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.
As an adult, I could still relate to Isabel and her quandaries. She’s not a caricature of what 12-year-old might say, think or do. Rather, she’s a realistic, believable girl — and as an adult, I could easily reflect on how I thought and felt at her age. Reading about Isabel reminded me of my own youth, in a good way.
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.
I think what I found most appealing about It’s Raining Cupcakes is that it didn’t turn to ridiculous, slap-stick like comedic relief to maintain my 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.
Also, Schroeder throws in a couple delicious cupcake recipes. So, that’s another huge bonus. And it’s a good, thing, too. Because the only real “negative” to this book, is that it will leave you craving gourmet cupcakes. So you might want to have baking supplies handy when you read it.
Here is the official synopsis:
Twelve-year-old isabel is dying to get out of Oregon. She spends her free time in the library, reading and dreaming about faraway places. When her mom decides to open a cupcake shop in their little town of Willow, Isabel feels just like buttercream frosting to a cupcake — stuck.
It seems as if it will be another disappointing summer, until Isabel learns of a baking contest. If she can come up with a winning recipe, she might have a chance of competing in the bake-off in New York City
But Isabel’s best friend, Sophie, is also entering the contest — and things always seem to go Sophie’s way. To make matters worse, Isabel and her mom don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the type of recipe Isabel should enter.
In this sweet treat by popular teen author Lisa Schroeder, Isabel discovers that maybe it’s not about where you go in life as much as it is about enjoying the view from wherever you are.
We’ll be featuring It’s Raining Cupcakes and Lisa Schroeder’s three YA novels during our April Book of the Month!