Sorry, Mrs. Cake! by Kate Milner. Tiny Owl, 2021. 9781910328781
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? The setting for this book is a picnic like Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” But in this case, there’s also a little boy accompanied by his blue cat and the mysterious Mrs. Cake. They are trying to gain the attention of the picnickers, who are all distracted by various endeavors. The dads are racing wind-up ducks on the pond, the moms are too involved in conversation, and no one else seems to notice the boy in his efforts. But, what is he trying to do? Ahh, behind the tent’s curtain we see the big reveal: a table laden with sumptuous treats – tea, lemonade, tarts, petit fours, cake, and all kinds of sweet delicacy. The boy has the idea to lead the little kids, then the moms and dads will follow with the big kids, and soon everyone is there and are made to say “We’re sorry” and “Thank you.” It is only then that Mrs. Cake utters her only words: “You are all very welcome.”
Although it took me a few times to figure out what was going on, I eventually caught on to the gentle drama of the picnic. I loved examining all of the picnickers, a group whose skin colors and ages are diverse, and who all have little dramas going on. Mrs. Cake herself is a brown skinned woman with a striking hairdo and an apron. We never figure out why she doesn’t just announce that the food is ready. The art has echoes of Seurat and Picasso in the way the characters are posed. It’s a quirky little story that will nonetheless find its fans.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Not really, except for the worry that Mrs. Cake is supposed to be the Black maid.
To whom would you recommend this book? For readers who enjoy odd stories and cake! For ages 4-7.
Who should buy this book? An additional purchase for public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: September 17, 2021