cover image Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love

Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love

Julie Paschkis. Harcourt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-547-80745-4

Paschkis’s whimsical love story tells of lovelorn Alfonso, a beak-nosed man in a top hat and coattails, who cannot get bookworm Ida to pay attention to him. “So he decided to bake her a cake.” The recipe may sound ordinary enough, but Paschkis’s delicate gouache-and-ink paintings demonstrate that Alfonso’s efforts are entirely extraordinary. When the text announces that “he beat two tablespoons of butter with a cup of sugar,” Paschkis shows Alfonso hanging from a beam of butter-yellow sun, while butter drips from another triangular ray, and scooping sugar from a pale, puffy cloud. He finds an egg high atop a fanciful tree, ladles “a tiny bit of salt” from the sea, and stirs in three wishes: “one bitter and two sweet.” Painting on white backdrops, Paschkis (Mooshka, a Quilt Story) offers a lovely, pared-down aesthetic, compared to her heavily patterned earlier books, which emphasizes the loose, sweeping quality of her painting. The result is a story that exudes a pervasive sense of magic and underscores how far one gladly will go in the name of love. Ages 4–8. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Sept.)