Sour Cakes

h1 August 31st, 2021 by jules

“Can I disappear with you? …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


Sour Cakes (Owlkids, October 2021), written by Karen Krossing (her picture book debut) and illustrated by Anna Kwan, is an ode to sibling relationships and how, in particular, a sibling can lift you up when you are in the stormiest, heaviest of moods.

“Get up! Get up! Let’s play outside!” says the older sibling to the younger one, Kwan illustrating a set of imagined trees around the bed. This sibling is clearly a morning person and ready to tackle the day, while the younger sibling slooooowly wakes. “Why out?” is the response. “Today I like in.” The older sibling agrees to stay inside and play, inquring: “What will we play?” and suggests sofly singing. “Why soft? Today I like LOUD.”

To every disgruntled response, the older sibling acclimates. But the younger sibling is not happy and finally snaps. In fact, three intense spreads reveal maybe even more than merely a “sour” mood: The younger sibling rages, kicking up a metaphorical storm (pictured below), followed by “I want to disappear.” The older sibling has a solution. Of course. And it’s pretty simple: Just be there. “Can I disappear with you?” Big sister can take the big emotions and knows her presence is needed.

A cool teal dominates, as if the palette itself attempts to calm the child. The angry tantrum is lovingly, respectfully rendered: “I want fog to crash down,” says the younger sibling, and Kwan paints swirling, enveloping fog — while big sister watches with concern. But she stays … until the fog fades away. Kwan’s expressive illustrations feature a sure line and spot-on body language.

Here are a few more spreads from the book. …


“Will you color a picture? …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“I want to throw rocks. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“I want fog to crash down on big monster feet. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)



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SOUR CAKES. Text © 2021 Karen Krossing. Illustrations © 2021 Anna Kwan and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Owlkids Books, Toronto.

2 comments to “Sour Cakes

  1. Hi Jules,

    I’m thrilled that you chose to feature SOUR CAKES! Anna Kwan will be thrilled too.

    I have one small favor to ask: Can you please correct Anna’s last name in your post? It’s Kwan, not Kang.

    Many thanks!

    Karen Krossing

  2. I’m so sorry about that! It is all fixed. Thanks for pointing that out.

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