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The Glass Cafe, or, The stripper and the state : how my mother started a war with the system that made us kind of rich and a little bit famous /

When twelve-year-old Tony, a talented artist, begins sketching the dancers at the Kitty Kat Club where his mother is an exotic dancer, it sparks the attention of social services. Full description

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Wendy Lamb Books, 2003
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THE STORY IS all true and happened to me and is mine. Tony's mom, Al, is a terrific single mother who works as a dancer at the Kitty Kat Club. Twelve-year-old Tony is a budding artist, inspired by backstage life at the club. When some of his drawings end up in an art show and catch the attention of the social services agency, Al and Tony find themselves in the middle of a legal wrangle and a media circus. Is Al a responsible mother? It's the case of the stripper vs. the state, and Al isn't giving Tony up without a fight. Once again Gary Paulsen proves why he's one of America's most-beloved writers.The Glass Caféis a fresh and funny exploration of motherhood, art, and the wiles of storytelling--all told by Tony, in his own true voice.

Review by Booklist Review

Gr. 6-8. This first-person contemporary story is based on an incident from Paulsen's past but it seems like a fairy tale. Twelve-year-old Tony lives with his mother, Al, a stripper who is working toward her doctorate in literature (she loves Dickens.) They're great pals, so when Tony, a talented artist, wants to hone his skills, Al takes him to the club where she works, and he sketches the women in various stages of undress, perceptively conveying their weariness or the mileage they have on them. Tony's art teacher sends the drawings to a contest--and a viewer calls social services. Al is not about to have Tony removed from her care without a fight, and a legal battle ensues. In a very happy ending, Tony and Al win the case, and, for rather vague reasons, Al wins a lot of money in a settlement from the state, enabling her to become a full-time student. There are lots of problems besides the premise. With a pocket-size format and fewer than 100 pages, this is more like a short story than a novel or even a novella, and Paulsen often breaks a cardinal rule of fiction by telling not showing. Still, this may work for reluctant readers or hardcore Paulsen fans. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2003 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In one of his minor efforts, the prolific Paulsen serves up a righteous, pro-free-speech theme accompanied by big helpings of over-the-top plot lines. Twelve-year-old Tony, in whose disingenuously na?ve voice the story is told, lives with his single mom, Al, a stripper with a heart of gold who hopes to finance a Ph.D. in literature. In art class at school, Tony discovers a talent for drawing, and almost overnight he produces an extraordinarily nuanced set of life drawings, using his mother's barely clothed co-workers as models. When his enraptured art teacher enters his work in a show, someone reports Al to the state as an unfit mother (for encouraging her son "to draw pornographic pictures"). Enter a policeman and a thick-headed social worker, and before readers can say SWAT team, the action escalates to a conflagration worthy of national news coverage. Besides the exaggerated events, Paulsen looks to the endless run-on sentences and artless grammar of Tony's delivery for humor ("So you know my name is Tony and I am twelve and my mother who is named Alice except nobody calls her that, they all call her Al, like she was a guy only she isn't, is a stripper, only it's called exotic dancing, at a club called the Kitty Kat, except that everybody calls it the Zoo," reads the first half of the first sentence). Readers who like this style of writing can rest easy: Paulsen maintains that style all the way to the end. Ages 10-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Growing up with a terrific single mom who works as an exotic dancer never bothered Tony. But when he draws some of the dancers at the Kitty Kat Club for an art class homework assignment and they end up in an art show, social services is called in to investigate his unique home life. After a disastrous visit from a social worker and a policeman, Tony and his mom, Al, are arrested and a media frenzy ensues. A biker, the SWAT team, Charles Dickens, and a couple of attorneys are also involved in Paulsen's thoughtful and entertaining story (Wendy Lamb Bks., 2003). Narrator Tod Haberkorn turns in an energetic and honest performance as Tony, creating a likeable kid who listeners will be rooting for. The audience will be immersed in 12-year-old Tony's nonstop, high-octane perspective of the world, or his tiny corner of it, from beginning to end. This edgy audiobook will have listeners talking about it long after its conclusion.-Jennifer Mann, Cromaine Library, MI (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gary Paulsen was born on May 17, 1939 in Minnesota. He was working as a satellite technician for an aerospace firm in California when he realized he wanted to be a writer. He left his job and spent the next year in Hollywood as a magazine proofreader. His first book, Special War, was published in 1966. He has written more than 175 books for young adults including Brian's Winter, Winterkill, Harris and Me, Woodsong, Winterdance, The Transall Saga, Soldier's Heart, This Side of Wild, and Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books. Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room are Newbery Honor Books. He was the recipient of the 1997 Margaret A. Edwards Award for his lifetime achievement in writing for young adults.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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