Little Miss Sunshine directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris are the belles of the ball; their “indie” film is a smash hit and headed for award season kudos. So what’s next for them? It could bean adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s upcoming novel, The Abstinence Teacher.

Perrotta wrote the book and screenplay for one of this year’s most poorly treated great films, Little Children, which New Line has kept on less than 40 screens. They’re saying they’ll be expanding it in the new year for Oscar buzz, but I wonder if the fact that the movie has been sitting around for months will hurt it. I hope not – it’s a terrific bit of filmmaking, and much of the credit goes to Perrotta’s funny and poignant script.

The Abstinence Teacher is about “a divorced sex ed teacher in middle America who is at odds with the town’s more conservative groups. At the same time, she finds herself falling for her daughter’s born-again soccer coach.” Which sounds like it’s right in prime Perrotta land – he also wrote Election, the great high school film starring Matthew Broderick.

The book would be coming out sometime next year. In the meantime Perrotta will write the screenplay, which is great news. I thought Little Miss Sunshine was entertaining but in no way special, which was mostly because of the highly artificial nature of the script. Dayton and Faris seemed like a talented directing combo, so it’ll be interesting to see what they can do with Perrotta’s book.