cover image The Bake Shop Ghost

The Bake Shop Ghost

Jacqueline K. Ogburn, , illus. by Marjorie Priceman. . Houghton, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-44557-8

Chock-full of fluffy meringue pies and a forlorn poltergeist, this culinary ghost story shows how, with a little determination, two cooks can learn to share a single kitchen. Miss Cora Lee Merriweather's bakery is "the best bake shop in these parts—maybe even in the whole state," and "the chocolate in her Mississippi mud pie was darker than the devil's own heart." After Cora Lee's death, her cantankerous ghost chases away succeeding owners of the bake shop, but she finally meets her match in tenacious Annie Washington. Ogburn's (The Magic Nesting Doll ) languid, Southern imagery brims with delicious food puns and alliteration (in her quest to please Cora Lee, Annie "made tortes and tarts, babkas and bundts, pound cake and panforte "), and closes with a "Ghost-Pleasing Chocolate Cake" recipe. Priceman's (Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin ) free-flowing, Bemelmans-style artwork, on the other hand, at times seem mismatched, depicting scenes that look as if they are set in France. Even the "preacher" at Cora Lee's funeral is pictured in an elaborate church wearing a formal priest's cassock. Still, Priceman's energetic, loose lined paintings show as much comedy as spookiness, while Cora Lee swoops around the kitchen breaking plates and eggs and strewing flour. Miss Cora Lee Merriweather's "lemon-pucker mouth" is finally transformed to sunny, buttercream yellow when Annie comes up with the perfect way to make peace. Readers will likely enjoy this unusual contest, and the surprise twist ending. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)