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'The Bake Shop Ghost'       Send a link to a friend 

[JAN. 4, 2006]  "The Bake Shop Ghost," by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, 2005, Houghton Mifflin Company, 30 pages, ages 4-8

Review by
Louella Moreland

Jacqueline K. Ogburn and Marjorie Priceman have cooked up a delectable ghost tale for young readers. With just enough ghostly pranks and child-friendly illustrations, we come to empathize with the characters, including a parsimonious woman who worked all her life to give joy to other people.

Miss Cora Lee Merriweather was a marvelous baker! She made the tastiest, most delectable desserts anyone could imagine, and a birthday was not a birthday without one of her cakes. Although Cora Lee's dainties were sweet, Cora Lee was not. She had a lemon-pucker mouth that never smiled, and her hair was pulled into a severe bun. No one seemed to mind. No one really noticed Cora Lee at all; everyone was admiring her sweets. In fact, when Cora Lee died, the whole town turned out for her funeral to mourn the end of her luscious desserts.

Since Cora Lee had no family, the bake shop was sold. Many bakers bought the shop through the years, but each one experienced trouble of some sort. Each baker failed to meet Cora Lee's standards. You see, Cora Lee still returned night after night to her beloved bake shop, and she was not pleased with its new residents.

Then, after many years of standing empty, the run-down shop was bought by a young girl named Annie Washington. She had been a pastry chef on a cruise ship and was ready to settle down in a place where the "kitchen did not rock up and down." She cleaned, scrubbed and set up the business with cheerful anticipation.

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Once again, Cora Lee came to visit, with disastrous results. This time, however, Annie just kept on working, telling the ghost she had been expecting her. Cora Lee tried spilling eggs, rattling pans and other things to scare Annie away, but Annie just cleaned up and kept baking.

At dawn Cora Lee upended a 50-pound bag of flour all over the shop. Annie had had enough! She asked the pesky ghost what she needed to do to be left at peace. Cora Lee smiled a tiny little smile and said, "Make me a cake so rich and so sweet, it will fill me up and bring tears to my eyes."

Each night for a month Annie baked and served different types of wonderful cakes to Cora Lee. After trying all the recipes in her own cookbooks, can you guess where Annie went next? Yes, to the library! There she found a small book about the town history with a section about Cora Lee Merriweather's Bake Shop. Annie knew right away exactly the kind of cake that Cora Lee wanted. Can you guess what it was?

You can find out by reading Ms. Ogburn's story, "The Bake Shop Ghost." The Lincoln Public Library has many ghost stories as well as books about desserts of many kinds. You can try out Annie's Ghost-Pleasing Cake recipe in the back of the book or find other recipes for delicious snacks in other books. Come in to the library at 725 Pekin St. and let us help you find a story you will enjoy.

[Louella Moreland, youth services librarian, Lincoln Public Library District]

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