By Sara Varon
ISBN 10: 1596434198
ISBN 13: 9781596434196
Publisher: First Second
Paperback: 160 Pages
A friend of mine had actually picked up a signed copy of Bake Sale at ALA, so I was pretty excited to receive a review copy shortly after. And honestly, the words "cupcake," "graphic novel," and "recipes" are enough to get me jazzed up.
I initially read the graphic novel pretty quickly and then proceeded to read it to my cousin, Justin, who just made the recommended age range of ages 8 and up (or grades 3 and up).
The first chapter begins at 6:30am, a pretty realistic time for a business owner to wake up I suppose! We follow Cupcake, baker and owner of Sweet Tooth Bakery, as he prepares for the day's opening. Each step, from cracking the eggs, packing the sugar, and mixing the batter, is illustrated and probably my favourite sequence because it is wordless. His bakery opens at 9:00am and the first speech bubble starts on page 11, a tomato raving about the carrot cake. At 4:00pm, it's closing time and Cupcake's friend, Eggplant waits for him as they grab a bite before going to brand practice.
We get a sense that this is Cupcake's daily routine and he eventually falls into a baking rut. That is, until Eggplant suggests they both go to Turkey to meet Aunt Aubergine (Eggplant's aunt) and Turkish Delight (the greatest pastry chef in the world). Soon, we see Cupcake working hard in trying to earn more money. Eggplant helps watch the shop as Cupcake finds creative ways to sell his desserts.
Sadly, Eggplant gets laid off and tells Cupcake that he won't be making the trip to Turkey. However, Cupcake offers to send Eggplant there with the money he has saved. While Eggplant is away, Cupcake goes through another rut and it starts to show in his shop. That is until Eggplant returns with a gift from Turkish Delight - spices. This pipes Cupcake up and with the encouragement from Eggplant, he decides to join an exotic baked goods contest. Will they win?
The story has a lot of adult mentality, helping out a friend, working hard towards a goal, and trying new things were good lessons to include, but I don't know any third grader that feel like they're stuck in a rut or have best friends that get laid off. Out of creativity and ideas? Maybe. Yet, I was surprise to see that Justin was still able to enjoy it. He laughed at the play on words and even pointed out the comical scenes in the art. At the end, I asked, "did you like the book?" to which his reply was, "yes."
Recipe projects in this book include: how to make sugared flowers; marzipan dog and marzipan cat (one of Turkish Delight too); raspberry squares; brownies; vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting; dog treats; and peppermint brownies. In additional, we learn at the end of the book that Sara Varon spent time at Cheeks Bakery (but, now closed) in Brooklyn to learn about the daily routine of running a bakeshop! Now that sounds like fun research!