sydney Claire" and "Mesi"
by Pam Davis
Sydney Claire: A Girl ’n Grace in the 1960s follows the story of Sydney Claire Wilcox, an industrious 10-year-old living in the midst of the historic women’s liberation, civil rights, and environmental movements. When she finds herself feeling lonely in the summer of 1965, she determines to do something about it. With her best friends, Vicky and Ann, Sydney Claire sets off on a series of money-making enterprises in order to purchase her heart’s desire: Trouble, a fun-loving Golden Retriever. When Trouble lives up to his name, Sydney Claire learns an important lesson about grace.
In Mesi’s Season of Change: A Friendship Story, a feud breaks out between Mesi’s Ashanti tribe and their neighbors, the Kienese. As tensions mount, Mesi (pronounced Maycee) discovers a friendship she must keep secret. But she must decide what cost she is willing to pay in order to keep the secret—and protect her friend. Will she lose her best friend Kwasi? Anger her family? Or even bring destruction to her entire village? Join Mesi as she discovers how the treasure of God’s grace can transform everything.
Now let's me Pam...
1) How did you decide to write a series of books to rival American Girl?
My decision to write the books actually begins twenty years prior when I was compelled to communicate the undeniable freedom I had experienced from the bondage of legalism, food addiction, and low self esteem by God’s grace.
After attending Bible College, I took writing courses. Four years I worked on a novel series that was a parody of Ecclesiastes, where instead of Solomon, contemporary girls discover life to be vanity, meaningless … meaningless, with a perspective without God that is limited to “South of the Sun”.
When my daughter was born, I was compelled to create a variety of characters to give her role models of modern girls who found their meaning and significance in Christ.
Me and my daughter Alese
After getting positive praise from a respected literary agent, I was about to contact publishers when in 1995 I felt God was asking me to put aside the fiction stories in the novel series, for a non-fiction book about grace: Pure Gold (released this fall). I reminded God that as a woman I could not directly teach the Bible, a stance taught by my denomination at the time. God said nothing. He didn’t need to defend his request, it need only be obeyed or not. I was a crisis of faith realizing God was asking me to lay aside something I had worked for four years on, day and night. I also realized that I could say either “Yes Lord” or “No” because “No Lord” was not an option. Either God is Lord or not. He is Lord in my life, so I wrapped up that novel series and put it in her garage.Ten years later in 2005, I was fashion show coordinator for Historic Fort Worth’s Annual American Girl Fashion Show. The weekend of the show American Girl gets caught in a national controversy between themselves and conservative Christians who are threatening to boycott because of their support of Girls, Inc., an organization for girls that supports lesbianism and abortion. As coordinator of the fashion show, I was interviewed about the controversy on TV. My response was not what the media had expected from someone who represented American Girl. I said on-camera: “We’re praying for American Girl that they will support the American spirit, and the American spirit is based on family values, and it does have a Christian root.”
The following day, American Girl rebuttals to conservative Christians that they will not break their alliance.
The next morning God asked in my heart, “What do you do when you pray and people will not change?” Suddenly the words in 2 Corinthians 9:8 came to mind, “God is able to make all grace abound, so that at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work”. I knew God was telling me if I would reach in faith to believe Him, He would embrace my faith with His grace to provide a better character role model for girls.
Following God’s leading, I discovered from another leading doll company, that to have a character dolls made I need to have completed never been published stories that the dolls can be crafted from. With the phone in my hand listening to his words, thinking where in the world am I going to get my hands on a finished stories, I suddenly remember the crisis of faith ten years earlier and the series of books in my garage. I remember asking him to hold the line and rushed to my garage with words of Jeremiah blaring in my heart. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.” Buried under bikes and Christmas ornaments were the manuscripts that would eventually be the Girls ’n Grace books.
I have been blessed with a creative team of people including editors, illustrators, and an art director, who have helped me produce the Girls ‘n Grace books.
2) The craftmanship of the dolls is amazing - they are absolutely beautiful - what process did you go through to get the dolls produced?
A long one!!!! Certainly Dianna Effner the renowned doll sculptor is another gift of grace in the whole process. She did the sculpt for the Girls ‘n Grace doll.
3) Not only are the books well-written with wonderful stories, but they are filled with history as well. How did you decide which time periods to write about?
The 1960’s has always captured my interest. In the 1960’s the United States experienced a revolution of values, traditional religion was questioned. Young people would no longer accept outward conformity to a code that they didn’t see authentically embraced. In many ways people today in our culture are still seeking for answers to the very same questions of the 1960’s: Is Jesus relevant today? Is the Bible reliable? What is church? What about people who show greater faith in their god than Christians often exercise toward their God? I want to address those questions in an honest and practical way and show the “what” and “how” of God’s grace at work.
4) In addition to Sydney Clair and Mesi, what other girls can we look forward to meeting soon?
Chandra from India, Lizeth from Peru, and friends from the United Kingdom, Australia, Russia and from all other world want their stories told. We have cutout character books that will be available in weeks that show the characters now so you can get acquainted with them and anticipate their stories. Also, with each doll that is purchased a girl has access to Girls ‘n Grace Place, a virtual web world, where she can interact with the characters and vote on which character she would like to see next.
5) I noticed on your website that if you don't want to buy Sydney Clair or Mesi you can order other dolls that might look more like your daughter (red heads, brunettes, blondes, etc...blue eyes, brown eyes etc..) - this is a great idea and I am looking forward to ordering dolls for 2 of my daughters birthdays. Tell us why you call these dolls "Girls 'N Grace"...
The characters in the Girls ‘n Grace series are to serve as a role model so that a girl reading the books and playing with dolls will realize that God desires that she be a Girl ‘n Grace too and allow Him to write “His-story” (history) through her. So, I wanted to give a girl a doll that they could play to role model the character traits that she was learning about, a doll that looks similar to them. The Girls ‘n Grace Like Me! dolls come in a variety of skin color, eye color, and hair color with more variations be added in 2009.
6) I love that you are targeting this age group of girls. I don't suppose you plan on starting something for the young teen girls anytime soon, my oldest is 12 and I'd love to see books like this for her...
We have Girls ‘n Grace Clubs that are targeted for 2009 for a variety of age groups with fun activities centered on connecting Moms and Daughters in the saving truth of God’s grace. My daughter is 14 now and she is helping me with activities that would be fun for girls at different ages.
7) Tell us what we will find on your website for moms and daughters.
In addition to seeing the dolls and books, there are videos of girls sharing about Girls ’n Grace and lots of informative articles for Moms. There is free stuff: a Reader’s Club with fun quizzes and prizes, Girls ‘n Grace Magazine that a girl can custom create, and cool E-cards she can send.
Then there is Girls ‘n Grace Place that requires an access code that comes with each doll. There, a girl can interact with the Girls ’n Grace characters and enjoy a wide range of game activities dealing with fashion, travel, cooking, decorating, art, education, and much more! All while discovering what it truly means to have a heart of gold.
Okay, readers Pam has offered a some of her Girls 'N Grace books for our drawing! Here is what you do... leave me a comment (with your email address or way to reach you) telling me who you have in your life that would read these books and you will have 1 entry in the drawing! If you tell someone else about this interview with Pam and they enter and put your name in the comment then you will have 3 extra entries, if you link to this interview from your own blog then you will get 2 extra entries - Good luck!