John Applefeller and his apprentice Stanley (10), plagued by bad luck and the cheating winner, Sylvester S. Sweet, have repeatedly failed to win the coveted Silver Spoon at the annual dessert contest. This is a preposterous book, with slapstick piled on exaggeration beyond the satiation point. Insulting remarks are rampant. Everybody, directly or indirectly, is satirized: competitors, TV interviewers, academics, people who make up rules, even (as Sylvester concocts his plagiaristic masterpiece) surgeons. John's Aunt Harriet--source of such truisms as ""When you don't want to be late, being on time makes good sense""--is interminably quoted. Elish does invent an island where people understand only rhymed speech, but undermines his own cleverness by naming it ""Iambia""--even though the preferred meter seems to be anapestic. The mountains of dreadful desserts--in gargantuan sizes and startling combinations, including desserts that get inexplicably transformed (giant pancake becomes trampoline) and desserts on wheels playing tricks--may amuse kids with strong stomachs. Oh, yes. In the end, a plain apple pie wins for John A., and justice is served. Gurney's lively, comic drawings add zest.