Return of Zombert by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Ryan Andrews
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
MG Review of Return of Zombert by Kara LaReau, Illustrations by Ryan Andrews
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi, illustrations by Melissa Manwill
Opening Lines: "Gus lifted his head and sniffed the chilly November air."
Praise for Secondhand Dogs:“A sensitive, satisfying, and intriguing canine tale.” —Kirkus Reviews
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
MG Realistic Fiction review of The Last Super Chef by Chris Negron
Publisher: Harper Collins
Number of Pages: 416
Publishing: July 6th, 2021
Source: Author and Publisher via Edelweiss +
Opening Lines: "I know the exact amount of flour for the perfect cake batter."
10 year old Curtis Pith is passionate about cooking, whipping up everything from Crème brûlée cupcakes to a Cheese Soufflé. One day he hopes to be just like the host of The Super Chef, chef Lucas Taylor. Not only is Chef Taylor his idol, he's also secretly his absentee father, which his mom pretty much admitted when he was in the second grade. While watching Super Chef with his younger sister, Paige, Curtis is surprised to learn the show is changing up their format and that this will be Chef Taylor's final season. Curtis is heartbroken by the news until he learns that five children contestants will be selected from around the world to compete in a cooking contest with a grand prize of $250,000. Curtis knows this is his one opportunity to finally meet his dad and show him what he can do, and maybe help his single mom who's been struggling to pay their bills. Now all he needs is a winning video entry to impress the judges and be selected as a contestant for the competition.
I haven't had this much fun reading a book about cooking since All Four Stars by Tara Dairman. I like to think of myself as a culinary enthusiast, always curious to try new ingredients and dishes and I especially enjoy a story that highlights these skills. Plus as an added bonus both books have a Crème brûlée incident and speak to that inner foodie in me.
The Last Super Chef is a cross between the Golden Ticket from Willy Wonka, and the talented kids from Master Chef or Chopped Junior. The story follows along with each of the kids as they're selected to compete, start to prepare their dishes, including the prep work, utensils, descriptions of the scrumptious ingredients and the final presentation of their completed work to the judges. Each of Chef Taylor's challenges was designed to not only test their cooking skills, aptitude and how well they could work together, it also included a special theme for each challenge, based off the skills needed for an exceptional chef. I love how the story highlights kids from a variety of culinary backgrounds and introduces new ingredients, while exposing the reader to other cultures foods, including dishes from Kyoto, Japan, Mexico City and from Boston, Illinois and New York. Those Crème brûlée cupcakes and Jambalaya sound to die for!
The story is so much more than just the cooking competition, although this is the meat and potatoes of the book, there is also the emphasis of how a TV personalities life can become an international conversation. Speculation, rumors and questions about issues can arise at any given moment that don't pertain to anyone else but the individual. It highlights the pressures that kids place on themselves to live up to their expectations and those of their parents. And also the disappointment of letting yourself down by not feeling you can measure up. Yet, it's also hopeful by illustrating the importance of teamwork, friendship, a strong family support, and a dash of kindness go a long way in helping you succeed. If you enjoyed All Four Stars, love watching cooking shows and competitions, or know of a young culinary enthusiast, The Last Super Chef will certainly satiate their appetite. **A huge thank you to Chris Negron and Edelweiss + for the E-ARC**