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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Catch That Cookie! Written by Hallie Durand and illustrated by David Small. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin. 2014. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"But Marshall sat down,
considering the evidence.
The raisin in his pocket...
and the bad handwriting.
What if the G-men could
That's when he saw the
silver ball on the gym floor..."

When I was teaching kindergarten, we often started the year with The Great Gingerbread Chase. It was designed to help those new to the school find their way around, and to meet older students that they would be able to count on when they needed help. We spent the first week reading a variety of picture book variations on the traditional story and by Friday, we were ready to execute the chase. It was a great hit!

In Mrs. Gray's class, reading tales of runaway cookies is a lead-up to a lesson in cooking. As they listen to the many variations, Marshall expresses his doubt:

"They can't run for real," he told
everybody. "No way."
"Hope you're right," Mrs. Gray said.
"Because we're baking ours today!"

Marshall gave a nod.
He knew he was right."

You know that child, right??

The cookies are prepared, decorated prior to baking, and locked in the oven. Oh, my! When the timer announces that the cookies are ready to eat, they have disappeared. Rhyming notes provide the clues needed to begin the hunt:

"Too bad you didn't catch us,
'Cause we taste like candy.
Now we're on vacation
On a beach that's _ _ _ _ _."

As they follow the clues, Marshall finds his resolve ebbing. A raisin in the big black pot, tiny footprints in the gym, a silver decoration left behind...soon Marshall is leading the chase, with an idea that might roust the tiny men out of hiding. Success! And the satisfaction of knowing that he is a super sleuth!

David Small creates wonderful watercolor images to ensure that young readers are fully engaged as this story is shared. Marshall is a redheaded, freckle-faced young man with a distinct air of doubt when we first meet him. He is forthright and full of confidence. The variety in perspective and loose lines keep young readers moving forward as the children extend their search. The final rear view mirror scene is full of fun! In the end, the gingerbread man suffers the fate of all cookie treats! YUM!


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