Close to Famous

It’s time once again, dear readers, to bring you one of the nominees for the 2013-2014 South Carolina Children’s Book Award. Last night, I finished reading Close to Famous by Joan Bauer. This SCCBA nominee was a fast read, but it packed an emotional punch…and it kind of made me want a cupcake.

Foster McFee and her mom have just run away from their home in Memphis. Somehow, they end up in Culpepper, West Virginia, and they’re looking to start fresh…and maybe make a few of their dreams come true.

Foster dreams of being the first kid chef on the Food Network. She’s inspired by her favorite celebrity chef, Sonny Kroll, and Foster spends much of her time trying out new recipes. Soon enough, her new neighbors realize that Foster is a star baker, and this girl who has troubles to spare is making a name for herself in this small town. She may also find that her troubles aren’t as big as they seem when new friends share the burden.

Foster’s mom, Rayka, dreams of being a singer. Sure, she’s had jobs before as a backup singer, but she wants to really show the world what she can do. If only she can escape a menace that’s followed her from Memphis…

The people of Culpepper welcome Foster and her mom into their town, and it will become clear that the McFees have brought some positive changes with them. Not only are Foster and Rayka on the verge of realizing their dreams, but they may just start something that will help everyone in the town.

Is Culpepper, West Virginia, ready for what’s coming? Foster, her mom, and the residents of Culpepper may not be famous yet, but they’re getting close…

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Close to Famous, and I think many of my female students will devour it. (The cover alone might be enough to drive some of the boys away.) Foster’s voice was both vulnerable and totally believable, and I think many students could relate to her struggles. Truthfully, I think any reader can relate to some of what Foster goes through. After all, haven’t we all had a dream that seems unattainable? I know I have (and still do, if I’m being totally honest).

I only have one complaint about this book. Where are the recipes?! I read so much about Foster’s delectable muffins, cookies, and cupcakes, but there were no recipes to guide me in creating my own concoctions. How disappointing! At any rate, I think this would be a fun book club pick, and those that attended the book club could bring their own homemade baked goods with plenty of recipes to share with the group.

For more information on Close to Famous and the many works by Joan Bauer, visit http://www.joanbauer.com/.

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