cover image Cupcake


Charise Mericle Harper, . . Disney-Hyperion, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-4231-1897-8

The plucky hero of this story may be a “plain and white and ordinary ” cupcake, but Harper (Fashion Kitty ) shows she's no fan of vanilla endings, leaving unresolved the conflict she sets up in the beginning. Cupcake is convinced that his relatives—Happy-Face Cupcake, Pink Princess Cupcake, and others—have more pizzazz than he does, until he meets a candle with the same problem and a bright idea. Harper's black-outlined cartoon characters appear on sparsely decorated, pastel pages to cheery effect, but it's the line-drawn facial expressions that provide most of the action. Cupcake reacts to the screwy toppings Candle brings him with appropriate horror and dubious smiles, as he is sprinkled with spaghetti, pancakes, and smelly cheese. The plot continues to focus on Cupcake's problem—Candle even apologizes for not being able to find him “something special”—but the gag ending doesn't go where some readers may suspect it's headed. After Candle retrieves a nut that a squirrel left in Cupcake's frosting, Candle stands tall atop the cupcake and delivers a closing zinger: “Hey, wait a minute.... Tomorrow, let's try celery!” Ages 2–6. (Jan.)