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Midsummer's Mayhem

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Can Mimi undo the mayhem caused by her baking in this contemporary-fantasy retelling of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Eleven-year-old Mimi Mackson comes from a big Indian American family: Dad's a renowned food writer, Mom's a successful businesswoman, and her three older siblings all have their own respective accomplishments. It's easy to feel invisible in such an impressive family, but Mimi's dream of proving she's not the least-talented member of her family seems possible when she discovers a contest at the new bakery in town. Plus, it'll start her on the path to becoming a celebrity chef like her culinary idol, Puffy Fay.

But when Mimi's dad returns from a business trip, he's mysteriously lost his highly honed sense of taste. Without his help, Mimi will never be able to bake something impressive enough to propel her to gastronomic fame.

Drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she's never seen. Who knew there were banyan trees and wild boars in Massachusetts? Together they discover exotic ingredients and bake them into delectable and enchanting treats.

But as her dad acts stranger every day, and her siblings' romantic entanglements cause trouble in their town, Mimi begins to wonder whether the ingredients she and Vik found are somehow the cause of it all. She needs to use her skills, deductive and epicurean, to uncover what's happened. In the process, she learns that in life, as in baking, not everything is sweet. . . .

352 pages, Hardcover

First published June 11, 2019

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About the author

Rajani LaRocca

22 books437 followers
Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning books for young people, including Red, White, and Whole, which won a 2022 Newbery Honor, the Walter Dean Myers Award, Golden Kite Award, and New England Book Award. Her other books include: Midsummer’s Mayhem (2019), Seven Golden Rings (2020), Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers (2021), Much Ado About Baseball (2021), Where Three Oceans Meet (2021), My Little Golden Book About Kamala Harris (2021), The Secret Code Inside You (2021), I'll Go and Come Back (2022), and more. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks. To connect with Rajani and learn more about her and her books visit her at www.RajaniLaRocca.com and on Twitter and Instagram @rajanilarocca.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 437 reviews
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,825 reviews2,186 followers
August 20, 2019
3.75 stars

What a cute middle grade treat! Think Shakespeare mixed with baking. I admit, I was drawn into this book by the cover and it totally paid off. I think many middle grade readers will love this book.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
644 reviews1,692 followers
July 14, 2019
This was such a delightful retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream and has one of the best food descriptions I've ever read.

- Follows Mimi, an Indian-American kid who comes from a big family and loves to bake! When she meets a mysterious boy and a new bakery opens in her sleepy town, wild shenanigans ensue - and it's up to Mimi to undo the mayhem.
- This story is about friendship and giving things your best shot, and has a light and fun 'mystery' element!
- This is such a lovely and eventful read; perfect for a summer read for children, and can even be enjoyed by some adults. There are even gorgeous illustrations in the story and I looked forward to seeing them!
- The story explores how children who feel left behind by their family's high-achieving endeavours. I really liked how this particular plot thread develops over the course of the book.
Profile Image for Gillian.
Author 6 books174 followers
January 15, 2019
Imagine a mashup between Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and kids baking competition shows. Throw in a hearty dash of magic, family dynamics, and themes of believing in yourself. Absolutely irresistible, this book will have readers hooked from the very first page. There is so much to love about this fun, tightly plotted, heartfelt story, but aside from the food descriptions (which are seriously mouthwatering!!) my favorite parts were about Mira and her family as she works to find her place to shine. I highly, highly recommend this scrumptious wonder!
August 30, 2021
This was superb! I am in love with this book! It got a big book hug when I finished reading it! I devoured this utterly delicious read-I read the last 60% in 1 sitting. You have mystery, magic, friendship, an adorable family, FOOD, & some Shakespeare with mythology & fairies! Lol

There is also one of the best MC ever. She is so relatable, & you are rooting for her the whole way. To the youngest siblings out there(🙋🏻‍♀️)who may feel like they never fit in with the rest of their family, or feel like they’re never good enough or can’t even compare to their siblings-this book is for you! Those are all normal feelings, but you just have to find your own path & believe in yourself as much as you believe in everyone else. So many amazing messages & life lessons in here.

