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Stir It Up: A Novel

Stir It Up: A Novel

4.6 24
by Ramin Ganeshram

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A Trinidadian-American girl’s dream is challenged by her family

Thirteen-year-old Anjali's life is rich with the smell of curry from her parents' roti shop and an absolute passion for food. More than anything, Anjali wants to be a chef who competes on a kids' cooking reality TV show. But Anjali must keep her wish a secret from her family, who thinks Anjali


A Trinidadian-American girl’s dream is challenged by her family

Thirteen-year-old Anjali's life is rich with the smell of curry from her parents' roti shop and an absolute passion for food. More than anything, Anjali wants to be a chef who competes on a kids' cooking reality TV show. But Anjali must keep her wish a secret from her family, who thinks Anjali's passions are beneath her. Thank goodness for Deema, Anjali's grandmother, whose insight and love can push past even the oldest family beliefs. Woven with recipes that cook up emotions and actual culinary recipes that make food, this novel is as delicious as it is satisfying.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Erika Sogge
Anjali Krishnan lives to cook: working at her father's Trinidadian restaurant is not enough—she spends her spare time experimenting with food and inventing delicious new recipes. Unfortunately, her parents view her passion as just a "hobby" and want her to pursue traditional academics. When Anjali gets a chance to audition for a Food Network show, she must decide whether it is worth following her passion even though it would mean disobeying her parents. The struggle Anjali faces as she tries to decide feels very realistic and will resonate with many young readers. Students who like to cook will gobble up this book. Each chapter concludes with one or more of Anjali's Trinidadian recipes. While some recipes have hard-to-find ingredients, others could easily be made by a young person with minimal adult assistance. Although this book is best suited for budding chefs, it will also appeal to many other students in grades five through nine. Young adults with immigrant parents may identify with Anjali's predicament. In addition, Anjali's internal battle between deference to her parents and independence will feel familiar to many teens, regardless of their ethnicity or interest in cooking. While the main conflict in this book is intriguing, at times it is overly simplified. As they read, some students will feel rushed onto the next event in Anjali's life; others may finish the book with some dissatisfaction. Despite the oversimplification, overall this is a delectable book. Reviewer: Erika Sogge
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
In food writer Ganeshram's debut novel for young readers, young Anjali Krishnan works in her Trinidadian-American parents' roti shop, Island Spice. Anjali's a foodie through and through. Her Mom and Dad, however, do not attach any credence to her dream of being a celebrity chef. Food may be their livelihood, but they want their daughter to take the entrance test for the "special high school for smart kids ...in downtown Manhattan." Much tiptoeing and skulking around ensues, with amusing results. Anjali finds a reluctant partner in her buddy Linc; and a surrogate "parent" when she needs one in Chef Nyla of the Food Network, sponsor of that celebrity chef show. Sprinkled liberally throughout the book are recipes for fusion food with Caribbean flair ("Deema's Easy Curry Chicken," "Ginger Beer" and a lovely homage to Indian subcontinental roots in the last one, "Prasad.") Recipes for life preface each of the novel's three sections, reflecting Anjali's journey, with a bonus on "Success" at the end. It is all light in tone, and easily digestible but it also conveys an interesting subtext that is still surprisingly rare in culturally grounded books published in the US—the protagonist occupies her cultural spaces with confidence. She is equally at home in the roti shop and walking the three blocks from the Food Network studios to Union Square. It is a refreshing change to see a portrayal of a minority character who is not oppressed and suffering (well, other than from the normal impositions of her family's demands), and in whose story cultural identity is backdrop and context, not plot. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
School Library Journal
Gr 5�7—This brief offering introduces readers to the spicy, colorful island of Trinidad through Anjali Krishnan and her family in New York City. The 13-year-old balances school and helping at her family's roti shop where she is able to try out her culinary inspirations, with many recipes included. She dreams of being the youngest chef on The Food Network, and her grandmother believes she can do it. When Anjali wins a tryout for a teen cooking show, her family is thrilled. However, her dad thinks that her education should come first—the tryout is the same time as her entrance exam for prestigious Stuyvesant High School. Through a deceptive plan, she competes in the tryout. Her father is furious and forbids her to compete any further. Her grandmother wins him over and Anjali competes in the finals. While she does not win, her family comes to support her and her dream. This thin story contains primarily stock characters (devoted but headstrong daughter, sympathetic grandma, distracted mother, restrictive father, complicit friends). The character development is strongest between Anjali and her grandmother; however, the dialect is somewhat stilted. Trinidadian culture plays a large role in the story, but besides the detailed descriptions of food and recipes, little historical and societal information is provided. A marginal purchase.—Lisa Crandall, formerly at Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI
Kirkus Reviews

When not at school, taking cooking classes or working in her family's roti shop in Queens, Anjali, 13, dreams of becoming the Food Network's youngest chef.

When she's chosen to audition for Super Chef Kids on the Food Network, she has a chance to make her dream come true, but there's a problem. Her Trinidadian-immigrant parents want Anjali to take the Stuyvesant High School entrance exam, which happens to coincide with the audition. After they insist she drop the audition, Anjali hatches a plan with her best friend, Linc, to go to the audition instead. In her fiction debut, the author reveals a gift for creating compact, vivid character portraits, yet whenever the plot shows signs of taking off, she marches it back to the kitchen. Taking up about 20 percent of the book, the recipes (some appear in Ganeshram's cookbook of Trinidadian cuisine) are intriguing. But while enticing for foodies, most assume considerable culinary know-how. Some ingredients—callaloo leaves, fresh cassava, mixed essence—may be a hard sell for young readers and hard to locate outside cosmopolitan urban centers.

