All Liza wants is a low-key 13th birthday party with her two best friends, but her grandmother decides she needs a big, fancy party.
Levine and Riley’s second installment in their upbeat The Saturday Cooking Club series sees the return of her lovable trio of 12-year-olds who love to cook and eat. Though they hail from different family backgrounds and cultures, Liza, Frankie, and Lillian have become inseparable. Nana Silver kicks off the action by guilt tripping Liza’s father into throwing a big fancy birthday celebration. Liza despises being the center of attention, but her friends and fellow cooking-class students can’t stop talking about the big party. To make matters worse, Frankie and Lillian are love-struck by two boys and leave her sidelined during cooking class. After deciding that it’s easier to follow Nana Silver’s wishes than to resist, Liza uses the party as an attempt to reunite her divorced parents. Though the book alternates narration from girl to girl, the food also plays a starring role. Each family’s dishes offer a glimpse into their culture: salt-and-pepper shrimp, eggplant lasagna, and Southern pies. At a time when young girls feel insecure about their bodies, Levine and Riley offer positive examples of body image without being preachy. Chapter-head illustrations hint at what the girls are up to next.
A fast-paced, cheery read that deliciously navigates the ups and downs of turning 13. (Fiction. 9-13)