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Lights, Camera, Cook!

(Next Best Junior Chef #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  356 ratings  ·  91 reviews
A zesty series for fans of kids' cooking competitions!It's “lights, camera, cook!” for four tween contestants—energetic Tate, charming Rae, worldly Caroline, and hyper-competitive Oliver—who are all about to enter a televised cooking competition.
What will the kids cook up? How will they all get along on- and off-camera? Which junior chef will have the grit—and maybe the
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published July 18th 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Get Ready, Set, and BAAKKKKEE!

Welcome to the Next Best Junior Chef, a book I was really looking forward to and a book that certainly delivered. It was almost a 5+ star, but due to a few little things 5 stars is all I can give at the moment (which is still awesome).

I just love shows like the one written in this book. I have seen quite a few and they are always so much fun. Though the one in this book was slightly different. Not only was this one taking place over a week, but it also yielded
Valentina Markasović
I was given this e-book free of charge by NetGalley. Thank you!

This was such a fun book! The four junior chefs are all intriguing, but my favourite was by far Tate. He was just so adorable! One thing that momentarily confused me is that there is no established main character. We get glimpses of inner thoughts from all 4 contestants, which makes it harder to truly connect to, or root for, any of them. But if you really think about it, it makes perfect sense - this novel is, after all, based on
Mary Lee
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series, 2017, food
I've just recently become (obsessed with? addicted to?) tickled by The Great British Bakeoff. This book reads just like one of the shows (and I'm inferring, like any of the baking shows). Even the solo on-camera snippets are there with character sketch and speech bubble.

I love how much these kids know about food, flavors and cooking. Harper does a good job making each a distinct character and building in good drama and tension.

I'm hooked! Can't wait to read the next one!
Alex  Baugh
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
It turns out that a lot of my kids are into cooking shows and really liked reading the first two books in this trilogy. Now that the last book is out, I decided it was time to read them myself after hearing what my kids said and then getting hooked on watching Master Chef Junior last spring when I was so sick. Watching that, I couldn't help but wonder how were those kids so good at cooking, creating, and competing on TV (something I can't even do in my own kitchen). Well, some of those secrets ...more
Ms. Yingling
Apr 11, 2017 rated it liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Caroline, Rae, Oliver and Tate are contestants on the high stakes Next Best Junior Chef television program. They are competing on a television show judeged by world class chefs, so they are all very nervous. Tate is only nine, so he has a lot of energy and sometimes less than ideal behavior, Oliver is the self-proclaimed "King of Calm", and Caroline and Rae are both rather nervous. All of the children work together on the various challenges and are good
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are so many things to love about this book. When you read it you get a backstage view of a kid's cooking show with production information, personality conflicts and bloopers. Kids who love cooking will get some tips on new things to try and be motivated to get in the kitchen. It was brilliant to make each week in the competition a book. You walk through the week with the contestants all the way through the elimination round. This is why I love to read Charise Mericle Harper's books and ...more
This book was cute. I think it handled the format of a cooking competition television show well. It definitely skews younger than a lot of junior fiction. It lacked development and length and complexity. I think it will fill a need for a certain group of readers though. It would be great for reluctant readers or kids who are branching out from late readers or early chapter books. It was enjoyable for me to read, but I don't think that I will read the rest of the series. I'd rather watch an ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a dream come true for food-loving young chefs! The competition is fierce, and the descriptions of food made my mouth water! I really think all of the marks were hit showing skills a contestant would need to succeed in a cooking show, and the little interviews were a fun way to break up the text and hear multiple perspectives. The cooking tips and info in the back of the book were super awesome, too.

The only thing I was missing was some depth of character. Otherwise, it’s a winner!
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books
Loved the concept but was a bit board with the book
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
LIghts, Camera, Cook is a great book. It is like watching a cooking show but you are reading it. THe central theme is that everybody is a winner even if yuo dont win because you tried your best. That is the central idea of this book.
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
Perfect for kids who love to spend time in the kitchen, either cooking or eating. Lots of great behind-the-scenes info about reality cooking shows, too. Looking forward to the second title!
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book a lot, mostly because it read just like an episode of Master Chef Junior. I think anyone who enjoys cooking competition shows would enjoy this book.

