cover image Sugar Would Not Eat It

Sugar Would Not Eat It

Emily Jenkins, , illus. by Giselle Potter. . Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-375-83603-9

Who would be nuts enough to pass up a piece of chocolate birthday cake–with blue frosting roses, yet? But a stray kitten found by Leo seems to possess all the maddening intransigence of Bartleby the Scrivener. It never occurs to Leo or the adults in his tight-knit urban community that cats and cake don't mix. Instead, everyone offers Leo advice based on the parental cajoling and nagging they heard as picky-eater kids long ago—all of which is channeled by Leo to great comic effect. “It took me two hours to bake this cake, and another hour to do the frosting roses,” he kvetches to Sugar, after Jimmy the coffee-cart guy suggests a guilt trip: “All that, and now you're not interested?” While Sugar's lack of affect is well served by Potter's (The Boy Who Loved Words ) flat, naïf style, the Diane Arbus–styled characters, coupled with Jenkins's (Toys Go Out ) poker-faced ironies, may not play to mainstream tastes. For readers who like their humor on the wry side, however, Leo's exercise should make a precise and highly satisfying hit on the funny bone. Ages 4–8. (May)