Title: Close to Famous
Author: Joan Bauer
Concepts: jobs, careers, entrepreneurship, human capital, job creation
Review: As a twelve-year old who could not read, Foster McFee faced quite some ridicule from other students, and even her teachers did little to hide their dissatisfaction and actually explore the nature of Foster's learning disability. So leaving Memphis and this painful stigmatism behind offered Foster some relief, even though she and her mom were fleeing from her mom's abusive boyfriend.
Their hurried escape led them to Culpepper, West Virginia, a small town with two claims to fame: a new state penitentiary that was supposed to bring new jobs to locals but did not, and an aging movie star who had gained as much notoriety for her husband's scandalous affair as for her own film achievements. These Culpepper features, together with a unique bunch of kind-hearted town folk, served as important ingredients in a sequence of events that taught Foster and her mom that they could afford to think big about their dream jobs in life.
Cleverly wrapped into this engaging story line are some important themes in economics related to public sector job creation, investments in human capital, and entrepreneurial talent. The latter shines through clearly when Foster sells her homemade cupcakes at the local diner and her reputation as an amazing baker quickly takes off. Making this substantive content so easy to digest is Joan Bauer's ability to touch a range of emotions in every chapter. This novel is definitely recommended reading.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children