Schaefer (The Teashop Girls, 2008) reunites best friends Annie, Genna and Zoe and presents them with their newest challenge, a baking contest featuring some tech-savvy publicity for the shop.
The summer before ninth grade, Annie, barista extraordinaire at her grandmother’s Steeping Leaf teashop, is fully immersed in her scone recipes, endeavoring to create the most original, tasty one for a competition with a grand-prize trip to London. Rules stipulate that entrants keep a food blog to generate interest in their ideas. Finalists for the Chicago-based bake-off will be chosen from the five blogs with the most followers. With the deadline approaching, Annie enlists her friends, family, shop patrons and residents at large of Madison, Wisc., to comment as often as possible on her daily entries of recipes, successes and failures. Annie’s dialogue-oriented narration smoothly melds fair competition with information about scone baking and the myriad wonders of tea drinking without feeling out of teen character. Genna’s return from New York with indications of some anorexic behavior is lightly addressed, as is Zoe’s interest in organic gardening. Meanwhile, Annie’s busy summer is made all the more confusing by a first kiss from her nemesis, Zach, and a nagging feeling that one competitor is displaying poor sportsmanship.
There is nothing like a good clean competition to convey some wise lessons about life, love, friendship and honest achievement. (Fiction. 10-13)