Kylie Jean, who lives with her family in Jacksonville, Texas, has a lifelong dream: she wants to be a beauty queen. I’ve never heard of Jacksonville, but it’s a real town in East Texas, Cherokee County, and it has a population of 13,868 (2000 census). Jacksonville is “the Tomato Capital of the World”, but it’s blueberries that play the starring role in Kylie Jean’s journey to becoming a beauty queen.
In the story the big festival in Jacksonville every year is not Tomato Fest, but rather the Blueberry Festival. Kylie Jean wants to be Blueberry Festival Queen, and since Kylie Jean is not only pretty, inside and out, but also determined, she enlists some help and sets out to realize her dream.
I’m not much on beauty pageants, but I liked Kylie Jean. She talks and acts “Texas” through and through with her “right pretty” and her “hollering” and her “yes, m’am” and “no, m’am.” I liked the way Kylie Jean makes a list of the things she needs to do to enter the beauty pageant, and she goes right down the list, checking each thing off as she gets it done. And I learned a few things you might not know (I didn’t):
“Shouting is not ladylike.” Beauty queens don’t shout.
“Beauty queens always wear a slip because it is classy.”
“Pretty is as pretty does . . . means being nice to the old folks, taking care of little animals, and respecting [my] momma and daddy.”
I’ll just bet at least one of those pieces of information is new to you, too. Consider it a part of your free education in Texas culture.
Z-Baby: “I think all of the books about Kylie Jean look good: Rodeo Queen, Hoop Queen, and Drama Queen.”
*This book is nominated for a Cybils Award, and I am a judge for the first round thereof. However, no one paid me any money, and nobody knows which books will get to be finalists or which ones will get the awards. In other words, this review reflects my opinion and Z-baby’s and nothing else.