November 10, 2017

Baby Cakes

Written by Theo Heras
Illustrated by Renné Benoit
Pajama Press
978-1-77278-030-7
24 pp.
Ages 1-4
October 2017

If Baby Cakes don't sound yummy enough, wait until you see Renné Benoit's illustrations of the children and kitten at play baking.  They are sweet and delightful and wholly scrummy.

From Baby Cakes 
by Theo Heras
 illus. by Renné Benoit
An older sister and little brother, with tuxedo kitten in tow, don their aprons, gather their ingredients and baking utensils and set to work.  Of course there are a few mishaps–there always are in the kitchen–of spilled ingredients but the two little ones seem to know what they are doing.  Measure, sprinkle, cream, wash, wash again, pour, blend, mix, fill and wait.  Except for brief appearances of a parent's hands to help out with a spill and to put the cupcakes in the oven, this story is that of the labours of the children and the kitten.  As should be, there is a tasty treat to imbibe in at tea time.

From Baby Cakes 
by Theo Heras 
illus. by Renné Benoit
Theo Heras, whose first book with Pajama Press Hat On, Hat Off (2016) was also illustrated by the wonderful Renné Benoit, reintroduces the sister and brother, slightly older now and able to take on a baking project with a little help from a parent. But Baby Cakes is still written for the very young, with Pajama Press' trademark padded cover and sturdy pages, and large bold font and simple sentences of only a few words.  I suspect that Baby Cakes could be the first book young children will be able to read themselves as the repeated readings by an older child or adult will enable them to remember the words and learn to match the visual with the sounds.  Learning to bake and read in one charming book.

But like so many picture books, it is the artwork that will captivate children and adults.  Renné Benoit's illustrations capture the innocence and earnestness of the very young and their efforts to undertake what must seem a monumental task.  The seriousness of their efforts does not take away from their delight in the work and the surprises that happen.  With a much-loved kitten, the children are bonded to their task and to each other, cooperating in their efforts and sharing in the fruits of their labours.  It's a warm scene of family that I wish could be experienced in every household.  Hopefully, Baby Cakes will compel that to happen in more.  With the recipes for chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, as well as vanilla frosting, on the endpapers, everyone and anyone can assist young children in baking some yummy delights, with or without a kitten to help.
From Baby Cakes 
by Theo Heras
 illus. by Renné Benoit

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