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Castellucci, Cecil 1969-

Castellucci, Cecil 1969-

Personal

Born 1969, in New York, NY; daughter of scientists. Education: Concordia University, B.F.A.; studied theatre at École Florent (Paris, France), and The Groundlings (Los Angeles, CA).

Addresses

Home—Los Angeles, CA. Home and office—P.O. Box 29095, Los Angeles, CA 90039. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Musician and entertainer. Alpha 60 Film Club, founding member; film writer and director; MTV, field producer of Big Urban Myth Show; performance artist; indie rock musician.

Awards, Honors

Explorations film grant, Canada Council; PAFPS grant, National Film Board of Canada; named Hero in Education, California State Lottery, 2001.

Writings

YOUNG ADULT NOVELS

Boy Proof, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Queen of Cool, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Beige, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007.

Also author of The P.L.A.I.N. Janes, a graphic novel illustrated by Jim Rugg and published by DC Comics. Screenwriter and director of Happy Is Not Hard to Be; writer of numerous performance pieces, including "The Shirt and Other Awkward Stories," "The Ladies' Room," and "My Heart, the Whore."

Adaptations

Boy Proof was adapted for audiobook by Recorded Books, 2006.

Sidelights

Writing is just one of Cecil Castellucci's many interests; she is also a film director, a performance artist, an indie rock musician who performs under the name Nerdy Girl, and a frequent volunteer at reading programs for children. It was as a result of her volunteer interests that Castellucci read a large number of young-adult novels. With Boy Proof she took the next step and produced a novel of her own. In her new career as a young-adult novelist, Castellucci has also produced the teen reads The Queen of Cool and Beige, as well as the text for the graphic novel The P.L.A.I.N. Janes, part of D.C. Comics' girl-focused Minx imprint.

At the center of Boy Proof is Victoria, a "brooding, smart, self-confident narrator," in the words of Horn Book contributor Christine H. Heppermann. With her shaved head and assorted body piercings, Egg—as Victoria is known among her friend—is pretty sure she is "boy proof." The young woman's life as the daughter of a special-effects artist and a television star working on a comeback has given her a very cynical outlook on Hollywood and the wider world that seems to focus on celebrities as if they truly mattered. Despite the exterior she has created for the world at large, Victoria is a straight-A student with a sharp mind and an affection

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for monster movies. Her cinematic interests, in addition to providing her with a creative outlet, gives her a chance to argue with the members of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy Club, who refuse to share the same viewpoint on Hollywood. When Max Garter transfers into Victoria's prep school, all the teen's assumptions begin to fragment. In addition to a growing love interest, Victoria has to deal with her parents' impending divorce and her mother's efforts to win the teen to her side. Jealousy and disillusionment also enter the mix in Castellucci's coming-of-age tale.

Although Boy Proof was characterized by Kliatt contributor Claire Rosser as "basically a school story," the critic added that in Castellucci's take on the classic teen genre, the story is set apart by its "unusual characters—the artistic, intellectual geeks who rarely get attention in YA novels." In her Booklist review, Hazel Rochman predicted that Castellucci's "clipped, funny, first-person, present-tense narrative will grab teens … with its romance and the screwball special effects." A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that Victoria's "journey to shed her trappings and to confidently inhabit her own charac- ter is one readers won't want to miss," while in Kirkus Reviews a writer deemed Castellucci's debut novel "an unusual, successful, appealing effort."

Castellucci introduces another teen heroine, sixteen-year-old Libby Brin, in The Queen of Cool, described by Horn Book contributor Christine Heppermann as an "engaging first-person narrative" that reveals the "vacuous existence of teens with no interests other than themselves." Bored with her best-of-everything life, parties, high-fashion clothes, and an endless string of shallow and interchangeable friends of both sexes, Libby acts out her frustration by disrupting the Fall Formal at her exclusive private high school. Realizing that something in her life is terribly wrong, she then surprises even herself by volunteering at the Los Angeles zoo, where an interest in science and relationships with two unusual friends help the teen add the missing emotional pieces to her life. "Castellucci clearly knows what goes on in the lives of many teens," noted Gail E. Wellman in a School Library Journal appraisal of the novel, the critic adding that the book's engaging prose and "satisfying ending" will attract even reluctant readers. In a Kirkus Reviews appraisal of The Queen of Cool, a reviewer dubbed Castellucci's novel a "smart, edgy take

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on one adolescent's search for identity and meaning in life," while in Kliatt Myrna Marler described the action as "fast-paced with quick cuts from scene to scene a la MTV." Praising Libby's "lively, intimate" narration, Shelle Rosenfeld concluded in Booklist that The Queen of Cool provides teen readers with a "quick, engaging read."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Boy Proof, p. 1072; February 15, 2006, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of The Queen of Cool, p. 90.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2006, review of The Queen of Cool, p. 346.

Horn Book, May-June, 2005, Christine H. Heppermann, review of Boy Proof, p. 322; March-April, 2006, Christine M. Heppermann, review of The Queen of Cool, p. 182.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2005, review of Boy Proof, p. 175; February 15, 2006, review of Kirkus Reviews, p. 179.

Kliatt, March, 2005, Claire Rosser, review of Boy Proof, p. 8; March, 2006, Myrna Marler, review of The Queen of Cool, p. 8.

Publishers Weekly, February 21, 2005, review of Boy Proof, p. 176; June 27, 2005, "Flying Starts," p. 27; February 20, 2006, review of The Queen of Cool, p. 158.

School Library Journal, April, 2005, Sarah Couri, review of Boy Proof, p. 129 March, 2006, Gail E. Wellman, review of The Queen of Cool, p. 220.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2006, C.J. Bott, review of The Queen of Cool, p. 482.

ONLINE

Cecil Castellucci Home Page, http://home.earthlink.net/~seaskull (June 3, 2005).

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