Put on your best school clothes, because today we're celebrating Jill Santopolo's newest Sparkle Spa book, A Picture Perfect Mess!
The Tanner sisters must find a way to outshine some not-so-friendly competition—and keep the Sparkle Spa in the spotlight!—as school picture day approaches.
It’s almost time for picture day at Auden Elementary School, and the Sparkle Spa will make sure everyone looks picture perfect. But Aly Tanner’s arch rival, Suzy Davis, decides she knows how to make everyone look even better than Aly and Brooke do. Suzy will set up “shop” in the girls’ bathroom at school and let everyone use lip gloss and blush and mascara. Will Suzy’s plan really outsmart—and out sparkle—the Sparkle Spa?
We're delighted that Jill stopped by for some picture perfect celebrations. Here she is (with some special guests)!
When I sat down to write the sixth Sparkle Spa book, A Picture Perfect Mess, which is about what happens in the spa during the lead-up to school picture day, I realized that I had a problem. I hadn’t had a school picture taken in years—I think my last formal one was in college, and I’m not even sure if that counts—and I wasn’t sure if picture day was still similar to what I’d experienced 15-30ish years ago. So I decided I needed to do some research. I’d learned way back in elementary school that primary sources were the best kind to have, so I though an interview might do the trick. Luckily, I had the perfect subject right in my family. My 3-year-old niece Lily had recently experienced her first picture day, and agreed to an interview. My mom, Lily’s nana, was on hand too, to help out. I learned a lot—especially (and unexpectedly!) about the fact that Ariel nail polish is pink. Since it’s fun to give readers a glimpse of what happens during the creation of a book, I thought I’d share a piece of the transcript here:
Jill: Hey Lily, I’m going to write a book about picture day and I was wondering what I should put in there. Could you help me? What happens on picture day?
Lily: Tomorrow is dance class.
Jill: Oh that’s fun! Could you tell me what happened on picture day though? I need some help for my book.
Lily: They um took a picture of me and they gived me flowers actually.
Jill: Flowers! That’s nice. What was your favorite part of Picture Day?
Lily: When they called my name.
Nana: Why did they call your name?
Lily: To take my picture. You get to put the picture on your hand.
Jill: Your hand? Really?
Lily: Yeah, on your finger. I don’t have any nail polish on right now. It came off.
Jill: It came off? What color was your nail polish?
Lily: Um Ariel nail polish. It was pink.
Jill: I didn’t know Ariel was pink.
Lily: Just her nail polish.
Jill: I see. So when it was picture day, did you get to pick out a special outfit?
Lily: I picked out my um…Yesterday Josh and Sarah came and bringed me to Stella’s birthday party.
Nana: That wasn’t yesterday. That was a while ago. Did you pick our something special to wear on picture day? Did you pick out a special shirt?
Nana: What was it?
Lily: The shirt that I made at Stella’s birthday party.
Jill herself, looking good for picture day!
And now, of course, all I’m thinking about is whether I can somehow work a shirt decorating party into book nine…or maybe book ten. And if I do, whether Lily will let me interview her again. Because I haven’t been to a shirt decorating party in years either!
*Note: I did ask questions to parents of kids who are currently picture day age, and got some information for my book from them. For the rest of it, I relied on my own memories. It turns out picture day hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years at all.
We can attest to that! It seems like only yesterday Robin and Adi were getting their own portraits done . . .