Book Review: Bake Sale

Author/Illustrator: Sara Varon
Publisher: First Second (August 30, 2011)
Audience:  Ages 9 to 12 years old
Source: Advanced Readers Copy for Review
Graphic Novel * Middle Grade * Friendship

Description from GoodReads:

Cupcake’s life is pretty good. He’s got his bakery, and his band, and his best friend, Eggplant. His days are full of cooking, socializing, and playing music. But lately, Cupcake has been struggling in the kitchen. He’s sure the solution to all his problems is out there somewhere. But maybe that solution is hiding closer to home.

Sara Varon returns with an ageless tale as dreamy and evocative as her break-out hit graphic novel Robot Dreams. At once deeply metaphorical and hilariously literal, Bake Sale is a story for anyone who’s ever looked for an easy answer to life’s intractable difficulties. It’s also a cookbook: Varon includes seven delicious recipes, from classic cupcakes to sugared flower petals to marzipan.

Relatable book characters, things that make me laugh, and brownies are all things I like.  When all of these elements are included in the same book, it is a definite win.  Sara Varon's Bake Sale has all of those features and not just one recipe but seven (and I have heard from a reliable source that the dog biscuit recipe makes a lot and are well liked by furry friends).  Cupcake owns a bakeshop, hangs out with his best friend Eggplant, and plays drums in a band.  Life is good, and then Eggplant invites Cupcake on a trip to Turkey to meet his aunt who is friends with Turkish Delight.  Imagine being invited on a vacation where you will be able to meet one of your idols?  The challenge - getting the money to go.

Bake Sale is one of those graphic novels that will appeal to a variety of people.  Varon tackles issues of friendship, choices, consequences and sacrifices.  Cupcake's life struggles are realistic even if depicted in a humorous manner.  Children will enjoy it because of the friendship and how ultimately everything works out for Cupcake and Eggplant.  Adults will likely catch the deeper messages of how going after one desire may put in jeopardy some of the other things that are important in our lives (friendships or even work).  Everyone can enjoy Varon's simple yet distinct drawing style which will hook a reader.  Of course, there are still the recipes and I plan to make the brownie recipe when I book talk this one at my next teacher/librarian/bookseller group meeting.

This was my first Sara Varon graphic novel and when I finished reading Bake Sale, I immediately went to the bookstore to check out Robot Dreams.  I look forward to how I can use both Bake Sale and Robot Dreams with students this year.  

Bio from First Second:
Sara Varon is one of the rising stars in the indy comics scene. Her previous projects include the graphic novel Sweaterweather and the picture book Chicken and Cat, a 2006 Parent's Choice silver honor award winner. Originally from outside Chicago, Sara now resides in Brooklyn, where she likes to ride her bike, see movies, and hang out with dogs.

You can check out her website here: