Ten-year-old Saralee must save the Siegel House restaurant from disaster.
Zadie is the chief cook, and granddaughter Saralee is his executive assistant. She has an amazing superpower; she can identify even the subtlest of ingredients by smell. Rosh Hashanah is only a few days away, and Saralee’s family is already taking orders for their famous apple cake, made from a recipe with a secret ingredient, one that Saralee has never been able to identify. A rival restaurant is offering an apple cake as well, and they are prepared to go to any lengths to acquire the Siegels’ secret recipe. Watch out for new classmate Harold Horwitz! When Zadie has an accident that affects his memory, Saralee must use her ingenuity and her powerful sense of smell to discover that elusive ingredient. Saralee narrates her own tale in lively, direct language that emphasizes her kind, pragmatic, and earnest nature. Her multigenerational family (Zadie, Bubbie, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but evidently no parents for Saralee) is secure in their Jewish traditions, accepting of one another’s eccentricities, and genuinely loving. There is no intimation that the Siegels are outsiders or any sense of “otherness.” Her multiracial school seems to have an all-Jewish population; perhaps it is a yeshiva or Jewish day school. Humorous cartoon illustrations are interspersed throughout.
A bit of magic and a happy ending make for a sweet New Year story. Delightful. (recipe) (Fiction. 7-10)