Have you any idea that today — January 27th — is International Chocolate Cake Day?!?
It’s one of a thousand new sort-of-pretend holidays but one that we shall feel magnanimous towards, I’ll bet 🙂
If this one has sneaked up and caught you unawares with not enough sugar in the cupboard — never fear. You can celebrate chocolate cake day any time you please! Here are some delectable stories, old and new, to go right along with it!
The Giant of Jum, written by Elli Woollard, illustrated by Benji Davies
originally published in the UK; first American edition 2017 by Henry Holt and Company
The Giant of Jum is a massive grouch. Hungry all the time, too, which makes him even more bad-tempered. There’s one delicacy he’s ever craving when his tummy rumbles — children! He eats ’em! That’s what a nasty brute he is.
The children in the land of Jum don’t take this lying down however. They are a clever lot, having perfected Delaying and Sidetracking Tactics that outwit that giant every time. Finally the kids discover something the giant likes even better than children — cake! Chocolate cake, to be exact.
A yummy tale in the best of Dangerous Fairy Tale traditions, for crafty kids ages 4 and up.
And speaking of fairy tales…
The Fairytale Cake, by Mark Sperring and Jonathan Langley
published in 2005 by Scholastic
The fairytale community is coming together in this delicious charmer, baking a scrumptious cake to celebrate one lucky someone’s happy birthday.
The minimal, rhyming text is brought to full-color jubilee with visual references to dozens of fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters. Can you spot them all? If you don’t recognize a few, they’re all standing politely with identifying placards on the jolly end-papers so you can haul out the Mother Goose book and refresh your memories. Pure delight for ages 2 and up. Those who know their Mother Goose will find particular pleasure here.
It’s My Birthday, written and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
published in 1993 by Candlewick Press
Helen Oxenbury’s self-reliant toddler mixes up a delicious, cherry-studded birthday cake with the help of his animal friends in this classic, quietish tale.
Perfect toddler fare. 18 months and up.
Bunny Cakes, written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells
published in 1997 by Viking
It’s Grandma’s birthday and both Ruby and Max are making cakes. Ruby’s is “angel surprise cake with raspberry-fluff icing.” Max’s is “earthworm birthday cake.”
Max’s wants to help with Ruby’s cake, which results in lots of spills, breakages, and errands to the store to replenish the larder. He’s also desperate to add Red-Hot Marshmallow Squirters to his cake if only he could get his point across to the grocer. So many troubles, but the end results are a wonder to behold. Utter delight for ages 2 and up.
Dudley Bakes a Cake, text by Judy Taylor, illustrations by Peter Cross
published in 1988 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Dudley the dormouse is all a-tingle. It’s the day of the Shadyhanger Fair! To top it off, there’s a Decorated Cake Competition and first prize is a keen bicycle.
Dudley’s supreme efforts to win the contest are beset by many vexations, but in the end, he enters his ginormous carrot cake with pink strawberry frosting. Who will win the contest? If you can find a copy of this vintage book, prepare yourself for bushels of excitement and gallons of darling in this little charmer. Peter Cross’s detailed drawings are reminiscent of Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge world. Ages 4 and up.
Florence and Eric Take the Cake, written and illustrated by Jocelyn Wild
published in 1987 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Florence and her little brother Eric are visiting Granny and Grandpa Mutton in Rosemary Cottage. Today, the Little Nibbling Knitting Circle is coming to tea and Florence and Eric are sent to fetch the cake from Miss Lavinia Bleating who has a “most frightful cold and can’t come.”
There’s a hilarious mix-up ahead which I won’t spoil for you. This first-rate story was read by Julia Child on an old episode of Reading Rainbow and I can still hear her voice in my head every time I read it. A memorable blast of fun for ages 3 and up.
Beverly Billingsly Takes the Cake, written and illustrated by Alexander Stadler
published in 2005 by Gulliver Books, Harcourt
Young Beverly is heading to Oliver’s birthday party and feeling quite pleased, perhaps a mite smug, that she is bringing the most important part of the party — the cake.
She knows just the one — the Caramel Candy Castle Cake. Mom thinks it’s “a little complicated.” But Beverly feels up to the challenge. By the time she figures out that this elegance is a bit harder to concoct than she’s bargained for…it’s too late to start over. “I’ve ruined everything!” she cries. Thank goodness Mom helps her see a delicious way to fix things. Happy and full of sugar, plus a recipe at the end to bake your own Busy Day Cake. Ages 3 and up.
Baby Cakes, written by Theo Heras, illustrated by Renné Benoit
published in 2017 by Pajama Press
Darling, affectionate, and just perfect for the littlest of bakers. Tie those aprons! Cream that butter! And keep the kitten out of the bowl!
Sweet as can be with recipes for mixing up your own cupcakes and frosting. Ages 18 months and up.
There are lots more confectionary capers in the Marmalade Archives. Here are links to a few those stories: