Cookin’ Up Middle Grade Books

I began baking when I was about nine. I loved stuffing brown sugar into a measuring up, hearing the whirring of the mixer, and smoothing out frosting onto a round cake. I still have the recipe my friend and I invented for Sprinkle Cake Cookies. It probably isn’t surprising that my main character in my first novel is a baker as well as I love reading about baking almost as much as I like actually baking (and it’s a lot less messy!).

If you know a middle grade reader who enjoys baking, these books are perfect! And what’s great is that they’re not all about sparkly pink cupcakes. You will see that there are a couple of fantasy and historical fiction books mixed in, ones about boys who love to bake, and some that address serious issues.

Cookie Cutters & Sled Dog Runners by Natalie Rompella
I’m starting with my own contribution here…
Ana Morgan is excited to begin middle school. She and her best friend Lily plan to create a cookbook for the school’s Explorations Fair, but when Ana is assigned a new partner, things quickly go sour. As Ana’s life gets out of control, so does her anxiety. Germs bother her and make her wash her hands.  A lot. And then she begins her Explorations project with the new girl…on sled dog racing—something she’s never even heard of. But when life gives her lemons, can she make lavender lemonade? Contains recipes in the book (including my childhood recipe for Sprinkle Cake Cookies).

Undercover Chefs by Erin Fry
Three unlikely friends join forces to win a baking competition and save their school’s culinary classroom. Isaac, a nationally-ranked runner; Jane, a shy artist; and J.C., a rebellious scooter rider – all have a secret passion for cooking. The promise of a cupcake contest lures them to an unusual classroom on the outskirts of campus. As they share friendship and a love for cooking, the pressures of the contest start to boil over – a recipe for disaster that could destroy their chances at winning! The heat is on, and Isaac, Jane and J.C. must figure out a way to salvage their cupcakes, save the culinary classroom from being demolished, and protect their secrets before the judges cast their final votes.

Cupcake Cousins by Kate Hannigan
Nine-year old cousins, Willow and Delia, can’t wait to spend a week vacationing together with their families. Their aunt is getting married, and Willow and Delia are hoping their tasty baked goods will be enough to get them out of being flower girls in the wedding.
But with a mischievous little brother, a bacon-loving dog, and a misbehaving blender in the mix, their treats don’t exactly turn out as planned. When a real emergency threatens to ruin the wedding, will their baking skills be enough to save the day? [Book 1 in the Cupcake Cousins series]

Lights, Camera, Cook! by Charise Mericle Harper
It’s “lights, camera, cook ” for four tween contestants–energetic Tate, charming Rae, worldly Caroline, and hyper-competitive Oliver–who are all about to enter a televised cooking competition.
What will the kids cook up? How will they all get along on- and off-camera? Which junior chef will have the grit–and maybe the grits–to make it through each challenge? And which junior chef will have to hang their apron up for good? Bonus: Includes real cooking techniques for the aspiring young chef. [Book 1 in the Next Best Chef series]

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes by Sheryl Berk
Kylie Carson is a fourth grader with a big problem. How will she make friends at her new school? Should she tell her classmates she loves monster movies? Forget it. Play the part of a turnip in the school play? Disaster Then Kylie comes up with a delicious idea: What if she starts a cupcake club?

Soon Kylie’s club is spinning out tasty treats with the help of her fellow bakers and new friends. But when Meredith tries to sabotage the girls’ big cupcake party, will it be the end of the Cupcake Club? [Book 1 in The Cupcake Club series]

Save the Cupcake! by Lisa Papademetriou
Hayley’s world is far from perfect: Her parents have divorced, her mom has lost her job, and she and her sister Chloe are stuck sharing a bedroom in their grandmother’s apartment. Luckily, Hayley has a knack for baking cupcakes — and cupcakes always make life just a little sweeter But when she and her best friend Artie start drifting apart, she realizes that it’s going to take more than sugar and spice to make things nice. [Book 1 in the Confectionately Yours series]

Baker’s Magic by Diane Zahler
Bee is an orphan, alone in a poor, crumbling kingdom. In desperation, she steals a bun from a bakery. To Bee’s surprise, the baker offers her a place at his shop. As she learns to bake, Bee discovers that she has a magical power. When a new friend desperately needs her help against an evil mage, Bee wonders what a small orphan girl with only a small bit of magic can do. Bee’s journey to help her friend becomes a journey to save the kingdom, and a discovery of the meaning of family.

The Baking Life of Amelie Day by Vanessa Curtis 
Thirteen-year-old Amelie Day loves to bake so she’s thrilled when she’s invited to compete in the Best Teen Baker of the Year contest. But Amelie has Cystic Fibrosis, and some days she can barely breathe. Determined not to let her condition or her mom stop her from taking part, Amelie musters all her Flour Power. But will it be enough to get her to the top?

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
Foster McFee dreams of having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Macon Dillard’s goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Foster’s mother Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous in the little town of Culpepper. Until some unexpected events shake the town and its inhabitants-and put their big ambitions to the test.

Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff
It’s 1944, W.W. II is raging. Jayna’s big brother Rob is her only family. When Rob is called to duty on a destroyer, Jayna is left in their small town in upstate New York with their cranky landlady. But right before he leaves, Rob tells Jayna a secret: they may have a grandmother in Brooklyn. Rob found a little blue recipe book with her name and an address for a bakery. When Jayna learns that Rob is missing in action, she’s devastated. Along with her turtle Theresa, the recipe book, and an encouraging, ghostly voice as her guide, Jayna sets out for Brooklyn in hopes of finding the family she so desperately needs.

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.) Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea. Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world. But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City–all while keeping her identity a secret Easy as pie, right?

Pie by Sarah Weeks
When Alice’s Aunt Polly, the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous pie-crust recipe. Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinarily fat, remarkably disagreeable cat, Lardo . . . and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice.

Suddenly, the whole town is wondering how you leave a recipe to a cat. Everyone wants to be the next big pie-contest winner, and it’s making them pie-crazy. It’s up to Alice and her friend Charlie to put the pieces together and discover the not-so-secret recipe for happiness: Friendship. Family. And the pleasure of doing something for the right reason.

Sprinkles and Secrets by Lisa Schroeder
Twelve-year-old Sophie has always dreamed of being an actress and being in front of the camera. When that dream comes true and she’s offered a T.V. commercial spot, she’s over-the-moon happy. But then she finds out what exactly she’ll be advertising: the delectable, ever-popular brownies from BEATRICE’S BROWNIES, which just so happns to be the number one competitor to IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES—owned by her best friend, Isabel’s, family. Sophie has a tough choice to make: Follow her dreams or crush her best friend. What’s a girl to do?

 

Anyone else getting hungry? I hope you enjoy these tasty treats!

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Natalie Rompella
Natalie is the author of more than sixty books and resources for kids, including THE WORLD NEVER SLEEPS (Tilbury House, 2018) and COOKIE CUTTERS & SLED RUNNERS (Sky Pony Press, 2017), her first middle grade novel. Visit her website at www.natalierompella.com
3 Comments
  1. This is a really sweet list. Thanks for the post.

  2. I love middle grade baking books, and kids who love to bake. I’m looking forward to a new one, Pie in the Sky, from Aussie graphic novelist and kidlit debut author Remy Lai, out next year. In the meantime, this list has given me plenty to read!