Who doesn’t read a book where characters cook elaborate meals or bake delicious desserts without getting hungry? On Friday Carmine wrote about picture books with recipes that you can use to cook with children. I wanted to share with you a similar genre some call “foodie fiction” that has emerged in middle grade fiction (books for kids aged 8-12). These books feature protagonists who cook and bake—sometimes as their special Talent, or they dream of being on a famous cooking show, or perhaps it’s their way of bringing joy into other people’s lives. Either way, kids who cook or bake (or even just love food) can see themselves reflected in these characters.
As foodie fiction for young people gains popularity, authors have started including recipes, similar to authors of the picture books Carmine discussed. As with children cooking recipes in picture books, middle grade readers can follow recipes in these novels to create the same delicious foods that the characters their reading about made. Cooking encourages creativity, strengthens math skills (so many fractions!), provides kids an opportunity to work independently (or as a team cooking together), and gives them a bit more control that they don’t always get at to their age.
If you know a kid who loves to cook, then these books may appeal to them. What better way to spend some time with a kid in your life than cooking together? Or, encourage them to read these books and cook on their own. Always with some adult supervision, of course. Who knows, the young foodie in your life may turn out to be the next Great Chef.
A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
In this this world, everyone has a Talent, an almost magical ability that sets them apart. Cady’s is baking the perfect cake for each person. But with a Talent thief on the loose, Cady will need more than her baking skills to stop him. Includes 9 unique cake recipes.
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
Twelve-year-old Foster wishes to become a famous TV chef on Food Network. When she and her mother wind up in the small town of Culpepper, she meets quirky neighbors who each have dreams (and secrets) as big as her own. Includes recipes for cupcakes and frosting.
Pie by Sarah Weeks
Alice’s Aunt Polly has passed away, leaving her world famous secret recipe for pie crust to her cat, Lardo! Now Alice must care for Lardo and preserve the recipe in a town that has gone pie-crazy in preparations for a cooking contest. Filled with a plethora of pie recipes, from Apple Pie to Green Tomato Pie.
The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer
For years, Annie and her two friends have met each week at her grandmother’s tea shop, the Steeping Leaf. But the best friends have started drifting apart and business is bad for the tea shop. Can Annie and her friends save the shop before it’s too late? Recipes relate to all things tea, such as iced tea and scones.
Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff
During World War II, Jayne grapples with the news her brother is missing in action. When she finds a little blue recipe book that may belong to a long-lost grandmother, she sets out to find her. The book’s many soup recipes are perfect for cold winter days.
All Four Stars by Tara Dairman
Technically this book doesn’t include recipes, but all cooks benefit from reviews of their food! Gladys loves to cook and write about food. When a misunderstanding lands her a freelance writing job as New York’s newest restaurant critic, she sets out to prove she can do this and finish the sixth grade.