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Less is more, darling.

Dear Tyra:

As host of America’s Next Top Model, you’ve given many well-deserved dressings down (literally) to the overeager, overdone girls on the runway. “Remove that belt,” you might say; “Take off those shoulder-duster earrings;” “That teased-out hair? Slick it back into a low ponytail. Now you look like a model.”

And now you look like a YA author, Ms. Banks, with your debut fantasy Modelland (Random House, September). Tookie De La Crème is an outcast, misfit “Forgetta-girl”: “whose face not even the meanest person you know would describe as yuck but who you’d never in a million—no, a trillion years describe as alluring either.” Tookie gains unlikely admission to ultra-exclusive—and slightly sinister—Modelland. ANTM style, the book features fabulous fashion, to-die-for makeovers, and a sassy Tyra-esque narrative voice (not to mention fierce melodrama, extreme superficiality, backstabbing, and self-obsession).

But, Tyra, hon, your book—“first novel in a trilogy where dreams come true and life can change in the blink of a smoky eye. ;)”—is 563 pages long (plus six pages of acknowledgments). Like street fashion in the ‘80s, there’s just too much going on—part Cinderella, part Harry Potter, some Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a little Hunger Games, some Judy Blume angst. It’s overkill.

Our advice? For book two, think “cocktail dress”: short and tight. Remove some accessories and let’s see what’s actually there.

Fiercely yours,
The Horn Book Guide

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.



  1. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    I’ve never watched this show and don’t want to but can you explain something? On Project Runway, the designers pick the accessories (from the Shoofly wall). Why is Tyra picking on the girls for a skill they won’t need?

    I want Nina Garcia to write a YA. About a girl who overcomes being too short, shiny and cheap.

  2. On ANTM (unlike Project Runway), no one is required to choose accessories, thoughtfully or otherwise, from a wall. Like PR, there’s a judging panel that alternately praises/rips to shreds the contestants. The ladies are primarily judged by their photographs, but also by the way they present themselves to the panel. Success usually comes from either looking as generic and severe as possible (“like a model”) or looking like a cuckoo, but in a fashion-forward way.

  3. To paraphrase Fitty himself:
    1. The right pair of jeans can do wonders for a figure:
    “When your ass is as big as mine is, you have limited options in the wardrobe department, but I did have one old-school pair of baggy jeans that my mom always said looked ‘slimming.'” (p.137 of galley)

    And, of course,
    Shoes make the man:
    “My Nikes X-Series had been the coolest shoes ever when I got them almost two years ago…even if those shoes had seen better days, they still looked pretty hot.” (p.11)
    “I HAD to ask him for some new shoes…My dad definitely understood the importance of a man looking his best…” (p.46)
    “…my eyes landed right on the Air Foamposites display…they even had them in cobalt blue. They were the most beautiful shoes I’d ever seen and then some.” (p. 80)

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