Thursday, September 8, 2011
Nobody Cares How You Wear Your Hair, Darlin'
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton knows this. Newly thin, he has become quite image conscious and that's what drove him, perhaps, to write the fashionable children's book, "The Boy with Pink Hair" (Penguin Group (USA) Inc).
In 1948, Dean Stockwell played an 11-year-old boy whose hair turns green in the Joseph Losey film appropriately titled, "The Boy with Green Hair." After his parents (Americans in London) are killed during the Blitz, the boy's hair gets to be this way, presumably from trauma. Or maybe it's something in the air over there. Anyhow, the movie is generally regarded as a parable about social prejudice with a pacifist message I've been told. Subsequently, Losey was blacklisted during the McCarthy hearings just for saying, essentially, "It's not easy being green." That was one bad hair day, although Losey went on to famously direct in the UK and Europe, attaining critical acclaim for films like "Accident,""The Servant" and "The Go-Between." He also directed "Modesty Blaise," "Boom!" (a bomb with the Burtons) and the notorious "Secret Ceremony" (Liz and Mia Farrow (not still sporting her celebrated Vidal Sassoon cut)). So there you have it.
I'm sure Perez Hilton knows all this, too. But "The Boy with Pink Hair," while also using hair as a metaphor, stays on its positive message, restated in the book to make sure every child, no matter how dull, gets it. (No child left behind here.) The message? "Your difference makes a difference." Deep? No. Good for children? I believe it is.
Cartoonist and children's illustrator Jen Hill's work here is joyously goofy and nicely representative of the story's tone and narrative.
Perez, known to be good friends with Lady Gaga, begins the book, "He was born that way...." Coincidence or tie-in? You decide.
Blurbs on the back jacket heap praise on the book. They come from such discriminating literary connoisseurs as Lady Gaga herself, Cher, Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Dolly Parton and Selena Gomez. Does that give you an idea of the book's target audience? It ain't just kids, honeys. After all, we've gone from green hair to pink on the color coding spectrum, and this kid likes to cook, too.
"'Surprise,' he said as he presented a delicious pink marshmallow sandwich with pink potato chips." If your child is a diabetic or if nutrition is important for your family, this may not be the children's book at the top of your list. But if you want a story perfect for very young attention spans (and me) that's seemingly silly but actually soft-sells a positive message about self-esteem, you might want to consider this for your holiday gift list.
This may very well be the gayest children's book since Bette Midler's "The Saga of Baby Divine," though maybe not quite that gay. Available at Barnes & Nobles stores and on-line, Amazon.com or, in Chelsea NYC, at Rainbows and Triangles, 8th Ave betw. 19th & 20th Streets.