Portland-area author Lisa Schroeder has already proven her success with Young Adult readers with her three YA novels in verse. Now, she’s making her mark on the Middle Grade book world with It’s Raining Cupcakes, in stores Tuesday, March 9th.
It’s Raining Cupcakes tells the story of 12-year-old Isabel, who wants nothing more than to escape the small Oregon town where she’s lived her whole life. Her hopes for a summer vacation get quashed when her parents decide to open a cupcake shop, instead. But Isabel soon finds a glimmer of hope for traveling outside the state: a baking contest for kids, that will fly the finalists to New York City! Of course, things aren’t that easy — Isabel first must decide whether to bake what she really wants, or make cupcakes to please her mom. Then there’s the competition from her best friend Sophie, who’s also entering the competition and has a way of always getting what she wants.
Schroeder’s finesse for words is still hard at work in It’s Raining Cupcakes (fans of her Young Adult verse novels should be familiar). But Schroeder also brings a certain charm and realism to the book that makes it appealing to older readers, as well as the middle grade readers it’s intended for.
Adults will find they can still relate to Isabel and her quandaries — and in fact, may even be reminded of their own childhoods (as I was). Isabel is not a caricature of what 12-year-old might say, think or do. Rather, she’s a realistic, believable girl — and readers of all ages will be able to see a bit of themselves in her.
Likewise, Schroeder doesn’t make the adult figures into cartoon characters, either. As the reader, you understand Isabel’s frustrations with her mother — but as a character, Isabel’s mother is also deserving of your sympathy. Yes, Isabel’s mother has issues. Yes, they are a major source of frustration for Isabel. In some books, this could have forced her into a villain-like role. But instead, Schroeder shows you that Isabel’s mother has struggles of her own — and you care just as much for her issues, as you do for Isabel’s.
Perhaps what is most appealing about It’s Raining Cupcakes is that it doesn’t turn to ridiculous, slap-stick like comedic relief to maintain the reader’s interest, as so many Middle Grade books do. The book contains genuinely funny moments, but the story itself moves the plot along — not gimmicks meant to keep younger readers entertained.
The book’s only real downfall is that it will leave you craving gourmet cupcakes. But then, Schroeder has a solution to that, too: she’s included two delicious cupcake recipes at the end of the novel.
It’s Raining Cupcakes will be in stores everywhere on Tuesday, March 9th.
Schroeder will also be talking about the book and signing copies at the Powell’s at Cedar Hills Crossing in Beaverton, Ore. on Sunday, March 14th at 2:00 pm.
If you liked this, check out Portland Books Examiner’s review of Schroeder’s latest YA novel,Chasing Brooklyn.