The Crumbling Castle / Sage Cookson’s Sweet Escape & Sage Cookson’s Snow Day

The Crumbling Castle
Brenda Gurr
New Frontier Publishing

In these pandemic, physical distancing days lots of people have found a new delight in baking but how many would have this, or similar, said of their efforts:
‘Her cakes are out of this world! But please answer me this. Who is Zinnia Jakes?’

Daughter of globe-trotting food critic father, nine year old Zoe Jones has a special expertise inherited from famous pastry chef her mother (now dead). It’s she who uses the Zinnia Jakes alias to keep her identity hidden, for young Zoe has a real flair for cake creating, something she’d discovered when she baked her Aunt Jam a fabulous birthday cake a couple of years before the story begins. Hugely impressed, her aunt had suggested Zoe should start her own cake-making business. Only her best friend Addie is in on the secret, for orders are always delivered when nobody is watching.

Now Zoe has a new order: a medieval history professor is launching her new book at the medieval fair in two days time and wants ‘an authentic medieval castle’, a crumbling one, to display on her stall.

Zoe has just two days to create something truly impressive. Can she do it in time? Perhaps with the assistance of Coco her cat with special powers and STEM whiz, Addie. But then of course, she still has to deliver the order covertly.

This, the first book of the new The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes series is aimed at newly-independent readers.  Mix together an action-packed narrative, lively characters and sprinkle with magic: the result? A fun offering; and the icing on the cake is that the author has allowed Zoe to share her secret recipe for medieval gingerbread with readers. It sounds yummy.

Also from New Frontier Publishing for youngsters hungry for more books with a cooking theme:

Sage Cookson’s Sweet Escape
Sage Cookson’s Snow Day

Sally Murphy

Sage Cookson is the daughter of popular TV chefs, who travel all over Australia tasting new foods, acquiring new techniques and serving them up to their adoring television audience. The good thing is that the Cooksons take Sage with them. That means she misses her friend Lucy, but now her parents have given Sage a mobile of her own so she can keep in touch. She also keeps up with her education by attending local schools or having a tutor.

In the first adventure Sage accompanies her parents to Western Australia where they’re to be guest judges at a cooking contest. Before that, they’re offered a tour of a chocolate factory belonging to chocolatier Marco. The chocolate they taste is absolutely divine but intuitively Sage feels something isn’t quite right, especially when Marco talks of his cocoa plantation. In the Australian bush? Really?

Things hot up when the Cooksons find themselves in an extremely sticky situation and without a phone signal. Will they be able to judge the 10th annual Newhaven Cooking Contest after all?

With its chocolately theme this is a tasty read for young solo readers who will be delighted to discover the Cheat’s Chocolate Fondant recipe after the story.

The second book sees Sage and her family off to Snowy Village in the Australian Alps. Now Page has promised to steer clear of danger. So what will a caring young miss do when she learns that her friend Kyle has gone missing with his snowboard?

Again there’s a recipe after the story – the rather more sophisticated ‘Easy Mille-Feuliie’. This one along with other recipes and activities can be found at Sage’s own website where I also found that Snow Day is actually story number 8 in the series.