The first in a series about craft-loving Finley Flowers and her best friend, Henry.
Henry is about to turn 9, and she wants to find the perfect present for him. When she finds out that the school’s fundraiser is a cook-off and the prize is a whole year’s worth of pizza, she just knows that she and Henry will come up with the best recipe and win the best birthday present ever. The problem is that though Finley doesn’t know how to cook, she does not want to read recipes, listen to Henry’s ideas or get ideas from cooking shows. Everything she makes, from pepperoni parfaits to smoked-salmon smoothies, is inedible. Henry becomes frustrated as Finley ignores his suggestions, and for the first time ever, these friends get into a fight. Young creates memorable characters in Henry and Finley, but Finley’s rivalry with classmate Olivia is given too little back story to satisfy. Moreover, Finley’s plays on her own name (“Fin-spiration,” “Fin-credible,” “in-Fin-ite,” etc.) become wearing. Nevertheless, young cooks who are comfortable with chapter books will identify with Finley’s energy and may even want to try her recipe for “PB&J Pasta.”
Despite bumps, a promising-enough start. (Fiction. 7-9)