From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–Bertie Hooks's mother is obsessed with her past lives and wants her son to be a dream analyst. His father is possessed by percentages and wants him to be an insurance actuary. Bertie just wants to cook. He dreams about attending the Culinary Institute of America and becoming a famous chef. First, however, he must pass the eighth grade and it's not looking good. His teacher has given him an extra-credit assignment: caring for a flour-sack baby for 10 days. His mother dubs it Cleopatra in honor of her past Egyptian identity. Worse, his mortal enemy, Nick Dekker, is determined to undermine the project. Bertie's infatuation with Indra, his rival's sometimes girlfriend, also complicates matters. His mother's over-the-top adoption of Cleo as her own daughter soon has Bertie talking to the flour sack himself, and finding that Cleo is the only one who actually listens to him. When Nick kidnaps "her," Bertie rouses his parents from their self-absorption and enlists their assistance in taking a hostage of his own–Nick's mother. This novel cooks along at a rolling boil. Although the secondary characters are a little under baked, Bertie's turmoil as he works through issues of self-esteem and identity are well done. O'Keefe keeps the comic tension simmering through slightly improbable yet entertaining plot twists and tosses in lots of great food info in the process. Serve this one up to readers looking for a laugh.–Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS
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“The narrator of O’Keefe’s appealingly outlandish novel is an aspiring young chef who prepares extravagant meals for his workaholic actuary father and his eccentric mother. . . . A soupcon of silliness and hefty helpings of genuine humor will whet the appetites of young readers who crave light yet satisfying fare.”—Publishers Weekly
“This novel cooks along at a rolling boil. . . . Bertie’s turmoil as he works through issues of self-esteem and identity are well done. O’Keefe keeps the comic tension simmering through slightly improbable yet entertaining plot twists and tosses in lots of great food info in the process. Serve this one up to readers looking for a laugh.”—School Library Journal