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Best Foot Forward Hardcover – June 2, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-10–Teens who followed Jenna's journey from Chicago to Texas and back again in Rules of the Road (Putnam, 1998) will be thrilled with this sequel. The 17-year-old still likes to be in control (surely she must be a Capricorn), but she's thrown for a loop when her elderly employer, Mrs. Gladstone, hires a young man caught stealing from the shoe store where she works and appoints Jenna as his supervisor. The teen is still dealing with many issues in her own life, including an alcoholic father and a beloved grandmother whose Alzheimer's disease is progressing. Just as it seems that her life is as complicated as she can handle, she discovers that Mrs. Gladstone's son has been secretly utilizing unethical overseas labor tactics to cut costs and downgrade the quality of the shoes. Bauer's strength in characterization is amply evident here. Teens will enjoy Jenna's emotional growth and root for her tentative romance with Charlie, the donut king. For continuity, however, it is necessary to read Rules of the Road first as Best Foot Forward does not stand as surefootedly on its own.–Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. Taller-than-average shoe salesperson Jenna Boller is back in this gentle, stand-alone sequel to Joan Bauer's lauded Rules of the Road (1998). It's the start of junior year, and new challenges await Jenna, both on the job and at home. Professionally, she is helping Mrs. Gladstone with the merger between Gladstone Shoes and Shoe Warehouse, while training smooth-talking, former juvenile delinquent Tanner Cobb in the fine art of shoe retail. Privately, she is working through her feelings about her father's alcoholism by attending Al-Anon meetings; she's also trying to score a date with cute Charlie Duran, who knows donuts the way she knows shoes. Jenna is so busy that she nearly fails to notice clues leading to Mrs. G's unscrupulous son Elden's embezzlement. But it doesn't take long for sole-ful Jenna to catch on, and, with Mrs. G's support, restore the good name of Gladstone. This funny, winsome book is full of Bauer's trademark folksy wisdom, and although it breaks no new ground, it will be warmly welcomed by her many fans. Jennifer Hubert
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: HL640L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; First Edition edition (June 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399234748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399234743
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,589,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joan Bauer has won numerous awards for her twelve (soon to be thirteen) novels for young readers, among them, the Newbery Honor Medal, the American Library Association's Schneider Family Book Award, two Christopher Awards, the LA Times Book Prize, the Chicago Tribune Young adult Literary Prize, the Golden Kite Award of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and most recently, the St. Katherine Drexel Award of the Catholic Library Association. A NY Times Best-selling author, speaker, and songwriter, she has been a guest on local and national radio shows, and she has been sent to both Croatia and Kazakhstan by the State Department as part of its Professional Speakers Program to speak at schools, universities, libraries, and writers' groups. 

Joan has also been a recipient of the Judy Lopez Memorial Award; the ASTAL Award for Outstanding Contributions to Literature for Young People; the Michigan Thumbs-up! Award for Children's Literature; the Delacorte Prize for a First Young Adult Novel; the Pacific Northwest Library Association Award; the New Jersey Reading Association M. Jerry Weiss Award; the New England Booksellers Award; and the Boston Public Library's "Literary Light" Award. Her novels have been nominated extensively for state book awards, in addition to appearing on  ALA Notable Books, ALA Best Books, ALA Quick Picks, American Bookseller Pick of the List, School Library Journal Best Books, Smithsonian Notable Children's Books, VOYA's Perfect 10s. Her novel Rules of the Road was chosen as one of the top young adult books of the quarter century by the American Library Association. Her thirteenth novel, Soar, will be published in January 2016.

Joan is a member of the Writers Guild of America East, the Authors Guild, PEN, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband Evan and their intrepid wheaten terrier Max. She enjoys cooking, playing the piano, hiking, songwriting, and ice skating (as long as she has enough time for a slow stop).

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a great sequel to an equally stunning and entertaining read, "Rules of the Road".

Bauer has vastly impressed me with all her books I've read thus far, but this one was like a big fat cherry along with the whipped creme on top of the hot fudge sundae known as "Rules of the Road".

Jenna Boller is back, back with a vengence alongside the owner and her boss, Madeline Gladstone. There are some new characters that add flavor to an already sweet treat of a story.

For anyone who just likes a good plot and lots of laughs, I recommend this. It may be targeted at teenagers(those teenagers are darn lucky cuz there were no writers like this in my teen days), but at 36, I have grown into a great fan of Joan Bauer's writing. She is very talented at telling a tale that is funny and endearing. It is a really easy read that I know younger girls will really enjoy because while I may be 36, deep down, I am still a teenager at heart.

