Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! Hop over to Shannon Whitney Messenger's Blog for a full list of people this week who are posting; here is last week's list of MMGM postings.

Remember when cooking was exciting? In the 7th grade, we had home ec and spent a period every day learning about cooking. We made pancakes and syrup (maple flavoring and Karo!), lollipops, pie-- don't know that the school budget ran to actual food, but we learned how to keep our kitchens clean! I still think about Mrs. Mercer when I am wiping down all of the counters every time I do dishes. I loved home ec so much (8th grade was sewing) that I almost compounded my horrible idea of majoring in Latin with a minor in teaching home ec. Now they don't teach cooking in school, but it doesn't mean that students aren't interested. Appease your budding cooks with these books!

Simon, Coco. Emma on Thin Icing.
Emma's mother has lost her job as a librarian due to budget cuts and is working the 3-9pm shift at a local bookstore, which means that Emma and her three brothers have to pitch in more around the house. With Mia's mother's wedding coming up, Emma needs $250 to buy a junior bridesmaids dress, and she's stressing out. She tries to walk more dogs to make money, and even takes on some cupcake baking on her own. She has to watch her younger brother, keep up with her school work, and help make dinner. She tries very hard to keep everything together but might not be able to afford to buy the dress in time, and then an evil classmate will pick it up! Emma realizes in the end that she can't do everything on her own, and doesn't need to, since she does have supportive family and friends that will help her out if she just asks.
Strengths: Emma's mother gets her job back. Oh, the book? This was very reminiscent of the Beany Malone or Katie Rose stories, which I adore. Teen girl trying to handle things on her own? Apparently still my very favorite thing to read. I have the first two books, and they have been popular.
Weaknesses: I'm not a good judge. Does A New and Different Summer have weaknesses?Absolutely not!

Simon, Coco. Alexis and the Perfect Recipe.
Alexis' older sister Dylan is having a Sweet 16 birthday party and has turned in a monster over the plans. She doesn't want the Cupcake Club to make the cupcakes and gives them grief over every cupcake they pitch. Alexis has bigger probelms, though-- she has a huge crush on Emma's brother Matt, who will be at the party. Since she loves math and research, she tries to scientifically determine how to make boys like her-- soft clothes in soft colors, curly hair, vanilla perfume. It takes a while to get the formula right, but Alexis manages to get everything-- cupcakes and herself-- perfectly organized before the big party. Matt asks her to dance, but there's no chemistry at all. No matter! Her research will come in handy with her conquests down the road.
Strengths: Did like the twist at the end with Matt, and loved that Alexis had a head for numbers.
Weaknesses: The reinventing herself for a boy was disturbing, but so true to life!

Visit the Cupcake Diaries web site for all sorts of goodies!
Other books on cooking and baking!

Bauer, Joan. Close to Famous.
Conford, Ellen. What's Cooking, Jenny Archer?
Creech, Sharon. Granny Torelli Makes Soup (contributed by Caryl)
Davis, Tanita. Ala Carte.
Dunbar, Fiona. The Truth Cookie.
Fergus, Maureen. Recipe for Disaster
Ganeshram, Ramin. Stir it Up!
Greenwald, Lisa. Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes.
Hepler, Heather. The Cupcake Queen.
Hurwitz, Joanna.(1982) Tough-luck Karen
Jackson, Alison. Eggs Over Evie.
Mandelski, Christina. The Sweetest Thing
McClain, Lee. Sizzle.
Ostow, Michol. Crush du Jour
Schaefer, Laura. The Teashop Girls.
Schroeder, Lisa. It's Raining Cupcakes.
Smith, Sherri L. Hot Sour Salty Sweet.
Shaw, Tucker. Flavor of the Week.
Whytock, Cherry. My Cup Runneth Over (series)
Winston, Sherry. President of the Whole Fifth Grade

Let me know if I'm missing some good ones!


  1. My sister graduated from our all-girls Catholic high school in 1993, and her class was the last class to take home economics. Too bad.

    From time to time, I meet kids who are really into cooking, usually baking, since that's more fun and interesting than cooking roast beef. I think the Food Network and its food-related reality shows have a lot to do with it.

  2. I love your list of cooking/baking themed books! How about Sharon Creech's Granny Torrelli Makes Soup?

  3. The last time I remember learning any cooking at school was in 5th grade. From where I come from, teachers have to finance that out of their own pockets. (that's unfortunate).
    These series of books sound interesting. Thanks for the feature.


  5. Anonymous9:52 PM EST

    These look (and sound!) delightful. Was not familiar with them, will fix that. Thanks!

  6. What a delicious list of books!

    I, too, had and loved Home Ec in junior high. Sewing was my favorite, though; I was (and remain) a picky eater, so I didn't like a lot of what we made. Oh, and we made very practical things. The only one I remember was moose eyes. Runny egg yolks? Um...no thanks.

  7. Anonymous11:08 AM EST

    wow - what a cute series! i told my niece about the jamie oliver rule (teens should learn how to cook 10 things before they move out). and of course, the first thing she learned on her list of 10 was a dessert - pumpkin pie. she'll never go hungry ;)