Aven Green Baking Machine

by Dusti Bowling (2021)

An Intro and Sweet Spot Selection

But you know what’s one thing that’s definitely not required for being an expert baker? Having arms. That’s what. 

Aven Green Baking Machine introduces us to eight-year-old Aven who is not only an expert baker, but she’s also a smart, wry kid learning to navigate life with the help of her friends, her family, and heaps of humor.  

Does it matter that she doesn’t have arms? Not one bit! 

That means when I crack eggs, I crack them with my feet. And when I measure sugar and flour, I measure them with my feet. And also measuring cups. And when I melt butter, I melt it with my butt cheeks. 

Just kidding, of course. I use a microwave like everyone else. 

And, like everyone else, Aven wants fit in. She also wants to have “as many friends as possible at all times.” But when she enlists her three best ones to help her win a baking contest, she realizes that her friendship skills may need a little more work. 

Sujata’s smile fell. Instantly she looked down at the floor again. “No, it’s called milk barfi. I promise it doesn’t taste like barf.” 

Emily laughed. “We can’t make that!” 

I started laughing too. “Who would eat something called milk barf?” I said. “Not me!” 

Aven Green Baking Machine is full of fun moments like this that give Aven the chance to make mistakes and then learn from them. Aven will keep readers laughing while learning that being different isn’t “gross.” Just different (and delicious). 

Author Dusti Bowling first introduced us to an older Aven in the middle-school book, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. With this new younger series (three books strong), elementary school readers can get to know Aven and watch her figure out her friendships, while enjoying a myriad of different foods, from milk barfi to tomato soup cake! (Dusti Bowling graciously includes all the recipes at the back of the book, so families – and classrooms! – can try them out.) 

It takes a special title to keep readers begging for the next chapter to be read. Aven Green Baking Machine does this while giving us a special character whose personality jumps off the page. It also gives us a chance to talk about our differences, and how our limitations can be best overcome when we surround ourselves with people who won’t let those limitations hold us back. 

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