So, as it turns out, we are, in fact, the kind of parents who bring a copy of a Laurie Berkner CD to the bakery to see if the image can be put on a three-year-old's birthday cake.

I wheeled the girl into our bakery of choice and handed the disc to the nice lady behind the counter. She stared at it, headed downstairs to talk to the bakers, and came back with the verdict: no go.

Evidently this particular bakery won't put "real people" on cakes for legal reasons. However, they were happy to put Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco, Laurie's two Tabasco-loving polar bears, onto Lucy's cake, which she happily agreed to.

Of course, the nice lady behind the counter was plying her with sugar cookies at the time of her consent, and I am pretty sure Lu would have agreed to anything, including a birthday cake featuring a Scarface-era Al Pacino on it, as long as the cookies kept coming.

In non-birthday news, the Opal Mehta plagiarism controversy has come to the best conclusion possible: Little Brown is recalling the books.

I've held off commenting on this whole mess because A., I blurbed Kaavya Viswanathan's book; B., Megan McCafferty and I have the same agent, Joanna Pulcini, and C., I gave Megan's new book, CHARMED THIRDS, a quote, too (hey, at least I'm consistent).

I've been following the story all week long, feeling sorry for everyone involved -- for a young writer who got in over her head, and for Megan McCafferty, who's worked so hard for so many years on honing the funny, irreverent, utterly convincing voice of her heroine, Jessica Darling and wound up at the center of a media firestorm for something that wasn't her fault.

She handled herself gracefully throughout what had to be an ordeal, and was generous in the wake of Little, Brown's decision. Joanna was a wonderful advocate on her behalf -- and, really, on behalf of all authors.

This is a victory not just for Megan, but for writers everywhere, affirming that an author's work and the voice she writes in, whether she writes YA or chick lit or the most sober literary fiction, belongs to her, and her alone -- an important point that got lost in the whole gleeful schadenfreude pile-up.

And I don't think this is the end of the story. I'll be interested to read more about the business of book packaging, and to see what else comes out about precisely how chunks of Megan's books wound up under Viswanathan's name, and whether she, or some anonymous munchkin at 17th Street/Alloy Entertainment was the one who put them there.

Jen