The Cupcake Queen

The Cupcake Queen

4.5 244
by Heather Hepler

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A confection of a novel, combining big city sophistication with small town charm.

When her mother moves them from the city to a small town to open up a cupcake bakery, Penny's life isn't what she expected. Her father has stayed behind, and Mom isn't talking about what the future holds for their family. And then there's Charity, the girl who plays mean pranks


A confection of a novel, combining big city sophistication with small town charm.

When her mother moves them from the city to a small town to open up a cupcake bakery, Penny's life isn't what she expected. Her father has stayed behind, and Mom isn't talking about what the future holds for their family. And then there's Charity, the girl who plays mean pranks almost daily. There are also bright spots in Hog's Hollow-like Tally, an expert in Rock Paper Scissors, and Marcus, the boy who is always running on the beach. But just when it looks as though Penny is settling in, her parents ask her to make a choice that will turn everything upside down again. A sweet novel about love, creativity, and accepting life's unexpected turns.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Allison Fetters
Being the new girl in town is never easy, especially when one has just moved from the excitement of New York City to the sleepy town of Hogs Hollow. Penny Lane, the fourteen-year-old protagonist, is quickly swept into small town life even though it is at first against her wishes. While trying to piece together what she has heard about the mysterious Marcus and keeping herself out of the path of Charity Wharton, Penny develops a friendship with Tally, a quirky girl with her own heartache and growing pains. While experiencing the effects of not communicating with others and watching her parents' relationship come to its end, Penny is forced to make some very mature decisions. In the process, she must look at herself and follow her heart. The story is heartwarming and is as comforting as the confections produced by The Cupcake Queen bakery. Reviewer: Allison Fetters
Publishers Weekly
What begins as a formulaic novel about Penny, a 13-year-old girl who’s uprooted from Manhattan to the podunk town of Hog’s Hollow (population 5,134) after her parents’ separation, quietly evolves into an endearing and poignant story about standing up to adversity and finding peace in what is, rather than holding out for what could be. Penny’s friendship with Tally, an outspoken free spirit and proud founder of the cheeky RPS Society (as in rock, paper, scissors), boosts Penny’s confidence (she’s being picked on by the popular clique at school) and teaches her that getting used to new surroundings takes effort—as well as a propped-up sense of humor. Penny’s burgeoning bond with Marcus, a cute boy with a troubled past and a shared propensity for working through problems while stargazing during moonlit walks on the beach, lends a touch of romance while remaining refreshingly true to age—Hepler (coauthor of Jars of Glass, among others) favors linked pinky fingers over sloppy kisses. And the trio’s various relationships with fill-in adults (Penny’s grandmother, Tally’s aunt) as confidantes is a welcome ingredient that makes for layered teen reading. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
Jaded Manhattan eighth grader Penny is bemused when she is whisked away from her dad to spend the summer in her mom's tiny hometown. Things go from bad to worse when Mom decides to stay in Hog's Hollow, open a cupcake bakery and enroll Penny at the local high school. Penny's sardonic first-person narration is sophisticated, but at heart she is still just a 13-year-old casualty of her parents' unraveling marriage and their inability to communicate with each other or with her. When she finds herself targeted for elaborate pranks by the local queen bee, she must dig deep to survive her freshman year. Much is familiar here: The characters are drawn with broad strokes-mysterious love interest, quirky best friend, evil nemesis-and the plot device by which the popular crowd is tricked into gaining weight will ring bells with readers who have seen Mean Girls. But Hepler's novel is greater than the sum of its parts, held together by Penny's genuine voice and emotions. Readers will root for Penny, a talented artist, as she develops her gifts and adapts to small-town life. (Fiction. 11-14)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Heather Hepler grew up in North Texas. She has lived in Reno, on the coast of Maine, in the interior of Alaska, and near Death Valley, but she currently is being held against her will in Tyler, Texas. She holds a Master's in Library Science from the University of North Texas and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. She works as a reviewer for VOYA, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Media Connection, and The New York Times. Her first novel, Scrambled Eggs at Midnight (Dutton) is set for release in May 2006. The second, The Dream Factory (Dutton) will be released Spring 2007. Her writing has also appeared in the Southwest Review and the Cincinnati Review.

