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About The Book

Better Nate than Ever meets Love Sugar Magic in this “delectable” (Kirkus Reviews) third novel in the Fearless middle grade series from Hamilton and Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez about a young thespian who feels caught between his love of baking and theatre.

Twelve-year-old Hudson Patel has two great loves: Broadway and baking! In addition to giving his all to his role in the hit show Our Time, Hudson takes pride in keeping his castmates and fellow Fearless Squad members well-fed with all the delicious treats he creates.

When the call comes in for a big baking show—with the winner receiving a spot at a kiosk in Times Square—the Squad encourages him to enter. They just know that kiosk should be his. But Hudson struggles to create a showstopper, and his friends realize if Hudson goes all-in with the baking, he may not have time to spare for his stage role.

Hudson goes to his grandmother for help, and she suggests going back to his roots, to be proud of who he is, and to show that in his culinary creation. With time running out, can Hudson find the magical ingredient that will put him in the spotlight without having to choose between his passions?

Excerpt

Chapter One One
Hudson Patel blew the hair out of his eyes as he carefully removed a nearly finished Baked Alaska from the freezer. He had started his creation the previous day, when he mixed scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice cream with raspberry sorbet and then froze them before adding more ice cream and layers of pound cake to freeze overnight. This recipe wasn’t necessarily the most difficult he had attempted, but it was one that required the most patience to make sure it was done just right.

Before the Baked Alaska, Hudson had already perfected other delicious treats: the Cronut (a doughnut-croissant), the famous Magnolia Bakery banana pudding, several pastries, and all kinds of cakes. But the Baked Alaska was a different level of delicious and daunting.

For the last three hours, as the meringue hardened in the freezer, Hudson had attempted to clean the kitchen. But despite his best efforts, it was still a mess, with splotches of chocolate and vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet stuck on every surface. The meringue he had whipped up in a mixer using egg whites and sugar was everywhere too. It was even in Hudson’s hair.

Hudson started playing the FoodTube video with the recipe again. “For the last, final, most crucial step: preheat your oven to five hundred degrees so you can brown the meringue,” the show’s host said perkily.

“I don’t have time for that!” Hudson yelled at the screen. “I’ve got to be at the theater soon!” Hudson had exactly an hour to get from his family’s home on Manhattan’s Upper West Side to the Ethel Merman Theater in Midtown, where he and his friends Monica, Relly, and April would perform in their hit Broadway show, Our Time. Hudson knew he couldn’t afford to be late.

The FoodTube show host chimed in again, almost as if she had heard Hudson’s shout of frustration. “You can also use a butane cooking torch for this last finishing touch.”

Hudson’s face lit up, and he rummaged through the kitchen drawer, letting the video continue playing.

“Voilà! My savior!” Hudson proclaimed as he pulled out a small butane torch specifically used for cooking. “This is what will make my viewers of Broadway Sizzlers really excited,” he said out loud. Broadway Sizzlers was his own FoodTube show, which often included famous guests. Lately he had seen more and more subscribers to his channel and views on his videos, which was really exciting.

Hudson leaned closely over the Baked Alaska and lit the torch, which he had recently bought but had not yet used. He knew his parents—especially his mom—would not approve of him trying to use it without an adult present. He started carefully, turning the plate with his left hand while he used the torch with his right. Slowly, the white meringue took on a brownish tinge where the blue flame hit it.

Hudson was so engrossed in his work that he did not notice the video with the Baked Alaska recipe had ended. But what he heard next immediately caught his attention.

“Hey there, young folks and fans of FoodTube, have I got some exciting news for you!” Hudson snapped his head toward the screen at the sound of Charlie Richards’s voice. Charlie was one of the most famous FoodTube stars, known for the signature cowboy hat and fringed jacket he wore. He made his name by visiting people in their home kitchens to learn about their family recipes and how to make various ethnic cuisines. “It’s that time of year again—time for Bake It Till You Make It! This year, though, the competition is only open to young bakers….”

Hudson was so distracted by the competition announcement that he didn’t notice he had kept the torch going—he burned a hole right through the meringue and set the towel in his left hand on fire! He yelled as he felt the twinge of pain from the flames singeing his fingertips. The smoke detector went off, piercing his ears.

