Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

I haven’t read anything by her in a long time, but she’d been one of my favorite authors, especially in terms of writing things that are funny. So on Monday when I saw that a book by her was awarded a Schneider Family Award I immediately put it on hold.  I’ve just started but had to jot down three initial impressions:

  • the main character loves to bake and longs to have a food show–reminiscent of Squashed.  I loved Squashed so much, especially the parts about cooking.  To this day I can’t make homemade ice cream without thinking about the character making coconut ice cream with “plenty of Angel Flake coconut.”
  • it starts with a car trip, which reminds me of Rules of the Road.  A wonderful road trip story by her.
  • The cover is a photo and for once a cover photo actually reflects a detail in the story (the apron)

Well, finished and a very enjoyable read.  I didn’t love it as much as her other books, but I think that’s simply because this is for a younger reader than the teen books I liked.  It was refreshing that she got along with her mother.  So main character (why can’t I remember characters’ names??) and mother flee Nashville after her mom has a run in with her nasty boyfriend. They stop in a small town that is down on its luck, especially since a prison opened on the edge of town.  Jobs are vanishing and people are leaving.  There is, curiously, one very famous resident of the town-a Grammy and Emmy winning, and Oscar nominated actress has left Hollywood to live there.  Foster (I looked up her name) worms her way into the heart of the town by baking her outrageously delicious cupcakes and muffins.  She even gets to know the reclusive actress.  For all her success with baking, though, Foster has one challenge she just can’t get hurdle-reading.  Foster is dyslexic and haunted by her mean teacher’s comments.  With the help of the town, though, Foster is able to tackle reading head on.

I loved the parts where Foster pretends she is on a cooking showing on the Food Network and narrates her cooking and provides commentaries on life, too.  Foster is courageous, and so is her mother.  Very heartwarming.

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