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Interview: Sameera "Sparrow" Righton via Mitali Perkins

June 15th, 2007 (05:24 am)
awake

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: If I Didn't Believe in You from The Last Five Years

I am pleased to present the newly redesigned Mitali Perkins website at www.mitaliperkins.com

After you bookmark the site, come on back here! Sameera, also known as Sparrow - the fictional teenager from Mitali's new book, First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover - is going on her very own blog tour. Guess where she is today?

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Hey Sameera! Thanks for dropping by Bildungsroman.

So glad to be chatting with you, LW.

We might have readers who aren't sure how to pronounce your name. Would you mind sounding it out?

Sah - mee - rah. Emphasis on the mee. It's all about mee.

Tell us a little about your Extreme American Makeover.

I actually never lived in America before the campaign, since I was adopted from Pakistan when I was three and lived overseas with my parents at different posts. When I got here, campaign staffers thought I needed repackaging in red, white, and blue, so they gave me a top-to-toe makeover. I didn't mind -- I'm always up for something new. Besides, name a chick who'd turn down a chance to morph into a hottie for free. Wouldn't you carpe diem, too? Not that I've achieved hottie-ness, LW, but I thought I'd better give it my best shot.

Why do you blog?

With everybody else trying to define me, blogging helps me remember who I really am because I get to use my own voice. Maybe I'm deluded, but I feel like it puts ME in charge of the image I want out there. I also love the connections you can make out in cyber world, even though I know loonies are roaming around, too.

Do you think kids and teens should be more cautious about what and where they post online?

Speaking of loonies ... you have to be smarter than they are if you're going to put yourself online. No locations, no last names (I, of course, can't help it), not too many photos, nothing that will let someone rip off your identity, find you, stalk you, harass you. I'm a public figure AND protected 24/7 by the Secret Service so the rules are different for me, but I'm still way careful.

What portion of your father's platform is closest to your heart?

Dad's strong and tough and willing to lead our country in wartime, but he gets that the "pen is mightier than the sword." (Woodrow Wilson said that first, right?) James Righton's the best guy to handle international relations in a stressed-out, way-too-complicated planet because he's so culturally savvy and diplomatic. Also, even though he's big on free enterprise and trade and small business, he's always thinking about how our country's policies affect the suffering and the poor throughout the world. Thanks to Mom, mostly, I think. I like that.

What advice do you have for the kids of the presidential candidates?

Lay as low as you want or fly as high as you'd like, but set your own pace and find your own voice. Also, why not think about using your platform and power to speak out for kids who DON'T have a voice?

Would you ever consider researching your birth parents?

I'd like to someday, LW, but I'm not sure the fishbowl of the White House is the best place to do that. I might make a secret trip to Pakistan, though, since I could probably disappear thanks to my brown skin and burka, but I'd like to learn some more Urdu first. In fact, I'm taking Urdu lessons right now. And don't worry, I'd come back and share my journey on Sparrowblog.

What are your favorite books?

Wow, almost every blogger has asked this question, you guys love books. I'm a story freak, too, but I like to get my fix through flicks. Classic black and whites are my favorites, along with loud, fun, romping musicals and Bollywood movies.

Thanks, LW!

Thank you, Sparrow.

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Check out all of the stops on Sparrow's blog tour:
Monday, June 11th: Snapshot
Tuesday, June 12th: Big A little a
Wednesday, June 13th: Semicolon
Thursday, June 14th: Jen Robinson's Book Page
Friday, June 15th: Bildungsroman
Monday, June 18th: Sara's Holds Shelf

Then Mitali's own blog tour:
Monday, June 18th: Big A little a
Wednesday, June 20th: HipWriterMama
Thursday, June 21st: Seven Impossible Things

After you're all caught up, drop by Sparrowblog, where Sameera talks about the real 2008 presidential campaign, with a focus on potential first kids. She will continue to blog until November 2008.

This month, visitors to Sparrowblog can help their favorite libraries obtain free copies of the book. Simply leave a comment at the blog containing the name of a public library or a school library that you love. The five libraries with the most number of supportive comments will win free signed of the books.

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Most importantly, take this opportunity to talk to kids about politics and the upcoming campaign. You may be surprised by their questions and concerns. Don't be afraid to answer their questions or help them do some research. Encourage them to speak up, speak out, and help out in their communities and schools.

First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover is now available in stores. Read the first chapter online! First Daughter: White House Rules will hit shelves in January 2008.

Please visit Mitali's Fire Escape, the official website and blog of author Mitali Perkins. Chat with Sameera at Sparrowblog. Take part in the Books Between Cultures discussion list.