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A Long Line of Cakes


Emma Lane Cake meets Ruby Lavender in Halleluia, Mississippi and together they hatch a plan to help Emma’s itinerant baking family stay put. Baseball, dogs, chickens, friendship, lively brothers, wacky neighbors, and family connections; a novel about what it means to find home. And bake a cake. Lots of cakes. Cakes.

From the front flap:

Emma Lane Cake has five brothers, four dogs, and a family that can’t stay put. The Cake family travels from place to place, setting up bakeries in communities that need them. Then, just when Emma feels settled in and has new friends… they move again.

Now the Cakes have come to Aurora County, and Emma has vowed that this time she is NOT going to get attached to ANYONE or ANYTHING. Why bother, if her father’s only going to uproot the family again?

But fate has different plans. And so does Ruby Lavender, who is going to show Emma Lane Cake a thing or two about making friendship last and knowing a place well enough that it starts to know you back.


Eleven-year-old Emma Alabama Lane Cake, her five brothers, their four dogs, and their two eccentric parents travel from place to place because, as patriarch Leo Cake likes to remind his family, “There is so much need in the world, after all, and cake is one simple way to soothe it.” The family never stays long, and they never visit the same town twice. However, when they enter Halleluia, the setting of two previous Aurora County novels (Love, Ruby Lavender, 2001, and The Aurora County All-Stars, 2007), it feels both familiar and enchanting. Emma is heartbroken about constantly having to leave her friends behind with each move. So, though the trees seem to whisper a welcome to her, she has decided not to make any new friends this time. Despite her best efforts, Emma is befriended by Ruby Lavender, who is “not very sweet” but pertinacious in her goodness, and together they hatch a plan to keep the family from moving again. The Cakes and Ruby are white, but Halleluia’s population of oddball inhabitants includes warmly realized black characters, befitting the Mississippi setting. Wiles’ nimble and buoyant prose speaks of yearning, the sweet blossoming of friendship, and the comfort of belonging.

At turns ebullient and sober, this tale is as reassuring and tantalizing as the scent of freshly baked pastries. (author’s note, recipes) (Fiction. 9-12)
— Kirkus, starred review

Readers need not be familiar with any of the “Aurora County” novels to fall in love with the Cakes. The residents are just as quirky, with characters like Parting Shotz and a tutu-wearing dog named Eudora Welty. There’s a lot of charm here, from the lovely language and strong sense of place to the often hilarious scenes between the Cakes themselves and the adventures the nosy, gossiping residents get up to… This charming novel of belonging is a sweet addition to most collections.
— School Library Journal

This sequel to Love, Ruby Lavender (2001), The Aurora County All-Stars (2005), and Each Little Bird That Sings (2007) is written in third-person from an outsider’s point of view. While those familiar with the previous books will remember many of the characters, readers new to the series will meet them, along with 11-year-old Emma. The writing is precise, colorful, and attentive to the nuances of people’s longings and interactions. An enjoyable, sustaining chapter book.
— Booklist

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