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Clever Jack Takes the Cake

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,764 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
Take a bite out of this deliciously funny original fairy tale, which received four starred reviews and was named a Best Book of the Year by Booklist, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and the Bank Street College of Education.

What would you do if you were invited to the princess’s tenth birthday party but didn’t have money for a gift? Well, clever Jack decides to bak
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Schwartz & Wade
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2012-2013 Texas Bluebonnets
7th out of 23 books — 29 voters
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2014 Monarch Nominees
3rd out of 19 books — 11 voters

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Community Reviews

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SPOILERS AHEAD! ....and ranting too.


Rating, 2.5 (looking at the other reviews, I'm in a minority here ... or maybe the only one)

Jack is a young boy living with his mother. One day he receives the invitation for the princess’s tenth birthday party, along with every other child in the kingdom. Of course, if you attend a birthday party, you shouldn't go empty handed. This proves a bit of a problem as Jack is dirt-poor. Their only belongings are a spinning wheel, an axe, and a threadbare quilt, but
Apr 25, 2016 Amber rated it it was amazing
A young boy named Jack is invited to the princess's 10th birthday party and decides to make her a cake to give to her on her birthday. On the way bad things start to happen. Will he be able to make it to give her the cake? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good children's picture book that I borrowed from the overdrive ebooks library. Be sure to look for this book at your local library and wherever books are sold if you enjoy picture books.
Tricia Douglas
Feb 24, 2013 Tricia Douglas rated it it was amazing
What would you bring to the birthday party of a princess if you had no money? This is a delightful story about Jack and what he does bring in this circumstance. What I liked best was what happened when Jack's plans were changed and fate stepped in with the worse possible situations. A very happy book which gives children a chance to see how situations can turn out wonderful even when your own plans might be quite different.
Lindsay Surmeier
Jun 12, 2015 Lindsay Surmeier rated it liked it
“The book we are going to read today is Clever Jack Takes the Cake (show cover). What do you think it means to take the cake? (children respond). It could mean to take the cake physically in your hands, but it can also mean to go above and beyond the others. Which of these means do you think apply to this book? (children respond). Do you think both could apply? (children respond). This book does not take place in the present either. This book is a fantasy book and takes place in a medieval time ...more
Sarah Wheeland
Jan 20, 2014 Sarah Wheeland rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Read-aloud opening for third grade:

“Boys and girls, imagine you are planning out a project or surprise for someone and you know it is going to be the absolute best thing you have ever thought up! You think about every detail and plan each part so it will be absolutely perfect. When the time comes, your project starts out just like you imagined it would but then things start to go very wrong and in the end it is nothing like you thought it would be. Has this ever happened to you?”

Pause and wait f
Jun 20, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidlit
I'd have given this 3 stars, but my 5 yr. old son adored it and it makes sense to take a child's reaction into account when rating a child's book. Jack overcomes dangers and hardships to deliver an ever-diminishing birthday gift to the princess. Throughout, he is brave, resourceful, and plucky. His complete lack of self-pity and despair are subtly conveyed and perhaps only readily apparent to adult readers -- this is no dreary, moralistic tale! Children will enjoy the drama as Jack meets each ch ...more
Oct 23, 2010 Melissa rated it really liked it
An enjoyable variant on the folklore quest tale. I liked so many of the little touches: such as Jack making a cake (as opposed to whittling a doodad, or whatever), and doing it quite well; the candle that appears instead of a lightbulb over his head when he has an idea; his glass-half-full attitude; the flower girl running around the throne room having the time of her life; some of the phrases; the way the little forest animals are all lined up at the edge of the page watching Jack go by himself ...more
Jan 19, 2015 Margaux rated it it was amazing
In this story, Jack bakes a cake for the princess's birthday. A fine gift, to be sure. The problems arise when he journeys to the castle to give her her cake. Along the way he meets four-and-twenty black birds, a dancing bear, an ogre, and a scary forest. He starts to lose parts of his cake, the poor dear! What will he ever do? What can he give the princess now?
Sep 22, 2015 Melki rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
If you can get over the unfairness of the 99% being asked to contribute to the overprivileged 1%, this is a pretty adorable tale of a young boy's attempt to take a special, homemade cake to a princess's birthday party. (view spoiler)

