Monday, March 1, 2010

Middle Grade Monday: IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES

Author: Lisa Schroeder
Publisher: Aladdin (2010)
Pages: 208 pages
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12 years
Source: The Publisher

What do you do when you are 12 years old, and have never been on a real vacation and have never left your small town let alone your home state? Isabel, the main character in Lisa Schroeder’s IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES is facing another summer at home. Her best friend will be away for 3 weeks and her mother has decided to open up a Cupcake Store. However, just before her best friend Sophie leaves for camp she tells Isabel about a baking contest where the finalists will be flown to NYC to compete for a $1,000 prize. The challenge to come up with the perfect recipe wouldn’t be that hard if she didn’t have to worry about disappointing her mother if she turned in something other than a cupcake recipe.

Lisa Schroeder’s new Middle Grade novel IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES is the perfect pick me up and a great alternative to the high caloric snack in which it references. You get all of the feel good fun without the added calories. As I dove into the story, I found myself loving the chapter titles which referenced various cupcake flavors. Really, who can resist reading a chapter entitled “Red Velvet Cupcakes” or one called “Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes”?! However, despite all the fun that cupcakes evoke, Schroeder provides her protagonist with typical challenges – a best friend who apparently is good at everything, a mom that she doesn’t always see eye to eye with, and a few bumps in the road when Isabel decides to enter a baking contest.

Aside from the wonderful chapter titles, there were quite a few things I appreciated about this book. First, it is perfectly written for reluctant readers (albeit reluctant girl readers). The story reads easily and there was never a point where I wished for pages to be eliminated or felt I wanted to just scan it. It was the perfect length and I was satisfied when I reached the end. Second, the main character is some one elementary girls will relate with. Her life isn’t perfect and she doesn’t always get what she wants but the story is positive and hopeful and helps girls see what they can accomplish when they put their mind to it. Third, there are many positive adult role-models in this story and a wonderful sense of community. In a society where most stories ridicule adults, or have them missing from the story altogether, it is refreshing to see positive (though with some flaws) adults who are present. Finally, it was just plain enjoyable. The bring a smile to your face kind of enjoyable.

When I think about trying to rate a book like IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES, I can't help but think of Karla. I know Karla is a name and not a numerical rating system, but if you knew Karla you would get it. Karla is sixth grader that I adore. I know I shouldn’t have favorites but secretly I do, and Karla is one of them. She is a sweet kid with a smile that warms you all over, and who is coming into her own as a reader. She enjoys books with female main characters who face struggles but persevere and overcome their situations. This is her kind of book and I know just who I will be sharing the book with next.

On an aside, tomorrow is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, go celebrate with some green eggs & ham and share a book with a child.

- Aly

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