________________ CM . . . . Volume 21 Number 20 . . . . January 30, 2015


Original Recipe. (Finley Flowers).

Jessica Young.
North Mankato, MN: Picture Window Books/Capstone Young Readers, 2015.
105 pp., paper over board, $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-4795-5878-0.

Subject headings:
Cooking-Juvenile fiction.
Contests-Juvenile fiction.
Best friends-Juvenile fiction.
Elementary schools-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


(Finley) rummaged around and set a bunch of supplies on the counter: chocolate sauce, mustard, strawberries, yogurt, and sparkling water.

“What are you looking for, exactly?” Henry asked.

Finley help up a jar of green olives. “Fin-spiration.”


internal artFinley Flowers is a spirited grade 3 student and a free spirit, too, a quality that creates complications when she tries to dream up a unique recipe for a cooking contest.

internal artOriginal Recipe is a first chapter book by Jessica Young, a Canadian writer now living in Nashville, Tennessee. Directed at young girls, Young has created an independent-minded girl whose best friend is Henry Lin. Children will relate to Finley’s industriousness; she’s a crafter extraordinaire and has given Henry her best crafts as gifts. Now she wants to win a cooking contest so she can give him the prize for his birthday – a year’s worth of pizza, his favourite food.

     Finley’s good intentions become snarled when she refuses to follow any recipes, certain her concoctions of disparate ingredients will somehow turn up a taste sensation. When bacon, Nutella and tomato sandwiches and smoked salmon smoothies get bad reviews, she gets desperate. The dish she devises for the contest is definitely unique – but is it good?

     Adding to Finley’s problems are a know-it-all older brother, a bothersome little sister and a rival classmate who seems to be perfect in every way, much to Finley’s annoyance.

     Young writes in a spirited style that displays Finley’s seemingly unbounding optimism, but she also shows that her bravado masks a lack of confidence and fears about her truths being exposed. Recipes don’t always turn out as planned, but Finley discovers her strengths and what matters most in life.

     The chapter book is dotted with colourful illustrations by Jessica Secheret. Interestingly, Henry, whose heritage is Chinese, sports a baseball cap doted with a red star, reminiscent of a Mao cap of decades gone by.

     Two recipes that kids can easily make are appended. Original Recipe is the first of a series planned for Finley Flowers. It will be a good addition to a school or home library for kids learning to read independently.


Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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.

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