Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Interrupting Chicken wants Cookies for Breakfast!

Interrupting Chicken: Cookies for Breakfast, by David Ezra Stein, (Nov. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536207781

Ages 4-8

The third adorable and laugh-out-loud installment of the Interrupting Chicken series is here and ready for cookies. Little Chicken wakes his Papa up, because it’s time for breakfast and he has the perfect idea: cookies! Papa decides that reading nursery rhymes would be a better way to pass the time, and he and Chicken snuggle together as he begins to read. As the rhymes unfold, Chicken finds a way to get his point across, as he shows up in just about every rhyme, figuring out a way to mention cookies while interacting with such nursery rhyme characters as the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe and Jack Be Nimble. Will Papa finally give in and have cookies for breakfast?

This series perfectly captures the spirit of a preschooler: excited, lovable, and single-minded in focus. Chicken has amusing outlooks on life to share with readers: cookies have Vitamin C – for cookie!; the early bird gets the cookie, and nobody likes a cold breakfast (so you sit on the cookies to warm them up). Kids will see themselves in Chicken, and grownups will get a chuckle as they recognize their little ones. Warm colors invite readers into the comfortable space Chicken and Papa share.

Interrupting Chicken: Cookies for Breakfast has a starred review from School Library Journal. Download a free activity kit for the Interrupting Chicken series, courtesy of publisher Candlewick Press.

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!

Posted in picture books

Catalina and the King’s Wall helps explain current events

Catalina and the King’s Wall, by Patty Costello/Illustrated by Diane Cojocaru, (May 2018, Eifrig Publishing LLC), $19.99, ISBN: 9781632331052

Recommended for readers 5-8

Who says cookies don’t solve problems? In a fairy tale that speaks to present-day events, a king decides he doesn’t like the people in a neighboring kingdom and plans to build a wall that will keep them out. Catalina, the king’s baker, has family in the neighboring kingdom and is upset by the news, but she’s got a plan. The king loves her delicious snacks, so she encourages him to build a wall using ingredients like icing, sprinkles, and cookie dough. The first two wash away, but that cookie dough holds fast – until the king finds it irresistible, and eats his way through the whole wall! Catalina cheerfully reunites with her family, and the king never bothers anyone ever again.

Catalina was fully funded through a Kickstarter earlier this year and published earlier this month, and it’s a smart, tongue-in-cheek fairy tale that makes explaining what kids are seeing on the news a little easier to understand. At once parody and social commentary, adults will get subtle winks at lines like, “The king’s face turned from orange to red” and at the king’s framed Time magazine photo in his royal chambers (hey… did he really make the cover of Time?). We’ve got a king obsessed with having his will carried out, and a bright heroine who figures out how to work around his myopia. The watercolor artwork is colorful and bright; the king is not orange-skinned, but does wear orange hose and has a suspiciously familiar curl to the back of his blonde hair; Catalina’s mother wears a hijab.

Pair this one with The Emperor’s New Clothes, get some pre-made cookie dough, and build your own edible wall for Summer Reading. Catalina and the King’s Wall is available online and via the author’s website, which also has an events calendar.

Posted in Adventure, Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Animal Crackers – a circus like you’ve never seen!

animal-crackers_1Animal Crackers: Circus Mayhem, by Scott Christian Sava/Illustrated by Mike Holmes, (March 2017, First Second), $15.99, ISBN: 9781626725041

Recommended for ages 7-11

Seven year-old Owen’s parents drop him off for a visit at Buffalo Bob’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Animal Circus. Uncle Bob’s his great-uncle, but he’s really not looking forward to this visit, no matter how cool these animals are supposed to be. A knife-throwing elephant? A jump-roping giraffe? They HAVE to be people dressed up as animals, right? Pfft. When Owen and his family arrive at the circus, they find chaos: Uncle Bob’s missing, and so are the animals. The number one suspect is Bob’s nemesis, Contorto, and his henchcreeps. Stuck in Uncle Bob’s office while the staff try to find Bob and calm the angry masses of circus-goers waiting to see animals, Owen discovers a box of magical animal crackers. Maybe this circus thing isn’t going to be so bad, after all, especially if he can help save the day with a little help from the magical cookies.

Animal Crackers is a fun story to give to younger readers. It’s a great way to turn kids onto graphic novels and sequential storytelling. Mike Holmes, the artist on Gene Luen Yang’s Secret Coders series, illustrates the wacky, fun hijinks going on in the circus. His characters, particularly Owen and his animals, have wonderfully exaggerated facial expressions and movements to match the story’s pacing. Scott Sava creates a fun intermediate tale that kids will enjoy, and with an Animal Crackers movie coming in March, this is going to be a hot book on shelves and on wish lists.





Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Book Review: Mr. Cookie Baker, by Monica Wellington (Dutton, 2006)

cookie bakerRecommended for ages 2-4

Every day, Mr. Baker makes cookies for his crowded store. When the day is done, he gets to have one, himself.

The story takes the reader through Mr. Baker’s day, most of which is devoted to baking cookies. He counts and measures his ingredients, mixes the dough, rolls out the dough and cuts shapes with cookie cutters, bakes the cookies, takes them out and decorates them, and greets his customers. When the customers go home and all of the cookies are gone, his day ends and he enjoys a cookie. It’s a simple story that features gouache and colored pencil artwork. The flat, bright colors and clean lines, along with the fun shapes of the cookies framing the text page of each spread, adds interest to the page. Ms. Wellington’s pages are busy – there are cooking utensils and ingredients, children, sprinkles, and cookies on every page, giving the eye many places to look. The font changes color to contrast with its backgrounds – white for darker backgrounds, brown and red for lighter backgrounds.  There are four recipes at the end of the book for any parents and/or guardians interested in baking.

This book would be part of a fun cooking and baking read-aloud. With permission, parents and guardians could receive copies of the four recipes included in the back of the book. A fun storytime craft would allow children to “make” their own cookies by using precut cookie shapes and “sprinkles” (stickers).

The author’s website offers some printable activities and recipes.