The secret cooking club by Laurel Remington
Chicken House, 2016. ISBN 9781910655245
(Age: 9+) Recommended. The secret cooking club is a delicious story, filled with family, food and friends. Twelve-year-old Scarlett's life is a mess, her mother is a blogger who writes about the ups-and-downs of family life. These blogs are humiliating for Scarlett, as the whole school knows about her Disney Princess knickers, her friendship dramas and her failure at learning the violin. Mum is so engrossed in the notoriety of becoming a famous blogger and gaining sponsors that she fails to parent her daughters, and Scarlett is forced to look after young Kelsie.
One night as Scarlett is lying in bed she hears a noise in the empty house next door and goes to investigate. Her elderly neighbour Mrs. Simpson has been hospitalised and no one should be home. Scarlett discovers a very hungry cat and the most amazing chef's kitchen filled with appliances, bags of flour, jars of spices and all kinds of sugars, a fridge filled with delicious ingredients, utensils and a little magic recipe book. When Scarlett decides to bake cinnamon scones, her life begins to transform. With the help of a new classmate Violet, they cook up an amazing array of tasty treats each afternoon. These are sneakily placed in the school cafeteria for the other students to enjoy.
The secret cooking club explores the problems a preteen faces, first crushes, friendships, enemies, bullying, as well as the responsibility of caring for the elderly. It is a light and humourous story with a relatable protagonist and a family that transforms over time. Laurel Remington won the Times Children's Fiction Competition in 2015 with this book; recipes for all of Scarlett's baking are needed!