Yeardley Smith writes books now. I’m reading her children’s novel, I, Lorelei, right now and loving it. It just came out earlier this month, I think, and my review should be out soon.
I think everyone knows at this point how much I love children’s books. I think generally, a children’s book says a lot more about the current state of society and culture than your average adult novel. Of course, there are good novels and bad novels in every area, and “children’s book” is not a genre, it just denotes an audience, but still. I will go out on a limb and say that. And they’re just fun.
This one is good for many reasons, but I’ll only talk about two of them so I’m not cheating on my review. First, I loved the book from the first page because of the Marilyn Monroe references and the subsequent references to Scarlett O’Hara, “West Side Story,” and other things that adults will recognize, and un-cool kids will not. Lorelei’s middle name is Lee, which is a pretty obvious homage to the Lorelei Lee of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” Hooray!
And even better is the thing that I am always trying to explain to other writers and just to people in general, about how simple and necessary it is to subtly insert diversity into novels. Diversity is not a novel only about Mexican or Japanese or black people. It’s also not when you insert one Jewish character in a story for the sole purpose of inviting some sort of conflict or plot device directly relating to that person’s being Jewish. Sometimes people who aren’t WASPs just exist, and they’re not strange or different as a result. I, Lorelei has a perfect insertion of this–the “cutest boy” in the sixth grade is biracial. Perfect. Love it.
Any little thing can make me happy.