The $150,000 Rugelach


Little Bee/Yellow Jacket, August 2021
Age Range: 8-12 Years
240 Pages
Illustrated by Ariel Landy

PJ Our Way Selection​


A delicious tale of rivalry, friendship, heartache, and dessert! Fame-obsessed Jack and somber Jillian, who is mourning the loss of her mother, become a mismatched duo selected to compete for $150,000 in a high-stakes baking contest jam-packed with hilarious high jinks.

Exploding with loud rock 'n' roll attitude, eleven-year-old Jack Fineman dreams of becoming the greatest pastry chef who ever lived. His plans are thrown off course when his butterscotch basil brownies are upstaged at his sixth-grade holiday party by a simple plate of chocolate rugelach brought in by Jillian Mermelstein-the new girl at school whose mother has just died and who only wants to be left alone.


These budding bakers' lives are mixed together when they are selected to compete as teammates in a nationally televised competition. For Jack, this is his chance to advance one step closer to culinary greatness. For Jillian, it's an opportunity to help her father by winning her share of the $150,000 top prize.


Preparing to face bakers from the city's other middle schools, Jack and Jillian struggle to find the right recipe for working together. Along the way, they make the world's most irresistible oatmeal cricket cookies, battle Jack's checkered-pants-wearing brother for miniature golf supremacy, and discover the troubling reasons why each of them was chosen for the contest.

"This sweet story is a delightful, quick read with a wonderfully charming cast of characters. The delicious descriptions of baked goods are sure to make readers' mouths water; fortunately, three recipes are included. A refreshing and uplifting book filled with friendship, heartache, and a generous sprinkling of love."
- Kirkus Reviews
"The Markses excel at creating goofy but appealing characters: extrovert Jack seems beyond embarrassment, yet he honors Jillian's wish to keep her mom's story private; Grandma Rita has no cooking skills, but she rocks at martial arts and plumbing repairs; and Phineas Farnsworth exploits everyone he encounters but has a soft spot for the memory of the nanny who raised him." 
- Kay Weisman, Booklist

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