cover image Every Cake Has a Story

Every Cake Has a Story

Christina Tosi, illus. by Emily Balsley. Dial, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-11068-3

Tosi, a two-time James Beard Award–winning chef and owner of the Milk Bar bakery chain, makes her picture book debut in an uneven narrative that begins in the world of Samesville, where things are always the same. Everything exists in washes of “black and white and gray,” including the vanilla cake with chocolate frosting made by Sammi, the book’s blonde pigtailed protagonist. One day, she wishes that “things were NOT the same,” and inexplicably wakes up into a colorful world that celebrates uniqueness, culminating in a cake-baking party with her new friends. Balsley’s art, rendered in gouache and ink and composited digitally, features dynamic characters of varying abilities, skin tones, and hairstyles alongside bright, cheerful patterns; fans of Milk Bar will appreciate some of the creations woven into the spreads. If slightly treacly, this tale clearly promotes actively seeking out difference and individuality to enliven one’s life. Back matter includes a recipe for Dreamy Strawberry Frosting. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)