Anna and Banana must cook up a solution when her jealousy gets her into some hot water in the sixth book of this “fast-paced, fun, and funny” (Megan McDonald, bestselling author of the Judy Moody series) illustrated chapter book series about the joys and challenges of elementary school friendships.
After watching the contestants on The Batter-Up Bake-Off Show whip up sweet treats, Anna, Isabel, Sadie, and Banana are ready to put their culinary chops to the test. The plan? To make the best-ever cookie recipe for the town library’s bake sale!
There’s only one problem: Isabel and Sadie have started hanging out with a girl named Monica, and suddenly she’s all they can talk about. Anna’s sure she, Sadie, and Isabel are complete as a trio, and winning the bake sale will prove it. But when Monica shows up with Sadie and Isabel for their big baking day things quickly turn from sweet to sour.
Can Anna win back the attention of her two besties, or will she learn that friendship—like cookies—is best when shared?
Anna, Banana, and the Recipe for Disaster Chapter One Batter Up
“No, not the carrots!” my best friend Sadie said to the television. “Don’t add those to the cake batter! Yuck!”
My other best friend, Isabel, shrugged at the screen. “I like carrot cake,” she said.
“Yeah, but chocolate carrot cake?” Sadie said. “Blech. No thank you.” We watched as the kid contestants on The Batter-Up Bake-Off Show grated three large carrots into the mixing bowl and poured in a cupful of chocolate chunks. Sadie wrinkled her nose.
“I’d try it,” Isabel said. “What about you, Anna?”
“If Dad served it for dinner, I’d have to,” I said. That was the food rule at my house: You eat what you’re served, even if it’s beets or brussels sprouts.
“True, but you’re at my house now,” Sadie said. “There aren’t any rules like that here.” There weren’t any food rules at either of Sadie’s houses. Both of her parents let her eat what she likes. And here at her dad’s place, we’re allowed to watch as much TV as we want, too, although usually we’re busy with games or adventures.
Hanging out at my house is still the most fun though because there we get to be with my dog, Banana. But Banana doesn’t mind if I go to Sadie’s or Isabel’s, as long as I tell her all about it afterward.
“I’d still probably try it,” I said, “if only so I could tell Banana what it tastes like.”
Sadie shuddered. “Just let her taste it for herself!”
“Nope. Chocolate is really bad for dogs. Like, it’s basically poison,” I said. I was always super careful to keep chocolate out of Banana’s reach. Even the thought of her eating some made my heart skip with panic.
Isabel nodded. “Cats too,” she said. “We thought Mewsic maybe ate some once, and had to take him to the vet.” Mewsic is Isabel’s gigantic orange tabby cat. He’s even bigger than Banana.
“What did the vet do about it?” Sadie asked.
“She gave him some medicine to make him throw up,” Isabel said.
“Aw, poor kitty,” I said, trying not to picture it.
“Yeah, but at least then he was safe,” Isabel said. I couldn’t argue with that.
“Oooh!” Sadie grabbed the remote and turned up the volume. “This is my favorite part.”
It had been Sadie’s idea for us to watch TV today—she’d really wanted us to see this new baking show. “Batter up!” she cheered, along with the whole TV audience. On screen, the two teams of kid contestants stepped up to the judges’ plate to show off their final creations.
“Whoa, they sprinkled carrots on top of the frosting, too,” I said, as that team gave the “pitch” for why their recipe invention should win. “They’re really into this chocolate-carrot thing.”
Sadie stuck out her tongue. “Gross.”
“I like it,” Isabel said. “It looks like a Halloween cake.”
“Yeah, but Halloween is over.” Sadie leaned back into the couch where we were sitting. “I think the other team should win. Zucchini-walnut cookies sound much better, even though it’s still vegetables for dessert.”
“I’d at least give the carrot team points for creativity,” I said.
“Definitely,” Isabel agreed. But the judges agreed with Sadie. They awarded the golden chef’s cap to the other team.
“We should go on this show together,” Sadie said, clicking it off with the remote. “We’re a really good team.”
“But we don’t know how to bake!” Isabel said.
“So? We’ll learn.” Sadie tossed a throw pillow at me and I caught it. “I’m going to a cupcake- making party tomorrow after school, actually,” she said.
Isabel perked up. “You’re going to Monica’s birthday party? Me too!”
“Cool!” Sadie said. She and Isabel beamed at each other.
I looked back and forth between them, feeling suddenly left out. “Who’s Monica?” I asked. I didn’t know Sadie and Isabel had a friend in common who wasn’t me.
“A girl in Mr. Garrison’s class,” Sadie said. “I don’t know her all that well, but her mom and my dad work together, so that’s why I got invited.”
“I was friends with her last year in Ms. Lahiri’s class,” Isabel explained. “Before I met you guys.” Sadie and I had been friends forever, but we only met Isabel this school year. It already felt like we’d been friends with her forever too though.
“Oh. I think I know who that is,” I said. I could picture Monica’s short, curly hair and big brown eyes, but I wasn’t sure if I’d ever talked to her. Even though we were the same age, we had never been in the same class. Of course she hadn’t invited me to her birthday party—we didn’t even know each other. But it was weird that Sadie and Isabel would be going to the party without me. I couldn’t help feeling sad about that, but I tried not to show it. “A baking party sounds fun,” I said.
“I’m so glad you’ll be there,” Sadie said to Isabel. “I thought I wouldn’t know anyone.”
“I’ll sit next to you!” Isabel said. She turned to me. “Once we’re baking experts, we’ll teach you everything we know.”
“Yeah!” Sadie said.
I hugged the throw pillow to my chest and tried to ignore the lump in the back of my throat. It wasn’t anyone’s fault I was being left out—that was just the way it was. And it was only for one afternoon. Still, as my Nana would say, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
I forced myself to smile. “As long as you won’t be hiding any carrots in the cupcakes,” I said, and tossed the throw pillow back at Sadie.
Sadie laughed. “No way.”
Isabel held up her hand for a three-way pinky swear, and Sadie and I hooked our pinkies with hers. “Only sweets in our treats,” she said. “We promise.”
Anica Mrose Rissi grew up on an island off the coast of Maine, where she read a lot of books and loved a lot of pets. She now tells and collects stories, makes up songs on her violin, and eats lots of cheese with her friends in Princeton, New Jersey, where she lives with her dog, Arugula. Find out more at AnicaRissi.com and follow @AnicaRissi on Twitter.
Meg Park is a character designer and illustrator for clients including Disney, Nickelodeon, and Paramount Pictures. Meg lives in Scotland with her two cats Louie and Boo. She loves drawing, painting, and telling stories through her artwork.