Targeted at the three to eight year old reader this charming children’s book tells the tale of Clarence. Clarence lives in a beautiful town in the mountains and always wears a black mask covering his face.Â He lives in a gray house with a purple door.Â He has a cat named Evelyn.Â He is also a loaner and doesn’t talk to folks in town.
He is also the cake thief.
He likes to steal cakes of all kinds.Â One morning he finds, instead of the cake he was going to steal, a note inviting him to a party.Â The requirement is that he bring a cake which means he is actually going to have to make a cake. Clarence has no idea how to make a cake and is scared of the concept.Â He learns to do so, attends the party and also learns he doesn’t have to steal from others which allows him to no longer feel the need to hide behind his mask.
Written and beautifully illustrated by the author, this children’s book is guaranteed to please both kids and the adults in their lives.Â Â The book tells the story in simple error free text that never talks down to the reader while providing an entertaining tale based in morality. Â The book has garnered some criticism here and elsewhere over the word choice the author has used citing the word “fret” as one example. From the text:
But Clarence did not know how to bake a cake or make frosting or turn on the oven. So he went home and began to fret. He fretted in the bedroom. He fretted in the living room. He fretted in the dining room, and finally he fretted in the kitchen.
For the age group targeted, the word could be a problem for the bottom end of the range. However, from my own experience in classrooms, I am aware that often the word “fret” is part of the basic vocabulary list in the lower grades and therefore works fine with the upper age group. If it is a problem in the lower age range, most likely the child reader would be working with an adult who would assist and as a result create a teachable moment.
In addition to the flowing text that works very well, there are the illustrations which are clear, non-threatening, and vibrant in support of the text.Â These colorful illustrations not only support the text but make a turning point very clear to young readers later in the story when the mask disappears. Most children are very quick to pick up on such techniques and it works well in this case.
The result is a wonderful read guaranteed to provide many pleasant experiences.
The Cake Thief
Written and Illustrated by Sally O. Lee
Kevin R. Tipple Â© 2008