cover image Nixie Ness, Cooking Star (After-School Superstars #1)

Nixie Ness, Cooking Star (After-School Superstars #1)

Claudia Mills, illus. by Grace Zong. Holiday House/Ferguson, $15.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4093-1

In the sugar-dusted opening scene of this engaging series debut, Nixie Ness observes that “the only thing better than baking cupcakes was baking cupcakes on a Friday afternoon with your best friend in the whole world.” Mills (the Franklin School Friends series) spices things up with a turn of events that rocks Nixie’s sweet world. Her mother starts a new job, and her best friend Grace (whose parents work outside the home) is now spending afternoons not with Nixie, but at the house of another third grader, Elyse (who has an adorable new pet). Nixie’s response to this news captures her theatrical flair: “Elyse’s house? With Elyse and her kitten?” Nixie begrudgingly attends an after-school cooking camp, where she masterminds botched plans to win Grace back. Mitigating that drama is Nixie’s deepening rapport with three fellow cooking campers—perfectionist Vera, brainy Nolan, and cut-up Boogie—who expand her definition of friendship and her appreciation of differences. Zong’s (Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas) fetching cover illustration of sloppy chef Nixie is an auspicious foreshadowing of the final interior art, not seen by PW. A recipe concludes. Ages 7–10. [em](June) [/em]