Miss Cora Lee Merriweather may not be the sweetest of women, with her "lemon-pucker mouth and hair scraped back into a hard little bun," but she runs the best bake shop in town. "The chocolate in her Mississippi mud pie was darker that the devil's own heart. Her sponge cake was so light the angels kept hoping it would float up to heaven." When Cora Lee dies, the whole town turns out for the funeral. Folks start crying when the preacher reads the menu of "all those luscious desserts that were now only sweet memories."
Each time the shop is sold to a new baker, the vengeful ghost of Cora Lee appears, so no one stays long. Until pastry chef, Annie Washington, moves in. Annie, a plucky young African American woman, has been a baker on a cruise ship. She tells the cranky ghost, "No typhoon, tsunami, or shipwreck ever stopped me from baking, and I never leave a kitchen until I'm done." In their ensuing all-night battle, Cora Lee shrieks, throws dozens of eggs, and flings flour everywhere. In desperation, Annie asks, "What can I do so you'll let me work in peace?" Cora Lee says, "Make me a cake so rich and sweet, it will fill me up and bring tears to my eyes." That will be a piece of cake, Annie thinks, but Cora Lee is not easily satisfied, rejecting one cake after another until Annie figures out what the ghost really wants.
THEMES: AFRICAN AMERICANS. MULTICULTURAL BOOKS.
Houghton Mifflin, 2005
Suggested Ages: 5-8