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Rajani LaRocca (The Children's Book Podcast #559)

January 4, 2020


Rajani LaRocca (@rajanilarocca) shares MIDSUMMER’S MAYHEM. Mimi, the main character in Rajani’s middle grade debut, enters a baking competition at her town’s newest sweet spot, but things aren’t quite as they appear. The baked goods they sell are awful and overpriced, the employees seem to be speaking exclusively in rhyme, and crowds of locals are inexplicably showing up in droves for the bakery’s latest confections. Mimi’s dad is a food writer and has just returned from a trip abroad, but he won’t be any help to her because he’s not acting himself, though Mimi seems to be the only one to notice. Has he completely lost his sense of taste? It’s not long before everyone around her is just acting… off, but Mimi is determined to let nothing distract her from creating the most inventive and memorable treats this bakery has ever known. I’ve been waiting a long while to read this book and it’s just so good, there’s no way I could resist kicking off the new year with a read so sweet!


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Can Mimi undo the mayhem caused by her baking in this contemporary-fantasy retelling of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream?


Eleven-year-old Mimi Mackson comes from a big Indian American family: Dad's a renowned food writer, Mom's a successful businesswoman, and her three older siblings all have their own respective accomplishments. It's easy to feel invisible in such an impressive family, but Mimi's dream of proving she's not the least-talented member of her family seems possible when she discovers a contest at the new bakery in town. Plus, it'll start her on the path to becoming a celebrity chef like her culinary idol, Puffy Fay.


But when Mimi's dad returns from a business trip, he's mysteriously lost his highly honed sense of taste. Without his help, Mimi will never be able to bake something impressive enough to propel her to gastronomic fame.


Drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she's never seen. Who knew there were banyan trees and wild boars in Massachusetts? Together they discover exotic ingredients and bake them into delectable and enchanting treats.


But as her dad acts stranger every day, and her siblings' romantic entanglements cause trouble in their town, Mimi begins to wonder whether the ingredients she and Vik found are somehow the cause of it all. She needs to use her skills, deductive and epicurean, to uncover what's happened. In the process, she learns that in life, as in baking, not everything is sweet...







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