Sunday 7 May 2017

Secret Cooking Club

Secret Cooking Club by Laurel Remington (Chicken House) PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978-1-910655-24-5

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Scarlett is sick of being the butt of everyone’s jokes at school. One of the stars of a mummy-blog that her mother writes every week, Scarlett can’t tell her mother how she feels about her personal life being broadcast for all. Rather than being anonymous (as her mother believes this blog to be), everyone knows Scarlett is the blog’s star. Feeling more like a victim than a star, Scarlett retreats into her loneliness until one evening she discovers the neighbour’s deserted kitchen, with ingredients left out just waiting for someone to cook.

Scarlett then begins a magical journey of discovery. Cooking, friendship and family bonds are all explored along the way and Scarlett discovers that some things are worth fighting for, worth the hard work.

This is an absorbing novel for middle grade readers. Cooking, a popular subject currently, takes centre stage as Scarlett learns to create and have confidence in the kitchen. She is an enjoyable character to spend time with, and one who grows and changes throughout the story.

I liked how friendship was portrayed in this story, not just between friends Scarlett and Violet, but also between the old lady and the girls, and between the family members. I particularly enjoyed the different view presented on the ‘mean girls’ clique. It was refreshing to see such a perspective on social interactions without resorting to stereotypes and laying blame.

Scarlett is a girl with inner strength and a heart in the right place. She knows the difference between right and wrong but is not always sure how to go about achieving it.

Although there is a boy in the Secret Cooking Club, this is really a book that girls will enjoy, especially those who love their cooking with a splash of mystery and a dash of romance.

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