Zahler, Diane. Baker's Magic
February 1st 2016 by Capstone Young Readers
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Bee has been orphaned when both of her parents were killed in a shipwreck. She survived, and is cared for by foster parents who are unkind. She eventually runs away, and eventually ends up in Aradyn at the bakery of Mr. Bouts. She tries to steal a bun but is tripped by Wil and caught. She is so starved and pathetic that the local citizens take pity on her. Bouts hires her as his apprentice, and Wil, the son of a blacksmith, becomes her fast friend. Bee proves an apt baker, and her moods tend to be baked right into her pastries. When Master Joris, the city mage and the guardian of the orphaned princess Annika, wants to try the bakery's products, Bee is sent to the palace to deliver them. She finds the palace to be rather decrepit, but makes friends with Annika. Eventually, the two realize that Joris (who has killed all of the trees in the kingdom to make room for tulips) is trying to marry Annika off to a much older king in order to have the kingdom for himself. Annika runs away with the help of Bee and Wil, and the three have quite an adventure. They not only find out secrets about the heritage of the girls, but they discover environmental problems caused by Joris, even though they also find some solutions. Add help from a pirate ship with a fiesty female Captain, an adorable per hedgehog, and a happy ending, and this was a very fun read!
Strengths: Bee had a hard life, but found kind people to help her. The descriptions of the buns as well as the clean clothing and soft bed were heart felt and wonderful. I loved how she had the power to bake her emotions into pastries. The friendships were all solid and helpful. The twists about the parentage of the girls was good as well. Had a vaguely Dutch, 1600-1700s feel, so very standard fantasy setting.
Weaknesses: This started to lose me a bit when they found the island and tried to move it back to the kingdom. There was plenty going on before that.
What I really think: This was such an enormous relief to read. Only happy surprises, parents returning from the dead instead of dying, magical tarts... sigh. Must purchase. My readers love happy stories and anything to do with baking!
At first, I was disappointed that the cover wasn't in the same gorgeous style as the other covers of this author's books, but the plain blue one will no doubt make it easier to get boys to pick up this book, since it has plenty of adventure.