Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino

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Elvis Ruby (who has a sister named Cher!) is a superstar – of the Justin Bieber variety. He is so famous that “everyone” knows his distaste for brussel sprouts. After one “careless comment” to a reporter, his feelings about the small green vegetables “turned into a national media frenzy.”  To be honest, I kind of agree with Elvis about brussel sprouts – but that’s another story.  Elvis’s fame comes from a reality show, TweenStar, which everyone on the planet earth assumed he would win. But then he froze – on stage.  In front of millions of adoring fans.  To escape his stunned fans and take a break from the media frenzy, he decides to take a break.

With the help of his supportive father and sister, Elvis goes to stay with his Aunt Emily who lives in the Pinelands of New Jersey.  There, he gets a new name, a new hair color, and a new friend, Cecilia.  Through a “Rumpelstiltskin-like” moment in the pine forest (where Elvis speaks his true name aloud), Cecilia learns his secret.  Cecilia is a trustworthy friend, but secrets….”have a way of spreading like wildfire.”  While Elvis/Aaron is trying to protect his identity and heal from his public humiliation, Cecilia has a project of her own. She has always treasured the story of the night she was born when, her parents told her, there was “music in the pines.”  And although Cecilia is not as musical as her talented friend Elvis, she wants to hear that music again.

I love this book.  It’s entertaining and funny, but also wise about the slippery nature of secrets.  The only thing that threw me a little was a subplot about the Jersey Devil. For me, it interrupted the story of Elvis and Cecilia, but maybe fans of the New Jersey Devils hockey team would enjoy it!

Recommend Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace to fans of American Idol, The Voice, America’s Got Talent – and lovers of pancakes!

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