Oct 31, 2010 Reader rated it it was amazing
When a book is hitting all cylinders, it's a beautiful thing, that's what we have here. Outstanding storytelling and illustration. Jack Takes the Cake is a succulent gem that highlights a resourceful boy on his quest to deliver a birthday cake to the princess.
I see two main themes here - resourcefulness and the value of a good story, which is hard to deny.
Fleming's text is excellent - descriptive, with a good amount of repetition.
The illustrations enhance the story. Examining the endpapers provi
Mar 14, 2015 Julie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: child-at-heart
Candace Fleming used the Clever Jack template to launch a a completely refreshing and new story. Jack broke through some gender role walls by baking a cake decorated with walnuts and a succulent red strawberry for the princess, but the main message that genuine human interaction is worth more than rubies or tiaras can't be heard too many times by the little princesses of the world. Some picture books with this amount of text won't hold the attention of a group of children, but this story had the ...more
Jun 07, 2012 Tiffany rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
This book can be for a boy or a girl. The grade can be a 1st grader or higher. The book is a good read because this boy name Jack has no money,but comes up with a idea that he will make something for the princess instead of buying something because he does not have any money for any present. So Jack makes a cake for the princess, but on the way he came upon some problems and when he ends up with coming to the princess's party. He told her of what happened to his gift and the princess liked his s ...more
We are every bit as charmed by Jack as the princess!
The children of the land are all invited to the Princess's birthday party. Poor Jack is stumped as to what to give the Princess and decided to splurge on a cake!
As he proudly travels to the castle with the wonderful cake he is beset on all sides by plundering animals and even palace guards (shocking, really!). When he greets the Princess who is surrounded by heaps of presents all Jack can offer is the tale of the cake and its travels. Lovely.

Samantha Jorgens
Mar 29, 2016 Samantha Jorgens rated it it was amazing
In the children’s book, Clever Jack Takes the Cake, Candace Fleming describes a hilarious journey that Jack embarks on when going to the castle for the princess’s tenth birthday party. Jack does not have any money, so he decides to bake a cake by trading things for the ingredients. He starts his adventure to the castle with his cake in hand, but runs into trouble with a troll, a gypsy, and a bear. He ends up only being able to give the princess a fantastic story, which was the best present that ...more
Mar 02, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
As the mom of boys, I am always looking for terrific fairytales that have nothing to do with a prince saving the girl. In Clever Jack Takes the Cake, Jack is determined to make the perfect gift but he doesn’t have any money. Instead, he throws all of his efforts into baking a cake. He’s already won my boys over with the fact that making a present can be just (if not better) than buying one.

Along the way, Jack runs into trolls, bears and gypsies. He has quite a serious adventure trying to make it
Jean Marie
Feb 26, 2015 Jean Marie rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful children's book for children 6-9 years old. This is a story about a boy named Jack who gets invited to the Princess's birthday party. He works to gather up ingredients he needs to make her a cake. He works very hard to gather up these items, including trading seeds for eggs, picking a bunch of walnuts, and picking the juiciest strawberry he can find. Children could connect with this story if they have ever cooked or baked with their families and the effort they have put into ...more
May 08, 2014 Melanie rated it it was amazing
This is my husband's favorite book to read to the girls at night. I love the story too, but he and the girls have so much fun reading it that I don't read this one out loud as much as he does. Poor Jack wants to go to the princesses birthday party, but cannot afford a gift. He decides to make her a cake for which he must trade his few belongings to make, on his way to the party with his beautiful cake, birds, trolls, creepy dark forests, cake eating bears and strawberry allergies all get in the ...more
Clever Jack Takes the Cake is a unique fairy tale that delights with--you guessed it--cleverness! Children will adore the predictable pattern and enjoy the hijinx that Jack encounters on the way to the Princess' birthday party, but the happily ever after will make them smile.
Viviane Huynh
Oct 06, 2014 Viviane Huynh rated it it was amazing
Clever Jack Takes the Cake is a fantastic book about a little boy who didn't have much, but was still willing to give everything he had to another person. The book begins with an invitation to the princess's birthday celebration. Jack wants to go, but doesn't have a present to give. He decides to trade everything he has to get the supplies to make a cake for her, but during the trip over there, he encounters multiple obstacles, and is left with nothing by the time he reaches the princess. With n ...more
Alexandria Hiam
Cute original fairy tale about a boy named Jack who wants to visit the princess on her birthday. But he mustn't arrive empty handed so he trades his possessions for ingredients to make a cake. On his way to the princess he meets a troll, a gypsy woman, and a frightning forest. With each person/place he meets, he loses a part of the cake. By the time he stands before the princess he is left with nothing. Bored with all of the rubies, gold and jewels she has received from all her other visitors, t ...more
Heather Pool
This book can be for any gender, and they can be in second or third grade, the reading is paragraphs per page. It is an adventure story that has very elaborate pictures. It has a sequence to it so kids may know and get excited for what's coming next. This book is a 2012 Golden Sower Nominee.
Meghan Coffey
Jan 31, 2014 Meghan Coffey rated it it was amazing
Clever Jack Takes the Cake is a picture book based on the Jack and the Beanstalk tale, but with quite a few spins. For instance, Jack's goal isn't to get money for himself and his mother, but to get a gift for the Princess's birthday. He eventually scrounges up enough ingredients to bake a two layer cake for the Princess and he sets off to give it to her. However on the way, he runs into quite a few obstacles...

