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THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTY by Jill S.  Alexander

THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTY

By Jill S. Alexander

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-54856-8
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

More than anything, Austin Gray, a ninth-grade girl who lives in a tiny Texas town, wants to ride on the hood of a car, smiling and waving to the crowd during the Christmas Parade. But to win the coveted spot of “hood ornament” in the parade, she’s got to do something worthy. So Austin decides to get a chicken, join the Future Farmers of America, enter and win the poultry division of the livestock competition and become the FFA Sweetheart, who, not incidentally, rides in the parade. It’s an ambitious plan and wins points for originality as well. How Austin puts her scheme into motion and how it transforms her from onlooker on the outskirts to contender in the center is the heart and soul of this novel. It’s a bold and charming idea, but the story, which drags in spots, is more intriguing in concept than execution. Austin fails to captivate, and she’s surrounded by secondary characters who don’t generate enough feeling to keep readers engaged. A pity, but this debut author shows promise. (Fiction. 12 & up)