Cape baker publishes sweet treat for young readers
By KATIE EGAN
Bess Charles wears a few different hats.
She’s a successful business owner, mentor and now, children’s book author.
The co-owner of LadyCakes Bakery thought about publishing a book for a long time, but she really started to get serious about it a couple of years ago.
“The Adventures of LadyCakes: Kindness is Sweet” is for children 5 to 10 years old, in grades 1-5. It has four full illustrations, a recipe and a page for children to color their own cupcakes.
The book is illustrated by Robert Ahrens, formally a graphic artist with USA TODAY.
It tells the tale of Rosie, a sweet girl with a sweet tooth and an even sweeter heart.
Every day after school, Rosie and her mom stop at a bakery to get cupcakes and other delicious treats. They went to the bakery so often, the owner started calling Rosie, ‘LadyCakes.’ One day, the bakery was closed. They were never closed and this made LadyCakes sad. She did something sweet for the bakery’s owner and discovered that kindness is sweet.
The Adventures of LadyCakes is also about Charles and her own experiences growing up.
“The main character of the book is loosely created based on me as a kid,” she said. “The first story is about the main character named Rosie, who likes to bake with her mom.”
Charles grew up baking with her mom and one of the things she loved making the most was checkered shortbread cookies.
“At age 8 and 10, if I loved making this recipe as much, I think others might, too,” she said.
Those who purchase “The Adventures of LadyCakes” can make the cookies using the recipe at the end of the book.
It will be the first in a series, but Charles isn’t yet sure how many will be in it. She has three ideas after “The Adventures of LadyCakes” for future titles.
“They’ll all be about different life lessons that I believe as a mother children need to learn at a young age,” she said. “Like being uniquely you, whether it’s quirky or not”
That’s the idea behind her next book.
Charles started writing “The Adventures of LadyCakes” on a plane ride to New Jersey after her godfather passed away.
“I don’t know why then, but I guess I was reminded that life is short and the things we want to do in life-we have only a short time to do them,” she said. “I felt like now is the time.”
After Charles finished writing the picture book, she found an editor to help her edit it.
While she was looking for an editor, Ahrens began creating the illustrations.
“It took a while to get them exactly how we wanted them,” Charles said. “I wanted my vision to come to life, but I wanted him to be happy with his work, too.”
Charles says she really enjoyed working with Ahrens.
“First and foremost, I’m an artist so I thought I’d be somewhat of a nightmare to work with,” she said. “It turns out we really mesh well together.”
The 24-page book also comes with a recipe for Kindness Checkered Cookies as well as a coloring page where children can design their own cupcake.
“When I was growing up, my favorite thing to make was checkered shortbread cookies,” Charles said. “It’s probably the longest recipe known to man. It’s not an easy recipe to make, but I couldn’t come up with a similar recipe I liked making as much as this one.”
Charles hopes children reading the book find out what they love to do and see the value in sharing that with others.
“I’m so fortunate that I found what I love to do with my life,” she said. “Because there are so many people who go through life not finding that.”
As for the parents, Charles hopes the book and the recipe helps them spend more quality time with their kids.
“I’m guilty as a mother, too, but it’s so hard to put your phone down and stop working and spend quality time with my kids uninterrupted and just quality time,” she said. “I hope that with the recipe in the book parents get a moment to read the book with their children and make the recipe and enjoy it.”
The Adventures of LadyCakes is available on Amazon. It’s $12.95 for a paperback and $2.99 for an EBook. Charles is also working with a distributor to get it into major bookstores.