Girl of the Year 2015: Grace Stirs It Up

Author: Mary Casanova
Illustrator: Sarah Davis


Grace is back in the US now. She's working hard to get Bonbon used to living in a home (e.g.; she's not housebroken), missing her cousin, and feeling a little distant from Maddy and Ella. But she has high hopes of reconnecting with her friends by starting a French bakery business with them. Ella is reluctant at first--her father lost his job and she won't be able to help buy supplies. But Grace and Maddy assure her that she can still be part of the business, and they'll think about financial contributions later on, when the business is successful.

Things get off to an inauspicious start--while their first creation is delicious, the next one's batter overflows onto the oven's heating element and sets off the smoke alarm. When Grace's mom opens the door to let out the smoke, Bonbon darts out too. Fortunately Grace finds her quickly, making friends with the neighbor's dog. The three girls also butt heads over things like whether they should schedule their baking time or just have fun. Maddy especially has trouble not being in charge. In an effort to smooth things over with Maddy, Grace agrees to pass out brochures for their bakery before things are really ready. Things like asking permission to use her parents' land line as the information line... But after a meeting with their parents and Grace's grandparents, the girls are back on track. They're going to set up a website with help from Maddy's mom for customers to place orders, and also have a booth at the half-marathon Grace's mom is running in at the end of the month (only two weeks away), and also plan to sell treats at Ella's dad's softball games. Grace's grandparents help them figure out how to set prices, putting Ella's math skills to good use. Things still feel tense between Grace and Maddy, but Grace isn't sure how to fix it, especially with things being so busy.

The tension finally comes to a head in an argument and Maddy quits. The very next day, there are two orders to fill, but even texting Maddy that news doesn't get a response. Grace and Ella make the pastries and deliver them on their own, using a bike trailer Grace's brother Josh fixed up for an early birthday present (she later plans to train Bonbon to ride in it). The first delivery goes well, but the second results in a bad review: the tartelettes were broken upon delivery (this is why you always check the food you order before you pay for it...). The girls bring him another set free of charge and refund his payment, hoping he'll give them another chance. The stress of disappointing a customer really gets to Ella, and she feels too ill to help Grace prepare for the half-marathon.

A couple days before the half-marathon, Grace has some epiphanies: Bonbon and Maddy need freedom to thrive. Grace goes to Ella's to do some baking, and brings Bonbon along to play with Ella's dog (she gets permission first). And when a review from the disappointed customer comes in praising the girls for quickly righting their error and promising to order from them again, Grace takes special effort to show Ella that mistakes can be forgiven. They go to Maddy's to see if they can also repair that relationship. Maddy is not only calmed down enough to see them, she's been making stickers to act as labels on pastry boxes, featuring a drawing of Bonbon.

Finally, the half-marathon arrives. Grace's family built a beautiful pushcart for the girls' business, and they're nervous but ready to go. Bonbon comes along too, as their mascot, and behaves well. The day ends in success: Grace's mom is pleased with her finish time, and customers line up at the cart all throughout the event. More importantly, the three girls are friends again.

Glossary of French Words

Same as last book.


Dedicated to "my niece, Grace, who shares the same lovely name."

Grace wanting to put her dog in the bike trailer reminds me of a man I saw riding his motorcycle through a downtown once--the speed limit was only about 25 so he was going slowly, and where a sidecar could attach, he had a wooden platform on wheels. On top of the platform was a cat in a large carrier, looking very content.

Josh is mostly self-taught with piano, and very good at it.

Why did Grace and her friends clean up flour with wet sponges instead of just sweeping it? Wet flour is hard to clean.

I want to know Grace's mom's time in the half-marathon. Wish it had been given.

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