Today sees the publication by Zephyr Books of The Cooking Club Detectives by Ewa Josefkowicz and I am delighted to be participating in the blog tour coinciding with its launch. As we mark Empathy Day today this book is an example of how children’s books can both promote and encourage empathy and understanding.
You can read my review of The Cooking Club Detectives below but first of all Ewa Josefkowicz has kindly offered to tell us a little about the charity that inspired this lovely book and her first hand experience of its work through her role as a school governor.
Ewa Josefkowicz – The Magic Breakfast Charity
The Cooking Club Detectives is the story of Erin, Tanya, Sam and Frixos who all come from different backgrounds and are brought together through their passion for cooking. They love to hang out at Skipton Community Centre, which may look ramshackle, but soon turns out to be at the centre of their lives – it’s also where their cooking club is hosted. When Skipton is threatened with closure, the gang gets together to figure out who is responsible.
The story is inspired by the work of Magic Breakfast, a wonderful charity which I first came across when I was a governor at a school in North London. It provides healthy breakfasts for children at risk of hunger across the UK. In our school, the teachers spoke of the huge difference that the breakfasts made to the children. They were able to concentrate much better in class, they were more eager to share their ideas in lessons, and they had far more energy.
But another wonderful element of these breakfasts was the fact that they provided an opportunity for socialising across year groups. Our school’s breakfasts were sometimes themed, with a focus on music, creative writing or a whole range of other activities. I could see that it was where many new friendships were formed.
A couple of years ago, I had the honour of interviewing Magic Breakfast’s former CEO, Alex Cunnigham, for a school podcast and found out a great deal more about the charity’s work and its impact. You can listen to it here. Magic Breakfast’s aim has always been to do itself out of a job, but sadly things haven’t improved in recent times.
In fact, the pandemic has had a huge impact on food insecurity, and Magic Breakfast predicts that 2.3 million children are now affected. So through The Cooking Club Detectives, as well as writing a mystery (my favourite type of story), I wanted to show how important community is to us all. I also want to make sure my readers know that they should always ask for help if they need it.
Thank you, Ewa for enlightening us about the valuable work this charity is doing and for the link to the interview which provided more information too.
Review of The Cooking Club Detectives by Ewa Jozefkowicz
Engaging from the first page this story features a group of children who bond though a cookery club and find themselves turning detective to try and save the building in which the club takes place. The mystery and the opportunity to solve the clues alongside Erin and her friends will be hugely appealing to young readers. Threaded thorough the storyline are themes of food poverty, online bullying and the need for community and friendship, gently observed and conveyed with a light touch by Ewa Josefkowicz, Interspersed with several recipes suitable for children to follow, this is a lovely read.
When we meet Erin she and her mum, Lara, have just moved into a new area and Erin is having to learn how to settle into a new school. Money has always been tight for Erin and Lara so when Tanya, one of Erin’s new classmates, reveals she has a housekeeper and a wealthy Dad Erin fears they will have little in common. However the girls quickly bond at the weekly after school cooking club forming new friendships with two boys who attend it too. The community centre hosting the cooking club provides services that many rely on and the threat to its survival prompts the children to try to trace the person responsible and put things right.
There is so much to praise in this sensitively written book. The relationship between Erin and Lara is portrayed sympathetically as are the developing friendships. The characters are convincing and the plot with its gradual reveal and the dropping of clues along the way is absorbing and satisfying. Ewa Josefkowicz’s writing shows an understanding of people, both children and adults and highlights the importance of community and connecting with those around us. A kind story with a reassuring and encouraging tone for its young readers.
I should like to thank Ewa for her thoughtful words about the Magic Breakfast charity and Fritha Lindqvist for providing my review copy and for help in producing this post.
The blog tour continues tomorrow and full details are given below and you can catch up with any posts you have missed too.
You may like to try other books by Ewa Jozefkowicz and I would highly recommend The Key to Finding Jack, another charming mystery focusing on family relationships and the importance of everyday connections and friendships.