cover image A Birthday Cake Is No Ordinary Cake

A Birthday Cake Is No Ordinary Cake

Debra Frasier, . . Harcourt, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-205742-8

Readers who think they're in for a celebration of smeared frosting and blowing out the candles may be surprised to find instead Fraser's (On the Day You Were Born ) New Age musings on what a birthday cake means . "So hold on, bakers!," exhorts Fraser, as she proceeds, in full gym-instructor mode, to show the earth orbiting around a massive sun, rendered in a confetti-like spray of triangles and circles. "We're riding the Earth in a great spinning circle around the Sun, from your birthday to your next birthday.... You will need exactly 364 more sunrises, all clouds included." Metaphorically speaking, that means gathering up a year's worth of seasonally themed ingredients (e.g., "the sound of a returning red robin, singing. Simply open the window. Your bowl will catch it"). The cut-paper collages depict a toque-wearing, angelic-looking chef combining the fanciful ingredients with a wave of a wooden spoon; every few pages, Fraser returns readers to the perspective of an orbiting earth to underscore her theme. While her deep thoughts may not appeal to all readers, Fraser deserves plaudits for prompting youngsters to think of their birthday as more than an opportunity for presents. Recipes for a basic yellow cake plus vanilla and chocolate frostings round out this upbeat lesson. All ages. (Sept.)