Book Review: Cereal for Dinner, Cake for Dessert by Laura Wells McKnight


If you’re hoping this book contains a miraculous new diet plan that allows high-carbs and plenty of sugar,while still allowing you to lose ten pounds in one month, you may be a bit disappointed. This is not a book about diets or weight loss or weight gain. The book is, however, a delicious treat and may have your mouth watering for fluffy white cake slathered with buttercream frosting after each succeeding chapter.
It all started with pumpkin pancakes. Not the author’s pumpkin pancakes. No, the good mother who wrote this book had never made her family pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, or lunch or dinner, for that matter. Her family had cereal for breakfast; and yes, many, many times cereal for dinner as well.
Did that make her a bad mother? Could you be a good mother, a good person and feed your family cereal for dinner – frequently?
It was the pumpkin pancakes, or the lack of them, that began the “Good Girl Diaries.” Little pink notebooks filled with thoughts and ideas and ponderings of what it took to be a “Good Girl.” We all want to be good and do good, don’t we? But how much good is good enough?
Then there are the cakes. Lots of cakes! Laura Wells McKnight is the Queen of Cakes. She loves making cakes as much as she loves eating cake, especially her fluffy white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. She’s perfected the recipe and even shares her cake making secrets with us in the book. Yes, cereal for dinner and cake for dessert – regularly.
But there is more to this book than cereal and cake, there is also lipstick and mascara – six layers of each. The Queen of Cakes loves layers; layers of cake, layers of lipstick and layers of mascara. But she also loves something else; she loves giving. Giving creatively and having fun with your giving, your little girls and your cakes.
The Queen of Cakes lives in her castle with Prince Charming (who is very, very smart) and their three little Princesses. Prince Charming is okay with having cereal for dinner (often) and cake for dessert (often). Prince Charming is wonderful! (As well as very, very smart.) So is the mother of the Queen of Cakes (wonderful that is). We would never have had the joy of reading this sugary, sweet and sometimes downright gooey book if the Queen of Cakes had not been continually encouraged by both Prince Charming and the Queen’s mother as she filled little pink notebooks with the daily wandering thoughts, ideas and questions of the Good Girl Diaries. Thank you, Prince Charming! And, thank you, mother of the Queen of Cakes!
Are you totally confused and uncertain as to the point and purpose and storyline of this book? Is that okay with you (because it sounds fun and quirky and you like that)? Do you like your cake layers stacked neatly with smooth coatings of fondant covering every cake crumb in utter perfection? Or, like the Queen of Cakes, do you like to stack your layers of cake as high as you can and then pour vanilla buttercream frosting over the top of the multi-layered cake and let it drip down over the sides? If you’re the latter (and perhaps you too let your little Princesses sit on the kitchen counter while eating their cereal for dinner), then you will enjoy Cereal for Dinner, Cake for Dessert down to the very last spoonful.
And when you finish the final page and lick the vanilla buttercream frosting off your fingers for the last time, you’ll close the cover and smile. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll have discovered what the Queen of Cakes discovered – that she is a Good Girl! That you don’t have to make pumpkin pancakes to be a good mother, and it’s okay if your cakes lean and even if they topple to the floor on occasion. Life doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be good and neither do you.
Cereal for Dinner, Cake for Dessert is not a fairytale, it is a very true story. It is a story of a real woman and her journey to discover that being who she is, is just what she should be. It doesn’t mean she can’t do better, but she doesn’t need to be perfect, because that’s not who she is. She’s a lot like her cakes. She’s a little wacky and crazy. She talks to herself and to her running shoes – and her lipsticks and her cans of natural grape soda. But she, like all of us, can do some good. So, she does, and so can you. At least that is the intent of the publishing of this book, that readers would be inspired. Inspired to be themselves and be inspired to do good.
{Review originally published in the July 2012 HerLife Magazine}

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