Books for Young Bakers

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Books for Young Bakers

Middle grade novels that incorporate baking

I am normally an outdoorsy person, and with parents who grew up in Maine and Wisconsin, you would think I would spend all winter sledding down hills and finding places to ski.  I love snowshoeing and walking through freshly fallen snow, but I also appreciate cold, snowy afternoons spent indoors with my cats and a hot cup of tea. The only thing that can make those afternoons better is when I have a baked good in the oven, whether it’s a fresh batch of cookies, scones, or an entire cake.  My love of baking goes back to my childhood, so today I’ve compiled a list of five middle grade books where baking is a major component of the story.

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
Everyone in Culpepper, West Virginia has a dream.  Foster McFee wants to have a cooking show like celebrity chef Sonny Kroll, Macon Dillard wants to make documentary films, and Foster’s mother Rayka wants to become a famous singer.  Of course, they all have their obstacles to face.  Foster’s father died in the Iraq war and Rayka is left with an Elvis impersonator who tries to follow her.  Macon struggles to be taken seriously because he’s so short. Foster can commit a recipe to memory if she’s made it once, but she struggles with reading, and can’t use the cookbooks she wants to bake from.  With a dash of perseverance and a whole lot of Foster’s homemade cupcakes, can she and her loved ones achieve their goals? Check out Close to Famous for a story that subtly incorporates issues of race and class without ever losing its hometown vibe.

Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland
Twelve-year-old Polly Madassa is a romantic, thanks to all of the time she’s spent reading Pride and Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables.  She thinks that everyone in her life deserves the type of love that couples such as Elizabeth and Darcy and Anne and Gilbert find.  Her primary responsibility over the summer is to ride her bike around her New Jersey town to deliver goods from the Madassa Bakery which her parents own.  While she’s at it, she decides to set up town curmudgeon Miss Wiskerton with kite-shop owner Mr. Nightquist, help  her best friend Fran’s father find a partner in person instead of online, and find a better boyfriend for her older sister, Clementine.  What Polly doesn’t realize is how much trouble she’ll bring for herself and everyone she’s trying to match up. She hardly even notices the pursuits of her classmate, Brad Barker.  In the end, it’s up to Polly to mend her relationships, and wait and see if those around her find true love.  Readers looking for a style that is reminiscent of Austen’s own work should pick up this retelling of Sense and Sensibility.

Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood
The people of small town Calamity Falls often say there is something magical about the baked goods from the Follow Your Bliss Bakery.  Rosemary’s parents own the bakery and she enjoys helping them with ordinary recipes, unlike her handsome older brother Thyme, her funny younger brother Sage, and her adorable three-year-old sister Parsley.  The three children are never allowed to help when their parents make the secret, magical recipes from the Bliss Family Cookery Booke, such as cookies that will help you sleep or make you fall in love.  When Rose’s parents must leave suddenly to help a nearby town recover from the flu, they trust Rose to protect the magical family cookbook, giving Rose a whisk-shaped key to the room where it is kept.  Shortly afterwards, a mysterious and glamorous relative named “Aunt” Lily shows up.  Rose feels ordinary and uninteresting compared to Lily, so tired of the plain old bakery goods, she and her siblings decide to discreetly try to make a few magical recipes. What they don’t realize is how much havoc the recipes will wreak and that Aunt Lily is after the Bliss Family Cookery Booke.  If readers enjoy bakeries with a little bit of magic and a lot of humor, Bliss will be the perfect book for them.

It’s Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder
Isabel wants to leave her hometown and travel all over the world, like her aunt Christy, who is a flight attendant.   When Isabel’s mother decides to open a cupcake shop, Isabel and her parents are uprooted to an apartment above the shop, instead of their duplex next to her best friend Sophie’s house.  While Sophie gets to attend summer camp and travel, Isabel is stuck at home helping her mother prepare the shop.  Soon, Isabel gets her potential ticket out of Willow: a baking contest where the finalists get to travel to New York City.  But Sophie, who does everything better than Isabel and always gets to travel, also wants to enter.  To top it off, Isabel’s mother has a hard time maintaining a positive attitude about the store and is pressuring Isabel to make cupcakes for the contest, even though Isabel wants to try something else.  Can Isabel make her own dreams come true without hurting her mother or Sophie?  Hand It’s Raining Cupcakes to readers who want stories about family, friendship and cupcakes.

Katie and the Cupcake Cure by Coco Simon
Katie’s first day of middle school isn’t as easy as she thinks it will be.  Her locker keeps getting stuck, she gets lost trying to find her classes, and her best friend Callie came back from camp with a new group of friends, the Popular Girls Club.  Luckily, three other girls, Mia, Alexis, and Emma who also aren’t sure where they fit in join Katie for lunch.  When the other girls see the cupcake Katie’s mom packed in her lunch, the four bond over their love of baked goods.  Together, the four girls start a new club that anyone can join: the Cupcake Club.  Katie, Mia, Alexis, and Emma learn that middle school is easier with friend and cupcakes!  Katie and the Cupcake Cure is the first book in the twenty-five book Cupcake Diaries series, and each book alternates between the perspectives of the four friends.   If readers are looking for a new series about the toils of middle school and the delights of delicious baked goods, the Cupcake Diaries will be perfect for them.
 
    Close to Famous by Joan Bauer