Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Close to Famous --Joan Bauer

On my latest visit to the library, I spotted a Joan Bauer book on the New Books shelf and couldn't wait to take it home and read it. Bauer is one of those reliable authors that I always know I'm going to enjoy. Her books contain many of the same elements: a strong female heroine, family conflict, humor and growth. The main character usually starts off troubled and confused at the beginning, but by the end she gains the strength and insight to believe in herself.  I first read Bauer's books a few years ago and they have always stuck with me.  Bauer's books deal with difficult issues, but things are never too dark turning to humor rather than sadness.  These are great books for late elementary and middle school girls.

Her latest book, Close to Famous, uses cooking as its focus. An overused devise, but still works here especially if you love to cook.  Foster and her Mother flee Memphis in the middle of the night to escape her mother's abusive boyfriend.  After driving aimlessly they end up in the tiny town of Culpepper, West Virginia, a run down town with its own mix of quirky residents. Foster faces many challenges including: the death of her dad in the Iraq War; her mother's complicated past with abuse; her learning disability that has made her feel stupid; and her mother's fear of never learning how to come out of the background and let herself shine.  Foster's escape from her everyday life is her love of cooking.  She uses her gift to create wonderful cupcakes that have the ability to win over anyone and (in a tense situation) save the day.

I love Bauer's simple straight forward style of writing, her wonderful characters, her dealing of difficult issues in a light, humorous way and her constant message of hope.  Bauer's books have won numerous awards including a Newberry Honor. To learn more about Joan Bauer and read more about her other books, check out her great website www.joanbauer.com.

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