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 Gary D. Schmidt
by Kelly Starling Lyons
by Leslie C. Youngblood
"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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