Saturday, June 19, 2010
I was randomly shelf-reading in the library the other day, and I happened across a book called Candyfloss. "Aha!" I said to myself (quietly - I was in the library, after all). "I can make cotton-candy-flavored yumminess to go with this book, if I like it!" Candyfloss being the British term for what I would call cotton candy, in case you didn't know. (I did know, for some reason, though I've never been outside the U.S. - did Willy Wonka talk about candyfloss? Or do I just really like food-related facts?) Between the title and the fact that the front cover photo is a girl wearing polka-dot socks, I had to give this one a try. I love both socks and polka dots.
So, I took out the book, and I read the book, and I really really liked the book, but there is so much talk in said book about chip butties that I just have to make them instead. It would be a travesty not to. (What the heck is a chip butty? We'll get there.)
Candyfloss is a book by Jacqueline Wilson, who just so happens to be such an awesome author that she not only has won scads and oodles of awards, but was actually granted the title of Dame Jacqueline Wilson in 2008. Long story short, if you have not heard of or read any of her books, I'd recommend getting your tush in gear and getting to the library to read at least one to see how you like it, because she's got the Awesome thing down pretty well.
Candyfloss is a chapter book about a girl named Flora, who everyone calls Floss or Flossie, and who lives with her family in England. She has a pretty good life - she even has the most popular girl in the school for her best friend! On weekdays, she lives with her mom, Mom's husband Steve, and her half-brother Tiger. On the weekends, she visits her Dad, who lives above the cafe he owns, where he makes wonderful chips, and chip butties.
(A chip butty, oh patient reader, is a sandwich with chips - french fries, not potato chips - inside. I've done some research online and found that, to those who have had and enjoyed chip butties, a recipe is about as useful as one for me would be for a peanut butter sandwich. But, since I did a peanut butter sandwich recipe for Thanksgiving, I think this one's okay.)
Our story begins on Floss's birthday. As one of her presents, her mother tells her that the family will be traveling to Australia (hooray!!) for six months (um... what?). After thinking long and hard about it, she makes a tremendous and scary decision. She is going to live with her father full-time, while the rest of her family leaves for Australia.
The question is, how is this going to work out? Dad isn't used to having his daughter full-time, or ironing school uniforms, or cooking healthy meals, and Floss isn't used to living in a tiny bedroom, and smelling like fried food all the time, and not having much of a place to play. And Floss's best friend isn't used to it, either - she doesn't seem as much fun to be around as she used to. But the new girl, Susan? She looks like she might be more fun.
I'm not going to give anything else away, because I don't want to ruin it, but I am going to say that it's a shame the illustrator's name isn't on the cover of the book, because he deserves massive kudos, too. His name is Nick Sharratt, and he has drawn a picture for every single chapter of the book, that appears on the page before the chapter starts, that illustrates some of the main points of the chapter. It doesn't give it away, exactly, because you don't know what the illustrations are referring to, but it does get you hooked enough that you want to jump into the next chapter.
On the whole, I really liked Candyfloss. There were things I disliked about it - it was pretty unrealistic, for one, and the friendships between a few of the characters seemed a little overly dramatic, but I did enjoy it, and I'd recommend it, particularly for the 5th grade girly-girl set. I also loved the many descriptions of food, from birthday cake to candyfloss to chip butties. And speaking of those...
Candyfloss Chip Butties
French fries (I used frozen), cooked according to directions
1. Slice the rolls horizontally, or use pre-sliced rolls, like hamburger buns. I used Bulkie rolls, which are common in New England but rarely seen in other places. Any good sandwich roll will do.
2. Butter the halves of the roll.
3. Pile the french fries onto the roll, and close to make a sandwich. Eat and enjoy.
I'm using the directions given in the book here. I looked things up online, and I hear that white bread is the most common bread used for the chip butty, but my heroine ate hers on rolls, and so that is what I did.
On the whole, it wasn't bad, but I don't think this is a meal I will be making in the future. I couldn't get over the no-protein thing. But it did remind me of the Fat Sandwiches I used to eat when I was an undergrad student at Rutgers, where chicken fingers and french fries and mozzerella sticks all made a home on one hoagie roll. Ah, memories.