In November of 1984 I was on a book tour of the High Arctic sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and the Canada Council for the Arts. Unfortunately, I got stuck on Victoria Island in the Arctic Ocean for a few days because of a blizzard, and I missed the storytelling I was supposed to do in Yellowknife.
The library organized a sort of emergency storytelling once my plane got in. So there I was telling stories to a group that was mainly little kids except for two teenage girls. I do not know why they were there. Maybe they thought I was a rock star. I tried to think of a story that a teenage girl might like and MAKEUP was what came out.
(The day after I first told MAKEUP, I flew across Great Slave Lake to Hay River and there made up MOIRA’S BIRTHDAY. It has been a book since 1987. Even though it was made up a day later, it got to be a book first. This leaves only a story called DIRTY SOX, which I made up the same day in 1984. It is still waiting to become a book.)
I did not think MAKEUP was very good at the time, and I did not get the name of the kid who was in it. In fact, I forgot about it for a few years and then for some reason I started telling it again.(This happens a lot with my stories!) It quickly joined the list of stories that I told at every telling. There were always lots of kids in the audience who wanted to be in a makeup story.
When I finally decided to make it into a book I used my daughter Julie as the kid in the book. This made lots of sense as Julie was (and still is at age 26) a great lover of makeup, and in 1984 had just discovered eye shadow. So I was really thinking of her when I make up the story.
The original ending had Julie’s mom buying the makeup and going up the stairs saying, “Now I am going to make myself Beeeeautiful!”
Once Scholastic agreed to make it into a book, I started playing around with the ending. First I came up with the ending where all Julie’s friends buy the makeup, and then I came up with the idea that Julie bought candy with the money she got. <—— Dumb ending!
The present ending came out of a meeting with Michael Martchenko, where we were trying to figure out the pictures for the story. Somehow in the process, the whole ending changed to what is is now. I had lots of pictures of Julie, including several where she was playing dress up. I think that is what gave us the idea. The last picture in the book is an almost exact copy of one of the dress up pictures of Julie.
Look at MOIRA’S BIRTHDAY for a description of the trip that led to the MAKEUP story.