book review, Something To Do

The Year the Swallows Came Early | A #Kidlitbook that proves that Love gets us through the hard times

**The posts I write might contain affiliate links or be written in collaboration with businesses or brands. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.**

Strawberries and summer go hand-in-hand and my family has been munching on these fresh delights on a regular basis. It’s ironic that May is National Strawberry Month! It also made me recall a book that touched my heart not all that long ago.

The Year the Swallows Came Early

This is a book about life not being easy. Before all of the difficulties, 11-year-old Eleanore “Groovy” Robinson had planned on becoming a chef. That was until her father gambled away the inheritance her great-grandmother had left for her to go to culinary school. At first, Groovy is as angry as her mother, who has Groovy’s father arrested, yet during the next several weeks she learns that broken dreams, and broken families, can be rebuilt.

About the Book

“Expect the unexpected.”

That’s what Eleanor “Groovy” Robinson’s horoscope says the morning everything begins to change. Suddenly, her father is in jail, her plans to attend culinary school when she grows up fall apart, and it feels like maybe nothing will ever be right again. But the swallows that return to her coastal town every year bring a message of hope with them that even Groovy can’t ignore. Can she forgive the failings of someone she loves in order to bring her family back together again?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice’s tender debut novel about food, family, friendship, and forgiveness is as full of promise as the swallows that return home to San Juan Capistrano every spring.

This is the first novel from Kathryn Fitzmaurice and I immediately became sympathetic to Groovy and her best friend Frankie, who has his own problems with a disappearing mother. In the middle of this chaos are family members who take care of these kids and help them work their way through to the other side of the big issues at hand. Sprinkled throughout are elements of nature i.e. an earthquake, swallows returning early and many food elements to bring this story together. Fitzmaurice does not solve all of the problems by the end of the story but there is a lesson that by pulling deep within and being surrounded by those you love can help one to move on.

This book has a gentle grace which shows that love can conquer the hardest things in life.

Something to Do: Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Groovy is constantly cooking in this book. How could we not cook? She is known for her chocolate covered strawberries. In honor of the blog readers from the Southern hemisphere, where it is summer now I share my chocolate covered strawberry recipe. For our friends in the Northern Hemisphere, where it is winter, I will share with you my recipe for chocolate spice covered strawberries.
Summer Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
  • 8 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 oz milk chocolate chips or candy-bar
  • 1/4 cup of shortening
  1. First, wash and dry the strawberries really well so that there isn’t any water on them.
  2. In a double boiler, place the chocolate and the shortening, stirring constantly until it melts.
  3. Once melted dip the strawberries into the chocolate and place on your plate which you have lined with wax paper.
  4. Once all the berries are dipped place them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Winter Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

  • 8 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 0z of milk chocolate chips or candy-bar
  • 1/4 of shortening
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of  ground ginger
  • pinch of ground cardamom
  • pinch of ground fine black pepper
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • one little drop of vanilla


IMG_0058_3769 IMG_0062_3773 IMG_0063_3774 IMG_0070_3781

Are creative recipes something your family enjoys? Chocolate covered ANYTHING is delicious…but my Willy Wonka Chocolate Dipped Pretzels are sure to please. Go HERE to get the recipes and watch the video tutorial.

Willy Wonka Chocolaye Dipped Pretzels