And the BAKING! OMG! I had to restrain myself or Mimi & her amazing baked treats would have made me gain 10 pounds. I still might, because there are recipes from the book in the very back! How awesome is that! I’ve had another author do that before, & I absolutely love it. I appreciate that, & think it’s awesome when authors go the extra mile & add things, no matter how big or small. Love it. The author is also so helpful! Also in the back are baking terms & their meanings, what different herbs & spices are, & even a description of Indian foods mentioned. Mimi comes from a big Indian-American family, & there are so many amazing sounding Indian dishes mentioned, & I can’t wait to try some.

I loved also how this shows how a real family life is-fighting siblings, an over worked mom, a struggling younger sibling, etc.. Mimi not only struggles with feeling invisible & not good enough, but her best friend(& only friend really)recently moved to Australia. Poor kid, she pulled at my heart strings. I loved seeing her connect so strongly with Vik, & watching that friendship flourish. I wish I could read a zillion more books following Mimi, but I’m so happy I got this time with her. HIGHLY recommend! Just started the companion book, & I’m loving it so far too! STUNNING cover & full page illustrations sprinkled throughout by Rachel Suggs as well!💜
Profile Image for Raquel Estebaran.
293 reviews171 followers
October 18, 2021
Novela inspirada en El sueño de una noche de verano, de Shakespeare.

A priori dirigida a jóvenes lectores, tiene una trama y narrativa lo bastante elaboradas como para interesar a lectores de todas las edades.

Muy dulce y agradable.
Profile Image for Cheryl .
9,249 reviews397 followers
November 2, 2020
Wow, so much here. Definitely a labor of love, which appeals to me even more than all the content. And the content alone makes it worth reading for so many reason. There's creative baking, and a successful Indian-American family, and flavors of magic, and Shakespeare, and a mystery, and awesome illustrations (need to check if author has done graphic novels), and themes of friendship, courage, self-identity, etc.

I particular appreciate how the author worked it out that the child had to have these adventures and solve problems on her own... but thank goodness not doing it the easy way by making her an orphan. (Mom has a demanding career, and Dad is a.) She even did the smart thing and tried to talk to other adults, and the reason that didn't work fits perfectly in the story, too.

If I were a child age 9-11 or so I would immediately reread this. So, 3.5 stars rounded up.

Includes three recipes, two of which I'd be willing to bet we could make and not find elsewhere.

"I go, I go; look how I go, Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow."

Highly recommended to all families.
Clean and safe enough even for most seven year old children if you want to read together.

Profile Image for Victoria Coe.
Author 11 books98 followers
April 13, 2019
11 year-old Mimi is searching for a recipe to help her win the baking contest of a lifetime--a chance to bake with her idol Puffy Fay, to prove she belongs in her family of superstars, and to stop being known as Mimi Mouse. And when an enchanting song in the woods leads her to intoxicating plants, a mysterious book, and a new friend, she's found all she needs.

But when she bakes the creation of her heart, her family and friends start acting strangely. Her imagination? Coincidence? Or have her desserts accidentally enchanted THEM?

An inventive retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream, MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM by debut author Rajani LaRocca is a scrumptious read. I can't wait for middle grade readers with a taste for mayhem, mystery, and magic to gobble up this fun and heartwarming story.

I received an advance reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Danielle.
Author 2 books228 followers
July 29, 2019
I devoured this book! A delightful, relatable main character to root for, a charming family, plus baking, mystery, magic, and Shakespeare/mythology/fairies!
22 reviews6 followers
May 25, 2018
I was incredibly lucky to read this book early on and it is absolutely delightful-full of heart, magical mischief, a main character you can't help but root for, beautiful truths about family and childhood, and food descriptions that will leave your tummy rumbling!

