A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Of The Tweens, By The Tweens, For The Tweens

It had to happen: Now there's a blog called the Malia and Sasha Fan Club.
It was created by two sisters in Memphis, Tennessee, named Kailysia and Kaila, who are 10 and 8 respectively - about the same age as the Obama girls. And their grandma is their webmaster.
It's a blog by Tweens for other Tweens, and it reports every story from a Tween perspective. For instance, when the President and First Lady visited Buckingham Palace, the headline read, "Malia and Sasha's mom and dad meet the Queen."
Needless to say, they've been all over the Bo the Dog story from the very beginning. Even before he was chosen, they were conducting an online poll on what he should be named. ("Moose" was the favorite with 50 percent of the votes, followed by "Frank" and "other.")
Every time Malia or Sasha is spotted taking Bo for a walk, or another one of Bo's siblings pops up somewhere in the country, you'll read about it first at the Malia and Sasha Fan Club.
There's a dictionary icon you can click on to look up words you don't know. And if you're so young that you haven't learned to read yet, you can click on another icon to hear an audio version of the text. (That was Kaila and Kailysia's idea.)
There are also a lot of fun facts to learn and games to play, but when you click on the "Games" link you have to read a Bible verse first. (That was Grandma's idea.)
And there's another link you can click on to donate to Kailysia and Kaila's favorite charity, StandUp For Kids, which helps homeless children.
During March Madness they asked everyone to root for Memphis because, as they explained, "Our dad is going to have a fit if they don't win!" (Alas, the Tigers lost.)
Now, one of the nice things about being a newspaper columnist is that I have absolutely no hesitation about calling up perfect strangers.
So I called them when they were at Grandma's house. And they were a total delight: smart, sweet, enthusiastic and extremely polite - just like Malia and Sasha.
"The only reason we started the fan club was that we couldn't find a kid-based website on the Obama girls," said their grandma. "They were fascinated when I told them they could start their own fan club, where other kids could read about America's First Daughters."
The whole experience has been incredibly empowering, and it's had an unexpected bonus for Kaila, who previously disliked her birthday: July 4th.
"I could never get my friends to come over and celebrate with me because they were busy celebrating the holiday with their families," she explained.
Then, while doing research for the blog, she discovered that Malia's birthday is July 4th, too.
"It made me feel awesome! Now I LOVE being born on July 4th!"
Their fondest hope, of course, is to meet the Obama girls in person. But what will they say to them when they do?
"I'm just going to treat them like real people," said Kailysia. "A lot of people say, 'Oh gosh, you're the president's daughter!' But I'm going to treat them like we've been friends forever."
You can visit the Malia and Sasha Fan Club at http://kailysiakaila.blogspot.com/

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