My read-alikes list is, unfortunately, pretty skimpy.
This is a low conflict story about friendship and baking. Eggplant is planning to visit his aunt in Turkey this spring and invites his friend Cupcake to come with him. Cupcake is very excited about the trip, because it will give him a chance to meet Turkish Delight, a famous pastry chef and his idol. First, though, he has to save up enough money to buy his ticket. While Eggplant is watching out for Cupcake's bakery, Cupcake sells some of his baked goods at various new places and events.
I've wanted to read this ever since I cataloged it for my library. The thought of a baked good creating and selling other baked goods was a little weird, but the artwork was bright, cute, and appealing.
Now that I've read it, I can say that the whole “baked good selling baked goods” thing is still weird. On the one hand, they ate food, like any other living thing, and owned pets (regular dogs, cats, etc.). On the other hand, Cupcake, at least, had actual cupcake-specific problems. When he and Eggplant went to a Turkish bath, for example, the sauna dried out his frosting a little, and the eucalyptus-scented Turkish Room made his wrapper start to peel.
If you can get past the weirdness of this world in which anthropomorphized food eats regular food, this is an okay story, although it ended too suddenly for my tastes and felt somewhat pointless. Like I said at the beginning of this review, Bake Sale is very low conflict. The worst things the characters deal with are Eggplant getting laid off and Cupcake's disappointment and slight depression, and both of these things are handled in a fairly low key way.
I think this graphic novel would be most appealing to those who are interested in baking. Thankfully, I fall into that category. There was something calming about watching Cupcake get ready to open his bakery each day. I especially enjoyed seeing him try new recipes. He wasn't afraid to experiment, even though the results weren't always successful.
It's practically required that food-related books include recipes, and Bake Sale is no exception. Varon included recipes for sugared flowers, raspberry squares, brownies, vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting, marzipan, dog treats, and peppermint brownies. I haven't tried any of them yet, but I'm planning on giving the peppermint brownies a shot once I've bought some peppermint extract.
Story-wise, this was a bit too low key for me. However, I'd still recommend it to baking enthusiasts, even (especially?) newbies.
Amazon thinks the intended audience for Bake Sale is kids ages 8 to 12, so I should include a warning here. My read-alikes list would not work well for that age range.
- What Did You Eat Yesterday? (manga) by Fumi Yoshinaga - If you loved watching Cupcake bake stuff, you may want to give this slice-of-life foodie series a try. The main characters are a gay couple - one is a hairdresser and very much "out," and the other is a closeted lawyer who loves to cook. There are even a few recipes, although the ingredients may be hard to find unless you live in a bigger city (or, you know, Japan). I've reviewed the first volume.
- Mindtouch (book) by M.C.A. Hogarth - Another book in which friendship and baking play a big role. In this sci-fi novel, the main characters are two xenopsychology students who become roommates. One of them enjoys baking, and the author includes recipes in both this book and its sequel. I've written about this book.