I guess my biggest complaint is that it didn't have a strong plot. The book is based heavily around the competition (duh), but it didn't quite feel like enough to keep me satisfied. There was minor drama between characters, but overall I felt like it wasn't enough. I wish we got a peek inside the kids' lives a little more. I think
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
My son loves watching kid cooking shows with me, but apparently he doesn’t really like reading about kid cooking shows with me. He lost interest in this book very quickly. I thought it was such a fun idea and I like this author, so I thought I would finish it on my own. But then I lost interest in it too. While this was a great concept for a book, I think the trouble was in how it was executed. It was very slow moving and we never really get to know the characters. It kind of made me feel like I ...more
Eve beinguniquebooks
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
The new Next Best Junior Chef is a contest judged by three renowned chef's. The competition allows one junior chef the chance to win a food truck and the opportunity to film in Italy.
Each contestant, two boys and two girls are each around 9-11 years old and their histories influenced by their family and holiday's inspire a wide range of dishes from around the world alike in our real cooking TV shows.

They are all excited as they get their own work station and personalized apron, the chance to win
Melanie Dulaney
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Harper does a great job turning the wildly popular cooking shows into an excellent book for kids grades 3-7 who love them. Rae, Caroline, Tate and Oliver all earned the right to compete for the title of "Next Best Junior Chef" and all four take the competition seriously. All four characters have very different personalities and strengths in the kitchen and must figure out ways to impress judges with their cooking skills AND perform well on and off camera. Rae and Caroline become best friends, ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Cross posted from the reviewer's personal Goodreads account:

Harper, Charise Mericle Next Best Junior Chef : Lights Camera Cook, 185 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017, $12.99. Language: G (0 swears, 0”f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

4 young contestants, Tate (9) Caroline (11) Oliver (12) and Rae (11) are vying to be the “Next Best Junior Chef”. Reading like a reality show, the contestants are taken through a series of instructions and challenges to see who has the most skill. Caroline
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oliver, Caroline, Tate and Rae are the child contestants on Next Best Junior Chef, a hot new reality show featuring kids who can really cook. These kids have sophisticated, refined taste buds and have palates most parents only dream that their children might possess. Under the guidance of Chef Nancy, these children compete in mini-challenges, lessons, and finally an elimination challenge, sending one of the children home at the end of book #1. What kind of obstacles, internal and external, will ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I agree with Megan's review, this book felt scant on plot. I also didn't like that this was told from omniscient POV, we never really were allowed to get close to any single character. I prefer stories told in close personal third myself, so I can FEEL something. Not bad, it read a lot like the British Bake-off shows that are popular with my teenage daughter, but I find it hard to believe 9-12 year old kids could ever pull off the kinds of think-fast, spur-of-the-moment recipes featured in this ...more
Angela (Kentuckybooklover) Brocato-Skaggs
I love watching Food Network, so when I read the blurb for this book I knew I had to read it. This book was entertaining from the start. I was caught up in the nervousness and excitement of Rae, Caroline, Tate and Oliver as they learned how the show Next Best Junior Chef would work.

I learned a few cooking skills for myself. Anytime you can learn while reading is wonderful but it is even better when you learn while reading for entertainment. This book will definitely make it on the list for
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ssyra-3-5-2018
I feel like this was really well written. I liked how the characters developed through the series and how it was formatted with speech bubbles for the interviews, breaking up the monotony of regular novel format and also making it easy to distinguish between characters and actually use the interview in the story.
I quite like that a lot of this was behind the scenes of the making of the show, and how it was not all shown as beautiful and perfect, but that it also shows how drama can be
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reading like a reality show, the contestants are taken through a series of instructions and challenges to see who has the most skill. Caroline comes from a restaurant family, Oliver is super confident (and the King of Calm), Tate is young and energetic, and Rae is precise and passionate. Facing the celebrity chefs, and dealing with a little bit of drama, “episode 1” is a lot of fun.

