BETHEL — A Mountain Valley High School alum who was raised in Rumford has authored her first children’s book.

Meika Hashimoto, 29, of Brooklyn, N.Y., spent Christmas with family and friends on Milton Plantation Road in Rumford.

She also brought several copies of her 160-page book, “The Magic Cake Shop,” for a book-signing on Wednesday afternoon at Cafe di Cocoa, the Bethel bakery, diner and marketplace where she waitressed one summer.

The book was published recently by Random House, where Hashimoto works as an editor of children’s books.

“It is about a little girl named Emma, who gets sent away to live with her mean old Uncle Simon and she befriends the town baker, who is the most marvelous baker in the world,” Hashimoto said.

The baker’s name is Mr. Crackle.

“And one day, her Uncle Simon’s friend arrives with an elixir that can make anything taste delicious and they decide to cheat the entire town out of all their money using this elixir,” she said.

“So, Emma learns about it and teams up with Mr. Crackle and is like, ‘We’re going to put a stop to this,’ and magic portals ensue and hijinks and a bunch of adventure, so, yeah, it’s a fun ride.”

Hashimoto said the book, which is written for children ages 8 to 12, combines her love of writing, cooking and baking.

It developed out of sheer panic on the first day of a children’s writing course the English major took in Boston a year out of college.

Her teacher asked what everyone was working on, and then went through 12 people in the class before reaching Hashimoto.

“I had 12 people’s worth of stories to frantically come up with an idea, and I was like, ‘OK! What do I like? I like cooking! There’s a cake! There’s a cake shop! There’s a cake shop on a hill!'” she said.

“And out of this sort of burst of frantic energy came this idea of a cake shop on the hill that had the most marvelous desserts and the baker who ran it and, of course, you have to have kids in a kids’ book, so the children that come into it with a sense of wonder and excitement, and that’s how it happened.”

Her own story began at the age of 3 in 1985 when her Japanese father and Chinese mother, Toshio and Ka Lin Hashimoto, moved the family from Boston to Rumford.

“My dad is a car mechanic and wanted to have his own garage, and he also wanted to grow shiitake mushrooms, so, uhm, you can’t really do it in Boston, there’s not really enough space and he found some attractive land up here and decided to move,” Meika Hashimoto said.

She credits her love of writing to a “wonderful” Rumford Elementary School teacher named Miss Paliocha.

Paliocha taught a gifted and talented program that Hashimoto attended one day a week beginning in second grade.

“Every morning that day we would start with a creative writing prompt,” she said.

“So we would spend an hour creating stories and I remember loving that exercise, and having stories kind of flow out was my first introduction to storytelling and story creating,” she said.

The Rumford Public Library also figured importantly in her life. She worked there full time during her first three years of high school.

Taking it full circle, the library now carries “The Magic Cake Shop” and has a signed copy.

“My parents didn’t read to me that much when I was growing up and I learned how to read through books on cassette,” Hashimoto said.

But her mom often took her to the library.

“We’d just come back with mounds and mounds of books and I fell in love with reading through all these books that we had access to,” she said.

“Growing up in Maine, it’s wonderful.

“I grew up in the ‘out there,’ even out of the town of Rumford, so there was a lot of quiet time, and reading really was this amazing way for me to explore other worlds and to use my imagination and to grow and develop it,” she said.

With “The Magic Cake Shop,” she wants to encourage children as she was inspired at their age.

“What I really hope to do is have a kid really fall in love with reading,” she said.

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