Kirkus Reviews QR Code
PAT-A-CAKE by Mary Brigid Barrett


by Mary Brigid Barrett ; illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Age Range: 1 - 3

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4358-4
Publisher: Candlewick

Moving on from baked goods, a diverse group of toddlers pat everything from an acorn to a puddle.

“Pat a kiwi. Pat a peach. / Pat a plump tomato. // Pat a pickle, / cold and bumpy. / Pat a brown potato.” Barrett’s verse scans with a pleasingly jaunty rhythm. Pham’s stylized cartoons are done in a muted color palette; eye-catching patterns on the clothing and in the backgrounds infuse the scenes with a lively energy. The last two double-page spreads skillfully bring the energy down as a pair of brown-skinned siblings pat Mommy, Dad and each other before patting a pillow and teddy at bedtime. The sister book, All Fall Down, has a longer, rhymed text but the same buoyant energy and equally diverse cast. On the first double-page spread, a Caucasian boy and a girl of African descent stack a tower of alphabet blocks and joyfully topple them over on the verso as the text exclaims, “ALL FALL DOWN!” This pattern is repeated as gravity gets the better of a trio of tykes constructing a dam in a stream, a highchair-confined girl building a mountain of mashed potatoes, and an Asian family enjoying a game of “Ring-Around-the-Rosie.” In both books, some parents may cringe at little ones climbing a tree and cavorting around a stream unsupervised and patting a caterpillar (some varieties are harmful to the touch) in the lighthearted scenes, but youngsters will recognize the exuberance represented here as their own.

With its companion title, a playful romp in a please-touch-and-explore world. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)