Published: December 25th, 2012
More than frosting filled those cakes... Wilma Sue seems destined to go from one foster home to the next---until she is sent to live with sisters and missionaries, Ruth and Naomi. Do they really care about Wilma Sue, or are they just looking for a Cinderella-style farmhand to help raise chickens and bake cakes? As Wilma Sue adjusts to her new surroundings and helps deliver 'special' cakes, Wilma Sue realizes there's something strange going on. She starts looking for secret ingredients, and along the way she makes a new friend, Penny. When Penny and her mother hit a rough patch, Naomi decides to make her own version of cake---with disastrous results. Then tragedy strikes the chickens, and all fingers point to Wilma Sue---just when she was starting to believe she could at last find a permanent home with Ruth and Naomi. Will the sisters turn her out, or will she discover what it feels like to be truly loved?
Having read three (this being the third) Zondervan books now I know to expect a religious aspect to their books. It is a christian fiction type of publishing house anyways so it makes sense. It's never been a really big problem because sometimes it just goes with the story so well. This time I kind of felt like I was bombarded with it a little at least until I took a moment to step back from the book. I gave myself a little space and waited until I was ready to get back into the mix of things. It's one of those books that makes you stop and go back to the story only until you fully understand that its story is different than what you might have expected. You readjust and get back into the story once again.
Wilma Sue is an orphan who's just been given back to Miss Daylily's Home for Children by the Crums' family who just won the lottery and don't have the space or patience for a prankster like Wilma Sue to take on their travels around the world. With a name like the Crums you can guess how happy Wilma Sue was to get away from the unloving Crums. But, Wilma Sue gets a surprise. She doesn't get sent back to the home. Right away she gets sent to live at the two spinster sisters house for a trial run. As long as she doesn't cause any trouble and does not perform ANY pranks then she gets to stay. Naomi and Ruth, the spinster sister's, were missionaries in Africa. They aren't always welcomed with open arms by all of the people in their town but they do have this sort of talent for cakes. Cakes that make you float in the air, cakes that make you strong again, and cakes that will bring together families.
So before I had time to readjust to this story I felt out of place with how it began. I kind of felt like it was a little too childish and it didn't flow right. Wilma Sue was acting a little too over dramatic with feeling unwanted in a way where I wasn't concerned for her feelings. Actually, even after the beginning of the story when she mentioned feeling unwanted it didn't sit right with me. I didn't connect with her and what she was going through. There was also a particular moment in the beginning where she asks something like... "You know Jesus?" or something like that. There was just no pretense before that, that she was religious or thought about those things. It was out of the blew for me. And she talked about it some during the book but I still didn't see how if she spent all that time with the Crums for years now how come it wasn't mentioned before... There was a little something missing with the characters too. I don't know. I just think I should have felt a little more magic with the cakes and the sisters. A little more adventure or whimsy with Wilma Sue...
There were a few bright spots. I did get into the story and liked Wilma Sue's personality most of the time. Her relationship with the chickens and new found knowledge of the science behind them were interesting. They had their own personality to them. I think my love of chickens has to do with reading Chicken Boy. I can't help but like them. I also liked whenever she went to the willow tree that she named Old Woman Willow. She did little poems and described in such a way where I could imagine her in my mind which was what i was waiting for. Some whimsy. I liked all the talk of cakes and how they were being made because who doesn't like reading or even thinking about some delicious cake? I love reading about food so it was a bonus for me. I did also get a little connected with Wilma Sue and Penny, obnoxious next door neighbor, towards the end. Just something's that were said got me a little emotional. Funnily the thing that annoyed me about Wilma Sue in the beginning got me at the end - the feeling wanted part.
There was one last thing that I liked about the story that I wished was incorporated more and that was the illustrations. I don't know why. I guess I feel like it shows the quirkiness of what the book is about. Ruth and Naomi were actually really nice people. They acted like Wilma Sue's parents and gave her what she was looking for - love. The lesson of this story was clear and it was sweet. I never was told what the secret ingredient of the cakes were but I can guess. This book took a while to warm up to. It was nice but it didn't suit me as much as I wish it would have. I do recommend it to kids in the elementary age. I think they will see the magic in the story much better than I did.
Cute story. Liked the concept and all the baking and the chickens. There were good moments in there. But it took me a while to get into the story and had some unbelievable moments. This book didn't fit that well with me but for the right age group it could provide a little magic in a child's eyes.
For more info about Joyce Magnin and her books go to:
If you like the sound of Cake: Love, Chickens, and a Taste of Peculiar you might like Joyce Magnin's latest release:
Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus
"Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she's getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia ... until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they're right. Four x-rays later, Harriet's ankle---and her heart---are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She's doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it's time for her to be put out to pasture---God has a different plan." -Goodreads Summary
Thanks to DJC Communications and Zondervan for providing Cake in exchange for an honest opinion!