________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 1 . . . . September 4, 2009


Recipe for Disaster.

Maureen Fergus.
Toronto, ON: Kid Can Press, 2009.
252 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $18.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55453-320-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55453-319-1 (hc.).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Katie Edwards.

***½ /4


Tate studied my face as though seeing it for the first time.

I held my breath and wondered if I was about to get my first kiss."

How come you never get any pimples on your forehead?" he finally asked.

Only slightly disappointed that he hasn't managed to phrase this spine-tingling compliment about my complexion in a more romantic way, I opened my mouth to modestly give the credit to good genes when Rory suddenly screeched, "HAVEN''T YOU EVER SEEN A PERSON ICE DOWN A ZIT BEFORE?"

"I don't know what that stupid bird is talking about!" I said quickly. "He's a complete moron. Even other birds think he's a moron."

"HE'S A COMPLETE MORON," agreed Rory, flinging some birdseed in Tate's direction.


Francie Freewater is 13 (but ever-so-close to 14) years old. She is passionate about three things: her friendship with her best friend Holly; baking; and sexy celebrity baker Lorenzo LaRue.

     Francie and her family live above her parents' struggling café. Despite her knowledge that it's difficult to make ends meet in the business, Francie dreams of becoming a celebrity baker like Lorenzo: she fantasizes about having her own TV show and cookbooks. In the meantime, the treats she bakes for the café fly off the counter. When a contest is announced in which the winner will bake alongside Lorenzo, Francie is sure that her chance at fame has arrived.

     At school, however, Francie's food-related fantasies are overridden by thoughts of bad-boy Tate Jarvis. She sits next to Tate in Chemistry and longs for the day when he will once again pay attention to her. Tate once stuffed his sandwich crust in Francie's milk, and it was the highlight of her love life.

     Francie's life is full of dreams that are about to come true. Until The New Girl shows up, that is. Darlene is perky and blond, and Francie instinctively dislikes her. However, everyone else is charmed by Darlene, and Francie suddenly has to compete for both her best friend and her possible future boyfriend.

     There are several plotlines which become bogged down near the middle of the book while Francie obsesses over Darlene and her manipulative nature. However, the pace is revived as Francie moves on and races towards love and stardom.

     Three themes run throughout Recipe for Disaster: love, friendship, and lofty goals. In terms of love, some readers may become frustrated over Francie's inexplicable infatuation with Tate. However, they will all cheer when she finally stands up to him. In addition, Francie's revulsion about French-kissing and slimy tongues makes this book perfect for tweens.

     The message about friendship is clear: while Darlene mocks Francie's passion for baking, Holly praises her work and helps to advertise it. And while Holly is supportive, Darlene is a stumbling block. In fact, Darlene's comments discourage Francie to the point where she is ready to give up on her aspirations. Even Francie's teacher demands that a report on her future career be a "reasonable" one. However, Francie proves her resolve by working hard at her baking: she treats it as a business, has a budget, and considers supply and demand. The message is both realistic and inspiring: dream big, but work hard to achieve your goals.

     Although the dialogue occasionally sounds forced coming from tween mouths, Francie's wry and witty first person narration is often hilarious. Her intense yearning for earrings and her horror over a bad haircut will resonate with readers not only because they can relate, but because Francie tells her story in an honest and straightforward way. The conclusion of this revved-up romp through grade nine is both sweet and inspirational.

     Recipe for Disaster is a must-have for school and public libraries. The sexual content maxes out at kissing and a brief mention of groping, and there is no objectionable language. Tween readers will have a great time cheering Francie on as she pursues love, friendship, and fame.

Highly Recommended.

Katie Edwards is the Cybrarian (Teen Services) for Calgary Public Library in Calgary, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.