Review: Presenting Tallulah

Presenting . . . Tallulah by Tori Spelling and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton. Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. 2010. Reviewed from copy from publisher.

The Plot: Poor little rich girl Tallulah finds a friend and asserts her own identity.

The Good: I know, I know. A picture book by a celebrity author.

But you know what? I LOVE Tori Spelling. From 90210 to Awake to Danger (based on a YA book by Joan Lowery Nixon) to Mother, May I Sleep With Danger to her reality shows with her husband, Dean.

What I enjoyed about this book:

Spelling says the story is loosely based on her childhood. She talks about reading with her children and wanting to write a book for them.

All the booksigning photographs from Brantley-Newton’s (the illustrator) blog.

The “rich girl” aspects of Tallulah’s life are from those great illustrations, not the text, which shows a union of pictures and text in illustrating Tallulah’s rich girl status. “Tallulah was not supposed to get dirty,” while a girl in fancy dress and many ribbons stares at a lawn with fountain, grass, and two gardeners.

Tallulah’s parents dress her up as a doll : “Tallulah was not allowed to wear jeans to school. Or keep her hair down the way she wanted. Or wear the sneakers that all the other kids wore.” An unhappy looking little girl, in an uncomfortable looking dress with more ribbons and fancy shoes. Better yet? The illustration is one at a store, with mother in high heels with long nails as behind Tallulah, all sorts of kids are having fun in comfortable clothes, shoes, and sometimes jeans. As I looked at the picture, I thought, “Tallulah’s mother is wearing awesome shoes.”

Tallulah (the stand-in for Tori) is white and blonde like Spelling, but her classmates are a range of colors. I like that Brantley-Newton has made Tallulah’s school and friendships diverse.

Max is a snazzy dresser. The text doesn’t tell us whether Max is different because, like Tallulah, he has parents who send him overdressed to school (he’s in a suit and tie) or because he is in a suit and tie because he wants to be.

Tallulah asserts her sense of identity and self by both saving a puppy and getting dirty and standing up to her mother and her father . . .  and the housekeeper.

Who is this book for? For people like me, who follow Tori on Twitter and laugh with her at the version of her life she presents on camera. And as such, with its illustrations of uniformed servants and stretch limos bringing a small child to school, and with an ending of Tallulah striving for what she sees as normalcy (much like Tori herself has done with her husband Dean and two children), it delivers. Bonus points in that Brantley-Newton shows Tallulah dressing up her new puppy in a skirt.

2 thoughts on “Review: Presenting Tallulah

  1. How is the actual word-choice, sentence-structure, read-aloud-cadence writing? Full of cliches (like most celebrity books) or fresh and spontaneous like Ms. Spelling can sometimes be? Condescending and pendantic (like most celebrity books) or does she have a feel for a child’s version and vision of the world?

    Just wondering.


  2. Leslie, I’ll leave it to others to review it as a picture book on its own. Within th spectrum of picture books by celebrities? It’s one of the better ones. And I really liked the interplay between illustration and text because the pictures almost paint a more Tori-like childhood than the text did.


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