Sarah is planning to surprise her mother by baking her first cake, and as she collects ingredients and baking tips from local storekeepers, she learns a valuable lesson. Set in the same post-WW II era as Lakin's The Palace of Stars , this unassuming tale warmly evokes a close-knit community. But all is not sunny nostalgia. Sarah dreads going to the Singers' store, but has no other choice. Once in, she looks fixedly at Mr. Singer's gold-rimmed glasses, at the fan that hangs from the tin ceiling--at everything except the blue numbers tattooed on the Singers' left arms. She is startled when Mrs. Singer reminds her husband of something that happened ``a long time ago''; she assumes that the Singers never think about the past (``That was when the Nazis gave them the blue numbers and put them in the concentration camps--just because they were Jews''). Mrs. Singer, however, tells Sarah it is okay to look at the tattoos: ``The numbers should never be a secret. . . . If no one knows about bad things, they can happen all over again.'' The portrayal of a child frightened of raising demons from the past is very real and intelligently drawn. Rand's sepia-hued, light-splashed watercolors have a wonderful period feel. A nice final touch is the recipe for Sarah's first cake. Ages 5-up. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/02/1994 Release date: 05/01/1994 Genre: Children's
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