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Monday, September 5, 2011

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake, written by Michael B Kaplan and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch. Dial, Penguin. 2011. $21.00 ages 4 and up

"One day after a healthy dinner of carrots, potatoes, and peas, Mother said, "Who wants dessert? I have chocolate cake." Betty Bunny, who was not very good at trying new things, announced: "I hate chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is yucky.
What's chocolate cake?"

Her mom and dad frequently call Betty a 'handful' and she knows that's a good thing because they love her so much. It is this quirky humor that makes Michael Kaplan's first picture book such a great readaloud. Here is a family who appreciates the young bunny for who she is, what she loves and her growing independence. When asked if she wants dessert, Betty is adamant that she does not. She is picky about what she puts in her mouth.

Her first bite of chocolate cake is a might be the yummiest thing in the world. She makes a prediction:

"When I grow up, I am going to marry chocolate cake!"

Her older and wiser brothers and sister make other suggestions for keeping chocolate cake in her life, but she has made her decision. In true big brother fashion, Bill responds:

"Whatever," said Bill. "But you're going to have really weird-looking kids."

Betty is besotted and cannot be deterred from proclaiming her love for this new delicacy...she loves chocolate cake! She loves it at bedtime, at school, on the playground and for dinner. She wants to have it every minute of every day. Her mother explains that dessert comes after dinner, and an appeal to her father gets the same response. Henry, Kate and  Bill try cajoling her into enjoying what's on her plate first, and finally teasing her. Betty has a meltdown.

To bed she goes. Thinking about not having the cake she longed for, she has another tantrum in her room. Her mother is very understanding, but she stands by her rule:

"I am going to put a piece of chocolate cake on a plate in the refrigerator. It will be your piece of cake. And you can eat it tomorrow after a healthy dinner. Maybe if you know it's there waiting for you, it will be easier to be patient."

Sounds good, huh? Betty is an innovator and doesn't have a lot of patience for the long wait. But, she comes up with a solution that keeps her happy all day long. Then, she learns another lesson. Will this one stick?

I am a big fan of Stephane Jorisch and his watercolor artwork. He creates a family of rabbits that is modern, hip and very colorful. He adds wonderful, humorous details that will have young readers come back for more...the clothing worn by the siblings give a clear indication of their differing personalities, little details abound and add humor and delight. Betty is quite the 'handful'...and oh, so charming!

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