Princess Arabella is back with her royal friends to create giant cakes for her grandmother’s birthday in this Belgian import.
Princess Arabella, a dark-skinned child with multipuff pigtails, enjoys her birthday party so much that even before its conclusion she wishes to have yet another one. When her father shows her a calendar explaining that she’ll have to wait until next year for her upcoming birthday party, Princess Arabella remembers that her grandmother’s birthday is only a couple of days away. Princess Arabella’s friends—Princess Ling (who’s Asian, possibly Chinese), Princess Sophie (who is white), and Prince Mimoun (who is implied Muslim)—each decide to bake the “biggest,” “yummiest” cake ever in the whole wide world. Each royal buddy makes a fabulous series of cakes that, when put together, create a colorful pastry extravaganza. But as Grandma samples the multihued dessert, the revelers can’t seem to find Arabella. Out jumps Princess Arabella from her cake for a big happy-birthday surprise for her grandmother. The illustrations are buoyant with color, interweaving the personalities and implied cultures of the children. Freeman misses a couple of opportunities by not using the different cakes to introduce varying desserts throughout the world and by not naming the specific cultures and ethnicities of the different royal children in a way that is both celebratory and informative.
Sweet, with a few gaps. (Picture book. 4-8)