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The Cupcake Queen 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 243 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Penny Lane is definitely a fish out of water. She has moved to Hog's Hollow with her mother. Hog's Hollow is her mother's hometown, and they've temporarily moved in with Penny's grandmother. At least that's what her mom has told her. Penny would much rather return to New York and live with her father. Penny's not looking forward to starting school in her new town. Before school starts, a disaster occurs at a birthday party. Her mom has opened a cupcake business in town and the father of the birthday girl caused the food table to tumble. But no one blames Mr. Wharton. All eyes are on Penny and her mom. When Penny arrives at her new school, of course Charity, the birthday girl, is the queen of all and makes life miserable. It starts with a play on her name when she opens her locker and hundreds of pennies come tumbling out. The only bright spot in the fiasco is that she is befriended by independent Tally. But the pennies are only the first of many attempts to torture Penny. Penny constantly wants to return to New York. Her mom isn't communicating with her, and conversations with her father are limited. Her grandma tries to get her to talk to her mom. And Penny is stuck working at the cupcake bakery. Penny is creative though, and designs amazing artwork on each of the cupcakes. Through it all, Penny encounters a boy and his dog on the beach. Slowly, she learns about Marcus and the secrets that he's keeping. It turns out that everyone seems to have secrets deep inside. As Penny's wish to return to New York becomes reality, she comes to the realization that there's more to Hog's Hollow than she realized. Does she want to return to New York or finally make Hog's Hollow home? Reading THE CUPCAKE QUEEN made me think of Jenny B. Jones' SO NOT HAPPENING novel. Both have the main character, a city girl, stuck in the middle of a small town. Penny is torn between her old life and the life that is being forced upon her. It takes other interesting students to make her realize what she has even in light of the hassles received from Charity and her gang. I enjoyed reading THE CUPCAKE QUEEN quite a bit and sat down and finished it in one evening. It's one of those stories that you don't want to see end. I'd love to see more of Penny and her friends!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good i really like how creative it was
teresa29 More than 1 year ago
it was a good book escipally for people with problems with family and shows how thankful you should be!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is a great book that just made me laugh i just couldn't get enough i just sat there and read it's romantic and yummy at the same time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much ive done it for about 3 book reports
TheBookButterfly More than 1 year ago
Just like the sumptuous looking cupcakes on its cover, The Cupcake Queen is a deliciously satisfying novel to dig into. The teenage issues are familiar (such as divorce, grief and bullying), but Heather Hepler serves them up with a unique storyline that holds your interest and has all the ingredients of a fun, enjoyable read. Having a major sweet tooth, I have to mention the cupcakes first. They were one of my favorite aspects of the story and I loved how they often mirrored what was going on in Penny's life. The ladybug cupcakes with the licorice antennae, the triple chocolate mudslides (which looked like real mudslides), the "horns of plenty" with the teeny fruits and the ice cream cone cupcakes were just a few of my favorites. The only drawback was that I couldn't see them and more importantly, sample any! The town of Hog's Hollow itself and the cast of characters within it were extremely well drawn and interesting. The adults with food names (Mr. Fish, Miss Beans, and Madame Framboise) were especially humorous and added to the quirkiness of small town living. Penny's unorthodox best friends Tally and Blake were extremely likable characters to me. I have to mention that before reading this book I never knew that Rock, Paper, Scissors is something taken very seriously in certain circles. Did you know that people even compete in professional tournaments for it too? Penny's parents, on the other hand, had me consistently frustrated with the way they shut her out from what was really going on. At one point Penny says, "I'd like someone to just talk to me. I want to shout that at the back of mother's head: Just talk to me! But I don't, because maybe if no one says anything out loud, it can still change. " It was moments like this I could really feel Penny's frustration and sadness as my own. Upon first moving to Hog's Hollow, Penny felt like no one understood what she was going through. The longer she stayed there, the more she came to realize that a lot of people did actually care about her and could empathize with her problems. I found it satisfying to watch the small town charm of Hog's Hollow work it's magic and help her to become a happier person. The underlying message of The Cupcake Queen is that life is always going to throw out unexpected (and often unwelcome) surprises. But sometimes, when you give things a chance, it can all work out much sweeter than you ever expected. You just need to trust in yourself and follow your heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. If you like romance, drama, and humor, you definatly should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good!!! My teacher gave it to me and i thought it was going to be sooooooooo boring! When i got into it my mind was blowed away! I love Penny! Anyone can read this book! My friend, Kai and Hope say they think it would be a great book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book im allmost done m on page 108 it is sooooooooooooooooooo ggood all my friends are begging for the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why! Why books! WHY must you end in the middle of the sentance in the middle of a sentence of the sample!