The whole family will want to read this one together on summer afternoons, but be warned-your children will probably beg to start baking after reading!

My daughter, age 7, also loved the book and wanted to add her own review. In her own words: "Midsummer's Mayhem is my favorite book I have read yet, and I even read it two times-that's how much I like it! It's like you can taste the deliciousness of the treats that Mimi bakes!"
Profile Image for Mari Johnston.
431 reviews56 followers
May 7, 2019
This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl.

Midsummer’s Mayhem was one of the cutest books I’ve ever read! I’ve started to really enjoy retellings the past few years, and this one was done so well. A Midsummer Night’s Dream isn’t a play I’m completely familiar with, but going into this novel I did know the basics of it. Since this is a middle-grade novel though, I really liked seeing Rajani LaRocca incorporate the play and give a brief synopsis of it in her story. You can’t make comparisons if you don’t know the original story, so the fact that she did this is really going to help readers find the similarities between the two.

Overall, this book was really just so much fun. I read it in two sittings because when I would pick it up I wouldn’t want to put it down. The story was fresh and fun and I felt like the pacing was perfect. At no point did I feel like things were dragging too slowly, instead everything had the appropriate amount of urgency behind it. LaRocca’s characters were also wonderful. Each one was so full of life and personality and showed great development throughout the novel.

The dynamic of the Mackson family was incredible! The way Mimi interacted with her sisters and brother felt so authentic. They would argue a lot and not see eye to eye at times, but you could also tell they all really loved each other. Mimi’s mom works a lot, but she always tried her best to attend games, performances, and activities. It also seems like most of the time we see parents and their children not getting along, so it was refreshing that Mimi not only adored her mom and dad, but also that they were supportive of each of their kids’ interests.

Be prepared, because this book will make you hungry. Throughout the entire story, Mimi bakes so many absolutely scrumptious sounding treats. LaRocca did an excellent job of describing the baking process and all of the yummy ingredients. I actually let out a happy squeal when I saw recipes included in the back of the book. The kitchen is not part of my apartment I’m the most comfortable in, cooking and baking has really never been easy for me, but I still love reading about it. I was wanting to try and make some of the cookies from one of the recipes in the back but wasn’t able to spend the extra money at the store this time. Instead, I picked up some pre-made funfetti cookie dough because I just couldn’t resist baking something.

This is actually LaRocca’s debut into the middle-grade world, but it feels like what she’s been writing for years. Midsummer’s Mayhem is one that absolutely needs to be added to your TBR this summer. Everything about it was wonderful and it really is one that is great for anybody that enjoys middle-grade fiction.

