Tuesday, February 05, 2013

KYLIE JEAN, CUPCAKE QUEEN by Marci Bales Peschki

My six-year-old daughter and I read this cute chapter book about Kylie Jean, a little girl who lives in Texas, aspires to be a beauty queen (even perfecting the beauty queen wave), and has two brothers, one of whom is a dog. The beginning dragged for both of us, but the last half of the book was charming with a positive message.

Kylie Jean's ambition to be a beauty queen is not my favorite, so I'll admit I was not enthusiastic at the beginning of the book. She decides she wants to sell something to make enough money to buy whatever she wants at the garage sales she frequents with her family. Again, I was not enthusiastic: "make money to buy stuff" is not a message I want to share with my daughter. Discussions about the cupcake-making process were rather tedious. I did like that Kylie Jean's mother supports her business sensibilities, but requires Kylie Jean to use her allowance to buy her ingredients. Kylie Jean convinces her family to hold a yard sale so she has a venue for her cupcake sales.

Here is where the book gets interesting: Kylie Jean decides to make doggie cupcakes and brings some to the animal shelter for the dogs to sample. There she learns two unfortunate truths: a lovely older dog named Tess is having trouble finding a home because people just want puppies, and the shelter owner will have to close in a week because he doesn't have enough money. Kylie Jean immediately decides that her cupcake profits will go to the shelter, and she enlists her family's commitment to use the garage sale money for the shelter as well. She also hatches a plan for an older neighbor to meet and adopt Tess.

The ending of the book is a bit of a muddle, as Kylie Jean is sick of cupcakes and decides to have a going out of business sale. I asked my daughter what she thought Kylie Jean would do after the end of the book, and she felt it was obvious that Kylie Jean would come up with another business idea and keep helping the shelter. I agree, and while Kylie Jean doesn't demonstrate persistence in giving up her cupcake business so soon (and before she has a chance to make cupcakes for cats!), she is young and is certainly entitled to try a number of endeavors before settling on one. I wish this had been discussed a bit at the end.

The folksy, Texas-twang writing style fits Kylie Jean well, though I wish words like "gonna" had been spelled out properly.

This book also gives children a step-by-step guide to starting a business. Location, advertising, profits, set-up costs - these are all addressed. Kylie Jean's cupcake recipe is even included at the end. I'm afraid my daughter will ask me to organize a garage sale so she can sell cupcakes for pets!

Source disclosure: I received an e-galley of this book from the publisher.

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