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Summary: Bedtime is the favorite part of the day for Belinda (10) and her younger brother Peter. They pick a book from the shelf and their dad, Chef Michael, reads to them. When they went to the shelf to pick out a new story, they found a book they'd never seen before: Enchanted Thyme. As they fell asleep, the book came to life and three winged mice pop out of the book. Marjoram, Basil, and Rosemary have come because they need help. Queen Topstead has been cursed with eternal hunger. The mice need the kids' help in finding the perfect recipe to break the spell. Belinda and Peter aren't chefs. Can they help the mice? This is a middle grade fairy tale incorporates real recipes into the story.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 9 and up
Interest Level: 9 to 12
Reading Level: 4.3
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: Although the fantasy theme for young readers is bursting at the seams, this is a fresh story and clever presentation. Each chapter concludes with a recipe related to an event or character, and none of them are so complicated that kids can't try them. The story moves quickly from event to event, which, combined with short chapters, makes it attractive to reluctant readers. The author doesn't spend a lot of time really develop the characters in any detail, so the opportunity to understand their personalities is lost. For example, Rosemary, Marjoram, and Basil seem to have unique strengths; it's just not clear what they are.
Pros: Gargoyles, fairies, ogres, and curses combine in this foodie adventure for kids.
Cons: Although the recipes are fun, it would be better if they were woven into the story rather than dropped at the end of each chapter. Most of them aren't really connected with the plot at all. There are also two chapters later in the book that seem to drop in from nowhere. Most of the book follows a chronology, but chapters 11 and 14 have no connection to their predecessors. It detracts from the story, in part, because it looks like a setup for Book 2 rather than something relevant to book 1.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. The story is clever and the style is refreshing.
Educational Themes: The story is fun and the event-driven chapters offer opportunities to pause and ask "what do you think will happen next?" The recipes are also an excellent way to bring the story to life and connect reading with everyday life (have to know how to read to follow a recipe).