Clever Jack Takes the CakeWritten By: Candace Fleming
Illustrated By: G. Brian Karas
I have mentioned that great books jump into my library pile all the time while I am there, but I have not perhaps mentioned how often it is me that is helping them jump and not my children, have I? It's true, my kids gravitate towards Scooby Doo, Avatar, Barbie (ugh) and other books that they seem to enjoy, but I do not! I admit it, some of these books just seem pretty uninteresting. How do I handle this? I am not going to say I am an expert, in fact this is a topic I consider often: how do I teach my kids to find quality books? (What do you do?) I think that when visiting the library it's important to let them have choice and choose books they are drawn to, in fact I consider this paramount. Sometimes, with careful choosing, my kids choose books we both consider to be perfect for them (and for me as a read-aloud parent!) but this is not always the case. While it's true that the value of a book is in the heart and mind of a reader, and I dearly believe this to be true, (even if they are about cartoon characters), I dislike my kids to miss out on these higher-quality books I know they will enjoy as well. There are so many of them! What do you do? My simple conclusion is that I simply allot a number of books I get to choose from the children's section also. I love this. In this great age of children's books of great number and high quality, it is a joy. And do you know what? My kids typically like these books as much or more than the ones they choose. (I think you can guess why). At any rate, Clever Jack Takes the Cake is one of those jumping books because, sometimes, I think I can judge a book by its cover.
Clever Jack gets invited to a birthday party for the princess, who is turning 10. He is thrilled! However, his mother points out that they have no present fine enough for a princess! As it continues throughout the book, Jack is neither put out nor sorry, rather he is resourceful and looks on the bright side of things. He trades some things he does have for ingredients to make a beautiful and rich cake fit for a princess! On his way to the party the next day, some unfortunate events happen. I love Jack's ability to notice what is still good in the situation each time, and make the best of it, and this he does. By the time he reaches the castle and the beginning of the line to give his gift he has none left. Although the princess lacks some qualities, she recognizes the value in Jack's real present immediately and we can hope that in their fast friendship Jack does her some good. Although I would like to have seen this ending fleshed out a bit, my daughter and I found lots to like about this book. I noticed things to point out and talk about, but will do so especially on an additional reading. The illustrations in this book are just to my liking, especially, once again such a lovely choice of colors. So nice! Don't miss this fun and sweet story, let it and many more books of quality jump into your library pile as well. :)