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Zuzu's Wishing Cake
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Zuzu's Wishing Cake

by Linda Michelin, D.B. Johnson (Illustrator), Linda Michelin Johnson

Zuzu doesn't understand why the new boy next door stays inside. If she makes him gifts, maybe he will come out to play.


Zuzu doesn't understand why the new boy next door stays inside. If she makes him gifts, maybe he will come out to play.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Leslie Rounds
Zuzu is determined to befriend the new boy who has just moved in across the street. In quirky, mixed media illustrations that vary from full page to up to six comic book-like boxes per page, Zuzu is shown creating crafty little gifts for the new boy: a telescope out of a paper towel roll ("First you take all the paper towels off the roll,") sunglasses out of a strip of photograph negatives, and finally, a "wishing cake" of layers of crust-trimmed bread smeared with strawberry jam and topped with a dandelion gone to seed and ready to be blown into the wind. It is this last offering that finally brings non-English speaking Hashim out of his house to play. Young children will identify with the amusing illustrations and probably be inspired to create some interesting crafts of their own. The bit of multiculturalism is a nice added touch in this sweet story.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-This deceptively simple story with a comic-book feel is a paean to creativity and friendship across cultures. When Zuzu smiles at the new boy next door and he doesn't smile back, she thinks that he may need a telescope; she makes one and delivers it to his home. When he doesn't appear outside, she thinks that perhaps he needs sunglasses, and so she makes him a pair. Finally, her "wishing cake" (bread and jam piled in layers and a dandelion on top) draws him out of the house and overcomes a language barrier, making him smile back. The mixed-media artwork has an almost computer-generated look, with pictures of real bread and photographic negatives worked into the panels. The minimalist text is included either in narrative boxes or dialogue bubbles. Zuzu's large face, square eyes, and red hair bring to mind the Powerpuff girls and other recent cartoons and, as such, may appeal to children despite the message-driven story. Older preschoolers and beginning readers might appreciate the protagonist's persistence and clever ideas.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Zuzu smiles a lot-at boxes, boots, bottle caps and the new boy next door, except he doesn't smile back. She makes a telescope for him out of a paper towel tube (so he can see outside) and drives over in her box-car to deliver it-still no smile. Next she makes sunglasses out of strips of film negatives in case the sun is too bright. This time the boy's mom answers the door, but she doesn't understand English (her sari and sandals suggest her nationality). Zuzu's zeal is undaunted as she makes a wishing cake of bread and strawberry layers and tops it with a fuzzy dandelion for a candle to blow out-which the boy does. Now Hashim smiles a lot, too. Johnson's style of blockish characters and angular images painted in mixed-media animate this tomboyish pixie with her bowl-cut red hair, square eyes and cowboy boots. They playfully convey Zuzu's bubbly enthusiasm and childhood exuberance with expressive, energetic cartoon-style panels and brightly colored palette. Message amiably concealed, but heartfelt and winning. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)
AD210L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

D. B. Johnson has been a freelance illustrator for more than twenty years and has done editorial cartoons, comic strips, and conceptual illustrations for magazines and newspapers around the country. Mr. Johnson’s first picture book, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, was a New York Times bestseller and a Publishers Weekly bestseller, as well as an American Bookseller “Pick of the Lists.” Henry Hikes to Fitchburg also won numerous awards, including the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Picture Books and the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. Mr. Johnson and his wife, Linda, live in New Hampshire. Visit his website at www.henryhikes.com!

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