A physical ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,240 reviews
July 14, 2022
I really loved this! I'm not going to be able to write an adequate review so I'll just do what I can and highly recommend it. It is really fresh and delightful and fun, yet also has such an authentic core and such real emotions. This may sound odd, but when I told my sister how much I liked it, my initial highest praise was, "I wasn't annoyed." But, really, so many middle grade books annoy me these days. I can't quite put my finger on why -- it's like they are trying too hard to be "magical" or to be "realistic" (which, almost always, "realistic" = "dark and depressing") or the kids just feel too precocious or something. This has none of that. You can just feel that it's been written from the heart, to tell a story with love, not to be "high concept" or fill some niche -- though, it does manage to do that, in a way, and also be wonderfully contemporary and inclusive, too, featuring an Indian American family. You can tell the family really loves each other, despite some little squabbles, and it's just really refreshing to see that in contemporary middle grade novels. (I especially loved Maddie's brother.) I think it was such a skillful adaptation of Midsummer Night's Dream and, even though I wasn't really surprised by most of the "reveals" because I know the original story, it is done so well that you will either be smiling at how LaRocca incorporates it all as you read along, or you'll have the surprise of how it all comes together but I think it's enjoyable either way. And she even includes enough of Shakespeare's plot in the story (so skillfully woven in when we see the brother's high school production of said play) so no one has to run off to Cliffs Notes. I love our protagonist so much! She feels so relatable and I was rooting for her the entire time. This book was just all kinds of check boxes for me -- the baking competition, the Shakespeare connection and brother's theater production, the sister's love of dance, the Indian culture, and the mystery and magic of nature and the woods. So, I can imagine this maybe not being a five star for everyone, especially if none of those things make you squeal with delight, but I still think it's very well written and a very worthy addition to library shelves -- librarians, please add it if you haven't already!
Profile Image for Naomi Milliner.
Author 2 books71 followers
March 16, 2019
If you like Shakespeare or baking - or especially both! - you will love this book. With mouth-watering descriptions of desserts (and three recipes in the back) and a fresh, funny take on A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, this is one delicious ride. Kids will enjoy it, and it would make a fun and creative choice for English classes. Warning: this book will make your mouth water.
Profile Image for Rajani LaRocca.
Author 22 books437 followers
June 18, 2021
This is my debut novel! I hope you enjoy this story featuring baking, magic, and Shakespeare about learning to appreciate your talents, finding your place in your family, and creating with your heart. Go, Team Sweet!
Profile Image for Joshua Levy.
Author 5 books81 followers
February 21, 2019
A book by any other name would probably not be as sweet as Rajani LaRocca's MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM. The ingredients are absolute perfection: Shakespeare. Magic. Family. Friends.

After her best friend moves away--and seemingly outshined by her busy and talented siblings and parents (each one of whom is well-developed and endearing)--amateur kid-chef Mimi Mackson is on the hunt for what makes her special. When a new cafe opens up in her town, complete with a baking competition, Mimi sees her chance. But not everything is as it seems: Not the "While Away Cafe." Not her new friend Vik. And definitely not her food-writer-dad's increasingly odd behavior.

Overflowing with heart and hilarity, MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM is as enchanting as a midsummer's eve. Get it. Digest it. Eat it again. Kids will love.
Profile Image for Cindy.
Author 4 books315 followers
April 2, 2019
As a lover of both baking and Shakespeare, I knew I would thoroughly enjoy Rajani LaRocca's debut middle grade novel, MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM—a delightful retelling of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" centered around a kids' baking competition.

The book was just as charming as I'd hoped: filled with fairy mischief, accidental magic, and an intrepid heroine who is determined to bake her way out of any sticky situation. LaRocca does a fantastic job of retelling Shakespeare's play while keeping it accessible to young readers who may be unfamiliar with the storyline. I could definitely see this appealing to kids who love magic, pranks, and Tara Dairman's ALL FOUR STARS series!

(The author provided an e-ARC to Middle Grade @ Heart.)
Profile Image for Heather.
Author 3 books192 followers
January 13, 2019
What a fabulous reimagining of Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream. In MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM, Rajani LaRocca introduced Mimi (the youngest—and so she thought—the least talented member of her family). However much she might not have seen it in herself at first, throughout the story, Mimi displayed all the ways she's special—a caring sister, a kind friend, and an amazing baker. LaRocca sprinkled magic throughout the story the way Mimi decorated her cupcakes, with creativity and imagination.