Eileen F.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One person can make a difference. That's the big lesson Jenna Boller learns outside of the classroom and it changes her forever. As she returns to school in the Fall, she immediately realizes how much she has matured over the summer. It's as if the other students were frozen in time. Jenna grew up at Gladstone Shoes. At first, she is consumed in her own problems, most notably fixing the strained relationship with a dysfunctional alcoholic parent she helped put in jail. A sister obsessed with her own appearance is also scarred by family problems but refuses to deal with them. At work, Jenna's boss, an elderly women, Mrs. Gladstone, seems out of touch and too gullible, giving the wrong people, like the troubled Tanner, a second chance. As Jenna learns, it was all a matter of having the right person redirect Tanner's high energy in a more positive direction - and Mrs. Gladstone make Jenna his boss, partly responsible for the transformation. Mrs. Gladstone knows that in her heart Jenna does not understand her methods. Jenna believes Mrs. Gladstone is soft, an easy mark. As the story unfolds, Jenna observes as Mrs. Gladstone takes on her own son, exposing the corruption that has infested Gladstone's new corporate offices. As her mentor, Mrs. Gladstone explains, "I want you to learn from this. I want you to write it in your heart." In the end Jenna intuitively creates her own mentoring role, helping someone else put the best foot forward. Joan Bauer has written a most enjoyable, uplifting book that will not only resonate with young reasons, but with all who read it. It kept me smiling.
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Format: Hardcover
j is back in a good way and in a bad way. again, the dialog is snappy, the main character is fun and witty and likeable. however, the issues are huge and therin lies the problem. bauer tries to tackle an alcohalic parent, a (maybe) annorexic sibling, a grandmother with alzheimer's disease, a thieving co-worker, the issue of unethical overseas labor tactics and the maturing of her main character all at the same time. the book treads on all of these issues but fails to tackle them realistically. the theiving co-worker for instance does not feel like a real teenager. in fact, he comes accross almost as an idiot...i could have pulled off a better scam than that guy:) anyway, it IS still a fun read, just don't look for any realness in it.
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Format: Paperback
She did it again! Joan Bauer hooked me on yet another novel about selling shoes!

I had previously read Rules of the Road, where we were introduced to Jenna Boller. In BEST FOOT FORWARD we again root for Jenna of Gladstone Shoes. I even *ahem* took this book to church to read between Sunday School and the church service. It was that good.

Mrs. Gladstone puts Jenna in charge of Tanner, a boy Jenna's age, after he tries to steal some shoes from them. Jenna's not sure letting him work for the company is the best idea Mrs. Gladstone has had; even so, Jenna's confidence grows as she encourages Tanner to be his best.

Changes are coming fast since the merger of Gladstone Shoes and Shoe Warehouse Corporation. Advertising strategies become distasteful. The quality of the product is suffering. Jenna and Mrs. Gladstone's questions aren't being answered.

When the higher-ups in the company begin making unethical business decisions, Mrs. Gladstone entrusts Jenna with the investigation. When Jenna finds out that Mrs. Gladstone's son is involved, she has to confide in somebody. Jenna chooses Tanner and is astounded at the things he's noticed. She prepares Mrs. Gladstone for the bad news and shares an understanding of being disappointed by someone you love.

BEST FOOT FORWARD is remarkable in its premise of teens doing the right thing only because it's the right thing to do. This is a common theme throughout Ms. Bauer's books, and, once again, she has made me grateful that I'm lucky enough to spend time with teens and that I have the privilege of making an impression upon them - as they do on me.

This is another Joan Bauer must read!

Reviewed by: Cana Rensberger
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Format: Paperback
The teenage main character, Jenna, confronts a very long list of life-trying topics: alcoholism, shoplifting, divorced parents, jail, parole officers, and corruption. I've probably forgotten some. But teens see all these things on the nightly news, and unfortunately, some in their own lives. Meanwhile, perhaps what they don't see is young adults' struggle with hard work, trying to find productivity, meaning, and a day's wage. Joan Bauer, in "Best Foot Forward", has managed to fit both kinds of topics into an entertaining teen story. My 13-year-old brought it into the house; that may be a bit young to identify with Jenna, who has a job and a car. But if she finishes reading it, it'll be interesting to get her perspective. When my kids watch TV, I try to watch with them sometimes. There's not much beyond fluff in a lot of those shows, and even in many movies. If more of them could be at the level of Bauer's writing, our family entertainment time would be a lot more worthwhile.
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