Wednesday, September 01, 2021

The $150, 000 Rugelach

Marks, Allison and Marks, Wayne. The $150, 000 Rugelach
August 31st 2021 by Yellow Jacket
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Jack is sure that he can be a world renowned pastry chef and achieve fame, like his idol, Phineas Farnsworth II, who owns a company that produces a range of baking equipment. He is used to spending a lot of time baking, and has the reluctant support of his parents, who don't understand why he is interested in something like golf, like his brother, Chad. He desperately wants to enter the long running Bakerstown Bonanza, but the entrants have to be 18. Jack is irritated when someone brings a chocolate rugelach to school, and it eclipses his own caramel basil brownies. When that person turns out to be Jillian, he doesn't think she did her own baking. Little does he know that Jillian's late mother ran a bakery before her death, and left her recipes to Jillian, who has had to move from Seattle to Ardmore, Ohio with her father to live with her grandmother. It's been a difficult adjustment, although she loves her grandmother even though her cooking skills leave a lot to be desired. When the Bakerstown Bonanza opens a junior competition, Jack is sure it is his ticket to fame and dortune, since the prize is a new food lab for the school and a $150,000 prize for the winnter. Jillian wants to enter mainly for the money, since her family is struggling. She and Jack are chosen to represent their school based on their video entries, and have to learn to work together. Jack has researched all of the past winners and decided what things are best to bake, but Jillian wants to honor her mother, who made everything taste better with her secret ingredient... love. Jack's baking does not include this, and he can't understand why his baked goods aren't as tasty. Some family secrets emerge, the competition heats up with children from other schools, and Jack and Jillian must learn to work together. Recipes are included. 
Strengths: I enjoyed some of the back history of the families, and it was good to see Jewish representation, especially since there were some recipes as well. Jack was an over the top kind of character and a nice foil for Jill's  more quiet and introspective style. Their struggles working together were realistic. Farnsworth reminded me a bit of Garrison Griswold in Bertman's The Book Scavenger, but was  more evil. There was a lot of comic relief with the Farnsworth products, and with Chad's ridiculous golfing outfits. 
Weaknesses: Love doesn't make food taste any better. 
What I really think: The occasional page illustrations are delightful, but it does cause the book to skew a little younger. Since I just ordered Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster (which had a little more humor as well as some mystery), I may pass on this one. I would definitely look into it for an elementary school library, or if I didn't have as many books about cooking competitions as I do. 

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