Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
Betty Bunny’s parents are always telling her that she’s a handful. Since she knows they love her very much, she is certain that being a handful is something very, very good. One day, her mother offers chocolate cake for dessert. Betty Bunny refuses to try it at first, because it is new, but then gives in. She realizes that it is very delicious, so delicious that she decides that she will marry chocolate cake. The next day, she is obsessed with chocolate cake, unable to concentrate at all at school. Once she got home, she was told she would have to eat a healthy dinner before she could have cake. When her siblings tease her, Betty gets angry and throws food. She’s sent to her room where she continues to think only of cake. The next day, she is told there is a piece of cake just for her waiting in the refrigerator if only she will be patient through the day. Betty Bunny knows the cake will be lonely all day, so she puts it in her pocket. At home that evening, she realizes it has become a goopy mess in her pocket. Her mother tries again, leaving a piece of cake just for her. What in the world could Betty do next?
I know that this book will have some parents frustrated because it is not a picture book that demonstrates exemplary behavior from the children in the story. But that is where the appeal of this book is for me. Betty Bunny reads as a real child with an obsession. She cries, gets angry, and thinks about it all the time. But this book is not just about a child obsessed. It is also the story of a family with older siblings and parents who use humor and clever approaches to deal with a child.
The writing has wonderful moments built into it. Betty’s insistence that she will marry chocolate cake because she loves it so much rings very real. Her brother’s teasing about that over the course of days also reads as true. It is a picture book that is written by people who have children, love children, and appreciate the humor that comes with them.
Jorisch’s illustrations are done in pencil, ink, watercolor and gouache. They have a great mix of organic watercolor feel and angular modernism. There is a bright warmth to them thanks to how colorful they are and a pleasant busyness that depicts the active family.
Highly recommended, this is not a book for parents who want an example for how their children should act. But it is a great read-aloud filled with chocolate, sweets, temper tantrums and family. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.
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