Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bake Sale by Sara Varon

Publisher: First Second
Release Date: August 30th, 2011
Source: My workplace (so thanks, public library!) 

Synopsis: Cupcake’s life is pretty good. He’s got his bakery, and his band, and his best friend, Eggplant. His days are full of cooking, socializing, and playing music. But lately, Cupcake has been struggling in the kitchen. He’s sure the solution to all his problems is out there somewhere. But maybe that solution is hiding closer to home.

Sara Varon returns with an ageless tale as dreamy and evocative as her break-out hit graphic novel Robot Dreams. At once deeply metaphorical and hilariously literal, Bake Sale is a story for anyone who’s ever looked for an easy answer to life’s intractable difficulties. It’s also a cookbook: Varon includes seven delicious recipes, from classic cupcakes to sugared flower petals to marzipan.

Review: I picked this up on a whim because it looked like a cute graphic novel to breeze through. I was right, it was cute and it was very easy to read but my only question is...what's the point of the story?!?

Our main character is Cupcake, a--surprise--cupcake who owns his own bakery and spends his time baking so that his inventory is fresh every single day for his patrons. His life is nice, he works at a bakery and tries out new recipes, he plays drums in a band with a group of vegetables and he hangs out with his bestie, Eggplant. Then Cupcake finds out that Eggplant is traveling to Turkey to visit his aunt Aubergine...whose business partner is none other than Turkish Delight, his baking idol. Eggplant invites Cupcake to join him but can't pay for his ticket. So Cupcake decides to do everything he can to pay for his own ticket to meet Turkish Delight.

Ok, so let's start with the fact that this book features a cast of characters that are anthropomorphic food groups*. I know. I don't get it either BUT if you suspend your confusion about this, you'll  enjoy the story more. Varon's drawing style is clean and easy on the eyes; there isn't much dialogue but the little that appears is straightforward. Cupcake's decision to work more in order to earn more money to see Turkish Delight takes a toll on him  financially and socially: he feels lonely now that he's not needed by his band mates and he's in a baking slump that results in icky coffee and crappy pastries for his business. What I liked about BAKE SALE was that despite the silliness of a cupcake being a narrator, his life and his troubles are human experiences. I appreciate that Varon presented all  of  the highs and lows we go through in a way that's accessible (and cuter) for a young child to understand. What was also sweet (haha) about BAKE SALE was the friendship between Cupcake and Eggplant--they support each other and near the end, Cupcake decides to make some sacrifices for his friend. I won't say what Cupcake does but it ends up altering the direction of the story and I was left pondering for a few days what was the main point of BAKE SALE. 

Final Verdict: BAKE SALE is a quirky novel for sure. It's cute, it'll make you go 'awww' but I'm left scratching my head and wondering if there's even a message in this story. Or if the message is that there IS no message. Even though it had a meandering plot pace until its rushed (and frankly out of nowhere) ending, I still enjoyed BAKE SALE. Definitely give it a try if you find it in your library, if not for the fluffy story then for the recipes it has. I'm not a baker but even I was tempted to try out the delicious-sounding recipes! (highlight for a teensy baby of a spoiler) P.S. I'm also wondering: did Cupcake win the contest?!?! (end of slight spoiler)

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*Cupcake being the exception because he's not a vegetable or meat or dairy. But whatever, let's go with it. 

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