Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chloe by Design

Chloe by Design: Making the Cut
Margaret Gurevich
Brooke Hagel, Illustrator
Capstone, 2014  380 pgs
Grade 6-9
Realistic Fiction

Meet sixteen-year-old Chloe Montgomery.  She lives, breaths and sleeps fashion and design.  Imagine her delight discovering that her favorite show Design Diva (a cousin to Project Runway) will be featuring teen contestants.  After a period of self doubt, coaxed out of by her parents and best friend, Alex, Chloe begins the audition process.  After surviving several challenges, including a rodeo inspired challenge where she channels her late grandfather, who was a rodeo clown, she is asked to compete on the actual show in New York City.  Along the way she meets the cute son of a former Design Diva winner, who presents a potential, yet innocent, love interest.  Chloe travels to New York along with her high school  arch rival, who, in an unlikely turn of events also make it on the show.  The challenges come fast and furious, involving complications, non-traditional materials, surprising New York locals and uncomfortable teams.  As the competition heats up one designer is caught cheating and asked to leave the competition.  Chloe survives one challenge after another until the climax of the book...when the winner is announced!

I am a huge fan of Project Runway and was very excited to pick up this book.  I was not disappointed.  It captures the essence of the show, providing creative, inspiring, yet fun entertainment.  At 380 pages I was concerned that the book would be sluggish, that was so not the case.  Chloe by Design reads very quickly and becomes hard to put down.  The length of the book is due, in part, by the numerous sketches provided by Hagel, that are meant to be from Chloe's notebook.  The sketches are in full color and help the reader to experience Chloe's designs in a visual way.  The book also reads quickly because the action never stops.  Chloe bounces from one challenge to the next, all of which are surprising and interesting.  The book will obviously appeal to young people interested in fashion design, but is entertaining enough to grab the attention of non-sewers as well.  Chloe is an inspirational character in that she faces her fears and self-doubts and follows her dreams.  Conflict is added with the nemesis from her school and a touch of innocent romance is included.  Chloe by Design is clearly a stand alone book, yet could easily continue, following the winner to the grand prize: an internship with a fashion designer.  Both of my teenage daughters sew and the three of us faithfully follow Project Runway.  We have often mused that they should have a similar competition for teenagers.  Chloe by Design fills that bill.  Ironically, the makers of Project Runway must have also heard our wish.  At the end of October they will be launching a new show called Threads, which will feature tween and teen contestants.  Creating clothes is a great hobby for young people, as is reading.  I'm so glad Gurvich brought it all together into one fun package!

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