Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster

Puffin Canada. May 2021. 256p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780735269279. POP
Gr 4-6–Variety may be the spice of life; but for 12-year-old Alice Fleck, too many changes spell trouble. Alice is not looking forward to middle school, and she isn’t very happy about her dad James’s new girlfriend, Hana. Things heat up when Alice realizes that her dad and Hana have been planning for them all to attend a Victorian festival where Hana will be lecturing—and that Hana signed Alice and James up to compete on Culinary Capers, a historical cooking show that’s filmed there. Alice and her culinary historian dad have been cooking together all her life, but not in front of cameras. Granted, Culinary Capers isn’t as intense as most cooking shows; plus, it doesn’t even air on a popular station (just the history station), so it’s not like anyone will see it. But Alice and James discover there have been some changes to the familiar show. Culinary Capers has become Culinary Combat, complete with a new host, a new network, and a ruthless new judge, Tom Truffleman, who does not like kids. Alice feels alone until she befriends two other kids at the festival, Tavi and Henry, and they decide to figure out who is behind all the “accidents” happening on set. Alongside the mystery plot, Alice’s insecurities and family concerns feel authentic, as does her relationship with her father. Alice and her dad are white, and there is diversity among the supporting characters.
VERDICT Delaney takes readers on an adventure that feels like a cross between Kids Baking Championship and Scooby Doo in all the best possible ways, along with a few behind-the-scenes glimpses of reality TV and social media. Recommended for fans of cooking shows and sweet family stories.

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