Almost-a-ninth-grader Rachel sees herself as a future pastry chef, but when she takes a baking class, she just can’t get it right.
Even worse, Rachel’s mom has a new house-cleaning business that isn’t going well since Rachel was falsely accused of stealing, and now they’ve got competition. If their business does not succeed, Rachel and her mom may have to sell their home and move away from Rachel’s friends. Romance also hovers on the edge for Rachel. She isn’t sure if she’s Evan’s official girlfriend or not, as he’s never asked her. However, Evan does appear to be jealous of Whit, a boy in Rachel’s cooking class, although Rachel keeps telling Evan that she doesn’t like Whit. Even with all those problems, Rachel determines to fight back against the rival Ladybug Cleaners, concocting pranks to drive them away, but everything she does seems to backfire. Staniszewski keeps the focus on comedy with the cooking-class scenes (Rachel is an overconfident baker), but she lets her story become a bit more serious with the pranks Rachel plays. Clearly, Rachel will learn a few life lessons as she stumbles through her summer, but they go down easy in this narrative peppered with such amusing catchphrases as “Oh my goldfish” and “What the Shrek?”
Gentle fun laced with equally gentle wisdom. (Fiction. 10-14)