If there is one thing Charlie wants more than anything else, it’s to win first prize in her town’s Flaming Hot Chilli Competition. She loses herself in daydreams about it. But there’s a problem – Ben Sticker’s Dad. His chillis have won the annual chilli competition for the last three years and Charlie is going to have to cultivate an amazingly hot chilli to beat him. What’s worse, though, is if she loses, she’s going to have to put up with Ben Sticker’s nasty chilli taunts again.
With only a month to go until the competition, it’s time for a weigh, measure and taste test. This can be a tricky business when you’re dealing with burning-hot chilli juice, and even though Charlie remembers to wear her rubber gloves, she forgets to wash up her utensils afterwards, which has dire consequences later that evening when Mum’s boss and his wife come for dinner.
Then things go from bad to worse. When poor Charlie takes her precious habanero chilli plant to school for her hobbies talk, she ends up taking it home minus all the chillies bar a teeny baby one. All thanks to Ben Sticker. How can she possibly win the Flaming Hot Chilli Competition now?
Sheryl Gwyther has written a humdinger of a story for early readers. It’s engaging, informative – cleverly packed with information about chillies – and lively. Charlie is an appealing character to whose predicaments and triumphs any young child will immediately relate. Richard Hoit’s illustrations work well to complement the perky text.
A red hot read.