Sour Cakes

by Karen Krossing (Author) Anna Kwan (Illustrator)

Sour Cakes
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Heavy emotions meet a deep well of understanding in this uplifting sibling story.

Two siblings wake up in two very different moods; the older one cheerful and lively, the younger feeling sad and irritable. The big sister negotiates and cajoles, tries everything she can think of to cheer her little sister up, but nothing works. She offers to go outside and play, but her sister refuses. She suggests they color a picture, but her little sister only likes the color gray. She proposes they bake sweet cakes, but her sister only wants sour ones. It's only when little sister's gloomy mood reaches a boiling point that the older sibling tries a different tactic. She empathizes and enters the gloom with her sister, and offers up compassion along with a gray picture and a sour cake. Together, they navigate the little sister's grim, messy feelings until the siblings are able to play.

Told in striking, conceptual illustrations, this story explores empathy, emotional acceptance, mental health, and acknowledging difficult feelings in a warm, accessible way.

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Publishers Weekly

A light-skinned child with long, wavy black hair navigates the contrary moods of their younger sibling in this tender picture book debut by Krossing. As the older awakens the younger, the latter immediately disagrees with every suggestion: they want to stay in, not play outside; instead of coloring with yellow, pink, or red crayons, the younger prefers gray; at the proposition of baking a sweet cake, the younger complains, "I feel sour." At each turn, the older sibling meets their sibling's objections with patience and compassion. When asked what they do want, the younger confesses, "I want fog to crash down on big monster feet" and, after that, "I want to disappear." But the older sibling offers a kind response worth celebrating: "Can I disappear with you?" Kwan's soft-toned, fluid illustrations fill each spread, encapsulating the siblings' shifting emotions. This sensitive narrative shows the significance of empathy in meeting people where they're at. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1--When younger sister wakes up in a contrary mood, her enthusiastic older sister suggests fun and uplifting activities to cajole her out of it; it's only when the sullen mood explodes into anger that older sister changes course, commiserates with her sibling, and changes her mood. Told through their ongoing dialogue and shown in various sizes of type for emphasis, the two girls, with black eyes and black hair, cycle through several misfires until the older one hits on the correct approach: to join her sibling in the bad mood. Together, they dance away the gray fog that has enveloped them on big monster feet. Kwan's colorful illustrations often sweep across spreads to express the mood, effectively build tension, and emphasize the size and importance of the younger child's emotions. VERDICT By accepting big, negative emotions without condemning them or dismissing them, this book is great for launching discussions about when and how to express moods and feelings.--MaryAnn Karre, Binghamton, NY

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"This sensitive narrative shows the significance of empathy in meeting people where they're at."— "Publishers Weekly"
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 20, 2021

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