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Close to Famous

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  7,774 Ratings  ·  913 Reviews
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. Un ...more
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published February 3rd 2011 by Viking Books for Young Readers (first published February 1st 2011)
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Apr 10, 2011 Cara rated it really liked it
Ok so I'm pretty much a self-proclaimed cupcake addict. I mean come on, who doesn't love cupcakes? Don't answer that because I probably wouldn't get along with someone who can't fathom the sweet goodness of cupcakes. So why the rant about cupcakes? Because my sister is baking something delectable and my mouth is watering, but mostly because the cover has finger-lickin' good cupcakes.

Confession:So that wasn't the only reason why I read this. I've been a long time follower of Bauer's work, and I w
It is such bliss to have access to recently published books. Especially to an author I am really coming to love. I love her style. I love the issues she brings up for the teens, the characters in the books (especially the ones who uplift the main character), how the teens learn, and how the problems are resolved. More and more I regret that I did not buy one of her books and have her sign it when I met her a few years ago--even though that was the first time I'd really heard of her.

So, on to the
Jul 10, 2011 Joan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: teens who like cooking or have reading problems.
Bauer specializes in feisty female teens who have tough challenges and manage to get through them. In this one, Foster can't read, even though she has "passed" sixth grade. Her Mom is a singer, living with a guy who is an Elvis impersonator and claims he can make her mother famous. He also is abusive, both physically with her Mom and verbally with Foster. After he hit her Mom in the eye, they ran for it. They end up in a small town and grow to like a lot of the people there. Even Miss Charleena ...more
Alex Templeton
Aug 07, 2011 Alex Templeton rated it it was ok
I've really loved a lot of Bauer's other novels ("Rules of the Road", "Hope Was Here"). I've been excited to share them with students and have always looked forward to her new books. I was disappointed by this book, though. It may be because the book was written for a younger audience--upper elementary instead of middle/early high school--but I felt that Bauer barreled through events and character development, paying them lip service without getting into anything resembling the depth she usually ...more
Allison Barash
Oct 05, 2012 Allison Barash rated it did not like it
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. This story seemed to be a mish-mash of a thousand different things - it felt like it didn't have a focus.

The story is about a 12 year old girl named Foster. She is desperate to become a famous cook on the Food Network and is obsessed with a tv personality named Sonny. The story begins as she and her mother are fleeing her mother's abusive boyfriend, Huck - an Elvis impersonator. They move to a new small town and meet a wide array of people. There's the l
Jul 13, 2012 Jan rated it really liked it
Shelves: j-fiction
Alright, already! I admit it! I am such a sucker for a story where folks come to the rescue of those in need and a story where the ending is sweet and worth cheering for. I just can't help it! I guess it is so unlike real life anymore that I find I need books that make me feel good. I've tried all sorts of genres...some creep me out, some drive me crazy, some make me think too much ("Now, class, what do you think the author meant by that statement?" Ummm, don't care!) and some give me nightmares ...more
Oct 23, 2011 Amber rated it it was amazing
Two weeks ago I was walking through the Young Adult section of my library, on my way to pick up another book, when this one caught my eye. It was the picture of the cupcakes on the front that drew me in and after a quick scan of the front flap I decided to grab it and give it a go. Oh how I loved this book. The main character loves to bake and actually sees baking as a means to making the world a better place (mind you she is a 12 year old girl living in a tiny town in WV). My kind of thinking. ...more
Oct 31, 2012 Vicki rated it liked it
Shelves: sweet-and-sour
Close to Famous is about a 12 year old girl, Foster, who loves cooking. The story takes you through her road trip to a new home in West Virginia. There she meets many people who take part in her life and together they learn valuable life lessons from each other.

