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Poor Vanilla Cupcake. He's feeling a bit drab next to his fancy brothers and sisters. But when his new pal, Candle, comes along with some fresh ideas, the two hatch a plan to become the snazziest duo ever found on a plate!

With an undeniably adorable hero and eye-catching design, Cupcake is sure to appeal to the sweet tooth in young readers everywhere.

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Poor Vanilla Cupcake. He's feeling a bit drab next to his fancy brothers and sisters. But when his new pal, Candle, comes along with some fresh ideas, the two hatch a plan to become the snazziest duo ever found on a plate!

With an undeniably adorable hero and eye-catching design, Cupcake is sure to appeal to the sweet tooth in young readers everywhere.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
A sparkly cover will probably attract young readers to this, a superficial story about a plain vanilla cupcake. All of the cupcake's "brothers" and "sisters" are beautifully decorated with stripes, flowers, colorful candy sprinkles, chocolate icing, a happy-face, and even a pink crown. At first, Cupcake is content to be part of such an attractive family. At day's end, he is very sad because all the others have been chosen and he is the only one left on the plate. A small, ordinary green candle hears Cupcake crying. He also has a family of fancy "sibling" candles that include a number, a letter, three balloons, and a long skinny candle. Candle decides that Cupcake needs his own unique topping. He suggests what he thinks are good ideas. These range from cheese to peas to pickles to spaghetti and even a squirrel that leaves a nut in Cupcake's icing! As Candle hops up to remove the nut, the narrative ends with him saying, "Tomorrow, let's try a potato"! Pastels and bright bold colors are combined in the simple, childlike illustrations. Recipes for cupcakes and butter cream icing are included. The book is most likely to be successful as a parent and child activity, but is not necessarily one to be placed on the first purchase list. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—Vanilla Cupcake feels woefully inadequate compared to his deliciously decorated siblings. "Chocolaty Chocolate," "Fancy Flower-Top," and "Rainbow-Sprinkles" are immediately chosen, leaving him alone on the plate. A green candle overhears Vanilla's sobs and comes up with a solution: "Hey, you just need a special topping." Candle's kooky suggestions—pickles, smelly cheese, a squirrel—will elicit a lot of laughs. Candle and Cupcake are eventually united, but a surprise ending will bring more chuckles. Harper imbues her childlike line drawings with lots of personality. A recipe for cupcakes (plain, of course) is included. Readers will gobble up the goofy humor.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada
Publishers Weekly
The plucky hero of this story may be a “plain and white and ordinary” cupcake, but Harper (Fashion Kitty) shows she's no fan of vanilla endings, leaving unresolved the conflict she sets up in the beginning. Cupcake is convinced that his relatives—Happy-Face Cupcake, Pink Princess Cupcake, and others—have more pizzazz than he does, until he meets a candle with the same problem and a bright idea. Harper's black-outlined cartoon characters appear on sparsely decorated, pastel pages to cheery effect, but it's the line-drawn facial expressions that provide most of the action. Cupcake reacts to the screwy toppings Candle brings him with appropriate horror and dubious smiles, as he is sprinkled with spaghetti, pancakes, and smelly cheese. The plot continues to focus on Cupcake's problem—Candle even apologizes for not being able to find him “something special”—but the gag ending doesn't go where some readers may suspect it's headed. After Candle retrieves a nut that a squirrel left in Cupcake's frosting, Candle stands tall atop the cupcake and delivers a closing zinger: “Hey, wait a minute.... Tomorrow, let's try celery!” Ages 2–6. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Plain Vanilla Cupcake is proud as can be as he sits on a tray with several beautifully decorated cupcakes. But, sadly, he is the only one remaining at the end of the day. He meets a candle who is also ordinary among lots of fancy candles and who suggests some rather unusual toppings that would make Vanilla Cupcake less plain. How about spaghetti or pickles? In the end, neither of them recognizes the perfect solution. Harper's wisp of a tale tries too hard to be whimsical and cute, and the personification of these objects doesn't succeed. The black-line illustrations, enhanced by Photoshop with bright, clear colors, are simple and appropriately childlike. But the author doesn't seem to trust that the very young readers who are the intended audience will understand the action. Some of the illustrations are needlessly labeled, and there are asides that either state the obvious or distract from the text. Laurie Keller's wonderfully loony Arnie the Doughnut (2003) covers much the same territory while addressing the existential irony inherent in a story about a foodstuff, something this bland book does not. (Picture book. 2-5)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423118978
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 1/18/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 160,585
  • Age range: 2 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Charise Mericle Harper ( has created a number of books for children, including the Fashion Kitty series and the Just Grace series. Charise lives with her family in Westchester County, New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 6, 2011

    Cupcake is filled with fun and meaningful lessons!

    "Cupcake" is a great book for younger kids. With the cute story of a cupcake, the lessons include diversity, self appreciation, friendship and teamwork. I met the author, Charise Mericle Harper, and she seems like she really wants to put out a good message thorugh children's literature. I hope for another fun, playful book filled with meaningful life lessons. Cupcake is the book to choose!

    (P.S. It makes a great gift for baby showers and young birthdays!)

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    Family Fun

    Any preschooler who likes to eat sweets or help bake them will relate immediately to this story. Any child who has ever been left out of a group will also respond to it. The theme is friendship that overcomes insecurity and loneliness. Preschoolers relish the humor of the story, and like to feel knowledgeable that they understand something that the characters don't! Illustrations and text work together to create a pleasing whole. A winner for 3's and 4's.

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    Posted April 9, 2010

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    Posted April 5, 2011

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