Fannie in the Kitchen

by Deborah Hopkinson and Nancy Carpenter

Young Marcia Shaw enjoys helping her mother with household tasks and looks forward... read more

Young Marcia Shaw enjoys helping her mother with household tasks and looks forward to more responsibility after the new baby is born. So Marcia is initially disappointed when her parents hire Fannie Farmer to assist with the cooking. Fannie proves to be a skillful cook and an excellent teacher, and she quickly wins Marcia over by sharing her knowledge of cookery, something the young girl thinks of as magic. “Preparing food well isn’t magic. It’s an art and a science that anyone can learn,” Fannie assures her. But when Marcia has trouble keeping everything in her head, Fannie begins to write it down for her, leading to the invention of the modern recipe. Hopkinson’s spirited story is based on real events in Fannie Farmer’s life before she took a position at the Boston Cooking School, as an author’s note reveals. Hopkinson cleverly breaks the story into sections named after a seven-course meal. The details she chooses to illustrate Farmer’s culinary savvy are likely to interest children — how to know when to flip a pancake, for example — and three ways to tell if an egg is fresh. Nancy Carpenter’s whimsical illustrations are an excellent match for the author’s tone, as they successfully blend detailed Victorian line art for background objects such as stoves and oil lamps (and even Marcia’s parents), with light-hearted cartoon-style renditions of Fannie and Marcia. (Ages 7–10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2002

show less