The Dirigible Balloon
Poetry for Children

How to Make a Cake

Listen to John read his poem ...
I tried to make a cake today
for my mummy’s birthday treat;
strawberry icing, chocolate chips,
moist and rich and sweet.

I found myself a recipe
in a book from the garden shed
and looked up the ingredients.
This is what it said:

One piece of dowel, seven small planks,
a hook, some glue and nails.
I didn’t need a mixing bowl,
a spoon or weighing scales;

it said to get a hammer,
a drill, a knife and a saw,
a spirit level, your choice of paint,
newspapers for the floor.

I did exactly what it said.
I measured and made, then cut
a hole in the front, stuck on a perch,
and added seeds and nuts.

I wrapped it up and wrote a card
and gave it to my mum.
She opened it with a smile and hug,
but didn’t eat a crumb.

She took it to the garden fence
and nailed it to a stake.
I think mum must be crazy
to do that with a cake.

Some birds pecked up the seeds and nuts
and made their home inside it.
It’s the only cake I’ve ever made
but no-one wants to try it.

So I took a plate, a fork and a saw
and cut myself a slice.
Next time I’ll put more sugar in
because it wasn’t very nice.

About the Writer

John Newton Webb

John worked for years as a playwright, actor, and storyteller, especially in children's theatre. He has had poems published in a variety of magazines, and is looking for a publisher for his first children's novel. You can read some of his work, and occasional mini-essays on poetry at He lives in Sapporo, Japan with his wife and two children and a motley crew of imagined characters.