The fabulous cakes of Zinnia Jakes : The tumbling tortoises by Brenda Gurr

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Zoe Jones is holding her own as a trendy commercial baker but she’s undercover because she’s just a kid. She shares this trait with her dad, a world famous food critic, travelling incognito for the sake of accurate food journalism. Only Dad, Aunty Jam and her BF, Addie, know her true identity – but increasingly it looks as if Polly, top of their class, has her suspicions.

Tensions mount as Zinnia Jakes (aka Zoe) wins the local zoo’s cake design competition, with a gorgeous Galapagos tortoise design. To complicate matters, her class is awarded an invitation to the Wildside Zoo for the launch of their endangered animal display. Since the “Tumbling Tortoises” cakes will be viewed and launched at the opening, Zoe faces the problem of delivering the cakes without blowing her cover.

Family pitches in with ideas, but what ever goes to plan in a gorgeous easy chapter book, featuring an endearing and enterprising young girl of absent parents?  This new series based on Zinnia Jakes, and undoubtedly inspired by pop culture demand for reality cooking shows, has everything you could want in a mystery book plot. Plus, readers score Zoe’s full Chocolate Swirl Cupcakes recipe as well as a sample chapter of “Crumbling Castles”.

Recommended for middle schoolers but cover with clingwrap in the kitchen – you don’t want to stain this culinary mystery for the next borrowers. Better,  the publisher’s teaching notes for both books in the series so far, contain recipes for these cupcakes and Medieval Gingerbread. 

Themes: Mystery, Adventure.

Deborah Robins