cover image Three Scoops and a Fig

Three Scoops and a Fig

Sara Laux Akin, illus. by Susan Kathleen Hartnung, Peachtree, $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56145-522-5

Sofia's Italian family says she's "too little" to help out in their restaurant— "Bambina, sei troppo piccola!" her Papa tells her, after she pushes the blender button and tomatoes splatter everywhere—but when she comes up with a new dessert, the whole clan is impressed. Sofia often repeats her grandmother's praise for the family members' specialties—"Nonna says that a queen would curtsey for a bite of your bread, Mama," Sofia tells her mother (before adding too much yeast to the dough)—so when Nonna tells her, "Angels would sing for one of your Fig Tree Sundaes, Sofia!" it's the ultimate compliment. Hartnung's (Dear Juno) watercolors look a little like jigsaw puzzles; they're evenly lit, with interlocking forms, muted colors, and figures that look like cotton dolls, all of which work to soften the impact of Sofia's accidents in the kitchen (though her family's love is evident, being repeatedly told she's too little clearly and realistically upsets her). Newcomer Akin's prose tends toward the frilly ("Scrumptious smells tickled Sofia's nose..."), but builds steadily to a pleasing conclusion. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)