CLEVER JACK TAKES THE CAKE, ($17.99 , Random House/Schwartz & Wade, ages 4-8) written by Candace Fleming with illustrations by G. Brian Karas, is reviewed today by Lindy Michaels of BookStar on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City.

1What do fairy tales all seem to have in common? Hmm … well, there was poor Cinderella who needed a fairy godmother to help her meet the rich and handsome prince. Then there was poor Sleeping Beauty, who simply couldn’t wake up until the rich and handsome prince kissed her. Okay, you get the idea.

But what happens when Jack, a very poor boy, is invited, along with all the children of the Realm, to the rich and beautiful princess’s birthday party? What possible gift could he bring, befitting a real princess? With not a dime to his name, he decided to make her something. A cake! Since his cupboard was bare, he had nothing but his ingenuity and creativity to make a cake fit for the princess.

For eggs, he gave the hen extra feed, a kiss on the cow’s nose got him her sweetest milk, he gathered walnuts in the woods, dipped his own candles and found, in the strawberry patch, the “reddest, juiciest, most succulent strawberry in the land.”

After toiling over his delectable creation, he set off for the royal party. I could tell you that she loved it, that Jack and the princess, when of appropriate age, eventually fell in love and got married, which made Jack a prince and they lived happily ever after, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

On the way to the palace, Jack encountered four and twenty blackbirds, an ugly troll, an old, mean gypsy and her large bear, Samson and a palace guard, who wasn’t the nicest of fellows. Needless to say, by the time Jack got to meet the princess, he was empty-handed. But while the other children had presented the princess with jewels and other magnificent treasures, which quite frankly bored her, what Jack was able to give her, well, let’s just say, money couldn’t buy. And I do believe that eventually, they did fall in love and yes, lived happily ever after.

A delicious tale with a yummy moral you and your little princes and princess’s will want to read over and over again.

lindymichaelspicThe very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked in Studio City for Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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