Okay, so we never got to finish reading this book in class, but it was really good no
Mar 01, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
Jack is invited to the birthday party for the Princess, but being a boy of humble means, he has to be creative in preparing a gift, using all his resources to do so. Then, though a series of misadventures, his gift goes through a process of attrition, and it seems he has nothing to offer when he finally appears before her. However, she finds appreciation in the gift he is able to bring her!

It's a great story for teaching kids about how to give (beyond simply purchasing a gift) and how to receive
Apr 25, 2016 Trevor rated it it was amazing
My four year old gives this one 21 stars. I'd have to agree. What a wonderful story, and such lovely illustrations.
Dec 04, 2015 Karla rated it really liked it
Jack is on a mission to get a birthday cake to a princess since he was invited to her birthday party. At first, he did not have enough money to buy a present but that did not stop him. He took what he had and traded it for ingredients for the cake. Then, he went on an adventure to take the cake to the princess and along the way he lost pieces of the cake. He went through crows, trolls, the woods, a gypsy and a bear. When he finally arrived to the palace, he had only the strawberry which the guar ...more
Feb 01, 2011 Rshogren rated it really liked it
I think kids will like this orginal fairy tale! Illustrations could have been bigger.
Jan 29, 2014 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: january
Clever Jack Takes the Cake is a really cute book. It is a really fun book to read out loud to others. The way that the story and illustrations are arranged is very clever. While Jack is making the cake, each thing that he does has a little image along with a short statement about what he is doing. This allows a reader to become more excited about the journey of making the cake. While Jack is taking the cake to the Princess, each thing that happens to him is very important and the reader soon rea ...more
Jan 05, 2011 stillme rated it really liked it
A fun fairy tale that feels familiar but fresh at the same time.
Ashley Whiteley
Jan 27, 2014 Ashley Whiteley rated it it was amazing
This book is a great story time book! It has lots of pictures and you cant help but be interested. It is a long story but it is an easy read.It is about a boy who is invited to the princesses birthday party, but realizes that he does not have any money to buy her anything, so he gathers ingredients and makes her a cake. While on the way to the birthday party he encounters many obstacles, and arrives at the castle with only the strawberry from the cake. The guard immediately eats that. So what co ...more
September Michaud
A story is the best gift. :)

Jacks gets invited to the princess's tenth birthday, but he can't afford to buy her a gift. So...he bakes her a cake complete with two golden layers, ten candles, walnut decorations, and the most succulent strawberry in all the land. Unfortunately, he loses all of these things on his trip to the castle. So...when he finally reaches the princess, he has nothing to giver her EXCEPT the story of how he lost everything. And she loves it.

Good, page-turning read aloud for a
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I have always been a storyteller. Even before I could write my name, I could tell a good tale. And I told them all the time. As a preschooler, I told my neighbors all about my three-legged cat named Spot. In kindergarten, I told my classmates about the ghost that lived in my attic. And in first grade I told my teacher, Miss Harbart, all about my family's trip to Paris, France.

I told such a good st
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