Everyone likes to eat and judging by the proliferation of cooking shows on television and celebrity chefs, it seems that most everyone--kids and teens included--like to cook. In these books, two very different girls, one living in 1945 and the other a contemporary twelve year old, are both experiencing war's effects on their families. They also find solace and accomplishment in baking.
My Chocolate Year: A Novel with 12 Recipes by Charlotte Herman focuses on fifth grader Dorrie's determination to win her teacher's "sweet semester" baking and essay contest. She will even get her photo in the newspaper! Each month as she tries a new chocolate recipe in search of the perfect one, readers can, too. Dorrie is engaging as she recounts her kitchen mishaps and the historical details of Chicago life in the post-World War II period. Beneath this lighthearted account is the story of her Jewish immigrant family looking for missing relatives. When her cousin Victor arrives from Germany we get a glimpse of the terrible struggle of the era. With tips from his family's bakery, Victor helps Dorrie in the contest and she learns to treasure family times.
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer is set in present day West Virginia, where 6th grader Foster McGee dreams of being a Food Network chef like her hero, Sonny Kroll. But before she can make the world a better place, "one cupcake at a time," she has major challenges to face. Her father was killed in combat in Iraq, and her mom needed to get away quickly from an abusive boyfriend. Foster and her mom accidentally land in tiny Culpepper and soon the quirky residents open up a new world of support for Foster. As her stellar baking becomes known throughout the town, she finally has the courage to accept help from a retired actress and face her reading disability. The first book she reads is Sonny's cookbook!
Both of these fast-paced novels center on appealing girls looking for a little fame in the culinary world and finding lots more along the way.