cover image Patti Cake and Her New Doll

Patti Cake and Her New Doll

Patricia Reilly Giff, illus. by Laura J. Bryant. Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-24465-7

Patti Cake has a big girl bedroom now, but it’s pretty intimidating (“No one slept in that big bed but me. Even Tootsie”—the dog—“slept in the hall”). So when she finds a doll in a shop that looks a little vulnerable, too (it has a smudge on one cheek, and Patti Cake confides, “Sometimes I get a little smudgy”), she sees an opportunity to become a competent caretaker—only to be met with disaster at every turn. Giff’s (the Fiercely and Friends series) heroine is undeniably adorable—there’s her name, for starters, and her expressions like “greatly dark” and “whooshly cake”—though at times she comes across more like an adult’s idea of a girl rather than a true peer for readers. Bryant (Jo MacDonald Hiked in the Woods) fares better with her straightforward visual storytelling and warm, softly textured watercolor and pencil drawings. She gives the action needed momentum while subtly reassuring readers that the center holds even when chaos breaks out. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Jan.)