Letter From:
Jane Bauer

To:  The Women's National Book Association/LA Chapter
          and the Judy Lopez Memorial Foundation

I am thrilled to receive this award and so sorry that I can't be with you tonight.  I have great respect for the Judy Lopez organization and it's an honor to be counted among the winners.

Close to Famous is a deeply personal book for me, and not just because I am close to being a cupcake fanatic.  It taught me a lesson that I hope I will never forget.

I grew up among storytellers – my grandmother was a professional teller, my mother was a high school teacher, and reading was my love for as long as I can remember.  Books, libraries, book stores always held such magic for me, but when I began this story of a girl who was a severely challenged reader and a remarkable baker, I had no trouble connecting to her baking gifts, but understanding her plight as a non-reader was a different story.

I had no idea what it was like to look at words on a page and instead of seeing friends, see enemies.   I wondered how I could get in her head.  I talked to literary specialists, but still the personal part of me, Joan, truly, deeply, painfully understanding Foster’s problem wasn't there, until I remembered the things I am not good at – that I struggle with, that embarrass me – I'll spare you the list – but I promise you, it isn't short.  And, of course, this is how Foster felt about reading – and then I connected with this girl fully.  We all have broken places that we want to hide, but the sheer act of letting a weakness come into the open can have remarkable power.  And adding a cupcake to the experience just opens the doors to joy.

Thank you for this lovely reward. Know that tonight in Brooklyn I will raise a cupcake to you all.

Joan Bauer