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Clever Jack Takes the Cake

by Candace Fleming
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Published by Schwartz & Wade, 2010
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-375-84979-4

Ages 5-9

Jack trades, barters and charms for ingredients to make a beautiful cake as a gift for the princess’s tenth birthday. He hand-dips ten candles, gathers walnuts to spell out “Happy Birthday, Princess” and sets a delectable strawberry in the center. But on Jack’s journey to the palace, blackbirds peck off the walnuts. A troll takes the bottom layer of cake for payment to cross his bridge. Jack needs to light the candles to makes his way through the deep, dark forest. And a dancing bear makes quick work of the final layer when Jack emerges from the woods. Only the strawberry remains when he arrives at the palace, but Jack’s heartened by the fact that it’s the “reddest, juiciest, most succulent strawberry in the land.” Too bad the princess is allergic to strawberries says the guard at the gate, who promptly eats it. When it’s his turn to meet the princess, Jack launches into a spirited explanation of why he has no present. “A story!” the princess exclaims after hearing his tale. “And an adventure story at that. What a fine gift.” Marvelous storytelling from Candace Fleming features lively pacing, rich language, and delectable humor, while G. Brian Karas provides a wonderful visual accompaniment with perfectly pitched illustrations that reflect the tale’s lighthearted tone and folkloric feel. (MS) ©2010 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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