Clever Jack Takes the Cake
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Clever Jack Takes the Cake

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  1,272 ratings  ·  255 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...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Schwartz & Wade
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10th out of 20 books — 25 voters
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Community Reviews

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Tricia Douglas
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.
Sarah Wheeland
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...more
Cheryl in CC NV
Nice twist for feminists & others interested in gender issues. Funny, wise, just long enough to be a full-blown story. Good vocabulary words like 'chittered' and 'concertina.' Cumulative style homage to many of the popular tropes of common folktales. Fun to read aloud. Apt & heartwarming 'surprise' ending.
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
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
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...more
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
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.

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...more
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.
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.
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...more
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...more
I think kids will like this orginal fairy tale! Illustrations could have been bigger.
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
A fun fairy tale that feels familiar but fresh at the same time.
Ashley Whiteley
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
Richie Partington
8 July 2010 CLEVER JACK TAKES THE CAKE by Candace Fleming and G. Brian Karas, ill., Schwartz & Wade, August 2010, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-375-84979-4

"Down the long narrow hall he was led
Into her rooms with her tapestries red
And she never once took the crown from her head
She asked him there to sit down.
He said, 'I see you now, and you are so very young
But I've seen more battles lost than I have battles won
And I've got this intuition, says it's all for your fun
And now will you tell me why?'"
-- Suzan...more
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 3 A poor boy named Jack who helps a princess is a familiar trope in folklore. In this original tale, Jack accidentally receives an invitation to the princess's birthday party. He resourcefully gathers ingredients and bakes a wonderful cake. On his way to the castle, the cake is slowly demolished by crows, a troll, a spooky forest, a dancing bear, and even a palace guard, until the only present Jack has to offer...more
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 bake the princess a cake. Now he just has to get it to the castle in one piece. What could possibly go wrong?

Candace Fleming and G. Brian Karas, team up again to bring us a modern fairy tale starring a determined boy & a story-loving princess with a good sense of humor. While girls will fall for a story featuring a princess’s birthday party, Jack’s adven...more
The creators of Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! return with a delightful fairy tale. Jack is invited to the princess’ tenth birthday but has nothing to fine enough for a present. But then Jack has a great idea, he will bake her a birthday cake. He didn’t have enough money to buy ingredients, so he had to trade for them, work for them, or make them on his own. Finally it was finished. Two cake layers, frosting, ten candles, walnuts and a big strawberry. Jack sets off to the party, but his way is not easy...more
Rachel Bormann
Audience: Primary

Genre: "Clever Jack Takes the Cake" is considered part of the traditional literature genre. Within this category, however, the story satisfies aspects of both the fairytales and tall tales sub-genres. "Clever Jack Takes the Cake" fits into the fairytale category since it revolves around the kingdom's princess's birthday party and her desire for a unique birthday present. The story fits into the tall tales category of literature because despite Jack's poverty, he manages to bake...more
Vanessa Kirk
Audience: The audience for this book is primary elementary school. I think it best fits second and third grade because it involves the understanding that back in the day people were poor and had to sell some of their most precious items in order to make a birthday present or do anything when they had no money.

Appeal: I think it definitely appeals to second through fourth graders because they love adventures. The boy in the book goes through a lot of adventures just to get to the castle to be at...more
Kacy Sutton
“Clever Jack Takes the Cake” is a about a boy who is very poor. One day he finds an invitation from the King to the Princess’ tenth birthday party. Jack does not think he can go though because he has no money to buy her a gift and he has nothing of value to give her. Then he realizes he has all of the things he needs to make the Princess a lovely birthday cake. He prepares this amazing cake, but on his long journey to the Princess’ castle the cake gets destroyed and eaten by various things along...more
Fleming, C. & Karas, G.B. (2010). Clever Jack Takes the Cake. New York: Random House.

Appetizer: Jack, along with all the other children in the kingdom, has been invited to the princess's tenth birthday party. Since he doesn't have any riches to offer as a gift, he decides to bake the princess a cake. But on the way to the castle, Jack encounters some trouble. So much trouble that he can't be certain he'll arrive with the cake in hand or even arrive at all.

At the beginning of the story, Jack...more
When Jack in Clever Jack Takes the Cake, by Candace Fleming is invited to the princess’s tenth birthday party, he does not know what to do. Jack is a poor boy living far away from the castle. With no money for a gift, Jack uses what he has to make a scrumptious cake. The problem is taking the cake to the castle. On his way through a prairie, over a bridge, and through scary woods, Jack meets many animals and creatures who agree that his cake looks delicious. So delicious, in fact, that they migh...more
Description: A poor boy named Jack who helps a princess is a familiar trope in folklore. In this original tale, Jack accidentally receives an invitation to the princess's birthday party. He resourcefully gathers ingredients and bakes a wonderful cake. On his way to the castle, the cake is slowly demolished by crows, a troll, a spooky forest, a dancing bear, and even a palace guard, until the only present Jack has to offer the princess is the story of the cake's demise. Of course, this gift pleas...more
Audience: Primary

Genre: Picture Book

Pre-Reading Strategy: First Line

By reading the first line of a story, students make hypotheses about what the story will be about. Depending on the information given, students may be able to predict the setting, time, characters, potential conflict, or other story elements. Engaging in a discussion with the students allows the students to detail how and why they predicted the outcomes that they chose. Students are likely to remain attentive and focused on the...more
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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...more
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