Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story puts a heck of a spin on The Gingerbread Man!

Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story, by Edward Hemingway, (Sept. 2018, Henry Holt), $17.99, ISBN: 9781627794411

Ages 4-8

A cookie bursts out of a bakery oven and races across town, a curious fox hot on his heels. But when Fox catches up with Cookie and chomps down – YUCK! – he tastes AWFUL! Offended, Sugar Cookie protests, then bursts into tears, prompting Fox to bring Cookie to a spa to be sweetened up. No dice. He still tastes terrible. After a trip to the local park, Cookie discovers the truth: he’s not a cookie at all, but rather, an ornament of a gingerbread cookie! He’s even got a little hole in his head, all ready for a ribbon to thread through. Now that Cookie knows “what he was made of”, he’s thrilled, and happily joins his new friends on the Christmas tree in the center of the park. And he’s still sassy.

Shades of Jon Scieszka’s The Stinky Cheese Man can be found at the beginning and end of this fun holiday story, as Sugar Cookie takes off from the bakery, Fox in pursuit, singing, “Run, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me – I’m the Sugar Cookie Man!” When he’s on the tree, he changes his tune and sings, “Look, look, look at me! You can’t reach me – I’m an ornament on a tree!” Tough Cookie is a light, fun, holiday story with a nice message about self-discovery and acceptance. Edward Hemingway’s artwork gives humorous support to his words, giving us an expressive, cartoony duo that can’t figure out whether to work together or turn on each other. Poor Fox isn’t all bad, though – he tries to help Sugar Cookie out with a spa day, after all; the sigh of the two sitting in a giant mug of egg nog, being sprinkled with powdered sugar, is a sight to behold. Endpapers get in on the fun, with big-eyed ice cream cones, candy canes, shakes, and ornaments, all seemingly hanging out; some, even flirting with one another (looking at you, spoon and ice cream).

There’s a recipe for kids (and their grownups) to make their own Tough Cookies – both edible and ornamental! – at the end. Psst… make copies to have on hand so your books don’t get mangled. For in-house programming, Edward Hemingway has us covered with free printable Tough Cookie gift tags and a printable ornament that requires no cooking or baking whatsoever.

Tough Cookie is a fun way to slip into the holiday spirit. Add this one to your storytime and holiday collections, and naturally, read with Jon Sciezka’s The Stinky Cheese Man. Want a copy to call your very own? Keep reading!

Edward Hemingway is the creator of Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus, Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship, and Bump in the Night, as well as the illustrator of My Miserable Life by F.L. Block. He has written features in GQ magazine and comics for Nickelodeon Magazine, and his artwork has been published in The New York Times. The youngest grandson of Ernest Hemingway, he lives in Montana. To learn more, and for some fun downloadable activities, visit his

Want a copy of Tough Cookie to call your very own? Just head on over to this Rafflecopter giveaway!


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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