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Two misfits form an important friendship in Zemser's (Beyond the Mango Tree) hilarious-and surprisingly moving-novel. Elaine Hamilton prepares gourmet French meals for her family nightly, writes letters to Julia Child (but does not mail them) and dreams of the Cordon Bleu; Lucida Sans, who named herself after the typeface, occupies herself with "getting attention-and lots of it," as she wishes chiefly to be famous. After they meet (when Lucida accidentally triggers a fire at a town festival), Lucida quickly convinces Elaine to join her schemes, such as punking her rival (and sometimes boyfriend) into performing for a fake audition. Finally noticing Elaine's chef skills, she gets her shy friend to tape a cooking show. Zemser knows how to write kooky: Lucida constantly dresses in costume and her narcissistic sometimes boyfriend writes terrible plays: "Some of them don't even have characters," carps Lucida; over-the-top scenes include a last-minute appearance by Julia Child, who whispers a secret tip in Elaine's ear. Readers will laugh throughout, but Zemser never loses sight of Elaine's frailties and hopes. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.