Title: Close to Famous
Genre: Fiction, Realistic, Cooking, Learning Disabilities, Friendship
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Today I am home with a sick child and we are entertaining ourselves by watching "Cupcake Wars." I am being reminded at every commercial break of three things: (1) my daughter desperately thinks the Food Network should have challenges for kids...and she wants to be the first to participate, of course; (2) I am incredibly hungry for cupcakes; and (3) I haven't written up my review for this wonderful book with the yummy cover!
Foster McPhee barely graduated 6th grade. She clearly cannot read, but was pretty good at hiding her learning disability. Either that, or her teachers took sympathy on her. Foster's dad died while serving in Iraq and all that she has left is a pillowcase of mementos and letters from him that she cannot read.
Now it is the summer before 7th grade and Foster and her mother have had to runaway in the middle of the night to escape mom's abusive boyfriend. She has to start over, in a new town, and eventually at a new school. While she dreads school, and that people may find out that she cannot read, there is one thing that Foster loves: baking. Specifically, baking cupcakes. And she is a pretty talented baker, who even starts her own cupcake business in town. Foster idolizes Food Network stars and practices for when she has her own show all the time.
Foster cupcakes help her make new friends, but she is afraid to tell anyone her secret. Will she ever trust someone enough to let them help her? Can cupcakes save the world, or at least Foster's little corner of it?
I am a HUGE fan of Joan Bauer and have to admit that this is one of the galleys that I was most excited to read from the stash I received in January. Foster is such a well drawn character, who has issues and adversities to overcome, but it ultimately hopeful and full of dreams. As in many of Bauer's novels, the supporting characters are quirky and add dimension to the story. This book has a "small town feel" to it, and a charm about it that will leave a smile on your face. I love how even though life has knocked her down, Foster never lets go of her cupcake-baking dreams of stardom.
And, of course, I love all the mention of cupcakes! The only thing that could have made this book better was an inclusion of the recipes at the end. This is a terrific middle school introduction to Bauer, that I hope my students will enjoy as much as I did. I also know this will lead them to the author's other wonderful books!