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Children's Fiction Emotions & Feelings

Sour Cakes

by (author) Karen Krossing

illustrated by Anna Kwan

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
Emotions & Feelings, Imagination & Play, Siblings
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 7
  • Grade: 1 to 12


Heavy emotions meet a deep well of understanding in this uplifting sibling story

Two siblings wake up in two very different moods; the older one cheerful and lively, the younger feeling sad and irritable. The big sister negotiates and cajoles, tries everything she can think of to cheer her little sister up, but nothing works. She offers to go outside and play, but her sister refuses. She suggests they color a picture, but her little sister only likes the color gray. She proposes they bake sweet cakes, but her sister only wants sour ones.

It’s only when little sister’s gloomy mood reaches a boiling point that the older sibling tries a different tactic. She empathizes and enters the gloom with her sister, and offers up compassion along with a gray picture and a sour cake. Together, they navigate the little sister’s grim, messy feelings until the siblings are able to play.

Told in striking, conceptual illustrations, this story explores empathy, emotional acceptance, mental health, and acknowledging difficult feelings in a warm, accessible way.

About the authors

Karen Krossing grew up in Thornhill, Ontario, with a family who loved to read. What could she do but read, too? Karen began to create stories when she was eight, and she continued this habit by writing poetry in high school. By then she was hooked on books, so she studied English at university then became a book editor and a technical writer. After Karen had kids, she began writing fiction for children and teens.

Karen uses writing to understand the world around her. In Take The Stairs, which was nominated for the Ontario Library Association White Pine Award, she writes about turning adversity into opportunity through the troubled lives of inner-city teens. In Pure, her latest novel, she explores sticky ethical questions about genetic engineering that today's teens will have to face in their lifetimes.

Karen is a writing instructor at Centennial College and she teaches an after-school writing program for kids and teens through Pegasus Studios in Toronto. She led workshops at the 2003 Canadian Children's Book Camp in Toronto and was on tour with TD Canadian Children's Book Week in 2005. Karen regularly conducts writing workshops and book talks at Canadian schools.

For a detailed interview with Karen, go to For contact information, please visit

Karen Krossing's profile page

ANNA KWAN is an illustrator from Toronto, Ontario. She studied illustration at OCAD University where she drew comics and funny pictures, but didn't imagine it would lead her to illustrate children's books. She enjoys eating snacks, and is always happy to pet-sit when asked.


Anna Kwan's profile page


  • Winner, Ontario Library Association Top Ten Best Bets List

Editorial Reviews

"A sensitive portrayal of acceptance and patience, accompanied by meaningful artwork that honors the feelings expressed by a little one on a bad day, as well as the loving acceptance of an older, tolerant sibling."

Sal's Fiction Addiction

"This sensitive narrative shows the significance of empathy in meeting people where they’re at."

Publishers Weekly

"By accepting big, negative emotions without condemning them or dismissing them, this book is great for launching discussions about when and how to express moods and feelings."

School Library Journal

"Sour Cakes, a sensitive story, presents a great opportunity for discussing feelings, how we can express them, and the importance of empathy."

Canadian Review of Materials

"Empathetically acknowledges children’s big feelings and engagingly models emotional health."

Kirkus Reviews

"An ode to sibling relationships and how, in particular, a sibling can lift you up when you are in the stormiest, heaviest of moods."

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

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