★★★★☆ Book Review: The Marvellous Sugee Cake by Quek Hong Shin
Lush, colourful illustrations introduces younger readers to the iconic sugee cake and Eurasian culture.
If there’s one quintessentially Eurasian cuisine we will always say yes to, it’s sugee cake. Unique in its use of semolina and rich almond taste, a sugee cake is the perfect dessert to enjoy at the end of a meal, or as a snack for afternoon tea, sure to lift your spirits.
No one knows that better than little Simon in The Marvellous Sugee Cake, the latest picture book from local illustrator Quek Hong Shin. On his seventh birthday, he already starts off the morning on a high note, with his mother handing him a whole Tupperware of homemade sugee cake. As he goes about his day meeting his multiracial group of friends and sharing his cake, trouble brews as a dark storm threatens to ruin the day.
As the fourth book in his series of picture books celebrating Singapore’s many ethnicities, Quek Hong Shin’s format is a familiar and welcome one, this time zooming in on Eurasian culture. Simon’s family is incredibly upfront about this, not just in terms of the food featured (including sambal sandwiches and pang susi), but even in how his family and friends end up singing happy birthday in Kristang, reminding us all of a language that’s fast disappearing.
Beyond this, Quek’s depiction of Simon’s home and the surrounding playgrounds will be a source of comfort for anyone who’s grown up around HDBs in Singapore. Simon’s act of goodwill in sharing his culture quite literally with his friends will also be good for younger readers to learn how sharing is caring, along with how they repay his kindness by looking out for him, and making his party one worth remembering. Certainly, a colourful, enjoyable read for you and your kids, one that leaves us hungry for an actual slice of sugee cake!
Recommended for: Parents interested in introducing their kids to Eurasian culture, and that sharing is caring. Make sure to buy them some sugee cake as you’re reading this with them!