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CLEVER JACK TAKES THE CAKE by Candace Fleming Kirkus Star


by Candace Fleming & illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Aug. 24th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0375-84979-4
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

A winsome gouache-and-pencil landscape sets the stage--a hilltop castle, a messenger on horseback, an escaped letter fluttering under the door of a humble cottage. Young Jack, poor as dust, finds this mysterious missive--the king’s invitation to attend his daughter’s tenth birthday festivities. The boy bakes a cake for the princess, topping it proudly with the “reddest, juiciest, most succulent strawberry in the land,” and his obstacle-ridden journey to her party the next day forms the core of this jaunty, well-told tale. Of the whole cake, only the strawberry survives the trip past thieving blackbirds, a greedy troll, whispering woods and a ravenous-yet–fruit-despising bear. When the princess’s guard eats even that, however, all the perpetually undaunted Jack has left to offer the birthday girl is an elaborate account of his adventure. She loves it (and him) most of all, proving that the gift of story is better than rubies, especially if the story has a troll. The simple-but-expressive, cartoonish illustrations on textured paper and the delightfully clever design further distinguish this cheerful charmer. (Picture book. 4-8)