Title: Honey Cake
Author: Joan Betty Stuchner
Illustrator: Cynthia Nugent
Publisher: Random House
Concepts: allocation and distribution, child schooling and work, discrimination, producers/consumers, scarcity, wants and needs
Review: Nine-year-old David Nathan loves his home city of Copenhagen, Denmark and looks forward to the near future (being in the school play, seeing his story printed in the school magazine, celebrating his birthday) as well as the distant future (one day becoming a writer). Unfortunately, in the present, his beloved city is occupied by German soldiers. And, as the saying goes, sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better. David’s family becomes involved in the Danish resistance movement and then a shocking revelation about the Nazis planning to round up Jewish families has the Nathan family escaping for their lives to Sweden.
This work of historical fiction uses simple, straightforward language to describe both life during Nazi occupation and a harrowing escape to safety and freedom. The book manages to tread a fine line between being too intimidating or scary for young readers while still presenting the actual history and the fear the Danes lived in under Nazi occupation. Supplementary materials include a recipe for the honey cake David’s mother makes in hopes of a sweeter new year and a note on the actual historical events.
Through the story of the Nathan family’s daring actions of resisting and then escaping, Honey Cake also presents numerous economic concepts. David’s family lives above a pastry shop owned by his father and next door to a toy store owned by the family of David’s best friend. David not only goes to school but also helps in his father’s pastry shop. Scarcity of resources is touched upon when the family laments the rationing that occurs under occupation. And, a large part of the Danish resistance dealt with destroying Denmark’s resources, such as boats and trains, in order to save these supplies from being used by the Nazis.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children