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Great Illustrated Books

Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace

Nan Marino

Roaring Brook Press, 2013
Pages : 257
Suggested Ages: 8-12
ISBN: 9781596437531

Pancakes and pine trees. Pine trees and pancakes. B-O-R-I-N-G. But Cecelia Wreel, almost 11, is used to her tiny, out-of-the-way town of Wares Grove. She’s lived there her whole life and spent most of her time absorbed in her mission to discover the song that her parents say played in the pines on the night Cecelia was born.

One dark night, a sleek shiny car pulls into town and stops in front of the Pancake Palace. A kid gets out and is hugged by Aunt Emily, the owner of the pancake establishment. With great curiosity, Cecelia, who happens to be in the back yard hoping to hear the pines sing her song, observes the whole puzzling scene. How could she know that this mystery kid is the world-famous celebrity superstar, Elvis Ruby? She’s been too caught up in her own concerns to have ever been interested in famous young stars who make other girls swoon. 

Poor Elvis! He’d been expected to win the Tweenstar reality show title, but he froze with panic at his most important moment. In his frantic need to escape the relentless hounding of the paparazzi and his fans, his dad and his sister drive him to his Aunt Emily’s Pancake Palace in Wares Grove -- where absolutely nobody (he hopes) will think to look for him.

His cousin Millicent helps him blend in by changing his name to Aaron, cutting and dying his hair, and giving him lessons in staying incognito. Since Elvis/Aaron “just naturally radiates,” he has a whole lot to learn.

Cecelia learns Aaron’s secret. Instead of broadcasting it to the whole wide world, she promises to keep it quiet if Elvis will use his formidable musical gifts to help her find her song. Aaron gladly agrees, though he has no idea what she’s talking about. 

Tension builds chapter by chapter for both Aaron and Cecelia. Although the two kids are totally different, they forge a friendship that is equal give and take. And in the end, dreams come true all around. Both Cecelia and Aaron understand that, “When you’re so busy trying to be what other people think you should be, you’ll never find your own music.”      


Reviewed by : FH

Themes : Music. Musicians.

If you love this book, then try:

Gantos, Jack. Dead End in Norvelt. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 2011.


Rockwell, Thomas. How to Eat Fried Worms. Yearling, 2006.


Patterson, James. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. Little, Brown and Company, 2011.

Critics have said

Marino has written a timely and expertly executed novel about what it means to discover yourself. Aaron and Cecilia are both likable and flawed at the same time. Their desire to find themselves as they stumble through the shadows of the trees late at night is a wonderful metaphor for adolescence. Put this book in the hands of both the girls who follow every moment of the latest teen celebrity's life and the quiet boys and girls who stand on the sidelines, listening for their song.
School Library Journal