Lice are not nice — just ask Natalie
Local sixth grader writes and sells children's book on the topic
In between homework and soccer practice, Los Altos sixth grader Natalie Lillie has a busy month of book signings, presentations and interviews.
The 11-year-old recently published 1,000 copies of her first book, "Natalie's Lice Aren't Nice," and has spent the last several weeks donating copies to the Mountain View and Los Altos elementary school districts and libraries. Lillie, who now has her own Library of Congress number and copyright, wrote the book after contracting a bad case of head lice.
Each year, 10 million people in the United States find the bugs in their hair, and Lillie wanted to educate readers about lice and how to avoid them.
"This is a true story about my experience with lice," Lillie told the Los Altos School District administrators and school board members earlier this week. "I felt I had to write this book."
Lillie got lice three years ago after sharing her hairbrush with a soccer friend. In her book, she writes about her three brothers getting buzz cuts to avoid the lice, missing school for several days and soaking her hair in mayonnaise.
Although she got to spend extra time with her mom baking and watching movies, Lillie said she worried her peers would think she was not clean, and that the several friends who caught the bugs would not forgive her.
"You are not dirty or different, you just have to tell people about it," Lillie said.
When she went back to school, she read her classmates a journal entry about having lice, hoping this would help them understand. Her godmother encouraged her to publish the story, and along with some help from her parents, Lillie, a confident girl, was able to print a thousand copies through a self-publishing company. An adult friend in Boston illustrated the story.
"I just wanted to get the story out," Lillie said.
Lillie will be at the local farmers market this Thursday, Sept. 11 to sign books and will appear on KGO later in the month to discuss lice with her pediatrician from Camino Medical Group. Her story also will be appearing in magazines and newspapers around the country, including the Boston Globe.
Lillie said she will donate any profits from the book to Head Start, where her godmother works.
EXCERPTS FROM 'NATALIE'S LICE AREN'T NICE'
My mom called the moms of everyone that I had played with in the last two weeks. It was hard for me to hear her tell them about my lice. I still wanted them to be my friends.
My brothers had to get buzz cuts. My dad didn't have to get one because he's already bald. My mom, who had long, beautiful red hair, got some nits too, but she got rid of them quickly (unlike me!).
Some days later, before I went back to school, mom and I had a talk about what I would tell all the other kids. I told her that I wanted to tell them the truth about having lice.
E-mail Casey Weiss at email@example.com