Cooking in Fern Valley: Aileen Stewart
Within this book are some amazing recipes. Of course since I have no idea what knobs go with what on a stove I am going to have to hire a baker to prepare these delicious treats or maybe just a chef. So, maybe Roberta and Mildred will send me a case of their applesauce cupcakes with cream cheese frosting or perhaps if I write to Mrs. Cornstalk she might send me some of her Cheesy Potato Soup. There are quite a few great recipes that someone who knows what a stove is used for and can create these masterpieces can make and then send some to me. But, first, let’s talk about the creative stories and lessons learned within the pages of this third edition of the Fern Valley Series.
Kimmy Curlytail is a sweet little pig that is thought, kind and always considers the feelings of others first. So, why wouldn’t her friends want to do something special for her on her birthday? But, how can they create the perfect party and keep it a Secret? Miss Iris is the teacher that is really great and loves working with all of the students like Roberta and imaginative chicken and her sister Mildred plus her brother Edward who is just priceless at times. So, why wouldn’t Miss Iris help the other students plan a surprise for Kimmy and watch and learn just how creative this teacher is and whether they pull it off in the first story titled the Secret which proves just how close these kids are and the meaning of friendship and love. The Choice is a really true to life story that proves that sometimes children will go to any extremes to pass at test even cheat. Poor Edward hates fractions and no matter what he does to pass the test Miss Iris is giving will surprise readers. The way Miss Iris handles the situation is the way I wish all teachers would handle what Edward did. During class he is struggling with fractions while the other children are able to sort out the examples. When asked if everything is okay he does not want to admit that he might need help. Fearful, hoping to study hard does not help him and the day of the test what he does leaves him upset, scared and realizing that he needs to talk with Miss Iris and tell her the truth. When Edward explains his actions he is surprised that the teacher already knows. What does Miss Iris do when she learns the truth about what he did during the test? How does she handle it? Read The Choice and find out. Sometimes the choices we make are not always the right ones but we often learn from them as Edward did.
The Thief is a cute story about what happens when things go missing and no one can figure out where they went or who took them. Poor Roberta left her bracelet on the edge of her towel but when she went to put it back on it was gone. In its place was a red stone. Other things go missing and the thief leaves something in its place sort of an exchange for what he/she took. But, Jared is quite smart and reads a lot and what he remembers from something he read just might solve the case and find the missing items. Maybe, author Aileen Stewart will start a series of detective stories with Jared as the lead detective.
The Valentine is so precious in that every girl cherishes the first time a boy sends her a Valentine. But, Sammie finds one in her backpack and it not only surprises her but she cannot figure out who sent it. Wait until you find out who sent her the card, why and how she finds out.
My favorite story is the Outing because the focus is on Mrs. Sharpbeak and how much Tommy and Abigail respect, love, adore and help her all the time. I love the way the author teaches children to respect their parents, teacher and elders. This is truly great as they try to figure out a way to take Mrs. Sharpbeak out somewhere to enjoy a dinner and not have to cook. The Tickets brings to light what happens when Roberta receives a surprise of six tickets to the Lagoon for her family. Five tickets will go to her family members but what about number six? What I love is that Mama Cornstalk leaves that up to Roberta and will not make the choice for her. But, she has Kimmy, Sammie and Abigail to choose from which one will get the ticket? How can she slight the other two friends? Roberta comes up with a unique and positive solution she is sure will not hurt anyone’s feelings and make someone that deserves to feel special really special. You decide if you agree with Roberta when you read the ticket. Make sure you try Mama Cornstalk’s Veggie Pizza. Wish I could cook. Pizza is my favorite food.
The Key is followed by The Disaster, which proves that little brothers can do something great and special for their sister when they make a mistake. Miss Iris wants to raise money to take her students to the new museum. But, how is she going to do that and who will participate? Flyers will be sent out, ideas will be discussed in class and parents will be asked to bake and cook dishes to help raise money. Each of the students comes up with an idea for a project but poor Jared is stuck. Thinking hard and thinking even harder does not help until he remembers a recipe his grandmother made. Wait until you see what he comes up with and the rest of the class too. Cooperation, friendship, love, understanding and family values once again shine through.
The final story is adorable and cute. Mrs. Sharpbeak is alone and lives alone and Tommy and Abigail decide to try their hand at match matching when they meet Mr. Redcomb. Just how it works out and what Mrs. Sharpbeak’s initial thought about him is you won’t believe. This is truly a great story and I am sure author Aileen Stewart will continue with their friendship. The stories are great and students can read them one at a time and even act them out in class or on stage during an assembly program. Issues that come up in each story can be discussed by parents, teachers, guidance counselors, discussion groups and they can even draw pictures about the stories or create their own stories for these characters. Once again revisiting Fern Valley has been great and I hope to get invited back again.
Let’s give this book: FIVE PIPING HOT GOLDEN VEGGIE PIZZAS. Don’t forget to try the recipes at the end of the each story.
Fran Lewis: Just Review/MJ Magazine