When Engineer Husband lets them, my daughters like to watch Satuday morning sit-coms featuring Hannah Montana and other clones and sidekicks (Josh Drake?) getting themselves in and out of middle school/high school escapades and dramas. I can picture each of the following novels as a Saturday morning sit com with various ideas and characters to explore.
Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies by Erin Dionne. Twelve year old Celeste Harris might be interested in becoming a model were it not for one BIG problem. Her body type and weight actually qualify her to try out for Miss Husky Peach, a job which would make her a model–for plus-sized clothing. When her aunt enters Celeste in the contest, thinking she’s doing her niece a great favor, Celeste is trapped. She doesn’t want to disappoint her mom or her aunt, but becoming Miss Husky Peach would make her life at school even more miserable than it already is. I can so see a made-for-TV movie or even a series built around the premise of the Miss Husky Peach Pageant. Celeste and her fellow plus-sized contestants would be great characters for a script-writer to explore and write about. In the book, Celeste ends up losing some weight and also becoming more comfortable with her body type. I thought the book’s treatment of girls with weight problems was balanced and realistic.
So Sit-Com #1: Miss Husky Peach.
The Kind of Friends We Used to Be by Frances O’Roark Dowell. Next on the Saturday morning line-up is Ms. Dowell’s books about surviving seventh grade. It has a sort of “make new friends, but keep the old” theme; in fact, that could be the theme song if someone would update it and put it to a rock beat. Kate and Marylin have been best friends practically all their lives, but now they’re moving in different directions. Marylin has joined the cheerleader squad, and Kate wants to wear black combat boots and become a girl guitar player on MTV2. Over the course of the novel, Kate and Marylin try to maintain their friendship, but they also make new friends, each of which could easily become a fully developed character inhis or her own right. That multiplicity of interesting characters makes The Kind of Friends We Used To Be intriguing as fodder for a TV series. Each week could feature a different character from Kate’s and Marylin’s school, such as:
Rhetta Mayes, the Goth artist preacher’s kid.
Flannery, the girl whose dad, Hawaii Bob, promised her a guitar but forgot to come home to give it to her.
Matthew Holler, the poet who likes arrowheads and bird feathers and interesting-shaped sticks.
Madison LaCarte, the novelist who needs to put a little more story in her stories.
Benjamin Huddle, the geeky but cute Student Government President.
I can see the episodes involving each of these minor characters being expanded into a thirty minute sit-com with interesting problems and a satisfying resolution at the end.
Sit-Com #2: Friends, or possibly Kate and Marylin (because the book tItle is too long).
My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald. Twelve year old Lucy Desberg tries to save her family’s drugstore and pharmacy with a series of ideas and projects, some good, others not so inspired. Lucy’s mom is comic relief, a ditzy optimist who takes on a series of causes and is convinced that she can save the world, or at least save the local dog park from being turned into a parking lot. Lucy’s grandma is the more practical type, worried about their family’s financially struggling pharmacy business. Another recurring character in this one would be Lucy’s best friend, Sunita, and one episode could be about Lucy’s attempts to help Sunita “get her man” when Sunita develops her first crush on fellow seventh grader Evan Mass. Lucy’s also a budding make-up artist, and she has several opportunities to help older girls learn to apply the make-up that they buy from the family drugstore. Each chapter of the book begins with either a beauty tip or a business tip, and the TV series could follow suit and begin in the same way.
TV series #3: My Life in Pink and Green.
The best possibility of the three? The Kind of Friends We Used to Be. However, maybe you could take all three books, extract the best characters and scenes from each one, and sort of mish-mosh them all together. Lots of twelve and thirteen year olds with twelve and thirteen year old problems relate to one another and resolve their issues in a half an hour on Saturday morning. I like the title My LIfe in Pink and Green.