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Babymouse #13: Cupcake Tycoon


Babymouse #13: Cupcake Tycoon

written by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm

In this tale, Babymouse, the charming, superpink heroine of Jennifer and Matthew Holm’s long-running series (this is the thirteenth Babymouse book), finds herself in a situation that many children will find familiar: Her school is selling cupcakes for a fund-raiser, and Babymouse is determined to sell the most cupcakes and win the grand prize.

The bake sale itself is brought on by Babymouse's overactive imagination. Carried away by her interest in a book, she climbed up to the top of the stacks in her school library, and, when she started to fall, grabbed a sprinkler pipe to steady herself. The pipe broke, and the whole library was drenched. The proceeds from the cupcake sale will go to replace the destroyed books.
Babymouse dreams big, and she imagines herself selling tons of cupcakes and winning a ridiculously wonderful prize, but the reality is somewhat different—after selling cupcakes to her mother and the narrator, she finds herself thwarted at every turn by a more aggressive classmate who mounts a massive advertising campaign to sell her cupcakes. Babymouse tries a number of strategies, from selling to her family to putting a video on the web, but nothing seems to work.
Finally, she comes up with the idea of setting up a corner cupcake stand. This brings a quick stream of customers, but then it starts to rain. Just when all seems lost, a roaming TV crew happens on a bedraggled Babymouse and gives her the opportunity to make her pitch to the world. She remembers why she is selling cupcakes in the first place—because she loves books—and makes an impassioned plea: "I love books!" She makes the evening news, and the cupcake orders come pouring in. Even God takes three. Babymouse wins the contest, but of course the prize is nothing like her grand daydreams.
A child who hasn't read graphic novels before may need a bit of guidance with this book. It shifts back and forth between fantasy and reality, and the unseen narrator carries on a dialogue with Babymouse. It's also a little odd that Babymouse is male in so many of the daydream sequences—the book opens with her imagining herself as a wealthy lord. It may be helpful to point out that the fantasy sequences are marked with black borders and the narrator always speaks in rectangular text boxes—a bit of comics iconography that may be unfamiliar to new readers.
While the narrative takes numerous side trips into Babymouse's daydreams, the plot is quite straightforward, and the artwork is simple and easy to read. The use of very bold lines for the most important elements and finer lines for backgrounds and less important details is a particularly nice touch. With its verbal wit, sly asides, and good humor, Babymouse can be enjoyed by both younger and more sophisticated readers.

Reviewed by Brigid Alverson on July 9, 2012

Babymouse #13: Cupcake Tycoon
written by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm

  • Publication Date: September 28, 2010
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 037586573X
  • ISBN-13: 9780375865732