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 Early Reader, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Handmade Holidays: Books for the littles

Don’t shoot me, I know we haven’t even hit Thanksgiving yet! But you and I both know that the holidays have a way of sneaking up on you, and I have some books that are perfect to let the kiddos make their own special gifts to celebrate the season. (Plus, you know me, I love a program in a book.)

Gift Boxes to Decorate and Make: Christmas, illustrated by Sarah Walsh,
(Sept. 2017, Nosy Crow), $15.99, ISBN: 9780763696375

Every single page in this book can be colored in and made into a box! Pages are perforated, to easily tear out, and scored for easy folding. This is such a great idea for storing little goodies for teacher gifts; you can take care not to rip the boxes when you open them and hang them up so you have a nice piece of artwork; or, you can keep little things like paper clips or rubber bands in them. It’s the gift you’ll enjoy receiving because it’s handmade, and the kids will love creating their own gift for you.


Make and Play: Christmas, illustrated by Joey Chou,
(Sept. 2017, Nosy Crow), $11.99, ISBN: 9780763696160

From the time my older kids were little, we’ve had a tradition of buying ornaments to decorate and hang on our tree. I’d buy kits from Oriental Trading, plain ornaments at Michael’s, anything my boys could make their own; I date them and hang them on the tree, and it’s created a sweet legacy to look back on. This year, I’m going to give my 5 year-old a new project: Make & Play Christmas! There are 10 absolutely adorable die-cut pieces to press out and create, all with die-cut slots to easily fit pieces together, and holes to tie string or ribbon through, to hang on the tree. From angels and colorful ornaments, to Santa and his reindeer, there is something for every kid to enjoy. A fun activity section at the end has more ideas to get ready for the holidays: craft instructions for paper chains, reindeer prints, and DIY wrapping paper; the words to “Jingle Bells”, “Deck the Halls”, and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”; and recipes for gingerbread cookies and snowball truffles. Way too much fun!


Press Out & Color Christmas Ornaments, illustrated by Kate McLelland,
(Sept. 2017, Nosy Crow), $15.99, ISBN: 9780763696184

For slightly older kids who want in on the fun (or little ones who want more to color), there’s Press Out & Color Christmas Ornaments. There are 20 die-cut ornaments in here for coloring; outlined in shiny gold foil and featuring beautiful designs including rocking horses, Russian nesting dolls, nutcrackers, and snowflakes. There are standalone pieces and pieces that fit together to make 3-D ornaments, and small holes punched in at the top to thread ribbon or thread through to hang up. Absolutely stunning.


Make & Play Nativity, illustrated by Joey Chou,
(Sept. 2017, Nosy Crow), $11.99, ISBN: 9780763696177

Last one for now! This Nativity, also illustrated by Joey Chou, makes a great gift to place under someone’s tree. There are 20 press out and put together figures to create the Nativity scene. Pages are thick and sturdy, and the pieces fit easily together; ideal for little fingers; instructions are included for more complex pieces, like the manger. Christmas activities feature at the end of the book: the Nativity story; crafts, like Make a Christmas Star, Make an Advent Calendar, and Make a Christmas Angel; and Christmas carols “Away in a Manger”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, and “We Three Kings”.