Review Blog

Jun 12 2017

The secret cooking club by Laurel Remington

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Chicken House, 2016. ISBN 9781910655245
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Cooking, Relationships, Age, Clubs, Dementia, Death. Scarlet once an outgoing clever girl at school has been worn down by her mother's latest scheme to set herself up in business. She has produced a blog which discusses being a single mother, offering advice to others in her situation. But she uses Scarlet as the basis of many of her posts, so Scarlet shrinks at school, aware that people know so much about her, things she would prefer they did not know. But mum is unaware of how Scarlet thinks and complains online of how distant her teenage daughter has become. This only exacerbates the situation, Mum unaware that people have easily worked out who she is talking about.
Hearing the cat next door Scarlet lets herself into the elderly woman's house and feeds it knowing the woman has been taken to hospital. But the house has a beautiful kitchen and the recipe books and Scarlet cannot help herself and cooks a recipe from a special book. She is joined by Violet a new girl in the school, and they set up the Secret Cooking Class, which is then joined by two other girls, and when Mrs Simpson returns from hospital, she begins to teach the girls how to cook.
This lovely story of neighbours coming together, of the young girls helping the older woman to avoid being bullied by her nephew, eager to get her into a home so he can sell the house, of the girls taking action to set Scarlet and her mother on an even keel, of friendships forged, and above all about cooking, will be well read. The recipes and cooking instructions throughout the book will intrigue readers who may be impelled to try them out for themselves, (or at the very least, look up some of the recipes like banoffle!) but the companionship offered by the cooking club, will resonate with the book's audience. Scarlet's transformation from the quiet girl in school to a more confident leader amongst her peers, being able to speak to her mother with authority is beautifully portrayed, and readers will symapthise with this endearing main character.
Winner of the Times Children's Fiction Competition, 2015.
Fran Knight

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