Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Secret Ingredient

Schaefer, Laura. The Secret Ingredient.
Squee! I loved The Teashop Girls, so I was thrilled to see Annie, Zoe and Genna back. Now that they have saved Annie's grandmother's tea shop, The Steeping Leaf, from financial ruin (with help from the annoying Zach, whose father owns the building it is in), Annie is enthused about entering a scone making contest, the prize for which is a trip to London for a high tea tour! In addition to creating a fabulous scone recipe, Annie has to create a blog and be in the top five of blog followers. She spends a ton of time in the summer before high school working on these things, and of course there are obstacles. Genna, back from theater camp, has developed very unhealthy eating habits. Zoe is trying to get the local school system to support locally grown food by serving more veggies in school lunches. Zach continues to be annoying, and another contestant keeps leaving rude remarks on the blog. Annie does manage to make the top five and travels to Chicago for the competition... you'll just have to read the book to find out what happens!

Strengths: It's fun to read about strong girls who have interests that they pursue with a passion. I can't see tea engendering this much enthusiasm, although I certainly am fond of my cup of Barry's Irish, but it's refreshing to see a character put this much effort into a pursuit. The characters are all charming, and who doesn't want to win a trip to London?
Weaknesses: There's no actual website! Simon and Schuster should definitely have set one up! I also found it a bit hard to believe that Annie was able to get over 500 followers, but she is much more aggressive about marketing than I am.

Personal Notes: It was a lovely, cooler summer day today, and I managed to run three miles (total: 58) AND drop off 42 baby quilt tops, so after hanging out two loads of laundry and tying up my tomatoes, I sat leisurely on the porch with a cup of tea and enjoyed reading this book. About half way through, I HAD to make one of the scone recipes, choosing the Parmesan and Strawberry that are pictured. Years and years ago (January of 1973, in fact; I have the very first issue) in Cricket Magazine, there was an essay by Lloyd Alexander called "The Hungry Reader". You can see a facsimile of it at The Hungry Reader. When I first read the essay, I had no idea who Alexander was, but I thought about it over the years. Betsy, Tacy and Tib make fudge? I need to, as well. Thus, scones, and a very nice summer day. Thanks, Ms. Schaeffer!


Mrs. N said...

Oh sweet heavens, I am a sucker for a book with a food theme and recipes included.

I just finished Flavor of the Week which I thought was overall weak, but I've already gone to the store for ingredients in order to make one of the recipes.

I will definitely check these out.

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