Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Long Line of Cakes

A Long Line of Cakes

Deborah Wiles
Fiction  Series
For ages 8 to 12
Scholastic Press, 2018   ISBN: 978-1338150490

It is late at night when Emma Alabama Lane Cake, her five brothers, her parents, and the four family dogs arrive in the town of Halleluia in Aurora County, Mississippi. The boys pour out of the family car and bounce around. Emma exits the vehicle in a quieter, more dignified manner. She puts her hand on a silver maple tree and at that moment she somehow feels that she is in a place where she belongs.

This is a strange feeling for Emma because she and her family have never really had a proper home. They don’t own a house and never stay in one place very long. Emma’s parents are itinerant bakers who go where they are needed, and who then leave when their work is done. Some people might think such a life would be glamorous and exciting, but Emma is tired of being a nomad. She is even more tired of leaving her best friends behind. This last move was heartbreaking because she had to say goodbye to a wonderful best friend.

The Cakes are going to live in an apartment above what will be their bakery on Main Street. That first night Emma visits the silver maple tree again before she goes to sleep. As she looks around at the sleeping town she cannot help feeling that maybe, just maybe, this is a place that they will be able to call home. She puts a note into a knothole in the tree and then goes to bed. The note is an invitation for whoever reads it to come and have soup with her on Saturday. Emma is a gifted soup maker and likes to share her creations with others. Maybe this will be how she will find her new best friend.

When morning arrives Emma decides that she made a mistake the night before. She should not go around “wanting something she knew she couldn’t have.” She should not act on this want either. Putting notes in knotholes is a foolish thing to do, she decides.

The problem is that the hope welling up inside her refuses to be quashed. It bubbles up and she even suggests to her father Leo that the town might be their town, their home. He brushes this idea away without a thought. They come from a long line of itinerant bakers and settling down is not something that the Cakes do. They wander and bake. Leo seems happy enough not having friends, so maybe Emma can do the same thing.

That morning the person who got Emma’s note, Ruby Lavender, turns up, ready to have some soup. Trying not to make any friends Emma is aloof, but Ruby is persistent, and in the end, after they have a misunderstanding about a chicken, the girls do indeed become friends of sorts. Ruby is not an easy-to-know kind of person, but she is interesting and Emma cannot help liking her even though she is a little eccentric.

It turns out that most of the people in town, if not all of them, are eccentric. They welcome the Cakes into their midst and are delighted when the family members start to make delicious cakes, breads, and other baked treats. Then the Cake dogs cause chaos at a party and the townspeople start to have second thoughts about the new-comers.

Meanwhile the Cake children, all six of them, even little Gordon, have fallen in love with the town and they want to stay. Emma and Ruby decide that the time has come to put together a plan so that Emma’s parents will persuaded to stay in Halleluia for good.

There is no doubt that the people living Aurora County are some of the most interesting and peculiar people you will ever meet on the pages of a book. The thing is that they are also incredible loveable and it is easy to understand why Emma wants to stay in Halleluia. Who wouldn’t?

With touches of magic, a mystery, and characters who are truly larger than life, the author takes us back to her beloved Aurora County where just about anything can happen, if you hope hard enough.