"'Always chicken feed! Day after day--year after year--I'm sick of it!' squawked Big Brown Rooster."
In this deliciously imaginative book by sisters Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel, a hungry and fed-up rooster suddenly recalls his famous Great-Granny, a fabulous chef who penned a book of recipes for future generations. He hunts down her cookbook--The Joy of Cooking Alone by L.R. Hen.
Rooster carefully turned the pages. "So many recipes--and I thought she just baked bread! Look at the strawberry shortcake!... Yes sirree--just like Great-Granny, I'll be a cook! COOK-A-DOODLE-DO-O-O!"
Upon settling down with this remarkable tale, every child's natural curiosity for cooking will likewise come bursting forth. There is a great basic story here, with plenty of creative spins on The Little Red Hen. In this version, Rooster--rebuffed by Dog, Cat, and Goose just like his Granny was--finds companionship in the kitchen with Turtle, Iguana, and Potbellied Pig. As Turtle reads the recipe aloud, Iguana continuously confuses the instructions to great comedic effect, Amelia Bedelia-style. (He tries to cut butter with scissors and beat an egg with a baseball bat.) Pig, on the other hoof, asks over and over for a chance to taste the batter. ("Looks mighty dry in there," said Pig. "Perhaps I should taste it.") Stevens's sure, friendly illustrations evoke a tremendous amount of character and activity in lightning-fast time. Take, for example, the cooking hats all the creatures don when they get to the kitchen: Turtle sports a copper-bottomed soup pot on his head, Iguana wields a candy-striped oven mitt, and Pig is wearing a kitchen towel, tied kerchief-style. They're ready!
Scattered through the story are sidebars with cooking tips that offer information on the ingredients, measurements, and techniques mentioned in the text. (Even if kids don't want to read them, they're quite handy for adults answering questions while reading.) Kids will love this lively, slapstick story of teamwork in action, and no doubt will want to try making strawberry shortcake! Fortunately, the recipe for "Great-Granny's Magnificent Strawberry Shortcake" is in the back. (Ages 4 and older) --Jean Lenihan
From Publishers Weekly
Stevens (Tops and Bottoms) and her sister cook up a boisterous romp as four animal friends set out to bake a strawberry shortcake. Rooster, tired of pecking for chicken feed, remembers that his famous great-grandmother (the Little Red Hen) wrote a cookbook, and in it he finds the recipe. Turtle, Iguana and Pig volunteer to help. If left solely to the text, the rest of the comedy-cum-cookery lesson would be fairly predictable: Turtle, reading the recipe, announces they need flour and Iguana rushes outside to pick a petunia; asked to beat an egg, Iguana hoists a baseball bat. (Handsomely illustrated sidebars explain most of the directions in depth.) Rooster sets Iguana straight while Pig keeps wanting to taste everything in sight. The illustrations, however, are startling in their pop-off-the-page dimensionality. In her characteristic style, Stevens mixes media, seamlessly combining paints, photos and computer art to witty effect; readers will want to look very closely to determine what's from real life and what's from a palette. Wearing their silly chef's hats (an inverted saucepan, an oven mitt, a kitchen towel and an apron), the four animals create a whirlwind of activity on every spread. Presiding adults should note that the strawberry shortcake recipe at the end is not as foolproof as the story would imply, even with the information in the sidebars; kids, enthused by the kitchen frolics depicted here, will surely want to attempt it. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.