Monday, February 27, 2023

ALICE FLECK’S RECIPES FOR DISASTER by Rachelle Delaney - a cooking-related middle grade mystery with lots of surprises

Red-headed girl looking doubtful surrounded by baking tools and a cake

Why this book?

I’m a big fan of books that involve kids cooking and especially books with cooking competitions! I was hooked right from the beginning, since Alice didn’t want to be part of a Victorian-themed cooking show (what would her friends think?) Even worse, she was entered in this contest by her dad’s new girlfriend Hana, without being asked first. Lucky for us readers, Alice agrees to participate and we get to read about Alice and her historian dad working together to bake in the contest. There are even more plot twists when her favourite "Culinary Chronicles" cooking show is renamed "Culinary Combat" with a whole new approach. And then it becomes clear that someone is sabotaging the contestants! Alice meets some sweet new friends and they work together to solve the mystery of the saboteur, while she comes to terms with her dad’s new relationship, and discovers how to be herself.  

Jacket Art: Morgan Goble

Connections: reality shows, mysteries, cooking, friendships

Activity Ideas:

Literacy – Create your own “mystery” by choosing a popular recipe and inventing clues to reveal 4 or 5 of the ingredients. Can your friends guess your recipe?

Literacy/Drama – Design and film a commercial for “Culinary Combat” or another reality show you think would be interesting.

Art: Use your imagination and art materials to create your own version of “Peacock Pie.”


A bookformercial for the book by Tundra Books: 


Additional Resources:

Rachelle Delaney, the author, has lots of resources with her research materials on her website HERE.

A book club discussion guide from Kawartha Lakes Library can be found here.

Other cooking-related books students might enjoy:

The Doughnut King by Jessie Janowitz 

Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big, Fat Quitter by Carmella Van Vleet

Description from the publisher:   

Alice Fleck's father is a culinary historian, and for as long as she can remember, she's been helping him recreate meals from the past — a hobby she prefers to keep secret from kids her age. But when her father's new girlfriend enters them into a cooking competition at a Victorian festival, Alice finds herself and her hobby thrust into the spotlight.
     And that's just the first of many surprises awaiting her. On arriving at the festival, Alice learns that she and her father are actually contestants on Culinary Combat, a new reality TV show hosted by Tom Truffleman, the most famous and fierce judge on TV! And to make matters worse, she begins to suspect that someone is at work behind the scenes, sabotaging the competition.
     It's up to Alice, with the help of a few new friends, to find the saboteur before the entire competition is ruined, all the while tackling some of the hardest cooking challenges of her life . . . for the whole world to see.

Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster by Rachelle Delaney was published by Tundra Books/Puffin Canada in 2021. Visit the publisher’s page to listen to an audio clip of the e-book version here.


To find more middle grade books to read, check out Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, organized by Greg Pattridge over at his blog.


  1. I have seen an increase in more novels that include cooking contests -- and I love it. We are so focused on food -- and being a chef is cool for a lot of kids who like to create. This one stands out because of the mystery and sabotaging of participants. Will check this one out. Great share!


  2. Also enjoyed the video with Rachelle about the inspiration behind her book.

    1. Thanks! I love those “behind the scenes” stories.

  3. I love to read books with a cooking theme. The story line and characters in this one sound very appealing. Thanks for featuring and Happy MMGM!

  4. I love the idea of this book. I love cooking contests, and having a dad who is a culinary historian is a bonus. I really like the activity ideas too. I'll be looking for this one. Thanks for the post.

  5. Sounds like a book that lots of kids would like. Thanks for sharing. Carol Baldwin


I love to hear your responses and thoughts! Your comments will appear after moderation (I’ve decided to enable moderation due to excessive spam).