A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham reminds me of a cheerier, more colorful version of Candace Fleming's wonderful Clever Jack Takes the Cake, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. In both Fleming and Pham's books a friend bakes a birthday cake for another friend and, in the process of delivering the cake things go awry. With a flock of crows, an ogre and a princess, Fleming's book has a definitely has a more fairy tale feel, where Pham's is more cartoonish, with humor instead of suspense.
When Mouse heads off to deliver the birthday cake he made for his friend Little Bird, he encounters his friends along the way and they all look longingly at the cake.
Chicken offers to trade a cork for a piece of cake while Squirrel, Bear and Cow all make offers, leaving Mouse with an odd assortment of gifts and no cake. Little Bird doesn't mind though. The two friends embark on Mouse's journey in reverse and trade back all the items (to different animals) and come home with everything they need to make an even better cake.
There is a touch of the "Little Red Hen" in Pham's story, with the somewhat inconsiderate friends dipping into the birthday cake before Little Bird even gets a piece, but the kindness and good attitude with which Mouse and eventually Little Bird approach the situation is fantastic but it is Pham's illustrations are what make A Piece of Cake special. Pham has illustrated many picture books and, while her style is distinctive, it also varies widely in interesting ways. She is excellent when it comes to exuberance, playfulness and imagination of children and her palette is always pops in one way or another and her work is always worth taking a look at.
Soft versions of the characters in A Piece of Cake, created by the multi-talented Pham!
The Best Birthday Party Ever written by Jennifer LaRue Huget
A Stick is an Excellent Thing by Marilyn Singer
Other books (but not all) by Pham:
Source: Review Copy