Series: The Bliss Baker #1
Published: January 1, 2012
Rosemary Bliss’s family has a secret. It’s the Bliss Cookery Booke—an ancient, leather-bound volume of enchanted recipes like Stone Sleep Snickerdoodles and Singing Gingersnaps. Rose and her siblings are supposed to keep the Cookery Booke under lock and whisk-shaped key while their parents are out of town, but then a mysterious stranger shows up. “Aunt” Lily rides a motorcycle, wears purple sequins, and whips up exotic (but delicious) dishes for dinner. Soon boring, nonmagical recipes feel like life before Aunt Lily—a lot less fun.
So Rose and her siblings experi-ment with just a couple of recipes from the forbidden Cookery Booke.
A few Love Muffins and a few dozen Cookies of Truth couldn’t cause too much trouble . . . could they?
Kathryn Littlewood’s culinary caper blends rich emotional flavor with truly magical wit, yielding one heaping portion of hilarious family adventure.
Kathryn Littlewood’s Bliss transports readers to a world where baked goods can literally be magical. There are many obvious charms to the books: dessert, magic, kids who get to bake magical desserts. Anyone who enjoys fun and sweet middle grade adventures will probably find something to love in Bliss. The book’s real strength, however, is that combines fantasy and reality in just the right amounts.
The children do get to be the stars in Bliss, as they dig out their family heirloom magical cookbook and start some experimentations. However, this is not a story where adult ineptitude allows the children to have their adventures. The parents do leave on a business trip, but they leave their children with a trusted babysitter, and they call home regularly to check how everything is doing. If the kids manage to get into a bunch of mischief anyway, well, it’s because kids can be good at that sort of thing.
Each child is also remarkably well-rounded. The main protagonist is Rose, who, in addition to harboring dreams of running a magical bakery of her own, has some real middle school problems concerning boys, insecurity, and her place in her family. None of these issues overwhelm the story; instead, they make Rose relatable and real. Her siblings are equally well-drawn. Littlewood seems to have all phases of life down pat, ranging from teenagers to toddlers.
As mentioned, the group gets into some wild escapades, but Littlewood never makes anything purely a “magic problem.” Instead, the siblings must navigate a combination of family relationships, personal issues, and magic in order to get to their end of their journey. And all this is set in a charmingly quirky town that will appeal to fans of A Snicker of Magic or The Only Thing Worse Than Witches.
Bliss is overall a lovely middle grade book, one that has the right blend of fantasy, family, quirk, and charm. I am looking forward to reading more of the Bliss family adventures.