cover image The Magic Cake Shop

The Magic Cake Shop

Meika Hashimoto, illus. by Josée Masse. Random, $15.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-375-86822-1

With its exaggerated villains; tongue-tripping, made-up words; and magical, confection-filled setting, this delightfully goofy novel offers a faint whiff of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Emma Burblee’s self-absorbed and superficial parents, who “drank fancy champagne and ate rare caviar by the gallon,” have little use for their plain, down-to-earth daughter. After they foist 10-year-old Emma off on equally horrid Uncle Simon, she seems destined to spend the summer cooking for her gluttonous uncle and cleaning his toilets with a toothbrush, until she meets pastry chef extraordinaire, Mr. Crackle. When Emma walks into his bakery, she “felt like she had been dropped in the middle of a miracle.” The shop, which contains a portal to an enchanted spice storeroom, is the scene of Crackle’s race against time to concoct “The Elixir of Delight,” a potion that makes all food taste divine and that will also save Crackle’s life (he’s been poisoned by Uncle Simon’s scheming cohort). Though not Dahl, this is considerable fun for readers who have a taste for sweet, whimsical adventure. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)