Fast moving and humorous...feisty Eliza will have readers, especially those with ADHD, rooting for her. - School Library Journal 

Van Vleet..takes a strong first step into middle-grade fiction with this novel about an 11-year-old with ADHD...Lively dialog, quick-moving snippet-style chapters, and believable family interactions give this story additional kick. -Publishers Weekly

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    “Clean up in aisle one,” Tony said after surveying the damage. 

    I started giggling and couldn’t stop. The grouchy cake decorator was frowning again. Tony’s dad came over and told us to take a break and get some cookies from the front case. 

    “Hey. I’ve been thinking about our shop’s slogan,” I said as Tony and I ate our snack at the little table in front of the bakery. He didn’t say anything so I kept talking. 

    “This one is really good. What about ‘Sweets for my peeps’? Get it? Peeps. Like people?”

    “Oh, right. Our shop,” he said.

    I laughed. 

    Holy cheese and crackers! How could Tony forget The Tasty Pastry? It wasn’t just a school project. We were really going to do it someday. He was going to be a world-famous pastry chef. And since I had watched every episode of Sweet Caroline Cakes at least three times (including the one where she won the Ohio Cake Off), Tony said I could be in charge of cakes while he made everything else. 

    At least that was the plan. 

The big fat “No

My dad says some ideas are like Venus flytraps and that lots of times, I’m the bug. I don’t know if it’s true or not; but when the summer brochure for the community center came in the mail, I circled Cakes with Caroline with a red marker. Then I dog-eared the page and left the brochure open on the counter for Mom. 

    Sweet Caroline was the nicest person on TV. She always treated clients like old friends and didn’t yell at her employees. She ended every episode by looking at the camera and saying, “Be sweet to those you meet.” 

    Tony was already signed up for the class, which was being held in a room filled with kitchenettes where you could work with real ovens and wear real chef hats. Even though cakes weren’t his specialty, he still thought it was important to know how to do them. And the bakers at his parents’ shop didn’t have the time to teach him.

    After I got home from hanging out with Tony at the bakery, I went into the kitchen to grab a hot dog from the fridge and ask Mom if she’d registered me yet.  

    When she saw me, Mom stopped rinsing dishes and sat down at the kitchen table.

    “Come have a seat,” she said. 

     Being asked to sit down is never a good sign.

copyright 2014 Carmella Van Vleet

Here's a peek

PB and J

I was peanut butter and Tony was jelly. That’s what our teacher called us after we designed The Tasty Pastry for the fifth grade social studies project. Which, FYI, we got a big, fat A on.

    “This is so cooool,” I said as I wrapped an apron around myself. It was day three of summer, and Dad had dropped me off at the bakery Tony’s family owned so I could hang out. 

    Tony smiled and raised his eyebrow. When Tony first showed up at school, everyone thought that was cool and tried to copy him. I even taped my eyebrow up so it could get used to being in that position. All I managed to do was yank out a bunch of hair when I pulled the tape off. 

    “The bakery is busy,” I noticed out loud.  

    “Yepperoni!” Tony said, breaking out an Italian accent.

    I laughed so hard I got the attention of a nearby cake decorator. She frowned.     

    Tony ignored her. That was another thing I liked about Tony. Actually, there were lots of things I liked about him. But my favorite was that he never called me names like the other kids. Things like Dizzy Lizzy (which didn’t even make sense because my name is Eliza, not Lizzy) and Lame Brain (which didn’t even rhyme). And when he found out why I went down to the nurse’s office each day after second recess, all he did was shrug. 

    Tony picked up the piping bags on the counter and handed me one. “Here you go.” 

    “Thanks,” I said, remembering to use my inside voice that time. 

    We were supposed to squirt chocolate cream inside cupcakes. That’s what Tony had been working on before I came. Tony’s mom seemed surprised when I showed up. But on the last day of school, Tony said I could stop by his bakery if I wanted. Any time.    

    I couldn’t believe I was there. I mean, I’d visited once before when Tony and I were doing our project. But this was different. I was really working in a shop! There were pretty, sugary-smelling cakes, cookies and pastries everywhere. And real, live bakers with flour on their clothes. It was just like the Sweet Caroline Cakes TV show. 

    “It’s easy once you get the hang of it,” Tony said, showing me how to fill the cupcakes. 

    We worked for an hour. Tony’s whole batch was perfect. I made about a dozen good ones. I kept squeezing the bag of cream too hard, which caused the cupcakes to explode.  I had to say, “Oops, sorry. Oops, sorry,” like a billion times. It was a bona fide cake-tastrophe.

 what reviewers are saying...

Van Vleet portrays a loving nuclear family that finds constructive ways to work with Eliza's attention-deficit challenges...Eliza's personal growth is full of realistic hopes and challenges that will resonate with many readers. - Kirkus Reviews

Artwork © 2014 by Karen Donnelly

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About the book:

After quitting every activity she's ever tried, a girl with ADHD takes up taekwondo to prove to others (and to herself) she can stick with something till the end - even if it means a slightly see-through uniform, an embarrassing injury, and bowing. Lots and lots of bowing.

Awards and honors:

ELIZA BING IS (NOT) A BIG, FAT QUITTER was recently added to *five* state lists: the Oklahoma Library Association's 2017 Sequoyah Book Award, the Pennsylvania School Libraries Association's Young Reader's Choice Award for 2016-2017, the 2016-2017 Arkansas Charlie May Simon Book Award, South Carolina's Children's Book Award, and the Choose to Read Ohio master list for 2017-2018. I'm so humbled and honored to be included on these lists. Thank you, librarians and readers!!!  

ELIZA BING IS (NOT) A BIG, FAT QUITTER is a Junior Library Guild selection as well as a 2015 Christopher Award winner.  


​children's author and part-time ninja

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