Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan; illustrated by Stephane Jorisch

 How can you not love Betty Bunny? She’s such a bundle of energy she explodes off the pages of this picture book like a whirlwind sweeping up everything in its path. Betty Bunny doesn’t want to try chocolate cake becauce it is “yucky!” When mom makes her eat a piece she declares, “I am going to marry chocolate cake!” Her older brother, Bill, responds (like a typical older brother), “Whatever… but you’re going to have really weird-looking kids.” Betty Bunny loves cake so much that it is all she can think of at school. She even eats mud because it looks like chocolate cake. At dinner, Betty Bunny no longer wants healthy food but just chocolate cake. When her siblings tease her she gets so mad that she throws her dinner in their faces. Sent to her room she has a temper-tantrum before her mom talks to her about being patient. Mom says she’ll leave a piece of cake in the refrigerator just for Betty Bunny after dinner. Except Betty Bunny thinks the cake will get lonely and she puts it in her pocket and brings it to school, which sets off another string of events (and laughs).

Betty Bunny is funny because she doesn’t really learn how to deal with sweets. She’s instantly addicted to them and just when it looks like she’ll be able to control herself she does something silly. Betty Bunny is the youngest of 4 siblings and the author does a terrific job showing how siblings can tease each other. It isn’t vicious and some comments are helpful while others tease. The humor is for the adult reader as well as the child. Betty Bunny’s mom tells her that she is a handful. Betty Bunny goes to school and announces to the teacher that she is a handful and loves chocolate cake. Later when Betty Bunny is sent to her room for throwing her food at her siblings “she wanted to say something especially nice to her mother. ‘Mommy’ she said, ‘you are a handful.’” The language has strong patterns and repetition that make for a great read aloud and good for young readers acquiring language.

Stephane Jorisch’s illustrations catch the humor of the text. The characters have the heads of animals and bodies shaped like humans. I like how brother Bill looks like a teenager with his hat on backwards, shirt with a rabbit (that has an attitude – it is sticking out its tongue), and insecure-but-trying-to-be-cool body language such as resting his head on his hand with an amused expression on his face while Betty Bunny holds up her piece of chocolate cake gazing at it with an adoring expression. Or later in the kitchen when Bill is wearing a smiley shirt and stands with his shoulders slightly hunched. Mom holds everything together. She’s young, dressed hip, and gives consequences to Betty Bunny’s actions all the while making sure that Betty Bunny knows she loves her. The cartoon-like pictures in gouache watercolor show some interesting shading and add texture and depth. I read this out loud to first graders and they laughed hard at Betty Bunny’s comments using the word “yucky” in different situations and Bill’s continued teasing of Betty Bunny wanting to “marry” her chocolate cake.

This book is a hoot!

Reading Level 3.3
:-):-):-):-):-) 5 out of 5 Smileys

No comments:

Post a Comment