Yellow Jacket, 2019 352 pages
Eleven-year-old Mimi often feels overlooked as the youngest in a super-star family. She has been particularly lonely since her best friend moved away and her beloved food-critic father is traveling on business. Mimi's passion is baking and she is thrilled when a new bakery opens in her small town announcing a baking contest for kids. Mimi is determined to enter and win the contest, even as she finds the goods in the bakery sub-par and the owner and workers a bit odd. A jaunt in the woods brings a new friend, who though in town only for the summer, also loves to bake and joins Mimi in concocting some yummy treats. As Mimi's family is involved in a local production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, things start to get kooky, mirroring the events in the play. Dad returns from the trip with an insatiable appetite to the point of gluttony, two boys both fall over themselves to capture the heart of Mimi's non-assuming sister, and her brother can't stop looking in the mirror. Why is everyone acting crazy and what can Mimi do to make it stop? Finally the day of the contest arrives and Mimi must bake in front of an audience, as well as a famous celebrity chef/judge. The contest ends with unexpected results. Opening night of the play brings the action to the climax and Mimi learns the truth behind the strange summer happenings as well as behind the bakery and its workers, and the secret behind her own cooking. Mimi learns where her heart truly lies and makes a new friend in the process.
This new book is getting a lot of buzz. It falls under the category of "Magical Realism", which is currently trending, and features a diverse cast, including Mimi's family who boast Indian roots, a culture underrepresented in children's fiction. Children will enjoy this book and relate to Mimi's feelings of being the youngest and seemingly without power. Almost like watching an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, tweens will experience romantic complications through the eyes of the amused younger sister. Mimi's summer after the loss of her best friend seems long and lonely, but this fantastic adventure with a new cast of characters offers her both amusement and a sense of purpose. She finds her footing and true powers, learning that she can contribute as much as her older siblings. Cooking terms are defined in the back of the volume, as are possibly unfamiliar Indian foods. A recipe is include, inspiring want-to-be chefs to tackle the kitchen. This story may also lead readers to crack into some of Shakespeare's plays, specifically A Midsummer Night's Dream, which much of the plot of the story mimics. The action never flags and crazy plot-twists and surprises await the reader, which will keep them turning pages. An unusual story with lots of appeal, give to fans of Love, Sugar, Magic, or to anyone who loves their fantasy with a culinary twist.