cover image Bunny Cakes: 5

Bunny Cakes: 5

Rosemary Wells. Dial Books, $14.99 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2143-2

It's kitchen chaos as Wells's beloved Max and Ruby become bunnies who bake. Max and Ruby each have grand plans for Grandma's birthday cake. Max envisions an earthworm cake with caterpillar frosting and ""Red-Hot Marshmallow Squirters"" on top. Ruby, however, insists on an ""angel surprise cake with raspberry-fluff icing."" Max tries his best to help his bossy older sister but, as always, winds up making a mess. After spilling the milk or breaking the eggs, Max is repeatedly dispatched to the store with Ruby's neatly printed list of ingredients, all the while trying to figure out how to convey his own request to the grocer. Wells's (My Very First Mother Goose) ink-and-watercolor world is cheery as ever here, replete with a cozy, '50s-esque kitchen and friendly neighborhood market. She accurately captures the prickliness of sibling exchanges (""There's a yellow line on the floor, Max,"" says Ruby when Max returns with a replacement bottle of milk. ""You can't step over that line""). Hapless Max maintains a happy-go-lucky demeanor in any situation, a shining example of patience and perseverance. And when it comes to the interplay between pared-down text and eventful illustrations, Wells, quite simply, takes the cake. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)