Close to Famous Joan Bauer
Foster and her Mama left Memphis in the middle of the night, on the run from a boyfriend gone bad. They end up in Culpepper, WV, where they find a town dominated by the new prison--a prison that was supposed to give the town jobs and revililization, but didn't.
All Foster wants to do is bake, and have her own cooking show. When life gets rough, she just pretends she's on camera and narrates her cooking, practicing for her big break.
Meanwhile, there's a recluse movie star who sees Foster's hidden shame (she can't read), a budding documentary filmaker (who doesn't have a camera), a church that needs saving, and a robotic tarantula.
We have a small town full of quirky characters and a plucky girl who's new to town and saves the day and really, just a lot of tropes and themes that usually make me roll by eyes, BUT NOT THIS TIME. Foster's voice and determination to bake got me right from the start. I LOVE when she pretends she's on camera-- she's got it down perfectly and obviously uses it to work out her thoughts in a very fun way. They way Bauer draws side characters gives them a little more depth (and humor) than average. I especially loved the dynamic between the prison and the town--it's a fascinating issue and one that Bauer handles well and except for one scene, the prison isn't a scary presence. I liked how she explored how the town deals with the promised prosperity that failed to materialize.
I had to read this one for a training and wasn't expecting to love it as much as I do.
One note-- this was Schneider Family Book Award winner. The Schneider Family award "honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences." I assume it won because Foster can't read. The only problem is, that assumes Foster can't read because of a learning disability. WHY Foster can't read is never really discussed and a disability is only 1 possible explanation. (I mean, Doug Swieteck can't read either, but that's just because he never had good instruction, not because of a learning disability.) That's not to detract from the book at ALL, mostly a committee process thing that I'm curious about.
Book Provided by... my local library
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