Frank and funny, Jamie Lee Curtis talks about all things to do with her new best-selling picture book, parenting, plus her latest movie role.
My Mommy Hung the Moon is your ninth bestselling picture book. Tell me about the story behind it.
It's a book about mother love. It's a book about that incredible bond between a mom and a child.
What led you to write it?
I've written quite a few books now with this 'books to grow by' banner: books about ideas, feelings and the complications of being a young person. What popped into my mind this time was this discussion of 'mother love,' and that a mother is everything for a child. That hadn't been talked about as much. We've sort of missed the boat on remembering that the most important relationship a child has is with her mother. So I felt that it was time.
Did your own mother inspire you while writing?
No, but of course, if you write a book called, My Mommy Hung the Moon, you think fondly of your own mother. And, although this book wasn't written about my mother - it was written about my relationship with my son [Tom] - I of course loved my mother and respected her for all that she was able to provide me. It was dedicated to my mother.
How did you end up partnering with Laura Cornell?
I partnered with her years ago when I was writing my first book, When I Was Little: A Four Year Old's Memoir of Her Youth, when I realized that I wanted an illustrator that drew pictures that looked like real life.
There was a book that I had - my daughter's name is Anne, and the book was Annie Bananie, and the illustrations made me laugh because they looked like real kids. They had scabs on their knees, their teeth were missing, their hair was askew, and it's how I felt growing up. I did not feel like a pretty child the way illustrations make all children look really pretty. I was much more aligned with Pipi Longstocking. The drawings were wacky and funny and had great perspective, so I asked if she could do my first book 20 years ago.
I know! And we've done nine books together and we're just heading into our tenth.
My son became an instant fan of the book, and it now has a permanent home on his nightstand. I think it's the rainbow illustration that really caught his attention.
It's such a beautiful picture. That's the illustration that Harper Collins picked as the poster for the book.
And the birds where the kids learn how to burp… I mean, I think the illustrations are [Laura's] best ever. I think she's more inventive with these illustrations than she's ever been and I'm just thrilled to be able to partner with her.
You were just at a book-signing event at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville.
Anderson's is absolutely one of my most favorite places I've ever been. I just think back - we did Anderson's once - and I remember saying, 'This is what it should be.' It's local, it's hamish, which is a Yiddish word for 'family,' and it's for readers. The people who buy books from Anderson's are readers. They love the printed word.
You have a new movie, You Again, coming out Sept. 24 that stars a great mix of gals like Betty White and Sigourney Weaver. Will it explore those complications of being a young person you touched on earlier?
The movie is everybody's worst nightmare. The girl that ruined your life in high school comes back when you're, in this case, a young adult, and marries your brother. Then, the girl who's marrying my son in the movie - her aunt is the family member who comes for the wedding, and turns out to be my high school enemy. So, two generations of high school enemies are marrying into the same family.
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.