Before Archie Cunningham was born, his mum developed an overwhelming craving for cakes and other cake-like delights. Vanilla slices, cupcakes, lemon tarts, cookies, ice-cream cakes, chocolate mud cake with triple chocolate icing – no cake was safe when Mrs Cunningham was around.
… She did care about her husband, who worked very hard to make money to buy cakes (partly for her, partly because he liked cakes too). They had been married quite a long time, and having a baby was quite a shock to them, and not an altogether pleasant one.
Archie Cunningham is born with a magical ability. It’s an ability his dreadful parents immediately plan to benefit from. They have little interest in him, only the things he can do. They don’t send him to school, not from any sense of protection or love for their child, but because they don’t want to share his gift. Archie grows up isolated, lonely and shy. But secrets like this are hard to keep and before he knows it, everyone wants to know Archie. Life is definitely more exciting now, and Archie will need all his skills to survive. Black and white illustrations appear on most openings and chapter headings are ‘written’ in piped icing.
The Vanilla Slice Kid is totally absurd – colourful and wild. Archie’s search for a ‘normal’ life – you know, with friends, stability and mentors – is hampered by a succession of avaricious adults who want to manipulate him for their own ends. Archie must work out who he can trust, what he can do, so he can take control of his own life. And he does, with hilarious if often gross results. ‘The Vanilla Slice Kid’ will appeal to a wide age range from lower primary up. Confident readers will rip through it. Younger readers will be begging for just one more chapter.
The Vanilla Slice Kid, Adam Wallace and Jack Wodhams ill Tom Gittus
Ford Street Publishing 2015 ISBN: 9781925272024
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller