Philip Reeve may be better known to you as the author of the Mortal Engines series of books for teen YA readers, but his work is prolific and varied and ranges across all ages groups.
Cakes in Space, like its predecessor is a book for readers aged about 8-12. Oliver and the Seawigs was a fantastical adventure which took a small boy roaming the seas, meeting monsters and washing up on magical islands. The same adventurous ideas are behind Cakes in Space, but as the title suggests, the book is about adventuring through space.
Astra’s family are going to colonise a new planet. It is so far away from earth that they will have to go into stasis for 199 years on board their space ship in order to get there. Astra takes a detour as all her family are sorting out their berths, and ends up with a droid in the huge, empty dining hall, trying to get a bed time snack. The Nom a Tron, responsible for feeding everyone makes a perfectly acceptable chocolate biscuit, but this is not enough. Astra wants cake.
She asks the Nom a Tron to make a scarily delicious cake, the ultimate cake. The Nom a Tron tries to comply, but hasn’t finished by the time Astra has to leave to get into her berth.
100 years into their journey through deep space, Astra wakes up. Something is wrong on the ship. Pilbeam, the droid who helped her find food 100 years previously is her only companion as she journeys through the ship trying to find out what has happened to wake her up. As they progress through its vastness they are attacked by sentient, flying cakes of all shapes and sizes and Astra realises that the Nom a Tron has taken her at her word.
It is up to Astra to set things right and save the ship.
The book is a beautiful balance of funny and scary. The really tense parts are relieved by flying eclairs and alien scavengers who use spoons as currency. The book is wildly imaginative and extremely fun to read and share.
Each page is drenched in amazing illustrations by McIntyre in glorious, psychedelic swirls of orange and black.
The book is suitable for both boys and girls.
The language of the book is fairly complex, and a fledgeling reader will struggle, but children who are almost ready for a full sized novel but still need the support of pictures and less words on a page will love this. It’s a great story to read aloud too, lots of opportunities to share laughs and leave children on cliff hangers and all the things that make children beg for just another page or chapter are here.