In this pleasing cumulative tale, a cake waits atop a tall tower, and a group of animals collaborates to reach the sweet treat.
Bear spots the tempting dessert, but how to reach it? Pig’s arrival presents a solution, and page by page, a series of hungry animals arrives to stack themselves higher. The surprising ending in which a child takes the cake from inside the tower feels a tad anticlimactic—those animals went through all those contortions for nothing? However, since the child shares with the group, it’s a tasty-enough conclusion. While the repetitive refrain that laments that “the cake is so far up” and the animals “so far down” has a gentle appeal, the playful onomatopoeias that introduce each new animal arrival—“FLIP FLIP FLAP”; “BOINGA-BOING”—are more rambunctious and highly satisfying to read aloud. Thinly lined, digitally rendered illustrations and matte colors are somewhat flat but do emphasize the animals’ silly poses and looks of concentration, and a tall, narrow trim size complements the theme. Strasser’s choice to group the animals and tower on the right page while isolating the next animal to arrive on the left encourages pre-readers to make predictions and read along. Observant toddlers will delight in watching a crow inch across a clothesline to triumphantly grab the cake’s tasty cherry.
With its enjoyable read-aloud rhythm and animal antics, this board book “takes the cake!” (Board book. 1-4)