For MMGM, I am recommending The Magic Cake Shop by Meika Hashimoto, with illustrations by Josée Masse.
Not every book is a life-changing epitome of writing, with perfect characters and a perfect plot. The Magic Cake Shop is a bit silly, a bit ridiculous, and a bit immature (it might be best for older elementary schoolers or younger MG readers). However, if you take The Magic Cake Shop for what it is, which is a fun, extravagant ride of a novel that will appeal to your inner kid, it ends up being a delightful read that is worth the time! The Magic Cake Shop revolves around a girl named Emma who lives with two wealthy parents. Her parents are certainly not characters readers are supposed to sympathize with, being constantly obsessed with their appearances and Emma's (wanting her to get plastic surgery, for instance, or eat barely anything in order to stay thin). They send Emma to live with her exaggeratedly filthy, mean, and selfish uncle, Simon, for the summer, with her main source of solace being a nearby world-renowned bakery run by a man named Mr. Crackle. When a friend of Emma's uncle poisons the baker in order to force him to make a complex elixir, Emma helps Mr. Crackle gather ingredients and prepare the potion, learning about magic ingredients and stories about them in the process. One part of the book that I loved was just how exaggeratedly evil the villains of the story are. In a world where almost all books explore the motives and facets of every character, it is refreshingly fun to see how Emma sidesteps the almost-ridiculous levels of unpleasantness that these characters force on her. Author Meika Hashimoto also does a great job at thinking up the supernatural ingredients that Mr. Crackle uses to make desserts and the elixir, which range from gusts of wind and light from the Northern Lights to strange jumping blobs and magical berries (their Seussian names do get annoying after a while, though). What might be considered flaws of The Magic Cake Shop (its undeveloped antagonists and slight immaturity in general) I think readers will consider, as I did, part of the charm of the novel, which will be enjoyed by anyone who is a child at heart!
P.S. On Wednesday, Completely Full Bookshelf will become two years old!!! I want to thank to MMGM show runner Greg Pattridge (and his predecessor, Shannon Messenger) for helping my posts reach a broader audience, as well as my readers, for making sure that writing all of these posts has been worth it. I can't wait to see what this next year brings!