When I was sent this book by First Second Publishers, I was extremely excited. Not only is it a graphic novel, it’s a graphic novel about a cupcake, which has recipes for cupcakes in it! Amazing. Here’s a synopsis:
“Cupcake’s life is pretty good. He’s got his bakery, and his band, and his best friend, Eggplant. His days are full of cooking, socializing, and playing music. But lately, Cupcake has been struggling in the kitchen. He’s sure the solution to all his problems is out there somewhere. But maybe that solution is hiding closer to home.”
Although this book is aimed at an age group younger than myself, I did thoroughly enjoy myself while reading it. It was a very quick read, and the story was very simple and refreshing. Cupcake is the central character; a little pink cake with a cherry on top, he owns his own bakery and aspires to be a great baker like his hero, Turkish Delight, who is, as the name implies, a big piece of Turkish delight with legs. When his best friend Eggplant tells Cupcake of his plans to go to Turkey for his Aunt’s book release party, and divulges furthermore that his Aunt’s best friend and partner is none other than Turkish Delight herself, Cupcake becomes determined to go with him and begins to devise new recipes to make extra money.
Really, Bake Sale is a very sweet story about the value of friendship and the importance of supporting each other, masquerading as a story about cakes. It’s a brilliant ploy, and if I’m honest, it was the fact that it was a graphic novel about cakes which first attracted me to it, and quite rightly so. Varon’s style of drawing is gorgeously simple – big, bold outlines and bright colours – and child –friendly without being at all childish. The book itself is beautifully put together, with gorgeously illustrated step by step recipes, and my personal favourite page, the recipe for sugared flowers framed by creeping flower –covered vines. At the end of the book, Cupcake realises that more important than meeting his hero or getting to travel the world are his friends, and especially his friendship with Eggplant. Any friend who’ll stand by you through an embarrassing incident of wrapper – wrinkling at the Turkish baths is definintely worth having!
Sara Varon’s first novel Robot Dreams is also about the importance of relationships, and I think I’ll have to go and seek it out. When writing for children, a lot of authors fall into the trap of over-simplifying, and therefore patronising the child. Varon doesn’t do this – she treats her subject matter with beautiful sensitivity, and I love how understanding Cupcake and Eggplant are of each other. Bake Sale did a really good job of exploring what a great friendship is, and it’ll go into my stockpile (yes, I am stockpiling awesome children’s books for future kids/nieces and nephews.. I’m the eldest of 7, so hopefully somebody will have some kids!), and for now, I will be handing it on to my younger brother! I would recommend it for anybody who’s interested in graphic novels or children’s books, or both!
Thanks to the publishers, who very kindly allowed me to read and enjoy this novel!
Bake Sale is out September 2011.
(from First Second promotional material)