Posts Tagged Natalie Rompella

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!

Natalie Rompella on OCD, #OwnVoices, and Sled Dog Racing

Today we welcome author and MUF contributor Natalie Rompella to the blog. We asked her to speak about the #OwnVoices movement in #kidlit, and how it relates to her latest book, Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners.

The character, Ana Morgan, in my book Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners, has obsessive-compulsive disorder.  She obsesses about germs, and she washes compulsively. At the start of the book, we learn that Ana has OCD. She sees a therapist and seems to be working through her obsessions and compulsions. However, her life faces many changes, and her OCD flares up.

The idea of Ana having OCD wasn’t planned. That’s just what came out as I began writing. I’m often influenced by other research I’ve done. The idea of sled dog racing came from a book I wrote on sports that started in the United States. I had also just finished writing a nonfiction book for teens called It Happened to Me: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Scarecrow Press, 2009). I couldn’t get either topic out of my mind and recycled them for this book.

Although I didn’t have in mind who I wanted my readers to be when I started writing the book, I’m glad I tackled this topic. While writing my nonfiction book on OCD, I reached out to teens, hoping to get narratives about what it was like for them living with the disorder. It was very difficult to find people with OCD who were willing to share their experience. But I think it’s important for others with OCD to see that they’re not alone. And I think it’s just as important for people without OCD to learn about the disorder. I hope that in my book, I help the reader get inside Ana’s head and feel what obsessive thoughts are like and how powerless you can feel to them.

Books that fall under the category of #OwnVoices are written by someone who is from the same marginalized group as the protagonist in the book. Like my character, Ana, I have suffered from OCD. Although I feel it is under control, I will find it gets worse when I’m stressed or overtired. I have not had it spiral out of control as it does for Ana, but I was able to draw on my own experiences with both OCD and anxiety when writing her story. I vividly remember having a flare up on an airplane. When I got home, I was able to write up the big OCD scene in my book. The whole idea of knowing that your brain is throwing out these unwanted thoughts but not being entirely sure whether to ignore the thoughts or act on them is from experience. (For instance, having the desire to check that you turned off the oven even though you’re pretty sure you did already check but not feeling 100% positive you actually did. So you check you turned it off. And then, as you’re walking away, part of your brain wonders, Did you really check that it was turned off? I’m not sure you actually did, so you check once more. This process may repeat numerous times.)

I want kids who have OCD to be able to relate to Ana. They know what it’s like to have these unwanted thoughts. They can see they’re not alone.

Author Natalie Rompella

Natalie Rompella is the author of eleven trade books including Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners (Sky Pony Press, 2017) and The World Never Sleeps (Tilbury House Publishers, 2018) as well as twenty leveled readers and workbooks on a variety of topics, including STEM, text evidence, common core, and science fair experiments. Natalie lives in the Chicago suburbs. You can follow her on Twitter at @NatalieRompella or find her at www.natalierompella.com.

Fresh Faces on Mixed-Up Files!

The applicant pool that applied to join Mixed-Up Files was absolutely amazing. We were sorry we didn’t have more spaces to fill and were energized by the enthusiasm for our mission. But we are delighted to welcome twelve amazing new contributors to From the Mixed-Up Files!

via GIPHY

Although you can read all about them on our Member Bio page, we also asked them for their reading and writing-related resolutions for the new year. Here’s what they had to say:

Patricia Bailey: “My writing resolution is to finish the middle-grade novel I’ve been working on.”

Jenn Brisendine: “I plan to finish my current WIP, then research and draft another by summer. I’ve been focusing on reading MG historicals lately so I want to pick up some new fantasies, contemporaries, and other genres. I also want to re-read my favorite craft books like Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird.”

Heather Murphy Capps: “My New Year’s resolution is to amplify the voices of our writers of color — We Need Diverse Books!!”

Sean Easley: “I want to read at least twenty new MG books this year. I got a lot of them for Christmas and can’t wait to get started.”

Annabelle Fisher: “My reading goal is to read lots of MUF-member books, so I can get to know you all better. As for writing, I’m aiming to finish the first draft of my next book, which is about life in the library stacks.”

Robyn Gioia: “My goal is to write a graphic novel and read some marvelous new MG books!”

Amber J. Keyser: “My goal is to promote the heck out of the books I have coming out this year.”

S.A. Lawson: “I totally and utterly resolve to finish bk 2 of my MG series, (possibly write a sequel to my YA due out in March), & start a YA novel I’ve had mapped out for a year.”

Beth McMullen: “I want to finish the YA novel I started in 2016.”

Natalie Rompella: “To start from scratch on my mystery MG and complete drafts I and II by end of year. To have social media guide me to the best new books of 2017…and of course read them!”

Julie K. Rubini: “My writing goals are to finish MG bio I’m under contract for within deadline, complete and submit both PB bio and YA novel. I hope to read a work from each of our Claire’s Day authors and Illustrators!”

Suma Subramaniam: “My reading resolution is to add 40 diverse books to my bibliography (pb, mg and ya included), and my writing resolution is to finish the drafts of two MG novels.”

As you can tell by their resolutions, this is an energetic bunch. We are so excited to see what they bring to our Mixed-Up Files family.