The drama is super mild (Rae faints and Oliver catches her) the competition is friendly - I’d have to say this is
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Cooking shows are so popular with all ages these days, especially kids. The four junior chefs competing for the ultimate title in Next Best Junior Chef are depicted convincingly. This realistic tale is reminiscent of many reality cooking competition shows, as well as Project Runway. The knife tips in the back of the book are helpful, and all of the cooking tips included from each of the four junior chefs, while creating their best creations will be helpful for young readers, "A good chef plated ...more
Valerie McEnroe
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Normally I only give a book 4 or 5 stars if it meets a writing standard. The writing is average, but the content makes this book a winner. Reality TV has a big market in today's entertainment industry. Kids are no exception. Many of them watch the Kid's Baking Championship on the Food Network and this book is written for those kids.

Four contestants are showcasing their culinary skills through a series of challenges, hoping to be the last chef standing. Just like the TV program, the story pauses
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
What a fun take on cooking competitions. I like the 4 chefs. I like how the competition is set up and how readers learn a bit about how tv shows are staged. The drama may not be real. We don't see everything in real time - there's more help than we are lead to believe.

It's also fun to learn how these kids each developed their passions and skills. Who will be the ultimate winner? I guess we'll find out in the 4th book. I wonder if all the characters will continue to be in each book, or once
Linda V
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Follow young chefs Rae, Oliver, Tate and Caroline as they compete in a reality show cooking competition. The story unfolds in a "behind the scenes" look at mini-challenges and interviews leading up to the final challenge - and elimination round.

As the children grow the reader finds things to like - and dislike about each of the main characters. I found myself pulling for different characters at various points in the book and beeing wildly disappointed when one needed to be eliminated. I am
Beth Anne
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This book was so fun, well-done, and creative!! It’s a perfect confidence builder for middle elementary readers, especially anyone who enjoys cooking shows, particularly the ones focused on kids cooking like master chef Junior.

I loved the format of this book with a good number of pictures, but also speech bubbles with “interviews” and behind the scenes footage of what it is really like to be filmed on one of these shows.

Sure this wasn’t great literature, but it was super fun and I’m so glad
Lauren S
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book a lot and I think it's because I love shows like Guys Grocery Games that are intense cooking competitions. Honestly, Rae's character kind of bothers me and I feel that we don't really see Caroline's character as often as we see Rae & Olivers. I will be anxiously awaiting for the second book to come out! I would recommend this book to children entering 4th-5th grade. Once I return it tomorrow I will definitely be selling this book to a patron to check out!
Jul 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a cute book. If you've ever watched Chopped Jr, that's basically what this book is like. You get to know four kids, they talk a lot about cooking and just regular kid drama, and you sort of learn the behind-the-scenes stuff that happens on a cooking tv show. It was a very quick read, and enjoyable. I hate that it ends with a sort of cliffhanger, but it does say "Episode 1" right on the cover, so I should have known we weren't getting the full story here.
My eleven-year-old sister is obsessed with cooking competition shows (her favorite is Guy's Grocery Games), so when I received an email with this listed in new releases, I knew I had to get it for her. She said the story moved a little slowly in the beginning, but she loved all of the characters and could not put the book down. Now she is upset ;) that she has to wait for the rest of the books in the series to come out.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 could make it to 3 maybe--I thought this was supposed to be a middle grade book but it reads more like upper elementary. It's very basic which is fine if you're not looking for the depth I've come to expect from middle grade. I do like the interview blurbs which are illustrated with word bubbles as opposed to being written as regular dialogue. As someone who loves Masterchef and it's junior edition I was excited to give this a whirl but it wasn't my cup of tea.
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Next Best Junior Chef (3 books)
  • The Heat Is On (Next Best Junior Chef, #2)
  • The Winner Is . . . (Next Best Junior Chef #3)