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Tina Cocolina: Queen of the Cupcakes    by Pablo Cartaya, Martin Howard & Kirsten Richards order for
Tina Cocolina
by Pablo Cartaya
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2010 (2010)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

This children's picture book is pure whimsy, with an element of sweetness thrown into the mix.

Tina Cocolina (even her name is fun to say) goes to the Gingersnap Academy for Rising Cupcakes. All of the people in the book are human forms of cupcakes, and while they are drawn to look like humans, they all wear cupcakes on their heads, as in a crown.

Tina is worried because at her school it is the Cream of the Top Cupcake contest, and she has no idea how to decorate the cupcake on top of her head.

Many of the other students at the Gingersnap Academy have their toppings figured out: Carmella du Chocolat has her cupcake decorated in a triple berry fudge swirl, and Candyce Cremiere is wearing a spicy buttercream topping.

Tina searches everywhere for inspiration: a peanut butter patch, a weeping caramel tree, a chocolate fudge sauce stream. Nothing is helping, and the contest is only hours away.

Her mom comforts her:

'Don't worry. Every cupcake finds a topping when the time is right. I'm sure you will find yours.'

As in every children's book promoting a message of Be Yourself, Tina, after much experimenting and trial and error, eventually finds her own unique style.

The illustrations, which are reminiscent of the Strawberry Shortcake characters, are ablaze with color. Delicious-sounding recipes for cupcakes and toppings are helpfully included at the back of the book.

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