Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cupcake Cousins by Kate Hannigan, illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes

Cupcake books are hugely popular right now and I've been buying fluffy frosting reads as fast as I can, so I was delighted to read this book that has all the sweet treats readers expect of a baking book with a little more than the average sugar bomb.

Cousins Willow and Delia just can't wait for their annual vacation on Lake Michigan. Their beloved aunt is getting married and they're expecting the best vacation ever with lots of baking fun on top. Unfortunately, things start going wrong almost at once, starting with the horrible flower girl dresses they're supposed to wear, a new cook in "their" kitchen, and a series of mishaps that get them in trouble with, well, just about everybody. Then Willow and Delia find out some really bad news - it looks like this will not only be the worst vacation on Lake Michigan, it might be their last. Can they fix everything they've messed up and make their aunt's wedding a success or do they really just make things worse, in the kitchen and out of it?

Things that I loved about this book

  1. I loved that the girls weren't perfect little chefs; they loved to cook and sometimes things turned out well, but sometimes they were disasters!
  2. I loved that their family was mixed-race and it was addressed in casual ways - parents sharing family history about the Great Migration etc. - but it was never the main point of the story. Delia had a distinct personality and was as pivotal to the story as Willow, although the story was more from Willow's perspective.
  3. I loved the realistic way the girls are depicted. It's hard for them to think about others' perspectives and give up their own wishes, but once they've been gently reminded by an adult to think about how their actions affect other people, they go back and try to fix what they've messed up.
I did think some of the ending solutions were a little unrealistic. Living in a tourist town myself it's hard to imagine a bed and breakfast/gallery being a realistic way to make a living long-term, but it does fit well into the story and the girls' efforts to help the adults. So much of the story is spot-on realistic without being didactic or depressing, like the affect of unemployment on Delia's family, that this is really a minor quibble.

It's a nice length - a little under 300 pgs, but with large type and lots of cute illustrations that won't turn off kids who are reluctant to read anything over 200 pgs. Bonus - it's set in the general vicinity of where I live and most kids here have at least visited Lake Michigan, even if they haven't actually vacationed there!

Verdict: I can't wait to hand this to all my cupcake/friendship story fans! This was a delightful debut and I look forward to more from this author. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781423178309; Published May 2014 by Disney-Hyperion; ARC provided by the author; Purchased for the library

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