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Children's LiteratureSpecial occasions are often celebrated with luscious desserts and this handbook for aspiring young bakers offers 150 recipes for the sweetest treats from a variety of cultures and countries. The book is definitely not for dieters; cakes, pies, cookies, and puddings abound with cream, butter, chocolate, eggs, and sugar. Fortunately, the recipes are arranged around nineteen holidays, so kids aren't tempted every day of the week. The author shares stories of her own family traditions (Christian), but includes information on such diverse celebrations as Diwali, Passover, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and Chinese New Year, with recipes calling for less-familiar ingredients like cardamom, matzo meal, plantains, rose water, or loquats. The "Getting Started" section explains basic utensils, terms, ingredients and, especially, safety (no deep-frying for kids) clearly and sensibly, while the neat pen-and-ink drawings are both explanatory and charming. The text is addressed to middle readers, but most will need some assistance and supervision while they are learning; young adult cooks can probably handle the recipes on their own. Adults can revel in the confections, too, since author Black, a mother, baker, and food editor, intends the baking experiences to be shared with family members. For creative teachers, both the holiday information and the multi-cultural recipes (some adaptable for classroom cooking) should be useful. This rich collection is really for all ages and chefs—who, after all, could resist honeyed Hazelnut Baklava or Frozen Chocolate Jack-o-Lanterns, to say nothing of Queen Esther's sweet, crisp Sephardic Cookie Rings? 2003, St. Martin's, Ages 9 up.
— Barbara L. Talcroft