Just a quick reminder that I am blogging reviews from the 2015 Diversity Reading Challenge. Today’s picture book falls into category #2. I am sure to post more in this category as the year progresses.
Title: The King Cake Baby
Written by: Keila V. Dawson
Illustrated by: Vernon Smith
Published by: Pelican Publishing Company, Feb. 1st, 2015
Themes/Topics: French Creole Culture, New Orleans, folktales, Epiphany/Mardi Gras celebrations
Suitable for ages: 3-7
Once Upon a time, an old Creole man and an old Creole woman lived in New Orleans.
This is an upbeat retelling of the New Orleans version of the Gingerbread Man folktale. The King Cake Baby, a little plastic baby that is buried into the cake batter of the traditional January 6th cake, escapes the Old Creole woman’s baking and runs away, mocking her with a rhyme variation he repeats throughout the story, “No ma cherie! You can’t catch me, I’m the King Cake Baby!” The sneaky tiny runaway then proceeds to dash through some very well-known Nawlins’ neighborhoods avoiding capture by the old Creole man, a praline lady, a Cafe du Monde waiter until down by the Mississippi, he encounters a crusty old baker and….
Why I like This Book:
Having just made a trip in December to New Orleans for research on my young adult novel, I revealed in the authentic cultural context and language of this story. It includes French phrases and colloquialisms such as:
“C’est la vie,” sighed the baker, “Run all you want. I am too old and slow and can’t chase you.”
“Where yat, Baby?” said the waiter.
The illustrations, geographical mentions and characters (Asian American waiter at Cafe du Monde) all planted my directly back into New Orleans’ vibrant French Quarter. The story familiarity (most children know the Gingerbread man) with its clever twist and fun cultural refrains coupled with the vibrant cartoon larger than life illustrations make this a great multicultural classroom choice.
- The back of the book includes a simple King Cake recipe that families could try at home.
- The text can be used to look at repletion and refrains.
- Great addition to a comparison of variations on the Gingerbread Man theme.
- Comparisons of Mardi Gras King Cake with other cultural celebrations that bury something in a cake e’g’, the sixpence in a Christmas pudding in the UK or the broad beans in the Galette des Rois Epiphany celebrations in France.