Monday, January 26, 2015

MMGM: Close to Famous

I found CLOSE TO FAMOUS on the YA shelf at my local library. I was on one of my “what’s on the new shelf” missions. I was immediately drawn in by the cupcakes on a plate cover, but seeing that it was in the teen section, I assumed it was about a teen wanting to be on a cooking show with a little teen romance on the side.

It wasn’t till I was in the middle of chapter one that I paused. Hey, this girl is going into middle school and the language is much simpler than YA. I’m not sure why it was shelved with the teen novels, but I was so glad to discover another marvelous MG! 

Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

When twelve-year-old Foster and her mother land in the tiny town of Culpepper, they don't know what to expect. But folks quickly warm to the woman with the great voice and the girl who can bake like nobody's business. Soon Foster - who dreams of having her own cooking show one day - lands herself a gig baking for the local coffee shop, and gets herself some much-needed help in overcoming her biggest challenge - learning to read . . . just as Foster and Mama start to feel at ease, their past catches up to them. Thanks to the folks in Culpepper, though Foster and her mama find the strength to put their troubles behind them for good.

What I loved about CLOSE TO FAMOUS:

--How it portrayed reading disabilities: I am glad that the more common disabilities, learning disabilities and speech issues (PAPERBOY) are being portrayed more in fiction. I loved how CLOSE TO FAMOUS was honest in showing Foster’s fears about school and friendship because of not being able to read. I also liked how it showed that she had an extreme talent (cooking), which helped her compensate for her difficulties.

--How it portrayed fame: Miss Charleena (a reclusive actress) was one of my favorite characters and one of the most well-rounded. I loved how Foster was able to get her to come out of hiding and the character growth that both of them had because of each other. Miss Charleena showed that fame isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.

--Minor characters: In addition to Miss Charleena, Macon was one of my favorite characters. His intensity and his self-consciousness about his height really came off the page.

--Cupcakes! I dare you to read this book and not be craving one of the treats Foster makes. And I loved how cupcakes literally saved the day in this book.

--Small town life. I have lived most of my life in small towns, though not quite as small as Culpepper. There’s something charming in reading about a place with a slower pace than most of the rest of the country.

***Caveat: I think the reason this was shelved in the YA is that it deals with domestic violence. Although the violence is not described in a graphic way, the topic might be too much for those who are sensitive or are on the younger end of MG age range.

Quibble—The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that Foster’s love interest (mind you, it’s more the blushing cheeks type of romance) is not very well-developed. Her best friend, a boy, is more well-rounded, because he has flaws. Personally, I didn’t like that she “liked” the perfect boy, but was only friends with the more flawed character. But that may be me.

Favorite quotes: “It’s here in the quiet waiting for a fish that you can fill up for when the tough times come.”

“…it took years for Sonny Kroll to become a famous chef…He appreciated it all the more because it wasn’t easy.”

Have you read any good books involving food? 

Tune in next week when I’ll be sharing about the Darcy Pattison retreat!

If you're looking for Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book. I like how it portrays a reading disability but also shows that that main character is very talented in another way. Finding books at the Library is always fun.

    And I just e-mailed you yesterday that you won Tunnel Vision. E-mail me your address so I can have your book sent to you.

  2. You had me at cupcakes. I know many who will love the premise of this book. Thanks for the review. By the way, I've also experienced the mysterious shelving of books at the library.

  3. There are a lot of people out there with reading disabilities.

  4. My library tends to do the same thing and I've never understood it. I mean, they shelve HOOT in YA. Go figure.

    Any book in which cupcakes save the day has to be a winner. I've read a few other books by Joan Bauer and enjoyed them all. As for other good books involving food, have you read All Four Stars by Tara Dairman? It's a lot of fun.

  5. This is a fun book to read - I love Bauer's books. And ... cupcakes! definitely cupcakes.

  6. This sounds like a lot of fun. I'll try to find it. I agree with Joanne -- All Four Stars is a terrific book. Thanks for the review.

  7. Thank you, Rosi and Joanne, for the re. I just finished ALL FOUR STARS! It was lovely--and made me hungry too. :)
    Ooh, I'm so excited I won, Natalie!

  8. Oh, I read this one! It was good. Of course, who can resist cupcakes!

  9. I think I'm on a food-book kick lately, and this one sounds perfect to round out the menu! I'll be featuring All Four Stars soon (loved it!) so that's one I can recommend. But, perhaps I picked that one up from you?

  10. Ha! Sorry, just read the above. Glad you liked All Four Stars!

  11. Oh, cupcakes! I love food books. Thanks for highlighting this one!

  12. Sounds great, Jenni! thanks for the rec!

  13. Ooh yes, I read this (but mine was shelved under MG, rightfully) and enjoyed it despite gaining a bit of weight while reading it. There's another Joan Bauer book I love ~ 'Almost Home' which I thought touched me a bit more than 'Close to Famous.'