Great Illustrated Books

The Bake Shop Ghost

By Jacqueline K. Ogburn, Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Houghton Mifflin, 2005
Pages : 32
Suggested Ages: 5-8
ISBN: 0618445579

Miss Cora Lee Merriweather may not be the sweetest of women, with her "lemon-pucker mouth and hair scraped back into a hard little bun," but she runs the best bake shop in town. "The chocolate in her Mississippi mud pie was darker that the devil's own heart. Her sponge cake was so light the angels kept hoping it would float up to heaven." When Cora Lee dies, the whole town turns out for the funeral. Folks start crying when the preacher reads the menu of "all those luscious desserts that were now only sweet memories."

Each time the shop is sold to a new baker, the vengeful ghost of Cora Lee appears, so no one stays long. Until pastry chef, Annie Washington, moves in. Annie, a plucky young African American woman, has been a baker on a cruise ship. She tells the cranky ghost, "No typhoon, tsunami, or shipwreck ever stopped me from baking, and I never leave a kitchen until I'm done." In their ensuing all-night battle, Cora Lee shrieks, throws dozens of eggs, and flings flour everywhere. In desperation, Annie asks, "What can I do so you'll let me work in peace?" Cora Lee says, "Make me a cake so rich and sweet, it will fill me up and bring tears to my eyes." That will be a piece of cake, Annie thinks, but Cora Lee is not easily satisfied, rejecting one cake after another until Annie figures out what the ghost really wants.

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If you love this book, then try:

Gourley, Robbin. Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie: A Story about Edna Lewis. Clarion, 2009.

Hopkinson, Deborah. Fannie in the Kitchen: The Whole Story from Soup to Nuts of How Fannie Farmer Invented Recipes with Precise Measurements. Atheneum, 2001.

Krementz, Jill. The Fun of Cooking. Knopf, 1985.

Polacco, Patricia. Thunder Cake. Philomel, 1990.

Priceman, Marjorie. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. Knopf, 1994.

Shepard, Aaron. The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale. Atheneum, 1995.

Critics have said

Caldecott Honor Book illustrator Priceman keeps things meringue-light, indicating Cora Lee's ghost with a few fierce strokes and filling the rest of each spread with lines and colors that swirl like ribbons of icing and suggest the expressive styles of Bemelmans and de Brunhoff. Read this irresistible tale alongside Patricia Polacco's Thunder Cake (1990) and Carmela and Steven D'Amico's Ella Takes the Cake (2005), and be sure to plan an activity that revolves around cake consumption (perhaps using the included recipe as inspiration).