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For Readers Age approx. 14+
Grades 10+
 

Izzy's Popstar Plan - Review
< Back to reviews for ages 14+>

 Publisher's Summary:

Marestaing, Alex (2011) Izzy’s Popstar Plan. Thomas Nelson Publishing. ISBN 9781400316540. Author recommended age: tweens. Litland.com recommends age 13+, with parents discerning if appropriate for younger readers.

Publisher Description:  Izzy Baxter has big plans-popstar plans. Ever since she was six, she's dreamed of becoming the world's next singing sensation. Now sixteen, her singing career is on the rise, and she's been selected to compete on the hit TV show International Popstar Challenge. As Izzy performs in far off locations such as Tokyo and Paris, it seems as if her plans are coming off without a hitch. But God has plans of His own, and Izzy will soon discover that living for Him is "way cooler" than megastar fame.

   

Respect for self and others: This includes integrity (adherence to a code of conduct or value system), honesty vs. manipulation or lying, compassion, caring for others (characters not focused on getting their way no matter what) self respect--main character does not let others denigrate him or her; use of self control and self-discipline ; taking charge of own behaviour; fairness to others (such as taking turns and avoiding the blame game). Reader should ask themselves “How does the protagonist depict their peers?” “Would you want others to treat you this way? Should everyone act this way?” This includes true friendships that do not involve regular lying, deceit or manipulation; considering consequences of actions prior to acting; owning up to responsibility once an action has been taken.
 

Integrity is a strong theme throughout this story. Izzy instinctively feels her wrong choices, and knows why they are wrong. She is sometimes talked into walking the fine line between right and wrong. Through prayer and reason she can admit to herself that her rational is really excuses. She accepts the consequences of her actions. Lack of tolerance for her Faith puts her integrity into question, which she realizes “I can’t just go around saying I’m a Christian and not do anything about it.”  The integrity of her behaviours influences those around her.  This theme is supported by her Dad and Pastor who reinforce virtuous decision making and remind her to discern before choosing or acting. 

Another ongoing thread is friendship. What is real friendship? And how does one be a true friend? She asks herself what would her friend do, and chooses to pay good acts forward out of friendship. She also must learn to forgive those who have wronged her.  

All of this represents self-discipline and control, honesty and caring for others. It is an outcome of discernment.

 


Portrayal of Authority figures: The positive portrayal of parents, teachers, police officers and other “good” authority figures common in a child’s life is a positive influence upon the child’s own moral development. This includes actively-parenting mother and father figures. Minimization of parental involvement in the character’s activities or the portrayal of authority figures as inferior present poor role models. Also to be avoided are main characters that deceive parents and teachers to accomplish goals, and overuse sarcasm towards authority figures. Ask yourself “Are parents seen as positive or negative influence in the character's life?”
 

What we know of other characters is through Izzy’s self-talk. “She” portrays an in-charge dad who makes decisions for the family while still sensitive to his kids’ needs; one who has set boundaries for the family through rules, and earned sufficient respect that the kids obey him. Separately, Pastor Ryan’s role is spiritual director, providing Izzy with advice but not undermining her father’s role or authority. Several characters are adults who run the Popstar show. These too are portrayed as competent, which makes it difficult for Izzy to make decisions as these adults are typically luring her into a self-centered mindset or poor decision.


Citizenship and Patriotism: Loyalty to family, team or group, school, community and world; caring for and being considerate of these groups. Pride to be part of that group or nationality.
 

Izzy’s loyalty to her family and friends is superb, yet the story shows realistically how difficult it is to be loyal. After initially dumping her hospital gig with her friend, she changes her mind and sticks with it. Many times she chooses to stand by her friends rather than act in a selfish way. Throughout the show she is glad to have her family around and misses them desperately when they are gone. .  


Justice and Balance: A just distribution between good and evil (with good outweighing evil in the presence of the storyline); demonstration of right and wrong; making decisions to enact the above values rather than simply choosing from two bad possibilities; Ask yourself “Is the emphasis on the positive elements or negative?”

 

Much of the story’s intrigue comes from the cloudy appearance of good and evil in its characters. We first see the stereotypes of good and evil: the overtly “faithful” church followers, the crowds of people wanting healing,  contrasted with a skeptical protagonist. As the existence of the cult within the church fills in, it becomes more difficult to determine who may be part of this evil threat outside of church services.  What is of God, and not of God, becomes a muddy picture. 

While bad people surround Izzy attempting to lure her into bad decisions, interviewers asking bad questions that could trick her into bad answers with consequences, and the celebrity, paparazzi and all that comes with it are overwhelming,  it is countered with good from family, true friends, and some conversion of those around her due to the example she sets for them. Thus, while the reader feels they are in the “thick” of the situation, it is never hopeless. The entire experience is Izzy discerning right from wrong in each entry.

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Aesthetic aspects Of life ExperienceLook for a storyline portrayal of beauty, health, and selfless love vs. hedonistic behaviours (sexuality, selfishness, obsessiveness, materialism), profanity, gore and violence. Are nature and environment respected or exploited? Look for dark elements; watch out for humor that is negative, denigrates others excessively, uses metaphors to denigrate the sacred.
 

Early in the story we get the sense of Izzy finding her own space for thinking, prayer and study. As a blog rather than a novel, the description of the numerous settings around the world is brief. However, Izzy’s thoughts focus on the beauty of the soul, which is well written.  Faith is treated respectfully. 



Other things to Consider:Other aspects of this book of interest or importance. For example, does it portray Wiccan practices and accurate use of tools of which some parents might object, does it contain hidden meanings in metaphors that may prove offensive to some families; does it address personal issues such as puberty or pregnancy.
 

Izzy faces teen choices: whether to ditch friends and commitments for her own fun or to better win the competition; sneaking out of hotel room in a foreign country (France), lying to father, dating and kissing which breaks her father’s rules (see videoblog at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=E2E3y7h9Vn8 ; allowing show producers to make her into a celebrity or to just be herself (both appearance and values).  Typically these issues are addressed with teens and not younger readers, so parents are advised to use their family Do-Re-Mi’s in selecting literature.  

If this book is anything, it is a lesson to teens in discernment. Great for father-daughter sharing, family reading nights, youth ministry and book clubs. Keep a copy handy and pass it on to a girl you sense is struggling. More info and videos are available at online http://www.izzyspopstarplan.com/ . An excellent choice for today’s teen!

 

So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion: Litland's Blog   


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