In Cathy's Book, a young adult novel to be published in September, the spunky eponymous heroine talks about wearing "a killer coat of Lipslicks in Daring."
As it turns out, Lipslicks is a line of lip gloss made by Cover Girl, which has signed an unusual marketing partnership with Running Press, the unit of Perseus Books Group that is publishing the novel.
Cover Girl, which is owned by the consumer products giant Procter & Gamble, has neither paid the publisher nor the book's authors, Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, for the privilege of having their makeup showcased in the novel. But Procter will promote the book on Beinggirl.com, a Web site directed at adolescent girls that has games, advice on handling puberty and, yes, makeup tips.
Apparently they decided against a similar mention of Tampax, for which we can probably all be grateful.
We're used to blatant product placement in films and on TV, but in kid lit?
It's an extraordinary development, although I suppose one shouldn't be surprised. Thin edge. Wedge. Shoulda seen that coming.
But surely as authors for children we have a particular duty of care to ensure authenticity, transparency - not to mention reader credibility. Surely we ought to be on the side, as Maxwell Smart would say, of the forces of goodness and niceness?
Or am I just bitter because you can't do product placement in historical fiction?
"She grabbed her Wilkinson Sword replica chromed cutlass and shoved it into the Tiffany scabbard that hung from her stylish-yet-practical DKNY belt."
Maybe I should try chick lit instead?