Title: Recipe for Adventure: Paris (Adventure #2)
Author: Giada De Laurentiis
Series: Recipe for Adventure
Source: Library copy
Format: Early Chapter Book
Genre: Magic, Cooking, Paris, Siblings
Giada De Laurentiis perhaps best known for her Food Channel cooking show, as well as her numerous cookbooks and restaurants around the nation. I just recently stumbled upon this series while looking up books on Paris, so I’ve read this book out of order. I would suggest reading the books in order as there are a number of references to the first book. I would think the entire premise of the series is explained in the first book. I was a bit confused by the magical travelling the siblings experienced in this book. But, I am getting ahead of myself.
Alfie (Alfredo) is a soccer star, but with one problem. His teamwork skills are lacking as he strives to the star on the field. When his coach benches him for the upcoming Saturday game, Alfie is put into a funk that only his aunt Zia’s homecooked meals can cure. During one of her special treats, hot chocolate, Zia talks about her time in Paris, shopping the markets and exploring the neighbors. Through a mysterious dizzying feeling, Alfie and his sister are transported to Paris, accidentally enrolled into a culinary academy for children and soon embark on a new adventure of cooking as they face a number of challenges from the instructors.
I found the concept of the book to be really enjoying. I think its a great way to introduce and wedge in a love of cooking into young children’s lives. I just felt like this book had so much more potential than it actually produced. The writing was very predictable and lacked in any clear voice. The challenges the children met in Paris were incredibly implausible, nevermind the magical teleportation via food and memory. How and when the siblings are sent back home felt incredibly rushed. It literally happened in the last 2 pages. Everything leading up to it was just over the top. In a Paris cooking school, they are living in dorms. There is no real cooking instruction explained in the books. The kids are then divided into two groups are given an enormous task to plan, purchase and cook for a famous chef coming to visit. It felt like a kid’s version of one of those high stakes cooking shows on the Food Network. Alfie does learn a valuable lesson about being a team player in the end, but it didn’t feel natural. The book is written for early readers (2nd grade) so there is a good mix of illustrations throughout the book that do a good job of complimenting the text. The text wasn’t very challenging, although I did like reading about the different cooking terminologies.
I really do like the premise and I like the emphasis of cooking at home and the importance and value of eating meals with family members. Food, particularly the smell, can invoke some vivid memories in people. Just think of Proust and his madeleines. It is a great option for both boys and girls, especially those who are interested in food. The plus of this series is thats actually about food, not sure cupcakes. Those can be rare to find. This book also shares the magical hints of the Magic Tree House series, with a similar brother/sister relationship going on magical adventures. Its a great alternative to those who’ve read The Magic Tree House and are looking for a similar theme of books. The first two books take place in Europe, then there’s a trip to China, to New Orleans and finally Brazil. I love the diversity of travel in the series. Its great for kids wanting to brush up before a trip or when learning about one of these regions in school. Since I had a library copy, the two promised recipe cards in the back were already torn out. I have to make a mental note to make photocopy of recipe inserts to keep at the front desk for the other series in case other inspired chefs decided to try the recipes at home. I do want to read the first book, just to better acquaint myself with the series premise. Hopefully that copy will have the recipe cards.
Other titles in the series:
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