cover image The Cactus Flower Bakery

The Cactus Flower Bakery

Harry Allard. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-020046-6

Allard's latest, a sweet but insubstantial tale about the dangers of judging by appearances, lacks the inspired silliness of his titles in the Stupids series. Sunny is a gregarious green snake who lives in the middle of the Texas desert, and she doesn't understand why everyone runs away from her. Unfortunately, the text is ill served by the illustrations: outfitted in a gemutlich pink bonnet and a checkered apron, big-eyed Sunny looks about as threatening as a well-worn stuffed toy. Nevertheless the sight of Sunny strikes panic in her would-be visitors, until Stewart the armadillo shows up. His glasses are broken and while he awaits a new pair, Sunny plies him with pastry. They become great friends and set up a bakery together. With the proceeds they replace Stewart's glasses--but when his sight is restored, he, too, shrieks with terror and flees. Eventually they are reconciled, the bakery is reopened and Stewart solves Sunny's PR problem. Delaney's contributions to the humor here--such as a snail's delivering the mail--may elude young readers. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)