Emma, raised by self-absorbed, judgmental, and snooty parents, is as sweet and genuine as can be. But she "fails" her parents at her 10th birthday party, and they punish her by leaving her with her rude, abusive and gluttonous uncle for the summer. The people in her uncle's community recognize Emma's genuinely nice nature, and they nurture and care for her where they can. But Emma's uncle and his business partner are up to no good, threatening Emma's new friends and the bakery where she loves to hang out. Emma will discover the magic of baking in a way she never expected - and she'll have a chance to make her own life a little better, at least for the summer.
Emma's parents and uncle are appalling (for Harry Potter fans, they are the Dursley's and Snape rolled together - cruel and thoughtless and selfish and mean). Readers will have to set aside their revulsion over these characters to get to Emma's story which is a delight. A fun story with food, friendship, baking and magic. There's a set up at the end that seems to make way for a sequel. While this story deals with Emma's awful uncle, her parents are off-stage for most of the book and remain unchanged by the story's end.
4 out of 5 stars
AR reading level of 5.2
Recommended for: middle and older elementary readers who still enjoy stories with an element of magic and clear good vs. evil.
Cautions: I have talked with students before about stories with parents like Emma's and some students want no part of the story because they just can't stomach parents treating their children in such a verbally abusive way. Such students might benefit from reading this story in a group setting so they can process their frustrations and so they have an opportunity to see the story all the way through to the end.