This books isn't a favorite of mine, but it did have some valuable lessons and a strong theme that I think would be fairly easy for middle school children to understand. One such theme is simply "never give up" as much of a cliche as that
Jul 30, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it
This is another strong title by the always reliable Joan Bauer. I love how her books often examine some kind of career and show teens or pre-teens deeply involved in some activity. In the case of Foster McFee, who just managed to finish sixth grade by the skin of her teeth, that positive activity is baking. Foster has been baking since she got an Easy-Bake oven at four, and she creates her own sweet concoctions. Foster and her mother, a talented singer who has always been relegated to the role o ...more
Jan 08, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it
Damned if this book didn't win me over. I started it with low, low expectations, because almost every book I read about kids who just lurve to bake is so twee and so obviously written by... these books aren't aspirational, exactly; sort of the opposite. It's the same with most books for kids about art. The adults just love food and/or art and they want kids to love it, too. And cupcakes? Don't get me wrong, I patronize a cupcake shop regularly, but I was over the concept of cupcakes being the Ne ...more
Nov 26, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-girls, ya
Close to Famous might not be the most complex or original book in the world, and optimistic life cliches are sprinkled throughout and frosted thick on top like the main character's cupcake decorations; however, it still alludes to serious and tough issues such as domestic violence and the economic struggles of both individuals and a small rural town, while also showing that we must overcome personal obstacles, do the best we can with what we have, and, most importantly, not be afraid to dream b ...more
Dec 05, 2013 Vinci rated it really liked it
My favourite character is called foster because she is a enthusiastic cooker and baker. Her dream is to have her own cooking T.V show and to be very famous just like her idol Sonny kroll. She first was living in Memphis then they moved into a tiny town called Culpepper. Her mother also has a dream. Her big dream was to be a headliner instead of a back up singer.Foster likes to bake and she always bakes cupcakes and sell them to earn money. Also she works at Miss Charleena's with Macon and Foster ...more
Alisha Davey
Apr 17, 2012 Alisha Davey added it
Shelves: 307-books
I am in love with this book. I picked it up at 8 am and finished it at 2 pm the same day. Something about it from the beginning I just loved it. First, the tone of the book is very uplifting. Foster is going through a lot in her life but the way the book is written gives it a positive spin. I love that this book is realistic. Children everywhere are part of families that experience abuse and Foster has her own way of dealing with things. The overarching idea of her baking is what makes this book ...more
Olivia Dowicz
Sep 18, 2013 Olivia Dowicz rated it really liked it
This book was great! Personally, I love cupcakes and baking so for me it was a very interesting story to read. It was about a young girl named, Foster who loves baking and cupcakes! She admires the TV chef, Chef Sonny Kroll and wants to be just like him. Foster's dad was killed in the army and all she has to remember him is a pillowcase filled with memories. She has never really learned to read, but she is an excellent chef. She and her mother had to quickly leave Memphis to escape from her moth ...more
Suzanne Gust
Apr 20, 2012 Suzanne Gust rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best Young Adult books I have ever read. It is about a little girl, Foster and her mother. They move to a different town when Foster's mom's boyfriend starts getting abusive. At first, Foster hates the new town, but then makes friends and never wants to leave. When I picked it up, I couldn't put it down! I loved Foster's character. She was very sassy and very grown up for how old she is. This book made me cry and made me laugh. It made me cry when she would talk about her dad ...more
I enjoyed this book so much I really need to read more by this author. Love the backdrop of the main character being a good cook but a great baker, but not being able to read or write. She just memorizes recipes from the Food Network. I worked up an appetite reading about all the different cupcakes and muffins she baked. Some of my favorite lines from the book:
- When Foster holds a cookbook she gets from the bookmobile over her heart, the librarian says, "That's where a book should be carried."
Mrs. Nelson's
May 29, 2011 Mrs. Nelson's rated it really liked it
Joan Bauer has a knack for writing books that take ordinary lives and highlight the extraordinary in them. Her latest book is no exception! "Close to Famous" follows Foster, who dreams of having her own cooking show, and her mother, Rayka, who wants to be more than just a backup singer. After a hasty departure from their apartment (due to a less than mellow Elvis impersonator) they end up in the tiny town of Culpepper. In Culpepper it seems that everyone has dreams that are bigger than their cir ...more
Dec 17, 2010 Laurie rated it really liked it
My only complaint about this book? It wasn't long enough! Bauer has a gift for creating memorable characters, and I would have loved to spend more time with Foster and her family and friends.

