A picture book that will cheer up any prospective birthday boy or girl is “My Red Velvet Cape” by fabulous author/illustrator Dana Sullivan. There is so much to love about Sullivan’s newest picture book including the misunderstanding (Sullivan loves misunderstandings, just check out “Ozzie and the Art Contest“), the incredibly hip mom and grandma (go hip grandmas!), the bright and colorful watercolor and ink illustrations, and the sweet ending.
Mateo loves superheroes and is excited for his superhero birthday party. He wakes up in his superhero bed where he was sleeping with his dog, Alonzo, to answer a call from Grandma. When Grandma says she made him a “red velvet –” Mateo interrupts because he is so excited she made him a red velvet cape. He gets ready for the party cherishing the idea that soon he will have a red velvet cape. One can only imagine his disappointment when his sister takes out a cookbook and corrects him, telling him that Grandma isn’t bringing a red velvet cape, she’s bringing a red velvet cake!
But misunderstandings are funny and sometimes they work in confusing ways. What is Grandma bringing? And more importantly, how lucky is Mateo to have a Grandma who dresses in rolled up jeans and red high-tops? Sullivan even includes directions at the end so kids can make their own red velvet cape (or blue denim or yellow gingham…).
My two favorite illustrations? The mom and Mateo making a cake in a kitchen filled with drippings of chocolate cake batter with a dog happily rolling on the floor, and the dad outside doing “a few chores” with a stinky, filled plastic bag in his hand, a shovel, and an embarrassed-looking Alonzo. All the illustrations are filled with joy, laughter, bright colors, and diverse skin color.
Sullivan uses watercolors, Sharpies, and lots of white space to make the colors pop. The whole effect is delightfully messy (just like Mateo) and brilliant. Mateo is lucky to have his adorable dog Alonzo, based on real-life rescue-dog Bennie (can you see the resemblance?).
It’s a cheerful, funny, adorable book that a wide range of ages will enjoy. Parents, too!
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Sleeping Bear Press, the publisher, for review purposes.