Saturday, May 28, 2011

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

closeNow here’s the way to write a book in a folksy way without being irritating! The beginning tells it all: “The last place I thought I’d be when this day began is where I am, which is in a car. Mama’s car to be exact, and she’s driving headstrong through downtown Memphis with an Elvis impersonator on our tail.” 12-year-old Foster tells my favorite kind of story – funny/sad, and there’s plenty to be sad about. After Foster’s dad was killed in Iraq, her mom got mixed up with the wrong kind of guy, the aforementioned Elvis impersonator, in fact, and now they have to run away in the middle of the night. Things get even worse when Foster realizes when they finally stop running that she doesn’t have the pillowcase she keeps her special things in, including her dad’s dogtags. Luckily, Foster has a lot going for her, too. To begin with, she’s an amazing baker who’s determined to become the youngest Food Network star to have their own cooking show. She and her mom are really close, and she seems to make friends wherever she goes. She even makes friends with the aging reclusive movie star Miss Charleena, who is the first person in their new town of Culpepper to realize that Foster can’t read. They strike a bargain: Foster will teach Miss Charleena to cook, and Miss Charleena will teach Foster to read. When her favorite Food Network star, Sonny, is out of commission from a motorcycle accident, Foster (with the help of her new friend Macon, a future filmmaker who just got his first camera phone) sends him a recording of herself doing a special cooking show just for him. By the time Sonny sends her a letter back, she can pretty much read it herself! Review by Stacy Church

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