Also, I was really hoping for recipes in the back. I really, really wanted a cupcake by the time I was finished reading this.
Hannah Cobb
This charming book would be a great prequel for tweens who haven't read Hope was Here or Bauer's more serious novels yet. This shorter, sweeter, Bauer novel deals with learning disabilities, a young girl's journey to independence and self-assurance, and the wonderful world of cupcakes.
May 24, 2012 Patty rated it it was amazing
Lovely tale of perseverance! Kids who are challenged by learning how to read will be able to relate this. Strong women in this book, too. Love that.
Jun 28, 2015 Trisha rated it liked it
This was cute, light and fluffy.
Apr 25, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
LOVE Joan Bauer! I always feel good about handing her books to teens- very clean and a positive message. And this one revolved around cupcakes- can't beat that!
Feb 10, 2011 Betsy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love Joan Bauer. Another fine addition to her already fantastic bibliography.
Jan 20, 2014 Azalia rated it really liked it
******** spoiler alert********

Have you ever wannet to make a place a better place with only food? Foster wants to do that but with one cupcake at a time.the genre of this book is realistic fiction cause someone like foster can have the same dream or goal. I thought those book was good cause it's based on things that happen in real life.

The setting of this book takes place a little bit in Memphis and In a town in North Carolina. Foster is just an ordinary girl that likes cooking mostly cupcakes
Puppy Lover
May 19, 2014 Puppy Lover rated it it was amazing
Close to Famous
Author: Joan Bauer
By: Puppy Lover

You don’t know the power of a cupcake until your life depends on it!! Foster’s life depends on cupcakes and you’ll have to read to find out how.
Joan V has written 11 books for kids. Joan lives in Brooklyn, New York. Joan’s novels have won numerous awards among them a Newbery honor. Readers who like realistic books with good lessons for kids will enjoy this book.
The setting in this book is in Culpepper West Virginia. In summer at a little house tha
On a scale of one to ten, I would give this book a 7.3
It had a good story and I was definitely inspired to start baking after reading this book, and I really loved it!
Foster McFee and her mama came to Culpepper, West Virginia, to get away from Foster's mama's ex boyfriend, Huck the Elvis impersonator. Foster's mother, Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Foster longs to be a famous cook with her own cooking show, Cooking with Foster. She's inspired by her ido
“I'll tell you something about tough times. They just about kill you, but if you decide to keep working at them, you'll find your way through.”


Twelve year old, Foster McFee and her Mother, Rayka McFee fled from Memphis, Tennessee to Culpepper, West Virginia. They couldn't take it anymore...They both despised Rayka's boyfriend and when she broke up with him...Huck snapped and broke into their house, giving Foster's mother a black eye...

Cooking has been Foster's life for six years, since her fa
Eliza B.
Oct 06, 2015 Eliza B. rated it it was amazing
Close to Famous is an amazing book. It is told from the point of view of Foster Mcfee, the main character. Foster and her mother gets chased out of Memphis by a scary Elvis impersonator. Now, Foster and her mother have to stay strong as they try to settle in to the small town of Culpepper, a town with nothing much going on, nothing like they are used to. The only thing that Foster has, other than her mother, is her BIG dream. Foster dreams of having her own show on the Food Network like her idol ...more
Mar 28, 2014 Regan rated it really liked it
Foster is an only child living with her single mother, a woman who has sung backup her entire life, but deserves the spotlight. Foster herself has the dream of having her own cooking show, like her idol Sonny Kroll. When Huck, her mother's Elvis impersonating boyfriend, drives them out of the city, they end up in Culpepper, a small town. Foster dreads going to school here because she was never able t learn to read, which has made all of her past teachers hate her. Meanwhile, her mother works at ...more
Kaiti Holman
Feb 23, 2015 Kaiti Holman rated it it was amazing
The book "Close to Famous" by Joan Bauer is a really good book. After reading this book I discovered she is one of my favorite authors. This is a different, exciting, funny and adventurous book, I really enjoyed reading this novel and I can't wait to read all her others. The story "Close to Famous" is about a mother, Rayka, and her daughter Foster. One day Foster dreams of having her own T.V show like her idol, Sonny Kroll and her mother dreams of being a back up singer. This book also involves ...more
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July 12, 1951 - I was born at eleven A.M., a most reasonable time, my mother often said, and when the nurse put me in my mother's arms for the first time I had both a nasty case of the hiccups and no discernible forehead (it's since grown in). I've always believed in comic entrances.

As I grew up in River Forest, Illinois, in the 1950's, I seem to remember a
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“I'll tell you something about tough times. They just about kill you, but if you decide to keep working at them, you'll find your way through.” 26 likes
“But then Macon smiled at me. "Just be yourself, Foster. That's the best thing in the world.” 8 likes
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