Book Review: Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles
I’ll say it loud and clear: I absolutely hate cooking, though I don’t object to eating. You’ll never find me in the kitchen, unless it’s to pinch a piece of chocolate from the fridge.
But I absolutely love reading about food. Even recipe books.
There are no recipes in Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles, the first book in the Madame Pamplemousse series by Rupert Kingfisher. But the book made me very happy. Not only because it’s a story for kids about food, but also because it’s funny, adventurous, features a cat named Camembert who whisks and chops and drives cars, and has a happy ending. And Madame Pamplemousse might even be a little bit magic. Her food certainly is.
Madame Pamplemousse lives in Paris, the city that likes to believe it’s the capital of the world of amazing food. Of all that amazing food, Madame makes the most amazing – but she’s discreet. She doesn’t want to be famous. She doesn’t want to be rich. She just wants to make enough money to live in peace, cook her amazing food, chat with Camembert the cat, and run her little shop.
Monsieur Lard, however, is just the opposite. He owns a restaurant and dreams of being the most famous restaurateur in the world. But even though he’s successful (because of idiots who think that expensive food must be good food), he actually has incredibly bad taste. The food he forces his chefs to make is not just distasteful, it’s truly disgusting. But worst of all, he’s a cruel man, good at nothing but sucking up to powerful people and terrifying everyone who’s less powerful than he.
One of the many people Monsieur Lard terrifies is his own niece, Madeleine. Madeleine’s parents much prefer going on cruises to bringing up their daughter, so she’s often sent to her uncle. Monsieur Lard makes her work in the restaurant, washing all of the dishes and smiling like a maniac, despite the fact that Madeleine is a fabulous cook.
No wonder she never wants to get out of bed.
But one day, Madeleine discovers Madame Pamplemousse’s little shop. And when she buys a small jar of pâté of Atlantic sea serpent for the restaurant — which makes the customers cry for more — everything changes. Everything. Her uncle, scenting the arrival of the fame he dreams of, becomes even nastier. And when Madame Pamplemousse refuses to part with her recipes, Madeleine is forced to become her assistant – and a spy for Monsieur Lard.
I’ve already said there’s a happy ending (thank heavens). But I’m not going to tell you what poor Madeleine goes through at Madame Pamplemousse’s shop, with a suspicious Camembert on one side and an increasingly nasty uncle on the other, and how the happy ending comes about. To find out, you’ll have to read the book for yourself – and I can’t tell you how much I want you to do that. This is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.
So, if you’re about 6 to 8 years old, love food and watch MasterChef with a dedicated eye, you can’t do better than read this scrumptious story for kids.