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Clever Jack Takes the Cake    by Candace Fleming & G. Brian Karas order for
Clever Jack Takes the Cake
by Candace Fleming
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2010 (2010)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

This delightful book by a well-loved author has all the elements of a fairy tale: a princess, a peasant boy, a troll, a castle. Even the name Jack is associated with many well-loved nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

Jack is invited to the princess's birthday party and is expected to bring a gift. Being poor, he has nothing to give her, but his resourcefulness pays off. He barters his way to obtaining ingredients so that he can bake the princess a special homemade cake. It's made with fresh from the farm milk and eggs, and topped with homemade candles, freshly picked walnuts that spell out Happy Birthday and the ripest, largest, juiciest strawberry in all the land.

Unexpected misadventures await Jack on his way to the castle, including four and twenty blackbirds, a troll, a dark forest, and an old gypsy woman and her hungry dancing bear, until little by little, there is nothing left to present to the princess but a strawberry. But wait ... the princess is allergic! And she has rejected all of the other, more extravagant gifts. How will Jack be able to please the princess?

This wonderful read-aloud tale, complete with the artist's whimsical signature style, showcases the inherent value of storytelling for its own sake.

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