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*The Story of Cherry the Pig* by Utako Yamada
The Story of Cherry the Pig
by Utako Yamada
Ages 4-8 32 pages Kane/Miller March 2007 Hardcover    

After hearing “It’s incredible!” Cherry the pig knows she must enter her apple cake in the bake-off. All thoughts of winning the gold whisk subside, though, when she hears a second conversation about her apple cake. Her bafflement at the varying opinions leads her to some “very hard, very salty, very cheesy” biscuits. One taste of these tells Cherry everything she needs to know. Armed with a fresh outlook, Cherry is ready to open her own bakery, where she’ll bake something to suit everyone’s tastebuds.

Before Cherry became known in the village for her apple cake, she did all of her baking in her own kitchen; this dessert lover has been known to eat a whole dessert all by herself. Little does Cherry know that there are mice in her house until she hears them chatting about and snacking on her hot-out-of-the-oven apple cake. Inspired by the mice, she enters the Harvest Festival bake-off. Her mix of butter, sugar, eggs, apples and spices is up against Jane the Cow’s Caramels and Mamie the Chicken’s Mint Tart. In the middle of baking, Cherry is stunned to tears when she overhears a negative conversation about her apple cake. After the bake-off, Cherry sets out to solve the taste mystery surrounding her apple cake. Not only does she have the flair to solve this mystery, she has a knack for recreating in her kitchen foods she’s tasted elsewhere. She does just that, but in her new bakery. Now everyone in the village can find something to their liking at Cherry’s.

Picking out the fun details in the illustrations is an extra treat with Utako Yamada’s Cherry. Right on the cover is a poster of a muffin man; near the end of the story, three little kittens (who haven’t yet lost their mittens) can be seen buying pies from Cherry’s.

Cherry is very much the lady-like pig with her long, patterned dresses and floppy straw hat. She carries a woven basket while out running errands, and she definitely enjoys her kitchen. The author, who has opened her own teahouse and dessert shop, has fun with illustrating Cherry’s kitchen. Eyes and smiles grace the canisters and pitchers, and some containers of ingredients boast unusual labels; “Good Tea” is written on Cherry’s tea tin and even on her teacup. She has a personalized apron and recipe box for her kitchen, not to mention all the gadgets she could ever need to make the wonderful desserts lying on her counters.

The peaceful village where Cherry lives is full of a variety of animals, including sheep who like to play the Snap Apple Game and rabbits wearing old-fashioned dresses and bonnets. Yellows and reds dominate the color scheme in The Story of Cherry the Pig, the subdued shades and colors lending themselves well to this harmonious story.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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