[I find it hard to review picture books without spoiling the story, so bear with me here]. This story starts with a witch – a not-very-clever witch – who owns a cookie tree. She is selfishly happy to have the tree all to herself when she spies Cookie Monster innocently taking a walk in the woods. In a moment of panic she casts a spell on the tree so that he (and yes, the tree does seem rather male) will only give his cookies to people who share. Sure enough, when Cookie Monster spies the tree and tries to take cookies, he is thwarted by the spell. He returns to Sesame Street to find someone to share cookies with, but no one will believe him! Sadly, he makes his way back to the tree to find the witch, who is hopping mad because the tree won’t give her any cookies either. The two decide to make a truce and share cookies (awwwwww). Just when the story is about to become heartwarming and teach a Valuable Lesson on Sharing, Cookie Monster attacks the tree and stuffs himself, leaves and all, shouting “Here. One for you witchie, and one for me. Wait. This one not ripe. Me eat it. This one look okay, but me taste first,” while the hapless tree and helpless witch protest in vain.
In other words, if you’re looking for a book with a moral lesson on the value of sharing, you should probably move on. If bad grammar (even when spoken only by big blue monsters) annoys you, this may not be the book for you. But if you know a child with a mischief grin and a glint in their eye, a little Calvin who will appreciate that the story has a “bad boy” ending, then this may be the book for you. I don’t remember what I thought of this book (I don’t remember much about pre-school), but I do remember reading it to my youngest sister when I was around ten, and I thought it was hilarious then (she liked it well enough). I also read it to my 4-year-old (mischievous) nephew this summer, over and over again. He was mesmerized the first time around, giggled the whole way through the nth other times, and then insisted that he borrow my copy for the balance of his visit in Canada: all signs of a definite hit.
A quick word about Mathieu’s drawings. He draws in the classic Sesame Street style and all of the characters are instantly recognizable. But what I like the best is the way he draws expressions on the Tree. The cookie tree’s facial expressions, along with the characters’ “side dialogue” expressed in word-bubbles, make the book.
Reading Ages: 3-5
Witch: Hi Tree!
Tree: Oh, it’s you again.
Rating: A- The minus is for the poor grammar. I know that this is supposed to be a part of Cookie Monster’s charm, but when I was reading it out loud I couldn’t help but notice how silly it sounded in my ears, and how wrong. I admit that I kind of, sort of, improved the grammar at some points to make it sound less silly.