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$150,000 Rugelach

Illustrated by Ariel Landy
Published by Yellow Jacket
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

Recommended by Entertainment Weekly as a Best Book of 2021

"This sweet story is a delightful, quick read with a wonderfully charming cast of characters. The delicious descriptions of baked goods are sure to make readers' mouths water; fortunately, three recipes are included. A refreshing and uplifting book filled with friendship, heartache, and a generous sprinkling of love." -- Kirkus Reviews

"The Markses excel at creating goofy but appealing characters: extrovert Jack seems beyond embarrassment, yet he honors Jillian's wish to keep her mom's story private; Grandma Rita has no cooking skills, but she rocks at martial arts and plumbing repairs; and Phineas Farnsworth exploits everyone he encounters but has a soft spot for the memory of the nanny who raised him." -- Booklist

"The authors excel at lay­ered depic­tions of the hard­work­ing young pro­tag­o­nists and the adults in their lives, offer­ing an enter­tain­ing jour­ney that cel­e­brates friend­ship, team­work, and con­nec­tions that span generations."-- Jewish Book Council

"A sweet delight of a middle-grade story that reminds readers that the key ingredient for any recipe is always love."--Entertainment Weekly

A delicious tale of rivalry, friendship, heartache, and dessert! Fame-obsessed Jack and somber Jillian, who is mourning the loss of her mother, become a mismatched duo selected to compete for $150,000 in a high-stakes baking contest jam-packed with hilarious high jinks.

Exploding with loud, rock 'n' roll attitude, eleven-year-old Jack Fineman dreams of becoming the greatest pastry chef who ever lived. His plans are thrown off course when his butterscotch basil brownies are upstaged at his sixth-grade holiday party by a simple plate of chocolate rugelach brought in by Jillian Mermelstein-the new girl at school whose mother has just died and who only wants to be left alone.

These budding bakers' lives are mixed together when they are selected to compete as teammates in a nationally televised competition. For Jack, this is his chance to advance one step closer to culinary greatness. For Jillian, it's an opportunity to help her father by winning her share of the $150,000 top prize.

Preparing to face bakers from the city's other middle schools, Jack and Jillian struggle to find the right recipe for working together. Along the way, they make the world's most irresistible oatmeal cricket cookies, battle Jack's checkered-pants-wearing brother for miniature golf supremacy, and discover the troubling reasons why each of them was chosen for the contest.

Jack Fineman and Jillian Mermelstein love to bake.
Jack dreams of becoming a world-famous pastry chef, while Jillian clings to happy memories of baking with her late mother. When Jillian, the new girl at Sieberling School, makes the most delicious chocolate rugelach for their sixth grade winter party, Jack knows he has serious competition. How will he ever win local baking company CEO Phineas Farnsworth III's Bakerstown Bonanza when he turns 18 with Jillian as his rival? When Jillian is paired with Jack and his best friend, Chad, for a class project, she is at first reluctant. However, they decide to try baking with insects, and it soon becomes clear that Jillian and Jack make a great team-with Chad as their cheerleader. When Farnsworth announces that this year's contest will focus on child contestants, the two young bakers decide to enter for very different reasons: Jack is looking for fame, while Jillian only wants the prize money to help her family. When they are selected to represent their school, they must again work together-especially when they discover Farnsworth is not what he seems. This sweet story is a delightful, quick read with a wonderfully charming cast of characters. The delicious descriptions of baked goods are sure to make readers' mouths water; fortunately, three recipes are included. Main characters are White and Jewish.
A refreshing and uplifting book filled with friendship, heartache, and a generous sprinkling of love.

– Kirkus Reviews

After the death of her mother, 11-year-old Jillian Mermelstein and her father relocate to Ohio to live with Grandma Rita. Jillian's one joy is baking the recipes perfected by Mom, especially chocolate rugelach. Classmate Jack Fineman enjoys baking, too, but his goal is fame and fortune like that of his idol, Phineas Farnsworth, a local businessman who sponsors an annual bake-off. When Jack and Jillian are paired in a child version of Bakerstown Bonanza, the two must develop a rapport (in terms of cooking styles and showmanship) to make it work. The
Markses excel at creating goofy but appealing characters: extrovert Jack seems beyond embarrassment, yet he honors Jillian's wish to keep her mom's story private; Grandma Rita has no cooking skills, but she rocks at martial arts and plumbing repairs; and Phineas Farnsworth exploits everyone he encounters but has a soft spot for the memory of the nanny who raised him. Although the ending feels a bit contrived, it will please the intended audience. Recipes for relevant treats are appended.

– Booklist

The $150,000 Rugelach is filled with humor­ous details and char­ac­ters who are clever even as they deal with deep, heart­felt emo­tions. Jillian's reflec­tions about her mom's wis­dom are par­tic­u­lar­ly touch­ing. The authors excel at lay­ered depic­tions of the hard­work­ing young pro­tag­o­nists and the adults in their lives, offer­ing an enter­tain­ing jour­ney that cel­e­brates friend­ship, team­work, and con­nec­tions that span generations.

– Jewish Book Council

A sweet delight of a middle-grade story that reminds readers that the key ingredient for any recipe is always love.

– Entertainment Weekly