By Author / Illustrator
Sarah Todd Taylor
Nosy Crow Ltd
Paperback / softback
Alice Eclair, Spy Extraordinaire will whisk you away on a fabulous adventure, full of daring action and delicious cakes!
Baker by day, spy by night - Alice Eclair leads an exciting double life! A mysterious message sends Alice on a mission aboard France's most glamorous train, The Sapphire Express. Alice must sneak on board disguised as a pastry chef and discover which passenger is an enemy agent before they reach their final stop. But everyone on the train seems to be hiding something... Armed with her whisk, her wits and her will to succeed, Alice has a spy to catch.
A Recipe for Trouble can be read as a stand-alone novel, or enjoyed as part of the Alice Eclair, Spy Extraordinaire series. Look out for A Spoonful of Spying!
Alice Éclair is no ordinary girl. Not only is she an extraordinary pastry chef, whipping up amazing concoctions and icing them with perfection, she is also a spy! In Alice Eclair, Spy Extraordinaire! A Recipe for Trouble, it starts with the notes she receives after her uncle dies, notes that set her challenges, notes that lead her to her first assignment. And that is when she receives the greatest shock of all, her uncle isn't dead - he is in hiding, and he is the one who has been secretly training her for this mission.
Keeping his existence secret, Alice starts her next mission. First, she must find a way to board the very exclusive train: The Sapphire Express. And then she must locate and find one of France's most targeted agents - Le Renarde (The fox), who is as cunning as her codename. Fortunately, her pastry skills are exquisite, and she earns her place in the kitchen, whipping up divine and delectable delicacies for the rich and elite travellers on the train. From here she can spy on the passengers, piecing together clues to try to find the secret agent on board. What she doesn't realise is the extreme danger that she will put herself in. Will she know who she can trust in this game of espionage?
Sarah Todd Taylor's Alice Eclair, Spy Extraordinaire! A Recipe for Trouble, is a brilliantly written mystery for children. A light-hearted story with lots of twists and turns will have children desperate to join Alice on her next adventure. Readers will be guessing and unpicking clues along with Alice, as the journey holds them captivated until the very end. Recommended for: 9+ Curriculum links: problem solving, trust, belief, friendship, perseverance, resilience, confidence.
224 pages / Reviewed by Donna Burkert, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+
Alice Eclair, Spy Extraordinaire! is a fantastic spy mystery for young independent readers who have discovered the thrills of the detective genre in their reading choices. Alice Éclair is a 13 year old Parisian baker with a special talent for intricate detailed icing. This attention to detail trait also comes in useful for Alice’s other fledgling 'career' - being trained by her uncle as one of France's youngest spies!
Alice Eclair, Spy Extraordinaire! A Recipe for Trouble is set prior to the onset of World War Two and the narrative style is very much that of an earlier era; of a polite, well-to-do society with an ordered culture and yet with darker undertones of secrecy here and there. Alice is young to be delving into these shadows but no one would suspect a child of spying, so it seems Alice is about to begin her first real mission at last. She must identify and stop a dangerous enemy spy from smuggling highly confidential papers on French spies across the border. Luckily, her patisserie skills gain Alice a job on the luxurious steam train, the Sapphire Express, where she must use all her talents to deliver the finest pastries to the First Class guests AND use all her detective daring to hunt and foil the guest who is hiding their villainous true identity. From a train full of possible suspects, Alice must establish motives , find incriminating evidence, work out who she can trust along the way and keep her own mission a secret.
I loved this story. It was a delightful thrill to be alongside Alice trying to solve the mystery and put my own deducing skills to the test. The setting on the Sapphire Express, of course, adds to the drama as Alice sneaks into carriages, skillfully picks locks and even has to implement daring 'escape routes' when she looks likely to be discovered snooping. The perilousness nature of her task is set at exactly the right level - heart-thumping and fast-paced, with a huge sense of excitement and fun to be had as you read. There is a classic and brilliant range of characters on board the train with Alice. Anyone could be the enemy; the confident female journalist, the elderly professor, the two lively American dancer brothers… Each one comes with their own secrets and unique personalities.
Alice herself is such an appealing character. She is clever, dedicated and determined but with enough impetuousness and genuine warmth for others that she is naturally likeable and admirable . This is a book that you can tell the author has written with complete affection and joy. My last read of 2022 and a real highlight of all my reading this year.
224 pages / Reviewed by Jennifer Caddick, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 7+
Alice Éclair might only be thirteen, but she is also an expert pâtissière and France's youngest, keenest spy. For the past year, she has been receiving cryptic messages and puzzles to solve and, although she does not know who they are from, she has her suspicions - which are realised when a final code leads her to a secret meeting.
Alice learns that all the puzzles have been to train her in espionage in the hope that she will undertake a mission to uncover a cunning enemy agent. Alice sets off on this dangerous assignment aboard France's most glamourous train, posing as a pastry chef. But soon everyone on the train is under suspicion and Alice must use all her baking skills and her cunning to crack the case.
There is much to enjoy in this adventure, Alice Éclair, Spy Extraordinaire! Alice is a wonderful heroine; resourceful and intelligent, yet fallible, she launches herself into her investigation with enviable energy and enthusiasm. There are twists and turns a-plenty and scatterings of red herrings as Alice engineers opportunities to investigate her fellow passengers. The reader learns to crack codes and can test their own sleuthing skills as the mystery develops - only to be surprised by a sudden shock! There are some tense moments along the way as Alice finds herself facing peril as well as pastries.
The story offers plenty to discuss with its Parisian opening, attitudes to women and 'serving' classes and, of course, its many cake references. With a new adventure, A Spoonful of Spying, on its way, Alice is sure to become a firm favourite.
224 pages / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 7+