- Stir It Up
Thirteen-year-old Anjali has a passion for food and cooking far greater than can be met working in her Trinidadian family’s roti shop in Queens, so when she is presented with the opportunity to try out for the Food Network’s “Super Chef Kids,” she jumps on it. Since her audition is at the exact same time as the admissions test for the high school that her father is determined she will attend, Anjali goes behind her parents’ backs to audition and gets grounded as a consequence. Fortunately, Anjali’s family eventually comes around and allows her to compete [End Page 79] (“She shouldn’t have lied…But we betray Anjali by not letting her have her joy”), and though she loses in the final round, her family is there to support her and celebrate with her. While there is no shortage of foodie kidlit reads these days, Ganeshram’s novel offers the perfect balance of fact-based description (she toured the actual Food Network set to prepare for the book) and passionate protagonist that will make this a surefire hit. The cultural details add extra zest, and the recipes sprinkled abundantly throughout (many of which are drawn from the author’s own cookbook) are nicely integrated into the storyline. Solid pacing, strong characters, a touch of family politics, and a heap of delicious food descriptions successfully come together in this debut novel that will appeal not only to the cooking-crazed but any who enjoy a good family drama.