This book warmed my heart, both playful and thoughtful, filled with love, friendship, and family. And the baking competition added another layer of fun, letting Mimi truly shine. Such a lovely book!
Profile Image for Princess Cordelia.
199 reviews6 followers
January 26, 2019
I have never been more thankful that my mom is able to procure arcs! I thought it was amazing! I know absolutely nothing about baking. But I am a total Shakespeare nerd!and the sheer amount of Shakespeare MAGIC kept me theorizing the whole way through! For those of you who don’t know everything about a Midsummer nights dream it’s still a great book about baking, magic, and family. But if you do know a Midsummer nights dream there is a whole new layer of magic to be discovered! A heartwarming novel, and the art is beautiful!
Profile Image for Jennifer Guyor Jowett.
117 reviews1 follower
February 23, 2019
I loved this story of courage, love, and conviction. Mimi's adventure leads her to discover the importance of family and to realize the strength she has always had. Rajani LaRocca's updated Midsummer Night's Dream is a fun and delicious read! I found myself dreaming of the cupcakes Mimi creates. And there's a bonus - recipes from the book at the very end!
Profile Image for Malayna Evans.
Author 4 books447 followers
January 1, 2019
In a word, this book is scrumptious. Food, family and friendship animate every page. It's a magical read. But one word of caution: get ready to add a dash of baking and eating to this reading adventure. You'll be inspired.
Profile Image for Bridget.
1,044 reviews33 followers
February 2, 2020
Do not read this while hungry, because it's full of wonderful sounding treats and snacks. There are a few recipes in the back of the book, but honestly I would buy a cookbook with everything described in the story nomnomnom. This is a great blend of fairies, family history, and baking competition, and a wonderful choice if you're looking for something relatively light. It reminded me a tiny bit of A Dash of Trouble, mostly because of the family dynamics and the tasty snacks.
Profile Image for Jess Redman.
Author 7 books269 followers
February 20, 2019
This is an absolutely delectable and so fun reimagining of Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. The story follows Mimi Mackson the summer after her best friend moves away. Her older siblings are all super talented, and Mimi often feels left out and less than. When the very unusual While Away Cafe opens up in town, Mimi decides to compete in their baking competition; maybe she can be the best at something for once! With the help of a mysterious new friend and an enchanting cookbook, Mimi sets off on an adventure of friendship, family, personal strengths, and more than a dash of magic! This story is witty (try to guess which real-life town Comity is modeled after!), fast-paced, and full of heart. And it made me—a complete non-baker—want to whip up some cupcakes!
Profile Image for Katie Zhao.
Author 10 books666 followers
February 1, 2019
Rajani's magical middle grade debut encompasses so much of what I love in books - magic, heart, family, and a little bit of chaos mixed in for the perfect middle grade read! Readers, young and old alike, will devour this scrumptious debut (hopefully not literally, but who can say with all the yummy, mouthwatering desserts!) Along her personal journey, through the highs and lows, Mimi discovers herself and her place in her family and world. Plus, adding elements of Shakespeare into the story?! That's the cherry on top of this cake! MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM is a novel that kids will adore, and I can't wait for more Rajani books in the future.
Profile Image for Shauna Holyoak.
Author 4 books37 followers
January 1, 2019
What a fun and whimsical story! I loved this Midsummer-Night's-Dream inspired tale with the aspiring baker Mimi who makes magic in her kitchen. The story demonstrates the importance of family and friendships and has a sweet (and savory!) ending.
Profile Image for Laurie.
864 reviews
April 22, 2019
​Interest Level: 5-8

Imagine that you love baking but you start to suspect that some of the cookies you made are causing all kinds of problems. Eleven-year-old Mimi is so sad that her best friend moved away so she spends a lot of her time baking. Mimi feels like she is overlooked in her family because her siblings are popular in their small town - one is a fabulous dancer, one an incredible actor, and one is a star soccer player. Even her father is a famous food critic. Mimi can't dance, she can't act, and she doesn't play sports... but she does bake. Mimi loves to create exotic and unusual desserts. When a new bakery in town hosts a baking contest Mimi is ecstatic. If she can win this competition will it prove that she is just as good as her brothers and sisters? If she is going to win she will need her father to help her, but since he has returned from out of town something is wrong with him taste buds. How can she do this without his help? She doesn't know where to turn, that is until one day she hears a familiar tune in the woods. This is when she meets Vik, a boy her age that is visiting for the summer. Vik is an avid baker also so he steps in and helps Mimi with her dessert. With Vik's help will Mimi be able to win the contest and prove her worth to her family? Will she win the grand prize and get to meet and work with her idol, celebrity chef idol, Puffy Fay? Or will the mean girl in town sabotage her chance to win? Will her dad's horrible review of the bakery cause Mimi to blow her chance? And why is her siblings and their friends acting so weird after eating her cookies? Can Mimi fix her family, create a winning dessert, and avoid certain disaster? Read this incredible book to find out how all these questions play out.

