Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Review: Aven Green Baking Machine by Dusty Bowling

I had the pleasure of reviewing the first book in this series several months ago and was excited to get my hands on this one. Aven Green comes from a much loved, middle grade tale,  Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, and tells of her own adventures in this chapter book series. Plus, this one inspires young bakers...which is a plus, right?

So, let's take a peek, shall we?

by Dusti Bowling
Illustrated by Gina Perry
Sterling Children's Books
Chapter Book
128 pages
ages 6 to 8

AUGUST 17th!!!

Now that third-grader Aven Green has retired from sleuthing, it’s time to conquer a whole new world: baking!

Aven knows she’s an expert baker of cakes and cookies since she’s been baking with her mom for a really long time. Plus no one bakes quite like she does. She cracks eggs with her feet and measures sugar and flour with her feet (plus measuring cups), since she was born without arms. And now Aven has her eye on the prize: a beautiful blue ribbon for baking at the county fair. So she teams up with her friends Kayla, Emily, and Sujata. But it turns out they all have very different tastes and a lot of opinions about baking. Talk about a recipe for disaster!



This is the 2nd book in the series, but by no means is it a problem to pick this one up and read it on its own. The main character also comes from the much-loved Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus.

Aven has found her love for baking and wants to enter a contest at the fair with her three best friends. Each brings over their favorite recipe, and one by one, each desert is created. The best will be chosen for the contest. But Aven finds something she really dislikes about each of them and decides she can't support baking anything with raisins. Her decision leaves her in a fight with her friends and unable to enter the contest...unless she finds a way to make everything right.

I did read the first one in this series and enjoyed it. Aven is spunky and tends to tell everyone exactly what's on her mind—refreshing but gets her into tons of trouble. Her attitude in this book was a bit irritating as she complains about everything and is very harsh to those around her. Of course, people do act that way, at times, but it also made her dislikable since she made this mistake even several times  after her mother reminded her to be kind. Still, Aven learns her lesson, and the book ends on a good note. It's definitely a lesson for those kids, who sometimes act the same way.

The author packs diversity into these pages. Not only does Aven offer her own zest, but each desert comes from a different culture. I did appreciate this variety, and many readers will not recognize the dishes. The author adds the clever note of making sure to explain each lesser known item as part of Aven's candid narration, and there is a glossary at the end. As an extra bonus, the author adds the recipes at the end of the book, which encourages readers not only to bake but allows them to have a chance to try these more exotic dishes on their own. 

This is an easy to read chapter book with very short chapters (something reluctant readers will appreciate). Aven, of course, has her own, distinct way of seeing things, which is either a positive or negative depending on the reader. I find her character intriguing and a bit gritty...something young readers are sure to enjoy. Plus, baking and snacking are always a treat.

And here she is...

Dusti Bowling grew up in Scottsdale, AZ, where, as her family will tell you, she always had her nose in a book. Dusti holds a Bachelor of Psychology and a Master of Education, but she eventually realized that her true passion was writing. She lives in AZ with her husband and three daughters.

Gina Perry graduated from Syracuse University, worked as a compositor in animation, then an art director for a stationery manufacturer, before discovering her true passion—writing and illustrating children's books. She lives with her family in NH

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