My Fine Fellow

Jennieke Cohen. HarperTeen, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-304753-2

Filled with delectable dishes and an inclusive cast, Cohen’s (Dangerous Alliance) gender-bent My Fair Lady retelling centers a cooking competition in 1830s London. At London’s Royal Academy of Culinaria Artisticus—which trains cooks and food consultants to society’s elite—aspiring Culinarian Lady Helena Higgins is at the top of her class. Though her “sharp tongue offended nearly everyone she met,” she’s determined to prove, in a world in which Princess Charlotte has succeeded George IV as England’s monarch, that she is not only the finest Culinarian in Britain, but that women can sustain themselves professionally and that people from any background can “be improved by the right teachings.” As final-year students, presumed-white Helena and her best friend Penelope Pickering, whose mother is Filipina and father is white and English, must each present a project that showcases their abilities; the most outstanding will become highly sought-after Culinarians. While Penelope seeks to emphasize international cuisine’s flavors, Helena, after meeting gifted Elijah Little, a white Jewish street vendor whose family fled Bavaria to escape anti-Semitism, determines to transform Elijah into an amateur gentleman chef. Weaving the original source material with relevant social commentary, Cohen creates memorable characters struggling to find their place in a prejudicial world, while alternating viewpoints add depth to the backdrop of this historical culinary treat. Ages 13–up. Agent: Jennifer Unter, the Unter Agency. (Jan.)