I absolutely loved this book!! Mimi is such strong and talented girl. I would give anything to be her sibling or neighbor just to be able to try everything that she creates. The back of the book has several recipes that she makes and I can not wait to makes these. If you love fantasy and magic, baking and sweets, and some crazy friends and family - this is the book for you!! Do not miss this 2019 book!!!

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Profile Image for Priya.
1,404 reviews36 followers
August 24, 2022
This has got to be the most adorable book I have read this year and one of the cutest ever!
Food, magic, family, mystery and Shakespeare make this such a heartwarming story.
Mimi, the youngest of 4 and always feeling overshadowed by her very talented elder siblings, loves baking and is excellent at it. She loves her dad's inputs on her treats as he is a professional food writer and has impeccable taste. With her best friend moving away, she's lonely and the prospect of entering a baking competition at the new cafe in town excites her, especially after she meets a new, somewhat mysterious friend in the woods near her house.
However, her baking trials for the contest seem to have a disastrous effect on her family members with everyone bickering and unhappy. The worst is her dad's lack of interest in what he is eating even as he scarfs down anything he can find and acts totally wierd. Now Mimi has to figure out what went wrong and how she can make it right. In an ode to Shakespeare's A midsummer night's dream, mayhem definitely ensues in this contemporary retelling.
There is a lot of delicious food mentioned throughout the book and since much of it has an Indian connection, in fact, a connection to Karnataka where I am from, I wanted to eat it all. Loved the cupcake flavours inspired by Indian desserts. Mimi believes that life cannot be all sweet so she bakes a good amount of savoury treats too and I so agree with her!
This is the kind of story that makes you feel really good while reading it. It is a middle grade book but definitely enjoyable by all ages because you can see members of your own family and your interactions with them in the way Mimi's family bonds and fights and both love and annoyance co exist. It has a perfect blend of modern sensibility and elements of the bard's humour.

This is my new favorite and a definite happy feeling book so if you ever need to read something that has you smiling throughout (and who doesn't want or need that!), this is it!
Profile Image for Heaven Adore.
89 reviews
May 19, 2022
Okay, this book was absolutely lovely! I didn’t know that it was a Middle Grade retelling of a Midsummer’s Night Dream until I started reading it. And my goodness, it was so well done. Of course, there were some fantasy elements implemented, but it wasn’t weird, except for the ending though. Seriously, a boy coming out to be half human and half fairy. That aside, this book was wonderful.

I wish that there were more descriptions throughout the book, especially about the forest. Gosh, I mean, she was there practically every day. But the descriptions of the treats she made will make your mouth water and also urge you to get in the kitchen.

I loved the theme of friendship. Friends always bring out the best in and push us to try new things. They are there to support us, even from afar, and to confide in. Even though Mimi’s friend, Emma, moved away, she found a new friend in Viv and eventually the bully, Kiera. “People change people,” which is why it’s important to treat others as we desire to be treated. This was so vibrant like violets throughout this book.

Following your dreams is also a theme. Mimi made mistakes, and even wanted to give up participating in the baking contest, but she kept going. Why is that? Giving up is failing because we will never learn from that. But when we actually fail, we can not only get back up again but also discover how to make improvements. Following your dreams means that you will fail, but if it’s for what you love, it’s worth it in the end. Also, I must add how amazing the illustrations were. There were only maybe 6 in total, but the art style was so adorable.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially to people who either like to bake or enjoy Shakespeare. It’s sugar, spice, and everything nice with a hint a lemon.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 437 reviews

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