cover image Pat-a-Cake Baby

Pat-a-Cake Baby

Joyce Dunbar, illus. by Polly Dunbar. Candlewick, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7577-6

Ten years after Shoe Baby, the mother-daughter Dunbars return with another baby-centric spin on a nursery rhyme. Never mind the late hour: there’s a rosy-cheeked baby chef in the kitchen—“a cookie baby/ a pat-a-cake baby”—and she’s ready to cook up a cake for the Man in the Moon. She gets eager assistance from the pixie-size Candy Baby, Jelly Baby, and Allsorts Baby, who share her gleeful disregard for doing things in a neat or orderly fashion. Pat-a-Cake Baby whips together all the ingredients (yes, there’s a break for licking the bowl and “each other”), frosts, and decorates with abandon, producing a cake that’s “very gooey/ chewy yimmy yummy... so creamy/ so magic moonlight dreamy.” Daughter Polly Dunbar’s pictures are a confectionary dream: ingredients fly around the pages in balletic swoops, the typography dances, and the babies’ energy is boundless—it’s a candy-coated version of Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen. Joyce Dunbar’s text has only a passing connection to the Mother Goose rhyme, and her baking-themed wordplay (“It’s hulla-balloony-moon-time!”) is the literary equivalent of a sugar high. Ages 2–5. (June)