The King Cake Baby

King Cake Baby51lbtJiI-nL__SX392_BO1,204,203,200_The King Cake Baby

Keila V. Dawson, Author

Vernon Smith, Illustrator

Pelican Publishing Company, Fiction, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: King cakes, Baby, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Gingerbread boy adaptation

Opening: Once upon a time, an old Creole woman and an old Creole man lived in New Orleans. They wanted to celebrate Kings’ Day on January 6, so the woman decided to make a king cake.

Synopsis:  The old woman makes the dough for her king cake and fills it with a cinnamon-sugar filling and a cream-cheese icing. She forms the dough into an oval shape and places the cake into the oven to bake.  While the cake is baking she makes the green, purple and gold sugar sprinkles for the topping. When she goes to the kitchen drawer to retrieve the king cake baby to put inside the cake, baby jumps out and runs away. She chases the baby, but he taunts her, “No, ma Cherie! You can’t catch me, I’m the King Cake Baby!” This cheeky baby has many close encounters with people in a rollicking chase through the French Quarters on his way to the Mississippi River — until he stops to brag.

Why I like this book:

Keila Dawson has created a lively and entertaining retelling of a favorite tale that introduces children to the unique New Orleans culture and its annual Mardi Gras celebration. With lively Creole characters, skillful rhythm and pacing, fun dialect and repetitive language, children will all be chanting “No,  ma Cherie! You can’t catch me, I’m the King Cake Baby!” It’s a fun rhyme or song that builds suspense throughout the book. Dawson adds her own special twist to her king cake baby tale.

Vernon Smith’s colorful, bold and expressive comic-book-style illustrations will appeal to children as they beg to have the story read just one more time. Both Dawson and Smith capture this humorous tale along with the traditions of New Orleans in their wonderful collaborative effort.

The king cake baby escapes on January 6, the day of the Three Kings, a time when the people of New Orleans are baking and eating king cake at the start of Mardi Gras, which leads up to Lent.

Resources: There is and Author’s Note and an Easy King Cake recipe at the end of the story that you can bake with your children.  This book is also an excellent classroom book for teachers to jump-start conversations about Louisiana, the French and Creole dialects, the residents and their culture and traditions. Visit Keila Dawson at her website, where you will find a free study guide with lessons, activities and crafts.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

45 thoughts on “The King Cake Baby

  1. Merci beaucoup for your wonderful review Patricia! We do love our King Cake here. There is an actual festival to honor this delicious local delicacy! It benefits children and babies of Oschner Hospital in New Orleans. I will be there as a vendor with my ”baby” on January 31st at this year’s celebration!


    • You are welcome. I watched your countdown and knew I wanted to review your delightful tale. Have a great time in New Orleans celebrating and sharing your book January 31. Hope you sell a lot of books, a fun take-away for children. Such a worthy cause.


  2. I almost accidentally ATE the king cake baby. When we moved to TX it was my first introduction to king cakes and I didn’t know to look for it!


  3. Having lived in France where La Galette des Rois is a big deal, this book put a huge smile on my face. My sister and I used to battle it out trying to find the toy in the cake. I can see kids having a blast reading a book where the baby jumps “ship” so to speak. Great review, Pat!


      • I don’t know about Germany and Spain, but we celebrated it in France and finding “la feve” was so awesome b/c you were king or queen for the day. All the cakes come w/crowns. When I did my junior year abroad in Strasbourg, the woman I lived w/pulled out a bottle of champagne for me and another one of her boarders. Well, by evening’s end, a few bottles of champagne were gone, and we had eaten 3 cakes (I kid you not!) and we were all wearing crowns. It was a really great night.


  4. I remember hearing about this book several years ago and have always wanted to read it. Now seems like the best time to put it on hold at the library. Will love seeing gingerbread man chase around French Quater in New Orleans. Have visited it many times and it will bring back memories to see it in picture book in this way. 🙂


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