Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye
by Claude Ponti
Translated from French by Alyson Waters
$12.00 – $20.00
by Claude Ponti
translated by Alyson Waters & Margot Kerlidou
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 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. Claude Ponti’s nimble wordplay and punning, combined with his phantasmagorical illustrations, create an endearing gem of a book, bound to be a bedtime story favorite.
Published on May 3rd, 2022
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.
Claude Ponti is not particularly famous outside of France – yet. But I predict that his books will be celebrated around the world before this decade is over, and for a long time after that . . . Over many beautiful, commendable, proper and reasonably successful children’s books, I prefer any pick from the impressive bibliography of French-born writer and illustrator Claude Ponti.
Praise for Ponti's My Valley — 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.
Praise for Ponti's Hīznobyūtī — A wonderfully strange, poignant, and empowering tale of finding one’s own place in the world. Bullies abound, but kindness, empathy, and forgiveness loom larger for our long-snouted hero.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This visual jaw-dropper . . . is about a huge flock of “chicklets” who wake one morning to realize they have 10 days to create “the most unbelievalicious castle of all cakes” for their best friend Bertha Daye’s party . . . 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. The riotous party is held inside the giant cake and attended by a who’s who of pop culture characters, among them Betty Boop, Tinkerbell, Babar, Maggie Simpson and Yoda. This dazzling spread alone is worth the cost of the book.
Revel in Ponti’s joyful and goofy world with our Blaze search-and-find! You can download the 8.5 x 11 worksheet here, or download the extended worksheet for digital use here. Please write to us at info [at] archipelagobooks [dot] org, if you’d like small batches of the big worksheets printed on cardstock for your home, library, or school!