THE WORLD’S GREATEST CHOCOLATE-COVERED PORK CHOPS, by Ryan K. Sager, Disney-Hyperion, June 20, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
The World’s Greatest Chocolate-Covered Pork Chops is a delicious choice for young fans of shows like MasterChef Junior.
The book opens with 12-year-old Zoey setting out to get a loan to open her own restaurant. She doesn’t think it should be too hard given that she serves throngs of people delectable eats out of her house on a regular basis. It takes a little finagling, but Zoey’s able to secure the money — and the support of her parents.
If only getting a loan was the most difficult part of owning a restaurant. Zoey quickly learns the costs — both monetary and otherwise start to add up. The restaurant industry turns out to be harsher than Zoey thought. There are people who find a young talent as a threat, and they won’t let her talent (no matter what her age) get in their way, even if that means crushing her dreams in the process.
The World’s Greatest Chocolate-Covered Pork Chops is written for young foodies, and it works fairly well. Author Ryan K. Sager asks readers to suspend at least some belief — it’s highly unlikely a 12-year-old chef would be able to open a successful, sold-out restaurant in a refurbished trolley.
Zoey is the driving force behind The World’s Greatest Chocolate-Covered Pork Chops. She is bold, precocious and unwilling to take no for an answer. Her passion for food almost drips off the page. Her personality makes her over-the-top goals seem feasible.
If only the food and cooking descriptions weren’t so technical. I love cooking shows and experimenting in the kitchen, but I found myself getting mired in the details. This could be off-putting for younger less experienced readers. I don’t know many 8-year-olds that would understand some of this. If nothing else, it seems to limit the book’s audience.
The World’s Greatest Chocolate-Covered Pork Chops is a fast read. Zoey is likeable and the writing — minus the cooking technicalities — is accessible. This would be a good choice to read as a family while integrating it into meal prep.
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