This Christmas, my very favorite gift that I received was a signed copy of this book, from my friends Julian and Noelle:
Julian was so thoughtful to find it for me; I had seen a copy of it at his family’s home in Brevard- I spent an hour poring over it, relishing its weird, 1940s-era story of a “Doughnut Girl” who came to life in Dutchman Hansnoodle’s bakery, and “bewitched” the rest of the baked goods. And he remembered, and being that he has his ways with books as the manager of Asheville’s famous Downtown Books and News, he was able to procure a signed copy, in beautiful condition. (THANK you!) Its a wonderful story, sometimes rhyming, sometimes in prose, of the doughnut girl wreaking havoc on the town.
Since we made the Gingerbread People for Christmas, I’ve been fascinated with the stories across all cultures about different foods that come to life. Baking is magic and baking is alchemy, so its no wonder that people all over the world have wondered, when they leave the bakery at night, if their handiwork will come to life and have a party.
The story begins:
“There once was a baker of wonderful fame,
A fat, jolly Dutchman, Hansnoodle by name;
A Doughnut Girl he did skillfully make,
and put her away with the other cake.
He laid the girl down with the greatest of care
And went to his baking away down stair,
All was as quiet, as quiet could be,
till up jumped the Doughnut Girl and cried she:
Come on, Pies and Cakes, lets have some fun
While Fritzie’s away, finishing his bun!
The Pies, Cakes and Cookies rolled down from the shelves
And danced all around like merry young elves.”
It goes on to describe the attitudes of the various baked goods:
“The Cream Puffs, puffed up because they were rich,
Said, “we won’t play with a common old Witch!”
Remarked Macaroon, “I guess we’re rich , too;
If we play with her, then why shouldn’t you?”
Then a little girl (Flossie Lea) buys the Witch Cake, and the Witch Cake proceeds to wreak havoc on Flossie’s home as well. The story follows Flossie and the Witch Cake through various troublesome antics, and many gruesome attempts to reign the Witch Cake in (beheading and dismemberment, for example).
The Witch Cake bewitches a flower garden, a zoo in New York, a pig farm, a music store, a fancy ball, and takes Flossie on a trip to the moon, much to the chagrin of all the grown-ups, all of whom want to either destroy her, or enslave her to do their bidding. But in the end, Flossie and the Witch Cake, and their friendship, survive. (A pleasant change from most other Baked-Goods-Coming-to-Life stories, which usually end with the hero being eaten by a fox).
“I’ve had such a happy time, dear little Witch Cake,” said Flossie sleepily, nestling the girl closely in her arms.
“Then I am happy, too, little girl,” the Witch Cake told her. “And I promise to be your Good Fairy, to guard you carefully, and to stay with you always.”
“You-are-so-good-to-me.” Flossie breathed softly, “Good-night-dear-little-Witch-Cake.”
“Good night, Flossie, and pleasant dreams.”
Its a sweet story, with the moral appearing to be: Girls (and Witches) just wanna have fun. If anybody wants to take a look at it, just ask at the counter at the Cake Shop; we’ll keep it on hand here.
Or: anybody up for a storytime?