"Today is a special day," Stir Crack Whisk Bake tells us. Why? Because we're going to make cupcakes! (And pancakes and a rainbow cake, too.) The board book from America's Test Kitchen, illustrated by Maddie Frost (Sourcebooks, $9.99, ages 0-3), begins by asking young bakers to gather ingredients. While adult caretakers grab actual ingredients, pre-readers can use their fingers "to drag each [ingredient] to the counter." Shake the book to mix, tap on eggs to crack them, blow a kiss to add sprinkles... every step of the process is easy for tiny hands, and pretty darn cute.
In Pancakes with Grandma by Kathryn Smith, illustrated by Seb Braun (Tiger Tales, $9.99, ages 2-5), Little Bunny and Grandma Bunny make a "yummy breakfast to start the day." Grandma tells Little Bunny what's needed and directs her toward the kitchen. There, children can lift flaps to help her find the flour, maple syrup and butter. Next, they look for berries in the garden, eggs in the chicken coop and milk--directly from the cow. Each new ingredient is a clue to help Little Bunny figure out what the yummy breakfast will be. The flaps provide fun, non-baking surprises, as well as a berry pancake recipe found in a cookbook titled Breakfast for Bunnies written by one Bunny Oliver.
The hands-on activities continue with Bake a Rainbow Cake! by Flour Shop owner Amirah Kassem, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri (Abrams Appleseed, $16.99, ages 0-3), which uses pull tabs and flaps to bring children through the process of making a layered rainbow cake. Pre-readers can mix wet ingredients, color the batter, fill the cake with sprinkles and slice into the cake to let all those sprinkles spill out. With tons of exclamation points and super-bright colors, Bake a Rainbow Cake! is a wonderful sensory explosion.
--Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness