Viking Juvenile, 250 Pages
Released: February 3, 2011
Age: Middle Grade
Foster McFee dreams of having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Macon Dillard's goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Foster's mother Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous in the little town of Culpepper. Until some unexpected events shake the town and its inhabitants - and put their big ambitions to the test. Full of humor, unforgettable characters, surprises, and lots and lots of heart, this is Joan Bauer at her most engaging.
------------------- Goodreads summary
"I felt safe around this small, determined boy who didn't make fun of anything I told him. This is how best friends are made."
4 Stars / 5
I really, really liked this book. I wasn't expecting much since my last (and first) experience with Joan Bauer wasn't too stellar (see my review of Stand Tall here), but as soon as I saw cupcakes and the premise, I knew I'd give it a shot. And I'm glad I did! Foster McFee is such an adorable protagonist, she's that perfect young girl who is just on the edge of learning the big things of life. She's been put through some very adult situations and has some very serious struggles, and Joan is perfect in her approach to it as a child. The summary is spot on when it says this book has lots and lots of heart.
I was particularly taken with the integration of Foster's passion for cooking into her struggle with reading, her mom's abusive relationship and trying to figure out her place in this tiny town. Cupcakes and sweets are a universal language, everyone has some sort of memory with them - and Ms. Bauer is fabulous in being able to invoke that nostalgia in the reader and making you really believe in Foster and her talent and perseverance. I loved how Foster really had a belief in cooking and ingredients and what they can mean to anyone and everyone.
I do recommend this for Middle Grade girls, I think it's a perfect book to really start trying to understand the Big Issues in life and the difficulties of fitting in, finding your voice, and being strong. Be aware there are serious issues (family abuse, mainly), but if it's something you think your child can handle, don't hesitate.