cover image Cake


Joyce Magnin. Zonderkidz, $14.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-310-73333-1

Magnin (the Bright’s Pond series) brings a sense of whimsy to a middle-grade novel that frosts layers of issues with quirky humor. Abandoned by her mother, 12-year-old Wilma Sue isn’t expecting much at her next foster home with retired missionary sisters Ruth and Naomi Beedlemeyer, who keep chickens and bake extraordinary and mysterious cakes. As Wilma Sue settles in, she makes a new friend, Penny, who is also struggling with difficulties in her family. When a disaster involving the chickens occurs, the problem can only be solved with love and honesty. Magnin has added many charming ingredients to her tale—animals, oddball names (Snipplesmith, Pigsworthy), and fantastical elements centered on the sisters’ cakes. She also has her pulse on a child’s yearning to belong and be loved. It doesn’t all add up; Wilma Sue can be a little too precocious (would a child’s eye know “stone that looked like mica schist”?). But Magnin’s riotous imagination is fun to run with; she’s cooked up a sweet story. Ages 9–up. (Jan.)