Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie

The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! My pick for today is The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie by Chris Van Allsburg.

This book has garnered reviews that swing like a pendulum! Some hate it while others love it. There’s only one way to find out how it makes you feel, read it.

Title: The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie sweetie pie

Written & Illustrated by: Chris Van Allsburg

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2014)

Suitable for ages: 5-8 (according the publisher)

Themes/Topics: pet responsibility & ownership, animal adoption & care, abandonment, longing, courage

Brief Synopsis: Sweetie Pie is a hamster adopted from a pet store who ends up in the care of multiple children who are either not ready for pet ownership or who are just neglectful. Sweetie Pie goes through a few owners, one who leaves him outside stuck in a plastic hamster ball, another who leaves him out in the snow. In the end Sweetie Pie escapes and joins a family of squirrels, finding solitude in the outdoors.

Opening pages:  “He’s sooo cute!” squealed the pigtailed girl. The hamster had heard these words before. He’d once shared his home with a dozen friends. One by one, they’d all been taken away.

He’d been left behind because whenever a child had picked him up, he’s squirmed and scratched.”

Why I like this book: Sweetie pie is not the best pet. Why? Is his behavior innate? Is it possible his  environments affected him? Readers have some pretty strong opinions about this book! I see it as an example of a picture book appropriate for older audiences. Firstly, the text is far lengthier than many of the newer 500-700 word picture books; secondly there are many social factors that can be discussed using Sweetie’s Pie’s situation, his desires, and the behavior of the children and adults that are supposed to care for him. It’s not a funny story, but rather poignant. A good read for anyone studying animal care or for parents or teachers who are considering getting a pet for the home or classroom. I would recommend parents and or teachers read it first because it does stir many different emotions, some which are just not pleasant but totally authentic. So where some see it as not a great book coming from what they expect from the well-known author, I feel it’s that this book isn’t funny or witty or clever. Some books are good because they stir up strong emotions and opinions.

For more book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

The King Cake Baby & Mr. Bingle

The King Cake Baby & Mr. Bingle

What do the King Cake Baby & Mr. Bingle have in common? They are both New Orleans icons. And about the same age too.


Every baby boomer who grew up in New Orleans visited Mr. Bingle in the Maison Blanche window then went inside the store to take a photo with Santa himself. Credit for the creation of this Christmas icon goes to Mr. Emile Alline who was the window-display manager at the store. Back in 1948, a French Quarter puppeteer named Edwin H.Isentrout was hired to promote the little snowman named Mr. Bingle and advertise the MB franchise. Between the storefront window display, TV commercials, and visits to other store locations, the image became a New Orleans icon.

We can thank Daniel Entringer, Sr. for popularizing the icon of the small plastic baby known as the king cake baby hidden inside king cakes.. He was a cheesemaker from Wisconsin who bought McKenzie’s Pastry Shoppes from Henry McKenzie in 1932. At one time, McKenzie’s bakery was the most popular bakery in New Orleans offering sweets such as buttermilk drops, blackout cakes, petit fours, eclairs, and chocolate turtles to name a few, in addition to their famous king cakes. When a Carnival Krewe named the Twelfth Night Revelers asked Entringer to make king cakes for them, they supplied their own trinkets to hide inside the cake as custom dictated.  However, according to the history told, a friend of Entringer found a plastic baby in a French Quarter shop back in the 1940’s and suggested he use it. The baker started using the plastic baby then and created the tradition that continues to this very day. A king cake without a baby hidden inside is simply a cinnamon roll!

King Cakes are so popular in New Orleans, they have their very own Festival! Check out the King Cake Festival website here. Check out their facebook page for updates.