Erin Bellisima, our young narrator, is facing lots of changes as she begins her story, she has just moved to a new flat and has to start a new school too. Fortunately, she makes friends and develops new interests when she starts attending activities at Skipton House Community Centre, an intriguing and ramshackle building full of life and activity.
There are changes for Lara (Erin’s mum) too when she loses her job. A skilled and creative cook, Lara enters a cookery competition hoping this will be the answer to their financial problems. Unfortunately, she is unsuccessful. Concerned, Erin and her friends help her find a new role when a leader is suddenly needed for the Community Centre’s cookery club.
Skipton House Community Centre becomes pivotal in both Erin and Lara’s lives. Unfortunately, Erin discovers the community centre is under threat from a mystery buyer. Who could this be and how can they be stopped? Erin and her friends Tanya, Sam and Frixos become the cookery club detectives determined to solve the mystery.
This is a warm and engaging story with appealing characters. Many themes are explored such as settling into a new school and making friends, including with those whose lifestyle is very different from your own. It also touches on bigger themes such as food poverty, the impact of unemployment, online bullying, the importance of community centres and the potential power of activism.
Healthy cooking on a budget is another focus and seven recipes are sprinkled throughout the book to tempt young cooks to create their own Fantabulous Fatijas, Perfect Pizza and of course when the mystery is solved, celebratory Banana Bread.