From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1—Vanilla Cupcake feels woefully inadequate compared to his deliciously decorated siblings. "Chocolaty Chocolate," "Fancy Flower-Top," and "Rainbow-Sprinkles" are immediately chosen, leaving him alone on the plate. A green candle overhears Vanilla's sobs and comes up with a solution: "Hey, you just need a special topping." Candle's kooky suggestions—pickles, smelly cheese, a squirrel—will elicit a lot of laughs. Candle and Cupcake are eventually united, but a surprise ending will bring more chuckles. Harper imbues her childlike line drawings with lots of personality. A recipe for cupcakes (plain, of course) is included. Readers will gobble up the goofy humor.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada
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Flour, sugar, and a few other ingredients get mixed in a bowl, then baked, and, voilá, a cupcake is born. With a coating of icing, he becomes Vanilla Cupcake and introduces himself to his family, Fancy Flower-top Cupcake and Chocolate Chocolatey Cupcake, et al. But by the end of the day, when the others have been chosen, Vanilla Cupcake realizes he’s, well, plain. He meets up with Candle, also plain, who has some sparkling siblings. Despite their simplicity, when the duo get together, they are more than the sum of their parts. There’s not much actual story, but there’s plenty of humor as Candle comes up with some out-there ideas of what to crown Cupcake with (pancakes, pickles) before realizing what the perfect topping is. The art, a mix of black lines, patterned backgrounds, and swirly sweetness, makes the simple moral about being special quite palatable. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Ilene Cooper