Friday, March 20, 2015

"Reality Natalie" by Katie Sparks

Reality Natalie
by Katie Sparks

Reality Natalie is recommended for children ages 8 to 12. This review opportunity is brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Promotion Services.

When the most popular kids’ TV show, Kidz Konnection, decides to hold auditions for a guest host spot, the show’s BIGGEST fan decides to audition.
[Cue Natalie Greyson]
Eleven-year-old Natalie is determined to overcome her habit of turning into a tongue-tied, air ball burping, runny-nose disaster whenever something embarrassing happens in front of an audience so she can audition for the coveted role. As the show’s biggest fan, no one could possibly deserve it more than her!
Except a GIANT obstacle stands in her way: her parents deny her permission to audition.
To make matters even worse, Natalie’s naturally talented best friend, Kailyn, decides to audition too, and will stop at nothing to win. With their friendship suddenly in question, Natalie turns to her blog, In A "Nat" Shell, to vent her frustrations, but Natalie’s emotional outpouring and lies only creates more anxiety for herself. With the stakes high, Natalie goes against her parent’s wishes and decides to audition, but Kailyn has her own secret plan to be Number One, even if it means doing so at the expense of her best friend. Can Natalie find a way out of the drama and into the spotlight? Or will the competitive pressure cause her to lose her ultimate dream along with her best friend?

“I have an announcement to make,” I said loudly.
“You’ve decided to become the next president?” Dad piped up, walking back into the room. “I always thought President Greyson had a nice ring to it.”
“Actually no. But personally, I think my news is just as cool, if not better.” I nodded for emphasis.
Mom shooed Chase and Sydney toward the stairs. “Go put your clothes in the hamper. I’ll be up in a second to give you guys a bath.”
“Me first!” Sydney squealed, running after Chase.
With the twins finally gone, I cleared my throat and took a deep breath. “I have decided to try out to become a guest talk show host.”
“Have you?” Dad asked.
I pulled out the announcement from the Kidz Konnection website I had printed off earlier. “Remember? Channel 10 is holding a contest to find a Kidz Konnection guest host.”
Mom adjusted her glasses and looked over Dad’s shoulder, her lips slightly moving as she skimmed the article. She raised her eyebrows the way she does whenever she is about to say absolutely not. I took a deep breath and cracked my knuckles. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the microwave clock tick over to 6:58.
“Well,” Dad said after what felt like an eternity.
“Hmm,” Mom said.
These were not encouraging sounds. The last time my parents said back-to-back words of “well” and “hmm”, I was forced to keep an eye on Chase and Sydney for an entire afternoon while Mom watched “The Sound of Music” in the family room and Dad went golfing.
Every time a song came on, Mom would sing at the top of her lungs. If the “hills came alive” once more, I was going to puke. I drummed my fingers on the table, glancing at Mom and Dad as they perused the piece of paper. Maybe if I stared long and hard enough, I could somehow use mind control to force them to say “yes”.
But, mind control is not one of my talents.

Praise for the Book
" … Author Katie Sparks pleasantly surprised me with her well-written prose and spunky characters. Reality Natalie is about a young girl, Natalie Greyson, who has high ambitions and dreams … [and] wants to audition to be a guest host for a popular kid’s show. What really impressed me is the way Sparks handled the competition between friends. Sparks kept it real, she didn’t glamorize her characters … I highly recommend Reality Natalie. It teaches life lessons through fun and thoughtful prose. This is Sparks’ debut novel, but hopefully it won’t be her last." ~ Carol Thompson, Readers’ Favorite
"I like Natalie. She’s a real kid – the kind who’ll try to sneak a second cookie into her lunch, or get angry at a friend, or offer her second-best pencil to a classmate in need. She has issues with her parents, thinking she’s the odd-kid-out as they deal with the stress of twins and careers, but she has a good relationship with them, nonetheless. They talk. They work stuff out. Natalie knows she can voice her fears and be heard – when she tries find a good time for conversation, anyway." ~ 5 Star Review, V. Rundell, Amazon
"I loved how Sparks created characters with heart and soul. I cheered with Natalie when something went her way, and could feel her pain when things didn’t. Reality Natalie truly is a wonderful slice of everyday life, complete with annoying classmates, pesky siblings, and friends that don’t always do what you want. Great book filled with lots of surprises that will make readers everywhere clamor for more." ~ 5 Star Review, Kym B., Amazon

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Eleven-year-old Natalie Greyson is obsessed with the children's talk show Kidz Konnection. When they launch a competition for a guest host, Natalie thinks all of her dreams have come true. Now all she has to do is win! But what happens when she finds out that her talented best friend will be competing against her? Will Natalie succeed and, if so, at what cost?
The author has a fresh, natural voice. I like the way the book is written, interspersed with hand-written notes and Natalie's entries on her "In A Nat Shell" blog. From a moralistic (parent's) viewpoint, I am a bit concerned about the way Natalie lies to her parents and about the bad feelings between supposed-best friends, Natalie and Kailyn. But I guess real life is like that. At least Natalie learns a few lessons and grows as a person as a result of her experiences. And, from an entertainment aspect, I'm sure the kids will love the shenanigans the cast of great characters gets up to. Robbie is especially entertaining.
A funny, fast-paced story especially suited to tween girls. The ending leaves it open to a sequel.

About the Author
At a very young age, Katie Sparks discovered the magic of books. She counted on weekly library visits and treasured receiving her first library card at the age of five. At six, she wrote her first story called Baby Carrie (still in her collection today!). Katie knew then that writing would be in her future.
By day, she is an editor for the parent consumer line at a non-profit medical association and enjoys working closely with authors and industry professionals. Immersed in the publishing industry in both her professional and personal life is a dream come true. On weekends you will often find her writing and sipping coffee at one of the many unique coffee shops in Chicago, spending time with family and friends, or curled up with a new book.
Katie has been an active member of SCBWI for the past seven years. She lives in Chicago with her devoted and extremely vocal cat Moe.