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From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Sharing a pivotal moment in her life, a cookie tells of her early days, attending school in a gingerbread house. Though she liked her teacher, Ms. Biscotti, the cookie seldom spoke up in class. Other students raised their hands before she had even figured out the answer to a question. Sometimes she made mistakes, like misspelling words or adding numbers instead of subtracting them. One afternoon, Ms. Biscotti asked her students to “create something that’s completely original” for their homework. Though initially baffled, the cookie wrote a poem revealing her insecurities and read it to the class. Encouraged by her teacher’s praise and realizing that others also felt inadequate sometimes, she became more confident and willing to try new things. The text reads aloud well, delivering the encouraging message that “we’re all smart cookies,” with a good deal of verbal wit and style. Using colors as well as line to reflect the story’s tone and the bread-and-pastry-related characters’ emotions, the digital illustrations create a bright, inviting look. A sustaining picture book from the Food Group series.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie. At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.) A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.