The Worldwide Dessert Contestis a fantastic book for elementary school kids and young middle schoolers. As an adult, I found this book to be a light read that was entertaining and distracting. I did tend to pick it apart as adults tend to do with books meant for a younger audience, but it was still enjoyable.
The plot follows Johnny Applefeller, a nice young man who loves to make apple desserts and enter them into the yearly contest in Appleton. To his stupefaction, his desserts start out nice but always turn into something else, like a pancake turning into a giant trampoline. No one understands why, and he never wins the competition. Johnny, his faithful sidekick and a groundskeeper for the contest who knows that Johnny has heart head off to find help from someone who can surely help them win the contest this next year around. Meanwhile, a particularly surly judge who always gets the rotten end of Johnny’s concoctions is always trying to ban him from the contest, and other contests prove to have a lot less heart.
This book is full of a lot of fun rhymes and wordplay, which I do enjoy. I thought that perhaps it was a bit confusing as to where the plot was going. The beginning almost seemed like a short story that was stand-alone. Once I understood where the plot was going, I did enjoy it more. However, I thought there were some loopholes that were never quite explained. For instance, why did Applefeller’s desserts change into other things? There is a bit toward the end that might have explained that well enough to others, though.
I received a new multimedia edition, which is pretty neat. Many of the existing songs and rhymes have been put to music that has been recorded, and some new songs have been developed, too. Throughout the book, there are clickable images which lead to Web pages that show the lyrics and the songs are playable via embedded YouTube players. I like the idea but, I also think that it could have been executed a little better.
There’s some fun illustrations as well, which break up this short chapter book. I would love to give The Worldwide Dessert Contest as a gift to my sister in a few years. I can guarantee she would enjoy it. Any child or younger sibling would, really.
The multimedia edition will only exist as long as those pages remain on the server, so there is the possibility that it will break in the future. It also looks a little sloppy, and the YouTube videos just show a cover image of the book. I’m pretty sure that you can embed without showing video, and this would be a better solution for just playing the music. However, the best solution would be to come up with some sort of book that includes embedded media players. This may not yer be possible with how Kindle and other programs handle digital books, but it should be. Finally, the book cover doesn’t even make mention of it being a digital edition, so readers might not realize that those images are clickable and take the reader to a Web page. If the publisher wanted to continue with this method, those images should be unique for each song and more clearly illustrate what they are and do.
While the idea of a multimedia edition is clever, the execution falls a little short. This is still enjoyable as a plain ol’ (digital) book, however.