cover image Rude Cakes

Rude Cakes

Rowboat Watkins. Chronicle, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4521-3851-0

So what’s it going to be, kid? Are you a Rude Cake or a Giant Cyclops? Watkins, a former Sendak Fellow, debuts with an absurdist “Goofus and Gallant” story for the 21st century, about a thuggish, pink two-layer cake. “Rude cakes never say please, and they never say thank you, and they sometimes take things that don’t belong to them,” writes Watkins as the inconsiderate, ungrateful, and selfish cake bullies other sweets and disrespects his four-tier parents. But when the cake is spirited away to a land where goofy—but extremely polite—Giant Cyclopses use cakes for “jaunty little hats,” the cake discovers a way of life that’s kind, patient, and affirming (“Giant Cyclopses always say thank you, and they always say please”). Watkins’s delicate lines and translucent colors give his story a sly, understated humor, and his liberal use of verbal asides (“Seriously,” says the cake as it sulks in a tub, “I’m a cake... How dirty can I be?”) make a familiar message about thoughtfulness as fresh and tasty as his confectionary cast. Ages 3–5. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (June)