Despite having no arms, eight-year-old Aven Green is an expert baker. With the big dessert competition coming up, Aven has her sights set on winning a fancy ribbon. All she and her friends need to do is to decide what to bake. But with Aven refusing to try new things and making fun of desserts with ‘funny names’ it look likes the friends have the ingredients for disaster and not the recipe for success…
Dusti Bowling’s delightful early chapter book is a gentle and heart-warming story featuring a young girl born without arms. Not that Aven lets her disability get in the way of doing anything, she is feisty and more than capable of doing anything that she puts her mind to. However, sometimes it takes more than the ability to crack eggs with your feet and measure sugar and flour with your feet (and measuring cups) to fix a situation. And after Aven upsets her friends she has to learn to be a kinder and more considerate person. With a spoonful of kindness, a dash of consideration, a huge dollop of wise words from Great-grandma and a sprinkling of ‘I’m sorry’, Aven, like a good soufflé, rises to the challenge of friendship.
There are so many important themes baked into this story; being sensitive to other cultures, being open to experiencing new things, being a good friend, being aware of the feeling of others, dealing with your own feelings, taking ownership of when you have made a mistake and apologising for your actions. Many of these things Aven finds difficult but she is keen to improve herself and with some supportive adults in her life she is definitely on the right track.
Aven tells her story with humour and irresistible honesty and with lovely black and white illustrations by Gina Perry it has all of the ingredients for success. There are even recipes for Aven and her friends' delicious desserts at the back.
As we seek to diversify our bookshelves and ensure that all children can feel represented and seen in the books they read, books like this are essential. And whilst Aven’s disability is an important part of the story it is certainly not the sole focus of the book. This is a read for lovers of food, baking and those everyday moments that are part of growing up. Bring on more everyday experiences with Aven Green, I love her!
Recommended for 6+.