Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye by Claude Ponti

Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye by Claude Ponti. translated from the French by Alyson Waters and Margot Kerlidou, elsewhere editions, c2004. First English language edition 2022. 9781953861184 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book? Hundreds of tiny yellow chicks have ten days to create a party for their dear friend, Bertha Daye under the direction of Blaze, the masked chiclet.  They want to surprise her with the most “unbelievalicious castle of all cakes.” On Day 1 they make invitations for Bertha’s many friends.  On Day 2 they set off to gather eggs, lots of eggs. They also bring home the very best Stoutspouts so they will have the very best water for the cake. On Day 3 they get cream from the Jumbo Cow.  In the afternoon they go to the Chocolate Mines for chocolate. On Day 4 they gather the best “powdery soft, finer than fairy dust” flour.  That afternoon is for sugar fetching from the mountaintop. Day 5 is for fruit picking.  That afternoon is for “blixing” the batter. “Making a mess is an absolute necessity.”  Day 6 is for building the ovens.  On Day 7 they rest. Day 8 is for making the cake!  On Day 9, the cake is ready!  It is gorgeous. They also prepare the party room.  And on Day 10, Bertha and all the guests arrive. The party lasts for days.  And when it is all over the chicklets know it was the best cake and the best party ever.

The detail of the illustrations in this oversized book is truly astounding.  A child could spend long minutes on just one page but the busiest, most intriguing of the two-page spreads is the day of the party where untold amounts of cartoon characters can be found, perhaps hundreds.  The illustrations are packed with color and imagination.

Anything you did not like about the book? No.

To whom would you recommend this book? This is for the child who likes to pour over illustrations – possibly again and again always finding something new.  There is just so much happening on every single page like finding hidden treasure.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Oversize picture books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Contributor, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review: April 22, 2022

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