Deborah Hopkinson

Award Winning Author of Fiction & Nonfiction for Children & Teens

Fannie in the Kitchen

The Whole Story from Soup to Nuts of How Fannie Farmer Invented Recipes with Precise Measurements

Fannie in the Kitchen

What is this book about?

Mar­cia was try­ing to help her mama. So maybe bal­anc­ing on top of a tow­er of chairs to dip can­dles was­n’t such a good idea. And per­haps her bis­cuits worked bet­ter as doorstops than dessert. Still, does her mama real­ly need to hire a moth­er’s helper?

Then Fan­nie Farmer steps into their kitchen, and all of a sud­den the bis­cuits are dain­ty and the grid­dle cakes aren’t quite so … al dente. As Fan­nie teach­es Mar­cia all about cook­ing, from how to flip a grid­dle cake at pre­cise­ly the right moment to how to deter­mine the fresh­ness of eggs, Mar­cia makes a won­der­ful new friend.

Here’s the sto­ry “from soup to nuts” — delight­ful­ly embell­ished — of how Fan­nie Farmer invent­ed the mod­ern recipe and cre­at­ed one of the first and best-loved Amer­i­can cook­books. Nan­cy Car­pen­ter seam­less­ly incor­po­rates vin­tage engrav­ings into her pen, ink, and water­col­or illus­tra­tions, deli­cious­ly evok­ing the feel­ing of a time gone by.


“Apt­ly divid­ed into ‘cours­es,’ the book’s live­ly, descrip­tive prose con­veys Mar­ci­a’s frus­tra­tions and joys as she fries, bakes, and mea­sures her way to tri­umph. Help­ful kitchen tips from ear­ly edi­tions of the real Fan­nie Farmer’s Boston Cook­ing School Cook­book abound in dia­logue and appear in ‘Fan­nie’s Hints,’ clev­er­ly framed and hung like pic­tures on the walls of Mar­ci­a’s home. The col­lage art­work is exceptional—elegant as well as whim­si­cal. Car­pen­ter brings togeth­er orig­i­nal pen-and-ink art­work and engrav­ings, all washed in water­col­or, to cre­ate a house­ful of expres­sive char­ac­ters and abun­dant, often wit­ty details that cap­ture aspects of Vic­to­ri­an life and excess. (Book­list, starred review)

“Pre­pared to per­fec­tion and served up with style, this his­tor­i­cal nugget imag­ines an inter­lude in the life of cook­book pio­neer Fan­nie Farmer, who, pri­or to her stint at the Boston Cook­ing School, worked as a moth­er’s helper. … Clev­er­ly served up in sev­en brief ‘cours­es,’ the pro­ceed­ings are gar­nished with Car­pen­ter’s irrev­er­ent illus­tra­tions, which seam­less­ly incor­po­rate peri­od engrav­ings with­in pen-and-wash draw­ings. (Pub­lish­ers Week­ly)

“The play­ful nature of both the illus­tra­tions and the text is appeal­ing, and serves to draw read­ers into the sto­ry. The short bio­graph­i­cal sketch, ‘More about Fan­nie Farmer,’ helps to round out the account, and a recipe for grid­dle cakes, which play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the tale, is includ­ed. In a time of celebri­ty chefs on tele­vi­sion, this is a whim­si­cal look back to when it all began.” (School Library Jour­nal)

“Con­sid­ered the pio­neer of the mod­ern recipe, Fan­nie Farmer trans­formed count­less kitchens into oases of exact mea­sure­ments and per­fect cook­ing. Deb­o­rah Hop­kin­son’s fic­tion­al­ized account, com­plete with orig­i­nal grid­dle cakes recipe, is a warm, humor­ous take on the real Fan­nie Farmer. Nan­cy Car­pen­ter cre­at­ed splen­did­ly orig­i­nal illus­tra­tions for the book, manip­u­lat­ing 19th-cen­tu­ry etch­ings and engrav­ings and blend­ing them with her own water­col­or and pen-and-ink illus­tra­tions. Won­der­ful!” (Emi­ly Coul­ter,

Fannie in the Kitchen

author, Deb­o­rah Hop­kin­son
illus­tra­tor, Nan­cy Car­pen­ter
ages 4 and up, 2001
ISBN 978–0689819650

buy the book