This is my 100th blog post, so let’s celebrate with an extra-special book review. This book is currently out of print, so I spoke with the publisher and she told me she didn’t mind my posting the book in its entirety on my website.
As I am the author of the book, I agreed to be interviewed by an anonymous, sympathetic interviewer who we will all agree to pretend is not me. Suspension of disbelief, people!
ASI (Anonymous, Sympathetic Interviewer): Beth, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us about your book, “Beth’s Book of Pretty Girls (Written by Beth).”
Beth: It’s the product of an afternoon spent at my grandparents’ house. As a young girl, I was inspired by beautiful, strong women wearing sagging tube dresses. Cats and flowers figured largely into my fantasies as well, as you can see from the first page of the book. (shown below)
ASI: Could you tell us a little bit about the “NO” and arrow pointing to the cover image’s…skirt?
Beth: Well, as I was illustrating the cover, I realized my readers would most likely appreciate a non-example of what my book was about (i.e. an ugly girl). However, the title clearly says “…Pretty Girls” so I needed to succinctly indicate that the cover girl is indeed not pretty. [Truth: I was trying to draw a pretty girl, failed, but had already written out the title. As I was creating this masterpiece in ink, there was nothing to do but make sure the audience knew that I knew that the ugly girl on the cover was a mistake.]
ASI: I’m not sure how to put this delicately, but I notice there is a large number of typographical errors in this story.
Beth: Yes, my editors worked only part-time, and only when requested. For example, I recall asking for the spelling of “girls” for the cover page. At the time of writing, I couldn’t be bothered to ask for the spelling on subsequent pages, nor did I think to refer to the cover. Perhaps the cover had already gone into production and was unavailable; the details are fuzzy on this.
ASI: How old were you when this book was published?
Beth: I think I was five. Possibly six, although I’m pretty sure I knew how to spell “girl” by the time I reached first grade.
ASI: Have people likened your child genius-ness to other young authors such as Christopher Paolini and Hannah Moskowitz?
Beth: Not yet, but I think with the recent publicity of this book, “Beth’s Book of Pretty Girls (Written by Beth),” they will soon.
ASI: Even though you’re, um…no longer young?
Beth: I thought you were supposed to be a sympathetic interviewer?
ASI: Right. Tell us about page 2 of your book.
Beth: I didn’t want to limit my audience by focusing only on flower princesses. By adding the castle princess to the story, I feel I really moved out of a niche market and into a wider audience.
ASI: Any comments on those Edward Scissorhands-ian fingers?
Beth: Hands are difficult to draw. I was on a deadline. And long, pointy fingernails were all the rage in 1986.
ASI: Do you think the waistline of this figure sets up unreasonable body shape expectations for young girls?
Beth: I suppose you could ask the same question of Barbie and every single Disney princess. I think everyone should instead focus on her poofy sleeves.
ASI: The paper medium you utilized for this project is very unique.
Beth: Yes, printing costs were up, so I made do with scratch paper from a library’s card catalog. (Click here for a Wikipedia entry on what a card catalog is, you young whipper-snappers who’ve never heard of such a thing.) My maternal grandmother worked in a library for some years and kept us in good supply of scratch paper.
ASI: With the third page of your book, you really branched out.
Beth: Not wanting to limit my audience to princess-admirers, I included a rock-n-roll girl…complete with side ponytail and sticky-up bangs.
ASI: That’s amazing artwork. She’s wearing a sort of Disney Peter Pan dress.
Beth: That’s her cool mid-80s grunge rock dress.
ASI: Wasn’t grunge a 90s thing?
Beth: What’s the point of this interview exactly? I thought it was me, and my book.
ASI: Moving on to the last page of your book, we can see how you really experimented with textual and rhythmic forms.
Beth: I’m especially proud of my use of repetition as a literary device.
ASI: Let’s type out the text here to make sure all of our readers can catch it:
Pritty (girls) are very very Pritty.
Handsome boy’s are very very Handsome.
do you need a doll or do you Need a Boll.
two frot’s are moore fun then one [note: “frot’s” should be “fruits”]
Beth: I should confess that the last line was borrowed. From a commercial slogan, if I remember correctly.
ASI: Well, almost as amazing as the intelligence, insight, and industriousness of this book is the fact that you have remained the owner of the sole copy in existence for all these years.
Beth: I expect to start getting bids for the original any day now.
ASI: Well, folks, this is the only place you’ll find Beth’s Book of Pretty Girls (Written by Beth). Thanks for stopping by, Beth, and indulging my questions.
Beth: (gracefully, modestly, and looking ten pounds lighter) Any time. I’m happy to be here.
When I first got this twitter announcement, I was all, I wonder if *I* am in this book of pretty girls! And then I actually saw the book of pretty girls, and began hoping desperately I was NOT in the book of pretty girls. Hahaha, what a good way to start a cruddy Monday morning.
I like the first princess’ “bo.”
Haha, you’re hilarious. You would be in an updated, new printing of this book (with full-color, photographic illustrations that could do your beauty justice).
😛 You are silly. I hope I get Edward Scissorhands-like fingers. With dark purple-pink nail polish, please.
I have had the privilege and honor of viewing this book in person. The pictures do not to it justice. If you are planning to make a bid on this priceless work of art, I would think twice. It is most likely worth more than what you are able to bid.
Spoken like a true friend.
By the way, I am shocked at your artistic expertise at such a young age. It seems that your ability to draw cats at age 5-6 is better than my ability now.
Obsession does amazing things for artistic talent! 🙂
I wish I still had my first book. I don’t think I do though. I did still have it at one point, but it got lost somewhere in moving. It was a about me and my cabbage patch doll if I recall, I wrote it when I was six. Of course there was also a book I made in kinder (preschool) about Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz,, but since I copied that from the movie I don’t think it counts.
I must say both the illustrations and the writing (and spelling) are quite remarkable for a five year old, I would have guessed it was written by an eight or nine year old.
Oh, Jo, I hope your first book shows up and didn’t get lost forever! It’s so fun to look back on them. I could be wrong about the age I wrote this, but my memories place it early on. I was writing from before I knew how to spell, though. I remember taking pens and making swirls all over paper and pretending it was cursive. 🙂
After a crummy, horrible, no good, rotten day…this blog has lifted my spirits! Remember when you challenged me recently to post reasons why my children were (are) geniuses? I think you just made my point. And, well, if not genius, definitely inspiring, heart-lifting and I could go on, but I am not as prolific as my daughter.
PS Do you still have the book about flowers that you wrote?
I’m glad my blog cheered you up today/yesterday, Mom. I don’t remember the flower book. Which one was that?