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Penny Lane is not fitting in. She already has an enemy and she hasnt even stated school yet! She and her mom have gone to live with grandma to "take a break" from penny's dad. Not divorced yet, but if not then what are they? Penny finds refuge in a quirky girl with her hair tips died blue and cat-glasses. Tally. Tally is pennys first friend in Hogs Hollow. Together they plan on getting revenge on Charity, a bully, who, so penny thought, had no reason to be mean. With the help of Blake, Tallys friend, Tally herself, and maybe this one guy who penny cant seem to stop thinking of who runs on the beach at night with his dog Sam, Penny is truly thr cupcake qieen. Great book, by the way. I got it at my school bookfair and couldnt put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sooo good, it kept you tuned in. I finished the book in two days. Thete was so much drama. It proves that love is powerful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great! I couldnt put it down. It was long enough, but I finished it before getting bored of the story. Basically its about a girl who moves to hogs hollow with her mom, and they open a bakery. She meets Tally, and also Celeste, whos mean. Tally enters a contest and helps her get back at Celeste, the bully. Its totally appropriate for any age that likes this type of book. It makes me hungry!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so amazinng . I bought it and didn't read it for like 6 monthes . I regret that now cause this is a great book . It is really interesting and I'm sure its very relatable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like bananas go to burger king res 1 and join the banana club also known ban club
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a must have people
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was really good!!! I ended up reading it during class :3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Cupcake Queen by Heather Helper In the fictional novel The Cupcake Queen, a teenage girl, Penny is moved from her upscale home in the busy city that makes up New York, to the mellow suburbs of Hogs Hollow when her parents decide to separate. There, her mother decides to open a little bakery. Penny is less than thrilled. Once she makes the move, she is not eager to make friends; she is more focused on keeping to herself. Once the first day of school comes, Penny is as nervous as ever. “Don’t look anyone in the eye,” she tells herself as she walks up to the entrance of Hogs Hollow High School. Early in the story, Penny develops an interest in a boy by the name of Marcus. She first comes across Marcus while walking on the shoreline after having a rough day. She is greeted by his four-legged friend Sam with a wet lick. From there, Penny’s mind couldn’t stray from Marcus. The conflict that is apparent throughout a majority of the story is that between Penny and another teen girl named Charity. This conflict first arises when Penny and her mother are chosen to cater Charity’s “Sweet 14” birthday party. An accident takes place when Charity’s father goes to grab a cupcake and accidentally leans on the table, causing everything to fall and make a huge mess resulting in a very frosted Charity. With cupcakes all down her and her dress, hair, and face, Charity seems to take it out on Penny. Since the accident, Charity has harassed Penny. On the first day of school, she filled Penny’s locker with seventy-four dollars and ninety eight cents worth of pennies, that all poured out in one large “woosh”. Throughout the story Charity is constantly rude to many people, but Penny especially. Penny also makes a wonderful bond and friendship with a girl named Tally. They become amazing friends and even have “friendship ceremony”. They begin to share about their past and how they ended up in Hogs Hollow. However, Penny is set on moving back with her father once her mother begins to deprive her of attention. She feels as though her parents are not communicating well with her and she gets very hurt. Over all I believe that Heather Helper did an amazing job in creating a book suitable for the everyday teenage girl. The novel is not incredibly hard to comprehend and is easy to relate to if you’re in high school or junior high. I believe that the way Helper wrote her book, she portrayed a message that the only person that you need to please is yourself and adjustment isn’t always a bad thing because you never know what may be waiting for you in another place. For me this book is 9 out of 10 for me. I would definitely read more of Heather’s novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grest book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Live this book hope u love it to bye see u next time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well I didnt really like the end because i really wanted to read about the dance with Marcus whoo.But over all it was a really good book !!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cupcake Queen is about this city girl named Penny who has to move to Hog's Hollow so her mom can open up a bakery. She makes friends with Tally, who is impressed with her mom's reputation, Blake, who is a class clown, and Marcus, the guy she has a crush on . I like this book because it has humor,and i give this book a 5 star rating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago