The prospect of getting a superhero’s cape for his birthday rocks Mateo’s world.
An ineptly handled misunderstanding sends this wild rumpus spiraling into the ground. When Grandma tells him on the phone that she’s made him “a red velvet—” Mateo doesn’t need to hear the rest: off he sails in his superhero jammies to envision himself walking his dog, Alonzo, using his new cape in school at recess and to fly to the restroom, and inviting all his friends to a super costume party. Come the party, his big sister’s announcement before all of his friends that Grandma isn’t bringing him a cape but a “red velvet CAKE!” brings Mateo crashing down in flames. But when he sadly opens Grandma’s gift box what should be inside? Yes, a big, bright, splendid cape! In the illustrations, Sullivan surrounds his broadly grinning black-haired, pale-skinned lad with racially diverse peers and captures the overall mood of giddy excitement with exuberant pen and brushwork. He doesn’t, however, give readers any clue to how the “cape/cake” confusion came about. Plainly, Mateo’s sister has some explaining to do, but she abruptly vanishes from the pictures, and neither Mateo nor his parents show any interest in clearing it up. Nor will the highly abbreviated instructions for making a personal cape at the end distract puzzled readers from wondering what just happened.
Viable the premise may be, but here it’s more a rough draft than a finished story. (Picture book. 6-8)