Everybody at school was talking about JuniorChef. Jake felt left out. He’d only watched half of the first episode before Dad switched channels.
Jake hadn’t thought it would be super interesting anyway. Contestants on the show talked about cooking as if it was the only thing they could ever be interested in.
Didn’t they practise pulling faces in front of the mirror?
Hadn’t they tried flying with helium-filled balloons?
Or imagined lasers that could clean your teeth while you sat on the toilet?
Jake is back in a new adventure. This time it’s cooking. All his classmates, and even his teacher, are entranced by the latest kids cooking show. When Jake starts watching, he too catches the bug. He’s keen to go straight to the top, to competition standard. He’s not keen to learn the basics, like safety and cleanliness, even though Nana is happy to teach him. She does teach him how to make chocolate mousse and then he undertakes teaching his friend. When the school decides to hold a cook-off, Jake is selected as one of the representatives. He begins the search for the winning dish. Black and white illustrations on every opening immerse the reader in the action.
Jake is a young boy with a healthy curiosity and self-belief. He is supported by a family who allow him to follow his passions, no matter how unexpected or transitory. They sometimes suggest caution but beyond that, they allow him his own voyage of discovery. Jake is supported by his friends and endures his less-favourite classmates. Not all his adventures turn out quite as he expects, but then that’s the point of an adventure, isn’t it? Discovery. Jake’s Cooking Craze is full of humour and absurdity, and is sure to delight young readers. The topical nature of this offering will have them chortling, and possibly inspire them in their own creations. Beware! Recommended for newly independent readers transitioning from fully illustrated texts.
Jake’s Cooking Craze, Ken Spillman ill Chris Nixon
Fremantle Press 2013 ISBN: 9781922089106
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available from good bookstores or online.