A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Takes place in Prague, Czech Republic, and mentions neighborhoods and the iconic Charles Bridge. Also describes the local traditions on St. Nicholas Day (December 5) and a bit about the importance of puppetry as a Czech art form. A character plays Mozart on his violin.
Connecting with someone has a powerful magic of its own.
Positive Role Models
Both Zuzana and Mik are artistic and unique and embrace this fact. They have parallel journeys of self-doubt that turns into self-assuredness by the end.
Violence & Scariness
A couple of puppets are a bit creepy. A dead snake hanging on a doorknob. Jokey talk of dragging a soprano singer to be stuffed by a taxidermist. The decor of a cafe hangout called Poison Kitchen is gas masks, coffins, skulls, and the like.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing well-described, with talk of more that's wished for. Bare breasts of a statue covered in an illustration with text that says "boobs."
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"Jackass," "damn," "hell," and "bastard."
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Products & Purchases
Mention of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cigarette butts in coffee.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Night of Cake & Puppets is a companion book in the bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone series. It originally came out in 2013 and is re-released in 2017 with illustrations by author Laini Taylor's husband, Jim Di Bartolo. The two also collaborated on the National Book Award finalist Lips Touch Three Times. As in that novel, here much centers on obtaining a kiss. The kissing is described in the author's usual artful style. So is the setting of Prague. Readers will learn a bit about the art of puppetry in the Czech Republic -- some of the puppets featured here are a bit creepy. Characters hang out in a place called Poison Kitchen, which is adorned with gas masks, coffins, skulls, and the like. You don't have to read the whole Daughter of Smoke & Bone series to read Night of Cake & Puppets, but it helps readers understand more about the characters, especially Karou, the main character in Daughter of Smoke & Bone, who appears in the story only in a quick flashback, illustrations, and text messages.
Is It Any Good?
This artful and hip meet-cute story keenly illustrated by the author's husband is guaranteed to make you long for first kisses and dessert. Readers of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series who love main character Karou's petite and spunky puppet-maker best friend, Zuzana, are treated to the tale of her blooming romance with Mik the violinist. Her elaborate plans to snare him take readers to the curious corners of Prague. The scavenger hunt will remind art-house movie lovers so much of Amelie. And in both Night of Cake & Puppets and Amelie, the female protagonists have no idea what to do once they have their crush's attention, adding to the delightful romantic tension.
Author Laini Taylor has been one of the strongest writers in young adult literature for a while now. She skillfully and quirkily -- with puppets, of course -- draws out the tension of one night's quest for love and connection in a way that leaves a long-lasting impression. No one describes the lead-up to a kiss quite like she does. With peacock prints in the snow and so much more.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.