Author: Mary Casanova
Illustrator: Sarah Davis
The girls' business is really taking off. They have almost too many orders to fill! Maddy's mother has been researching business licenses, and it turns out they need a few even for baking out of the Thomas kitchen. And no animals can be in a commercial kitchen, ever. Bonbon's crate is kept in the kitchen...Grace has an idea: she and her friends can rent space from her grandparents' bakery! The grandparents agree, on the condition that an adult is always there to supervise. Ella's dad is still unemployed, and agrees to help at least until he finds a job.
They settle into a routine, balancing school work and their business. Grace's teacher is all about space exploration, and every project ties into that somehow. Grace worries that Maddy and Ella, who are in her mom's class, are jealous of the fun things her class gets to do. But at the same time, she finds some of her schoolwork very demanding of her limited time. Near Halloween, she learns that her mom's class is doing its own creative thing, and is happy that her friends enjoy having her mom for a teacher.
But around the same time, Grace's grandparents announce that they're going to sell their business. Sales have been lagging, and it's just not sustainable anymore. Grace and her friends can use the bakery until it sells, but after that...they might have to shut down.
Grace isn't ready to give up on her bakery or her grandparents' just yet. She and her friend redecorate the bakery, updating its look with fresh paint and nice tables and chairs donated from the thrift store Maddy's parents own. Business does pick up by the time Thanksgiving comes around, but Grace's grandparents aren't sure things will stay successful. They still haven't taken down the for sale sign.
But there's a glimmer of hope! For her birthday in back in September, she'd gone on a train ride with Maddy and Ella and ended up chatting with a worker there. That same worker sought out her grandparents' place, and has placed an order for a variety of French pastries for a stop on the company's Christmas-themed tourist train ride. Between the guaranteed business from that and all the extra attention the girls' French cooking is getting, Grace's grandparents come up with an idea: they'll buy out the company Grace and her friends have, and switch to specializing in French treats, which seem to be much more in demand. There have even been orders from out of state! Grace, Maddy, and Ella will still bake and earn a wage, but the business will be able to keep up with the greater demand. They're even able to hire Ella's dad, part-time at first, but if things go well, he can be full-time later.
Grace then gets more good news: she'd come up with a recipe while feeling down about her business possibly closing down, and submitted it to a baking contest. She won the contest--and the thousand dollar prize. She uses some of her prize money to fly Sylvie in from Paris (Grace's aunt also comes along with baby Lily). Sylvie arrives just in time for the Christmas train tour, and gets to meet Maddy and Ella plus she can spend some more time with her (step) grandparents. If the business goes really well, maybe Grace, Maddy, and Ella can visit Sylvie sometime!
Dedicated to "Erin Falligant, fine editor, writer, and friend."
The girl I used to nanny had a teacher like Grace's. Every project had to be CREATIVE! and EXCITING! Honestly, it made everything a lot harder than it should have. Some creativity is fantastic, but she'd end up spending more time on an idea to make the project "fun" than actually doing the research for the project, and it really stressed her out. There was also the assumption that everyone's parents had the extra cash and time to accommodate the projects. A happy medium would have been nice.
It's a good thing that Grace, Maddy, and Ella don't want to do any school sports or clubs; they'd have no time!
Ella's dad has been keeping chickens (Rhode Island Reds) for their eggs, which the girls use often in baking. That would be a big selling point if they advertise using fresh eggs.