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Children's Fiction Europe

Honey Cake

by (author) Joan Betty Stuchner

illustrated by Cynthia Nugent

Tradewind Books
Initial publish date
Jan 2007
Europe, Jewish
Recommended Age
9 to 12
Recommended Grade
4 to 7
Recommended Reading age
9 to 12
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2007
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


For David Nathan, Copenhagen is the most beautiful city in the world. Even Nazis in the street can’t make Copenhagen ugly. But life has changed since the soldiers arrived. His parents are always worried. And his older sister goes to school early and comes home late. Sometimes she doesn’t come home at all! David’s father is a baker, and since the war began, butter and cream are very hard to find. So David is amazed when his father makes a “special order” of cream-filled chocolate éclairs. But when no one comes to pick up the éclairs, David is asked to run a very special errand. It’s an errand that will change his life . . . forever.

About the authors

Joan Betty Stuchner has a head full of stories. Instead of playing the fiddle, she plays with words; on stage and on television, with students in a classroom, in poems and stories—which includes her book A Peanut Butter Waltz. She lives with her husband and son in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Richard Row was not born with the ability to draw; he watched carefully, then practiced, practiced, practiced! He worked as a commerical artist for many years, then moved to books, illustrating versions of Anne of Green Gables and Heidi. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and three children.

Joan Betty Stuchner's profile page

Cynthia Nugent
is a nationally recognized and award-winning children's book author and illustrator. Her first book, Mister Got to Go, is now considered a Canadian classic. All of her books have been on the Canadian Children's Book Centre's Our Choice lists. She also makes book trailers and apps and has animated several Tradewind titles. Cynthia lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her Yorkshire terrier Emma.

More information is available at

Cynthia Nugent's profile page

Librarian Reviews

Honey Cake

In late September 1943, the Danish authorities learnt that the Germans were about to deport the Jews of Denmark to concentration camps. Very quickly, the Danish people arranged a fleet of fishing boats to carry all teh Jews to Sweden. This historical event is brought to life through the eyes of David Nathan, whose family is rescued by his courageous Christian friend Else Jensen and her family. This is a tale of friendship, honour and bravery, when all Danes dreamt of one thing only: the sweet taste of freedom.

This short book presents an interesting and heartfelt perspective on the events of World War II and can be shared with developing novel readers as a good example of historical fiction. It is the story of a special friendship between a boy and girl, and a story of honour and pride in times of adversity. Students will be heartened by the bravery of David Nathan, a Danish Jew, who is sent on a special mission to distract the Nazi soldiers

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.

Honey Cake

Honey cake is a treat baked once a year by nine-year-old David’s mama, even though his papa is a respected baker in Copenhagen. For their Jewish family, the cake helps to welcome a “sweet New Year” at Rosh Hashanah. In this short, historical-fiction, novel based on the Nazi occupation of Denmark from 1940-1943, the honey cake also comes to symbolize “the sweet taste of freedom” for the many Jews who escaped to Sweden in fishing boats thanks to the non-Jewish Danish people. One day, David must unexpectedly assist his older sister’s courageous Resistance work. This book is enhanced by an afterword explaining the Danish Resistance movement, a honey cake recipe and letters between David and his best friend.

The author and illustrator both live in Vancouver. Cynthia Nugent is the award-winning illustrator of Mr. Got To Goby Lois Simmie.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2007-2008.

Honey Cake Joan Betty Stuchner’s Honey Cake chronicles the fictional exploits of one Jewish family caught up in the madness of the Nazi occupation of Denmark. In eight short chapters, she allows younger readers to become part of the Nathan and Jensen families from September to November of 1943, as nine-year-old David Nathan and his best friend Elsa Jensen live with the changes forced on both home and business life. Black-out curtains, air raids (with warnings from the Jensen’s budgies) and secrets entailing both honour and bravery leave readers breathless for more. Struchner introduces revered Danish notables like King Christian X, Hans Christian Andersen and Victor Borge, adding flavour in much the same way David’s mother adds the spices to her famous honey cake (symbolic of the friendship between the Jewish Nathan and Christian Jensen families). Subsequently the Nathans are hidden and helped to escape to Sweden.

The simple plot is appropriate for a younger reader’s glimpse at a very difficult period and the black-and-white illustrations of Cynthia Nugent capture perfectly both the tensions of the characters and their joy. Her drawing of the comic silliness of the goose-stepping children behind the Nazi soldiers acts as a perfect foil to the story’s dialogue of parental concern for their safety. Unfortunately, the book lacks cover appeal for the age group.

Each year, at my school, we tell the story of the brave Danes and their King using the picture book The Yellow Star by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Henri Sørensen. This year we will certainly highlight Honey Cake as the perfect continuation to their study. With a recipe for honey cake included in the book and an afterword detailing more of the story, it’s certain to improve the students’ understanding of this time.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2008. Vol.31 No.4.

Honey Cake

It is 1943 in Copenhagen. Nazi soldiers roam the streets. Young David Nathan is asked to make a very special delivery, which will change his life forever. Based on historical events, this is a story of friendship, honour and bravery. Includes illustrations.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2008.

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