This post is really sort of a Read Balloon special edition, because while this book has not exactly been a beloved favorite in our household, it has been the most controversial, and so like some sort of toddler-tiger-mother-memoir, has occupied a disproportionate sector of our consciousness. Behold: Maisy Bakes a Cake.
Now, let me start by saying Harper and I both get very excited by trips to the library to stock up on new books. Lamely, these trips have been few and far between since our local Park Slope branch closed (reopen already pleeeeease) and the weather’s been so crappy. So anyway this week we visited the Cortelyou branch— my new go-to branch for when the car needs moving. There is easy street parking there! Right. So we returned our old books with a minimum of tears — so hard to say goodbye! — and ransacked the shelves while schoolkids of indeterminate age looked at what I deemed to be inappropriate content on the computers nearby. One of the books Harper picked out was Maisy Bakes a Cake, and because we’d read and liked adorableMaisy books before, I didn’t really check it over before we checked it out from the unsmiling Post-reading librarian. Woe to me!
An hour and another miraculous parking spot later, I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready and Harper was happily going through her new books on the living room floor. I heard happy chattering, some singing, some laughing, and then a panicked cry and the sound of a book being flung. “Mama!!! Ayeegator!!!” She came running for a violent leg-hug.
Once I’d gotten her to calm down a bit, she showed me the offending book and tremblingly said again, “ayeegator.” So with the bravery of a mother bear defending her young, I opened the book and paged through. Maisy measures and stirs, baking her cake. There are pull-tabs and pop-ups. Pretty cute. Was the objection to stereotypical domesticity? Was Harper worried that such a small mouse was apparently using a hot stove without adult supervision?
Then we got to the last page, where a happy-looking alligator with large toothy jaws chomps down on the cake. When you open the page, the jaws open and close automatically. “Ayeegator!!!” shrieked Harper.
This damn book should come with a warning! I mean, who saw it coming? It was like one of those creepy Japanese horror movies where weird things pop out at odd times! Ack!
For the past few days, Harper has been talking about this book nonstop. We go over the facts about once an hour.
“Ayeegator chew cake in the mouf.”
“Ayeegator nice friend Charyee.”
“Yep, it’s Maisy’s nice friend Charley.”
“Charyee birfday party.”
“True, maybe they are at a birthday party and that’s why Charley’s eating the cake.”
“No worry ayeegator.”
“That’s right. Don’t worry about the alligator.”
The book has to stay on the top of our tall dresser. Every now and then Harper will request it, and on each page she reminds herself the ayeegator is coming and not to worry, but usually when we get to that gruesome and terrifying last page she stares for a minute and then says, “No? No?” and then we put it safely back up high where that bad old Charley can’t get out.
So let this be a warning to you: Maisy Bakes a Cake= major childhood trauma.
Albeit a very cute one.