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Fannie in the Kitchen: The Whole Story from Soup to Nuts of How Fannie Farmer Invented Recipes with Precise Measurements

by Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Published by Anne Schwartz / Atheneum, 2001
32 pages
ISBN: 0-689-81965-X

Ages 7 - 10

Podcast featuring this book

Young Marcia Shaw enjoys helping her mother with household tasks and looks forward to being given even more responsibility after her mother's new baby is born. So Marcia is initially disappointed when her parents hire a mother's helper named Fannie Farmer to assist with the cooking. Fannie proves to be not only a skillful cook but 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, thus leading to the invention of the modern recipe. Hopkinson's spirited story is based on real events in Fannie Farmer's life. An author's note tells us that she really did work as a mother's helper for the Shaw family before she took a position at the Boston Cooking School, and that they did have a young daughter named Marcia who inspired Fannie to write down what she knew about cooking. Hopkinson cleverly breaks the story into sections named after a seven-course meal, and the details she has chosen to illustrate Farmer's culinary savvy are likely to be of interest to 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. CCBC categories: Historical People, Places, and Events; Picture Books for Older Children; Biography and Autobiography.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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