Blog Tour: Nixie Ness: Cooking Star

From Claudia Mills:

“The Joy of (Writing a Book about) Cooking”

I was so happy when I decided to write my most recent book, Nixie Ness, Cooking Star, about a group of kids in an after-school cooking camp. This is the first book in a new chapter-book series set in an after-school program, After-School Superstars, featuring a different themed camp each month. 

The cooking-camp setting gave me two pleasurable challenges: 1) thinking of fun culinary projects that could fill up the four weeks of the camp; and 2) thinking about how my four main characters could reveal themselves to readers by how they tackled these projects. When I teach workshops on characterization for kids, I always tell them that the best way to show character is to give your characters something to DO – and then watch them DO it!

So: what kinds of things would be fun – and feasible – for kids to cook? Confession: I’m not really much of a cook myself. Well, that would actually be a plus, I told myself. If I could cook these things, third graders could, too. I wanted to come up with projects that would connect with interests kids already have, as well as expanding and broadening their culinary horizons. Okay. . . . Week one would be devoted to making healthy and delicious lunches to bring to school. All kids look forward to lunch. Week two would begin with making pet treats: dog biscuits, cat cookies, bird suet (this became my favorite chapter) and then morph into pumpkin week. Pets and pumpkins are everybody’s favorite. Baking for fundraising bake sale would occupy week three. Everyone loves to bake. Week four would conclude the camp, and the book, with a Trip Around the World international banquet. For this, I had to find a simple recipe for saag from India – not that simple a task!

Once I had my activities lined up – hooray! – I could watch brainy Nolan, class-clown Boogie, perfectionist Vera, and big-dreaming Nixie get down to the serious – and comic – business of cooking. Nolan spouts a stream of food facts about everything from the origin of pita bread to the percentage of water in a pumpkin. Vera agonizes over whether she is chopping up ingredients for her pita-pocket-fillings in pieces exactly a quarter-inch square. Boogie shocks his teammates by sampling one of their dog biscuits. And Nixie fantasizes about achieving fame and fortune by becoming the star of the camp cooking video. 

Finally, I had the additional joy of testing the book’s recipes. My family loved the Morning Glory Muffins, and Tanky-the-dog loved the dog biscuits. But my son’s cat, Clementine, admittedly turned up her nose at the cat cookies (which Tanky then devoured). 

The next two books in the series are going to be Vera Vance, Comics Star, set in a comic-book camp, followed by Lucy Lopez, Coding Star. I’m done with figuring out all my comic-book activities, but now I’m facing the daunting challenge – technophobe that I am – of learning about coding. So wish me luck!

From the Publisher:


Best friends Nixie and Grace spend every afternoon together . . . until Nixie's mom gets a new job and Nixie must attend the after-school program, without Grace.

Third graders Nixie Ness and Grace Kenny have been best friends since they were two-years-old. They have always spent every afternoon after school at Nixie's house until Nixie's mom announces that she has a job, which means she won't be there to watch the girls after school, which means Nixie will have to go to the after-school program and Grace will be spending her afternoons at their classmate, Elyse's, house.

Nixie begrudgingly starts the after-school program, joining the cooking camp. And it turns out that the other children at cooking camp are nice, and the recipes they make are delicious. But Nixie can't really enjoy being an after-school superstar until she finds a way to overcome her jealousy about Grace and Elyse's budding friendship.

Perfect for fans of Judy Moody, Ivy and Bean, and Clementine, this new chapter book series features recurring characters, and each book will highlight one activity they do at their after-school program. The books are illustrated in black and white and include a bonus activity that corresponds to the book's plot. Nixie Ness: Cooking Star features a recipe for morning glory muffins. The next book in the After-School Superstars series, Vera Vance: Comics Star, is scheduled for release in Spring 2020.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me today, Nicole, and giving Nixie such a warm welcome!

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