Claude Ponti’s beautifully illustrated book has a Where’s Waldo meets Hieronymus Bosch quality that is playfully transfixing! It allows the reader, or viewer, to wander around the scene and discover. Or maybe even create your own story! What a fantastic gem of a book!
Claude Ponti’s nimble wordplay and punning, combined with his phantasmagorical and joyful illustrations, create an endearing gem of a book, bound to be a bedtime story favorite.
From one of the world’s most beloved children’s book authors comes a story of a high-spirited flock of friends building an unusual birthday cake. A rabble of soft, golden “chicklets” are awoken one morning to a startling proclamation: they only have ten short days to prepare for their best friend Bertha Daye’s party. It’s time to get to work building a larger-than-life castle cake to house and feed the revelers. Made of chocolate scooped out of chocolate mines, “finer than fairy dust” flour from the hillsides, and fruit carried down twigs and stems in the forest, this will be the best—and kookiest—cake of all time. Oodles of distinctive chicklets fill every page, scurrying, fluttering, napping, tumbling, helping, and getting up to no good. When the party day arrives, guests pour into the pastry palace, many of them unmistakable characters from iconic stories’ past, offering a marvelous who’s-who of story-book history.
About the Author
Claude Ponti is a French illustrator and children's author known for his inventive and playful use of words and the symbolic nature of his illustrations. His first book, L'Album d'Adèle, written for his newborn daughter, already displays the associative and dream-like presentation of children's interior lives that characterizes many of his works. Ponti was awarded the 2006 Sorcières Spécial prize for his contribution to literature.
Alyson Waters is a translator of modern and contemporary literary fiction, criticism and theory, as well as art history. She teaches literary translation workshops at Yale University and at New York University, and now at Columbia.
"[A] visual jaw-dropper . . . The immersive illustrations by a veritable children’s literature superstar in his native France are a crazy salad of “Where’s Waldo?,” Hayao Miyazaki, classic Hanna-Barbera and Maurice Sendak, splashed with a hallucinogenic vinaigrette." --Catherine Hong, New York Times Book Review
"Ponti once again unleashes his extravagant, surrealistic imagination and love for oversize formats . . . [He] fills every inch of the pages with antics, creating a visual impact that’s like a mash-up of Minions, Miyazaki, and Where’s Waldo? . . . The party itself is positively eye-popping, with attendees who include a plethora of beloved, generation-spanning figures from children’s literature and popular culture . . . Like all birthday parties, the overall experience is a little overwhelming, but there’s no doubt that the proceedings are animated by a generous and genial creative spirit." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
"It’s not so much that Claude Ponti goes off the path. One gets the impression that should he see such a path, he might drown it in chocolate syrup or set it on fire via lightning bugs. Now I have seen Ponti’s latest book to come to America and it is, to put it plainly, a trip. Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye does not adhere to any societal or cultural norms . . . it defies description." --Betsy Bird, School Library Journal's Fuse 8 Blog
"Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye showcases the artistic and erudite storytelling talents of author Claude Ponti. A unique and prized selection for a story hour entertainment, Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye is an original and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections" --Midwest Book Review "Ponti is a master at wordplay . . . This story offers so much more than just a story. It offers an extension of one’s imagination, sense of adventure and the beauty of words." --Momma Braga
"The detail of the illustrations in this oversized book is truly astounding. A child could spend long minutes on just one page but the busiest, most intriguing of the two-page spreads is the day of the party where untold amounts of cartoon characters can be found, perhaps hundreds. The illustrations are packed with color and imagination." --Katrina Yurenka, Youth Services Book Review
"Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye by author and illustrator Claude Ponti is ideal for classroom story telling and a popular addition to elementary school and community library picture book collections." --Midwest Book Review PRAISE for Claude Ponti’s My Valley
"A mix of comical vignettes and broad vistas illustrate an account of the lives and misadventures of a clan of tiny Twims.... Action with immersive, full-page or larger land- and seascapes that seem to go on forever while offering multitudinous crags, glades and foreground features to investigate." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Ponti’s beautiful, intricate illustrations contain strange details hinting at larger stories. The guileless narrative sounds like it came directly from the brain of a child with a vivid imagination." — Sarah Hunter, Booklist
"Ponti’s dreamy paintings of towering trees and distant hills are worth lingering over. . . Fans of immersive fantasy worlds will feel that they have discovered a treasure." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)