THE GAZETTE | Bernie Goedhart | September 28, 2012
Montreal Gazette says Rookie Yearbook One “gives kids credit for brains”
When I was a teenager, many decades ago, Seventeen Magazine was the go-to publication. That, and fan magazines like 16 or Tiger Beat. They contained plenty of photos and what now looks like superficial fluff but, other than letters to the editor, I don’t remember there being much content that was actually written by teenagers. I think only adults edited those publications.
Not so with Rookie: Yearbook One.
Oh, it has its share of adult involvement. But the single most influential voice behind this hefty paperback volume is definitely a teenager’s. An unusually resourceful and productive teenager, but a teenager all the same.
Tavi Gevinson, 16, who lives in Oak Park, Ill., began making a name for herself in 2008, when she was just 11 years old and started a personal blog called Style Rookie. Clearly, it spoke to other young fashionistas, because within two years it was averaging many thousands of hits a day. Famous designers took note and began inviting Gevinson to their fashion shows and parties. Her interests have grown beyond fashion into culture and feminism since then; last year she launched Rookie, a website for adolescent girls where they can share “a bunch of writing and art we like and believe in.” Turns out that makes for quite an eclectic mix, consisting of monthly themed content (e.g. Beginnings, Secrets, Home, Obsession, Power) that includes memoirish material, music lists, style and fashion photos, real-people profiles and revealing interviews with such luminaries as filmmaker John Waters, graphic novelist Daniel Clowes and author/humourist David Sedaris. Clearly not just fluff stuff.
Team Rookie has built up a loyal following online and now takes the best of that material and presents it in book form, published by Montreal’s own Drawn & Quarterly. Generously illustrated, it comes with such bonuses as a stickers page, pop-out crown and bright red audio flexi-disc featuring the Dum Dum Girls.
Rookie — both in print and online at www.rookiemag.com — is the voice of smart, creative young girls on their way to becoming confident, unique young women. It celebrates the individual. It applauds standing out from the crowd, and it deals with issues that crop up in teenage lives: everything from dating, unrequited love, body image, drug use, eating disorders, sexual harassment, alcohol, masturbation, fashion, music, film and literature. It does so without talking down to young people and sometimes in ways that could make parents squirm. But it gives kids credit for brains and, as such, is credible with its target audience. And fun. And thought-provoking. Wish I’d had a copy during my high school years.