This charming book for ages ten and over will have you salivating for Caribbean food. The protagonist, 13-year-old Anjali Krishnan, originally from Trinidad, helps out in her family’s roti shop, Island Spice, in a Queens, New York neighborhood full of other Trinidadians and Guyanese families. Anjali calls cooking her “soul’s work.” She dreams of having the first television show about Caribbean food. Her inspiration is her grandmother, Deema, who attends classes with Anjali at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education.
Anjali’s parents are not supportive of her dream to be a celebrity chef; they think it is beneath her. So when Chef Nyla from the Institute tells Anjali about a Food Network contest for “Super Chef Kids,” Anjali enters on the sly. She doesn’t tell her parents until she is chosen as a finalist. Anjali has two important issues at stake: she wants to win the contest, and she also wants to win her parents’ understanding and support.
Evaluation: While the main character is Trinidadian, her fellow schoolmates in Queens are a veritable United Nations collection. I loved all the diversity in this book and all the information (particularly regarding food, of course) about other cultures.
My nieces love to cook, so I think they would identify with Anjali, and perhaps even want to try the great-looking recipes included in the text. The author knows of what she writes: she is a food writer, cookbook author and professional chef trained at the same place her protagonist attends, the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.
Published by Scholastic Press, 2011
Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Hardcover: 176 pages
Note: If these recipes aren’t enough for you, be sure and check out the author’s website, here for more. This delightful map of spices is from her site.
For more multicultural picture books, check out all the resources at The Birthday Party Pledge, a new website dedicated to promoting gifts of multicultural books to the children in our lives.
For more reviews of books for children and teens, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection, posted on Saturdays. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.