When I was a small child, my parents enrolled me in a “children’s book of the month club” through Parents Magazine Press. (They also enrolled me in things like karate and ballet, but reading was definitely my favorite.)
When I was in college, I tracked down many of these somewhat obscure book club selections at used book stores and online. Now that I’m a parent, I have the great, great joy of sharing them with Zoe. I can’t get her to stick with Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine quite yet, but she loves my personal early childhood favorite, But No Elephants!, and another beloved book, Miss Mopp’s Cakes:
Except that, as you eagle-eyed readers have probably noticed, it’s not called Miss Mopp’s Cakes. It’s called Miss Mopp’s Lucky Day. And while I agree that Miss Mopp is lucky, I can’t quite get behind this title. (Even my father, who read this book to me probably 1,500 times in the early 1980s, was shocked: “It’s not called Miss Mopp’s Cakes?!?”)
Because, while the book is filled with creepily anthropomorphic characters–a smiling sun, a scowling big gray rain cloud, and a bunch of threatening but ultimately inept forest creatures–and the mop-headed, suit-and-sneaker-wearing Miss Mopp herself, the real star is clearly . . . Miss Mopp’s cakes!
Miss Mopp was the best baker in town.
She baked all kinds of cakes–
pink cakes and yellow cakes,
big cakes and small cakes,
plain cakes and fancy cakes.
So our story begins. There is Miss Mopp, surrounded by pink and yellow and big and small and plain and fancy cakes. As each animal in turn hides behind what is possibly the biggest tree in the world, each of them swoons and says, “Miss Mopp’s cakes!” (Pro Tip: Draw this sentence out into three sentences for maximum effect.) In the end, all the animals–who collide when they all attempt to gobble up Miss Mopp’s cakes in the forest–gather at the bakery and enjoy . . . Miss Mopp’s cakes!
Don’t get me wrong, Miss Mopp is lucky. She is lucky she remembers that she forgot her umbrella, and lucky that she gets it before the rain starts. She is lucky that all those cake-loving animals bumped into each other instead of attacking her in the woods. And she is very lucky that they are all willing and able to buy the cakes instead! Where do they keep their wallets, you ask? Probably in the same place they keep the slings and bandages they’re all wearing in the book’s final pages.
I tease because I love. Miss Mopp’s Cakes (as Zoe and I choose to call it) is a book Zoe loves, and a book I love reading to Zoe. If you’re interested, it can be yours for only a dollar (plus shipping) from half.com! Bizarrely, the best used price on Amazon is nearly thirty dollars.
I love Miss Mopp and her cakes, but not quite that much.