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PW #226: Middle Grade #ownvoices contemporary graphic novel/prose hybrid: RULES FOR MAKING CAKES

Wednesday, 1 November 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Names: Amanda Rawson Hill and Cindy Baldwin

Mentee Name: Remy Lai


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: #ownvoices contemporary graphic novel/prose hybrid

Word Count: 45,000


For Jingwen, immigrating to a country that speaks English-that-sounds-like-Martian is a recipe for loneliness. But roping his little brother into secretly baking cakes that remind him of home and their late Papa, when Mama’s warned him not to, will be a recipe for disaster. EL DEAFO meets the immigrant experience.

Note: The following excerpt is best viewed on a desktop computer and will not be formatted correctly on a mobile device.


I looked. The wing of the aeroplane sliced through the fluffy clouds like a knife through cake. Sometimes, when the aeroplane leaned enough, I caught glimpses of the ocean. It was as blue as the sky. Only the clouds made it clear that the sky was the sky. Yanghao stuck his oily face to the window and my view was replaced by the back of his giant head.

I opened the box on my lap. It was a plain old pink cardboard box that most mom-and-pop bakeries used, and inside it nestled a cake that looked like a plain old cake covered in plain old cream, topped with plain old strawberries. But it wasn’t a plain old cake. My grandmother baked it for our farewell gift.

“You’ll have so much fun there,” Ah-po had said as she leaned through the taxi window and placed the box on my lap.

A shadow fell over the cake. I looked up to see a stewardess.

It was the first time someone had directly spoken English to me. It sounded like Martian.


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