Written and Illustrated by Rowboat Watkins
Chronicle Books, 2015
Rude cakes never say please, and they never say thank you, and they sometimes take things that don’t belong to them.
The plot in a nutshell: A rude cake learns a lesson
The main character is a two layer pink frosted cake who has issues with rudeness. On the playground, he takes things without asking, he doesn’t wait for his turn, he never shares anything and he doesn’t listen to his mother when it’s time to go home. At home, he argues with bath time and bedtime. But one night a giant cyclops reaches into his bedroom window, grabs the cake and wears him as a cute little hat. As it turns out, giant cyclopses have excellent manners and this particular one thanks the others who complement his new hat. He is willing to share his new hat with others (who say please or wait patiently in line for their turn to wear the hat). But when the cake shouts “PLEASE!,” the cyclops takes him home and apologizes. And the cake, seeing the error of his ways, changes his behavior for the better.
This is the debut picture book of author Rowboat Watkins and after reading several interviews and the awesome About section of his webpage, I think he’s my new hero. His love of goofy fun comes through on every page of this outstanding story. Is the fact that the other kids on the playground are a marshmallow and cupcake intended to convey a sense of diversity in this world or are all dessert foods similar enough to be one basic species? If you like looking for those types of messages, you’re likely to enjoy this book because there’s so much material to work with. Personally, I just really enjoy seeing an author who can take bizarre characters and put them in ordinary situations.
Of course, it takes good artwork to really sell bizarre characters and Mr. Watkins excels here, too, with pencil, ink and digital illustrations that are simple and cartoonish, but full of personality. A little detail that comes out in the artwork is that cyclopses (yes, I know that’s not the correct plural…but he stated in an interview that he greatly prefers it to ‘cyclopes’ and I agree with him) are not unusual for this world. Early on, we see that the cupcake has a cyclops toy (that the rude cake steals from him) and there is a cyclops poster on the cake’s bedroom wall. It makes you wonder what the normal relationship is between dessert citizens and cyclopses. And when a book makes you ponder those kinds of questions, it’s done its job. Highly recommended.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that no matter who or what you are, good manners are always in fashion.