Cupcake Cousins by Kate Hannigan and Brooke Boynton Hughes

A US publication for a wee change…

Publisher: Disney Publishing Worldwide ISBN: 9781423178309 Published: 19/6/2014

It’s Aunt Rose’s wedding and cousins Delia and Willow can’t wait for their families to all get together on their traditional yearly holiday for a dual celebration! They could do without the horrible, frothy pink dresses their aunt has picked out for their bridesmaids dresses though and would much rather be responsible for making the cakes and treats at the reception. How can they convince their aunt that they’re better off in the kitchen than walking down the aisle?

There’s a lot to like in this series! First off I just want to say that I wholeheartedly approve of the multi-racial family thing. Coming from one of the world’s most multicultural cities, it’s nice to see real life represented for a change! Neither cousin’s ethnicity has any bearing on the story by the way, which is good because I think this story is busy enough without adding another layer to it. Besides, just because you have more than one ethnicity represented doesn’t mean the story automatically has to be ethnicity-related.

The characters were really likeable, from Aunt Rose herself to Mr Henry and the cook, Cat, and as a not-terribly-pink girl myself, I can wholely sympathise with Willow and Delia’s reluctance to wear their puffy bridesmaids dresses. One thing I especially liked was that the girls both grew as the story went on. You know how some stories are built up around a really obvious lesson? This isn’t one of them; the girls’ attempts to wriggle out of their responsibilities as bridesmaids ended up being a real learning point but without beating the reader about the head with it. I’ve got to give props to the story just for that I think!

Unsurprisingly perhaps there’s also a real emphasis on family, and not just in the cuddly way you might associate with a Disney-linked book. Some quite serious issues such as divorce are mentioned during the story and I really loved how aware both Delia and Willow were of certain realities that crop up when family life gets a bit strained. I love books that don’t talk down to kids – kids are often more aware of what’s going on than adults like to think. It never ceases to surprise me how much so and I reckon the really great childrens’ books reflect this trait to some degree or another (even if sometimes the parents would rather kids were a little less knowledgable on the subject). In this respect, Cupcake Cousins is certainly on the right track.

One last thing I really loved – the recipes. Every so often, once the girls have got stuck into the kitchen and whipped up something particularly tasty-sounding, a simple recipe is included at the end of the chapter so the reader can try out the girls’ antics at home. As someone with slight butterball-ish tendancies, I really loved this – the peach pancakes in particular had my mouth watering. The only problem I can see with this is that this is a US title, so naturally all the measurements are done in cups wheras here in the UK we use grams. Still, this can easily be solved with a quick search on Google. The Internet can yield many things and will no doubt give the answer for how to cook using American cup sizes (mug sizes?).

One last note – the illustrations were adorable. Beauitfully rounded, really soft illustrations that were just the right kind of simple, if you see what I mean.

All in all, a lovely neat read that covers some surprisingly wide ground and includes some tasty recipes to boot!

Thank you to Disney-Hyperion for my eBook proof version. Find Cupcake Cousins here.

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