cover image The Little Bitty Bakery

The Little Bitty Bakery

Leslie Muir, illus. by Betsy Lewin. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-1640-0

After a long day at her French bakery, an elephant retires to her upstairs bedroom. "But as she hung her apron,/ her heart began to ache:/ %E2%80%98I've worked away my special day./ I've had no birthday cake!' " While she sleeps, mice scurry about the kitchen to rectify that situation. Awakening to sweet (but mysterious) smells, the elephant "tiptoed down the staircase,/ as quiet as a cat%E2%80%94/ clutched a day-old stick of bread/ just like a baseball bat." With a slapstick flourish, she slips on a butter pat and slides across the bakery floor, landing in front of her candle-topped birthday surprise and its wee bakers. Given the story's nighttime setting, the art by Caldecott Honor artist Lewin (Click, Clack, Moo and its sequels) is dominated by shadowy blues and grays, her characteristically fluid paintings lending the story moments of both comedy and light suspense. Muir's (Barry B. Wary) cheerful verse is sprinkled with asterisked French words (translated at the bottom of the page) and evocative references to food, which should pique the interest of future Julia Childs and Jacques P%C3%A9pins. Ages 2%E2%80%935. (Aug.)