Review by Frank Plowright
While the first collection of Scott Roberts’ earliest Patty Cake material entertained, this second gathering improves on Sugar & Spice. Roberts is beginning to find a format that suits him, while equally having a greater confidence to let loose with his art. Patty Cake’s father Mr Bakerman is ever more exaggerated, his Irving ever more gormless.
Roberts also introduces two new characters who widen the plot possibilities. Susie McBee is either Patty Cake’s friend or rival depending on the story’s dictates, and thirteen year old sister Sandy returns expelled from her boarding school. She’s the equivalent of Angelica in Rugrats, although a little older, and possessing all Patty Cake’s traits overlaid with a knowing confidence. Her purpose is as both tormentor and protector. We’re also introduced to Mrs Bakerman, but her role is more peripheral.
The opening tale is of that perennial childhood problem, bedtime, and how to postpone it. It’s wonderfully presented, and if not from personal experience of parenting it’s all the more impressive, with Roberts even throwing in the bathwater. There are several small touches indicating what a prize storyteller he is: the dust and old-fashioned leather-bound weight of the fairy tale book, the blubbery putty Patty Cake can reduce her father to, and equally the volcanic eruption occurring when the line that should not be crossed is crossed. At sixteen pages it’s the longest Patty Cake story Roberts had produced to that point, and a signifier of the future as he became more comfortable with extended narratives.
These dominate the book, each a masterfully constructed comedy domestic drama, to be enjoyed by adults and children alike. One page and shorter strips are included, but there’s less of a scrapbook feel here. The series continues with Love is all Around.