Hudson’s mother came running from the other room, still tying a fluffy bathrobe at her waist. Her long dark hair started to fall out of the knot she had tied on top of her head (her “pineapple,” as Hudson’s father affectionately called it). “Hudson, what have you done this time?” she cried. The fire had interrupted her one indulgence—a late-Saturday-afternoon bath.

“Good job!” yelled his younger brother, Sudhir, who was doing his homework in the bedroom he and Hudson shared. Always focused on his science and math books, he hated to be interrupted by anything, but especially by Hudson. Hudson’s baby sister, Nisha, just shy of turning one, was wailing in the next room. Fortunately, Hudson’s grandmother, who had moved in with the family shortly after Hudson’s grandfather died, was not at home.

Hudson’s father, a quiet man who always had a twinkle of mischief in his eyes, peered around the corner from the living room where he had been reading a novel. He laughed at the sight of his wife pouring a glass of water onto the Baked Alaska and throwing the flaming towel into the sink.

“Hudson, you should be getting ready for the theater, not setting the house on fire!” his mother scolded. Just then she spotted the butane torch and picked it up. “Where did you get this?”

“I bought it,” Hudson said hesitantly, lowering his eyes to escape his mother’s piercing gaze.

“You can’t have something like this in the house,” she said, clearly more exasperated than before. “What if your brother or sister gets ahold of it?”

“But how is it any different from the stove or the oven?” Hudson protested.

“Hudson, just go to the theater!” his mother yelled this time. “You do want a successful theater career, don’t you?”

Hudson paused. His mother’s words struck him in a way he had not expected. Of course he liked performing, but he really loved creating in the kitchen. The difference between this “like” and “love” was something he had been thinking about more and more lately.

“Jao, beta,” Hudson’s father said to Hudson quietly. “You go to the theater and have fun with your friends. I’ll help your mother clean up the kitchen.” He squeezed Hudson’s shoulder and ushered him toward the front door.

Hudson smiled meekly at his father and then let out a long sigh. He hated losing the Baked Alaska, but he especially hated upsetting his mom. He could still hear her muttering as he tied his shoes: “We’re having a big feast soon for Diwali. He can’t make any more messes in here.”

Hudson realized that, in all the chaos, he had missed most of Charlie Richards’s announcement on FoodTube. He made a mental note to find it later. He put on his blue windbreaker and grabbed his backpack as his father clicked the kitchen TV to the local news.

As the door to the house closed behind him, Hudson heard another announcement: “There’s a new Broadway show opening soon, just down the street from the super-hit musical Our Time.…”

“What?” Hudson said aloud in the hallway to no one. He wanted to run back inside to hear the rest of the segment, but after glancing at his phone, he saw that he really had to hustle. “I need to get to the theater!”

He punched at the button on the elevator repeatedly, but it was as slow as ever. Instead, he ran down the ornate hallway, lined with fine antiques and burgundy carpet, to the stairs. He made it down four flights as quickly as he could.

Hudson burst onto the sidewalk but stopped short at the sight before him. The sun was setting, and the sky above Riverside Park was glowing strawberry red and eggplant purple. Many leaves on the trees were pumpkin orange and squash yellow, just in time for fall.

Hudson took a moment to admire the different hues. Then he ran as fast as he could toward the subway station on West Eighty-Sixth Street—to another Saturday night on Broadway.

About The Author

Ted Ely

Mandy Gonzalez has thrilled audiences on Broadway, lit up the screen on television, been published in Harvard Business Review, and started a social movement. She recently starred as Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton on Broadway and appeared in Madam Secretary as recurring character Lucy Knox and is known for originating the role of Nina Rosario in the Tony Award­­–winning show, In the Heights. Mandy’s debut album, Fearless, reached #13 on the iTunes pop charts. Mandy is also an author—having published a widely cited article in the Harvard Business Review on how to overcome one’s fear of public speaking. Most dear to her heart, Mandy is the proud founder of #FearlessSquad—a social media movement for inclusiveness and belonging. The movement connects millions of people around the world, encourages them to be their best selves, and helps them empower each other.

Product Details

Awards and Honors

  • Kansas NEA Reading Circle List Junior Title

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More books from this author: Mandy Gonzalez

More books in this series: Fearless Series