This delightful miniature novel is the sequel to Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles. Set in Paris when the city’s traditional glories (its architecture, secret corners, small shops and cafés) are threatened by a tyrannical modernising philistine government, it tells of the city’s rescue by an eccentric scientist turned café owner called Monsieur Moutarde, a culinary genius called Madame Pamplemousse, and a young girl called Madeleine who is herself a gifted cook. Like these, every character (including the villainess) is named after some French foodstuff or other. The liberation of Paris depends on the use of Monsieur Moutarde’s time-travelling apparatus (disguised as a coffee machine). The search is on for the ingredients needed to produce an antidote to the tyrants’ social poison. These include the drool of a tyrannosaurus rex, the venom of the Loch Ness Monster, and a Sphinx’s tear. A tall order for any cook, you might think, but Madame Pamplemousse and her cat Camembert, with some dubious help from Madeleine, achieve it with aplomb.
Some of modern society’s nastier features – soulless buildings, media dominance, camera surveillance, slavery to consumerism – come under attack as the rescuers’ mission unfolds. There is a lively comic satire on present-day life among all the high jinks of fantasy. But this fast-paced little book is sheer adventurous fun. The ingredients may be traditional, but the result is something fresh and appetising. Readers of 8-10 (and older ones too, including adults) will find it very much to their taste.