How cute is it that a cupcake runs a bakery?!?
With Bake Sale, Sara Varon has created a modern fable, telling a tale of urban life in a world populated with walking, talking food items. Cupcake’s an accomplished baker who wins awards and satisfies his neighborhood customers. He and friend Eggplant also play in a band together.
When Cupcake finds out that Eggplant’s Aunt Aubergine (hee!) knows famous pastry chef Turkish Delight, the two friends plan a trip overseas to meet them. Cupcake dreams of being recognized by such an illustrious baker, but what he really needs to realize is how good he already has it. He becomes so focused on outside validation that he loses some of the balance in his life that keeps him happy, and his failed attempts to create more exotic food causes him to forget how talented he is.
Cupcake seemed like some folks I’ve known, people with a goal (which isn’t a bad thing) who then assume everything will be perfect once they get there. That both sets them up for disappointment as well as causing them to ignore what’s good about where they are currently. But maybe that’s a little deep for this book aimed at “ages 8 and up” — on another level, it’s fun just to watch these characters hang out. It may seem silly for vegetables and baked goods to go to a coffee shop or a steam bath, but that’s part of the charm. And the underlying friendship is something any reader can envy.
Varon’s style is well-suited for a cute tale that has a bit more depth to it. Her characters are simple but make sense in their placements of arms, legs, and faces. While they’re deceptively straightforward, their world is made more real to the reader for the detail she adds in background. The soft colors contribute to the comfortable feeling, contrasting with the thought-provoking message. As a bonus, the book contains several of Cupcake’s recipes, from cupcakes and brownies to marzipan and sugared flowers and even dog biscuits!
The publisher’s website has an excerpt of sample pages and a reading group discussion guide. Bake Sale can be ordered from your local comic shop with the code JUL11 1110. It’s due out in September. (The publisher provided a review copy.)