Middle graders will laugh and cry with thirteen-year-old Vanessa Martin as she tries to be like Vanessa Williams, the first black Miss America, by reluctantly entering her own beauty pageant. In this semi-autobiographical debut novel set in 1983, Vanessa Martin's real-life reality of living with family in public housing in Newark, New Jersey is a far cry from the glamorous Miss America stage. She struggles with an incarcerated mother she barely remembers, a grandfather dealing with addiction and her own battle with self-confidence. But when a new teacher at school coordinates a beauty pageant and convinces Vanessa to enter, Vanessa's view of her own world begins to change. Vanessa discovers that her own self-worth is more than the scores of her talent performance and her interview answers, and that she doesn't need a crown to be comfortable in her own skin and see her own true beauty.
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by Tami Charles
by Daniel Jose Older
by Kelly Starling Lyons
by Andrea Davis Pinkney
by P. Djeli Clark
by Leslie C. Youngblood
by Gary D. Schmidt
"Narrator Channie Waites turns Tami Charles's protagonist into a flesh-and-blood teen full of doubts, humor, and grace. In New Jersey, in 1983, Vanessa is a wallflower who dreams of following in the footprints of Vanessa Williams, the first black Miss America. She enters a pageant at her middle school--despite feeling too fat, too dark, and too shy--and compares the cost of pageant outfits to the price of groceries and utility bills. While a few adult characterizations are heavy-handed, Vanessa's voice bubbles with charm and crackles with energy in her racially charged inner-city school. As family secrets are revealed and events spiral out of control, the listener will be compelled to hear the end of the story. S.T.C. © AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine"
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