A Long Line of Cakes
An Aurora County Novel
“There is so much need in the world, after all, and cake is one simple way to soothe it.”
— Leo Meyer Lemon Cake, A Long Line of Cakes
- A 2019 Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year
- Kirkus Starred Review
A Junior Library Guild Selection
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 with 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 her 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.
Praise for A Long Line of Cakes
A small Southern town welcomes Emma and her family, self-styled “itinerant bakers.”
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)
Narrator Jenna Lamia brings warmth and a strong sense of place to this charming and funny story of itinerant bakers who land in Halleluia, Mississippi. Eleven-year-old Emma has moved more times than she can count and is hesitant about making a new friend just to leave her again, but she thinks there might be something special about this town. Her five younger brothers acclimate quickly, but Emma has a rocky start with pushy Ruby Lavender, who is “an acquired taste.” Eventually, Ruby Lavender and the quirky residents of Halleluia teach Emma about lasting friendship. Lamia manages distinct voices for the entire Cake clan, but Ruby Lavender steals the show with her Southern drawl and irrepressible energy.
The Cake family are itinerant bakers moving from one place to another so often they can hardly remember where they’ve been. When their beat-up van pulls into Halleluia, Mississippi, five Cake boys, four Cake dogs, and Emma tumble out the back and help their parents unload their lives and set up housekeeping in their new, but temporary, home. Emma mourns the fact she has left yet another best friend behind and has no friends in this new place. Is it really worth making a new friend if she will only have to soon leave her behind? Her brothers find a baseball field and suddenly have new friends, but Emma is more wary. If she thought they could finally settle down and stay, she would love to have a friend, but can they? Just this once?
Author Deborah Wiles has written a heartwarming story that adds to her popular Aurora County series. Wiles seems to know a thing or two about how difficult it can be to navigate a new place and build and keep friendships intact and being part of a strange and wonderful family. Her writing is snappy and filled with warm humor. This is a winner.
—Junior Library Guild
— In the recipe for “Simple, Classic Melt-in-your-Mouth White Cake” at the end of the book, please add “2 cups of sugar.” Emma left that out because Ruby Lavender was talking to her too much for her to pay good attention.
They came, like secrets, in the night.
The Cake Family:
Emma Alabama Lane Cake
Benjamin Lord Baltimore Cake
Jody Traditional Angel Food Cake
Van Chocolate Layer Cake
Roger Black Forest Cake
Gordon Ridiculously Easy No-Knead Sticky Buns Cake
Their parents were with them, of course:
Leo Meyer Lemon Cake
Arlouin Hummingbird Spice Cake
Somehow, there were also four dogs.
. . .