Strong on platform, the result is more fiction-seasoned cookbook than recipe-studded novel, best suited for precocious cooks open to culinary adventure. (recipes, author's note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
800L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Ramin Ganeshram is a veteran journalist who has written for many prestigious publications such as THE NEW YORK TIMES, NEWSDAY, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER, and BON APPETIT, among others. She is also the author of SWEET HANDS: ISLAND COOKING FROM TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO. Additionally, Ramin is a food writer and professional chef, and holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. STIR IT UP: A NOVEL is her first book for children.

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Stir It Up 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so enchanting! This book will make you want to cook something. This book also has lots of detail. This book makes you want to read more just to figrue out what will happen next to her almost petfect life she has. The recipes this book has look very interesting too. This is a book i recomend to the people that love to cook alot of food.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eighth grader Anaji lives with her father, mother, brother and grandmother in Richmond Hills, Queens. She works at her family¿s roti shop, Island Spice, where she can try new recipes. She goes to a cooking school with Deema, her grandma. She receives a brochure for a new cooking competition that will be shown as a new Food Network series. Anaji shows determination for her passion of cooking when she finds out the competition is the same day as the entrance exam for a specialized High School. Will her father rule over her and make her take the test or will she follow her dreams in hope of becoming a Food Network Star. Anaji bakes with her grandma, Deema creating delicacies for Island Spice¿s best customers to taste. She shares her recipes with Chef Nyla, her cooking instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. Chef Nyla gives her the chance to fulfill her dream of becoming a Food Network Star, when she hands her a paper about a new show, Super Chef Kids. Her best friend, Linc, helps her with the entrance video, where she makes Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies. When she is accepted for the New York area regional competition, she is overwhelmed. Deema accompanies her to the first round where she creates Shrimp Burger Pitas. Even with a few minor setbacks and her struggle with time management she still ends up on top. Her father pushes her to study for the Stuyvesant Exam, but Anaji has another idea, when she finds out the competition is on the same day. When she decides to follow her dream, will she pay for her disloyalty or does she have what it takes to be the chef on Super Chef Kids. Ramin Ganeshram grew up with a Trinidad father and took the Stuyvesant exam just like Anaji might in this book. The book Stir it Up! is full of suspense and determination. Anaji is devoted to cooking and her determination to compete shows this. Dishonoring her father, Anaji show her passion to cook and be the best she possibly can and to show it too. Even with her mother paying little attention to her, in order to receive her nursing degree, will Anaji have what it takes? Anaji is determined to achieve her goal. There is much suspense in this novel because every little thing that does not turn out the way Anaji wanted it to, puts Anaji a little father back from her goal. Anaji¿s determination drives her to do unexpected things and hopefully will allow her to achieve he goal. Naji entered the contest because of her strong passion. Would she ever of thought she would have to make a decision like the one she faces. Does Anaji be a good girl and do what her father says or will she follow her dream to become a world famous chef? Will Anaji¿s dream and passion bring her to lie and suffer the consequences or will she accomplish her dream and become a Food Network Star? Anaji, a Trinidad girl, has the greatest passion in the world. But, will her dream bring her to do something dishonest. Will Anaji¿s will bring her to do something she might regret and destroy her father¿s goal for her happiness. An amazing hobby and passion brings out the worst in people in order to follow their dreams. This is a great book for anyone who loves to cook, or who is interesting in learning about cultures from around the world. It is a wonderful read for kid of all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 13 and love to cook very much. A lot of the recipes that are given along with the story are exactly the same as to how my mother and i cook. Since my mother and her family are West indian, i could really relate to Anajli and her families cooking and culture. For all the kids who love to cook and want to learn new recipes this is the right book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best. I highly recemend this. I read the real book.
Cherry L Bowman More than 1 year ago
I loved the book. I never put my nook down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book sounds pretty good. I might get this book. This girl has one good passion. Also the author of this book is pretty creative. When I grow up I want to become an author. Im already working on a series right now. I cant release the title or my real name. Im just hoping if I publish it, it will be good. I love 2 wright fiction books. I only wrote one biography and that was for a relative. I hink this book is going to be good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In love wit this book its AMAZING!!!!!!!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it Need 2 read it Has a good lesson
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. It inspired me to start cooking. Plz read this great,wonderful book:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book. Throughtout the book there were recepies having to do with the book. I also got to learn about a different culture. It made me want to get up and cook. This is also an inspirational book for following what your heart desires. Overall, I really liked the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good for any one who knows anything about cooking or even nothing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter and I read this book for book club and we both enjoyed it. The book club girls made the coconut cookie recipe out of the book and greatly enjoyed them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ithink it is good so far a So i will be genurus and give it a 5 * rating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I got the book on my nook and then bought the hardback copy because i wanted to physically own copy of this book for the recipes. Highly reccomend...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does anyone know how many pages there area?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish i wasent elerigic to shrimp. Then i could make her shrimp recpie! :) A deffentie read. Relistic and just right!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great. It's expensive because it's new
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sounds like a good book but why is it so expensive its not even long?
Mark Laubacher More than 1 year ago
Sounds interesting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
3 words to describe thi book it's too short