Archive for 2011

Mr. Cookie Baker

Written and Illustrated by Monica Wellington

Wellington has a real talent for drawing kids into activities that also have a fun end-product. In this re-issued classic, kids learn all about cookies and where they come from. The lively illustrations make the process that much more fun.  Simple, bright pictures contain many, many details to spot and remember.

Behind a sign that tells the reader the bakery opens at 9 am, Mr. Baker is hard at work using his flour, sugar, butter, milk, eggs, and salt. With his big bowl and spoon, measuring spoons and cups, mixer, and spatulas, he mixes his dough. He rolls, cuts, and shapes. He bakes the cookies in a bog oven. They smell delicious. With care, he decorates the cookies. A crowd of customers buy the fresh product. He hangs the closed sign and has a cookie himself.

From this, and books like it, kids will learn about the processes that affect the world around them. Most will delight in helping adults try the recipes in the book, decorating the cookies, and giving them the taste test.

The presented are: sugar cookies, chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal.

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  • mr-cookie-bakerTitle: Mr. Cookie Baker                           
  • Author/Illustrator: Monica Wellington
  • Published: Dutton Children’s Books, 2011
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Picture Book, Baking
  • ISBN: 978-0-525-47763-1
  • Extras: Four standard cookie recipes

Except If

Written and illustrated by Jim Averbeck

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This beautiful and surprising book is really a lesson in not taking things at face value. When the reader encounters a blue egg, she might expect to see a bird emerge EXCEPT IF the egg contains a baby snake. The snake slithers along EXCEPT IF it’s really a baby lizard, complete with legs. The lizard can scurry up walls EXCEPT IF it grows into a dinosaur. And the dinosaur will stand as tall as the hills EXCEPT IF it’s already a fossil, a craggy hill that shelters a nest. With an egg.

The repetitive nature of the text is a good draw for first graders, who love to anticipate. The fun illustrations make it a good candidate for a read aloud, with the listeners guessing what the next exception will be. All this combines to increase comprehension of the story line and literacy skills.

The author’s website,, contains a tremendous amount of information about the author and his books. The publisher also highlights the author at

Except If

  • Title: Except If
  • Author/Illustrator: Jim Averbeck
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster, 2011
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Genre: Picture book, Imagination
  • ISBN: 978-1-4169-9544-9


Earth to Clunk

Written by Pam Smallcomb
Illustrated by Joe Berger

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The only thing worse than a pen pal from the planet of Quazar is not having a pen pal from Quazar. Our hero tries to discourage his pen pal, Clunk, by sending him smelly, annoying gifts, only to receive similar packages back from Clunk. In the process, he finds out that our differences are really our strengths. He and Clunk end up being great friends and allies, especially against his sister. The hero sends his sister, smelly socks, a scary drawing, an electric toothbrush, a string of Christmas lights, a note buried in old lasagna, baseball cards, and an invitation. From Clunk, he receives a zoid, three forps, an even scarier picture, something unidentifiable, his returned sister, and a visit from Clunk. He and Clunk make a good team.

Berger’s illustrations do a lot to enhance the story and make the reader laugh. The hero’s determination and surprise show in his expressions. The sister is understandably angry at being shipped off to Quazar. The zoid, forps, and other stuff are hilarious.

First graders have a perfect opportunity to increase their literacy skills. They also learn about friendship and responsibility in a totally silly and sneaky way. Learn more about the author on her website,, and about the illustrator on his website,

  • Earth to ClunkTITLE: Earth to Clunk
  • AUTHOR: Pam Smallcomb
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Joe Berger
  • PUBLISHER: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2011
  • REVIEWER: Sue Poduska
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-3439-5
  • FORMAT: Hard cover, 32 pages
  • GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Humor, Friendship