a list of …five sugary, chocolate-covered stories about sweets!

The Apple Pie that Papa Baked, by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jonathan Bean

“These are the apples, juicy and red, that went in the pie, warm and sweet, that Papa baked.”

This tasty book is a progressive story, in which we work backwards from the finish line.  We’ve got the pie, tantalizing, from the start.  As the story goes along, we discover the apples came from a tree, which needed roots, which needed rain, and so on down the line, until we’ve expanded to the whole big wonderful world, that blooms with life, and provides for mouthwatering pies!

Have I mentioned I’m on a Jonathan Bean kick?  I am.  I love his work.  He has illustrated this rustic story with a clear nod to Wanda Gag and Virginia Lee Burton, which you will immediately notice.  The dashes of motion which create the undulating landscape, the forms of trees and hills and forests, the color scheme, the sun watching from on high — all of these conjure up the work of these classic illustrators, as well as contributing a warm, folksy, rural tone to the story.

Handsome and delicious!  Probably safe to say that it’s best read accompanied by a large slice of hot, cinnamony, apple-pie goodness.

Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban, pictures by Lillian Hoban

The whole badger family is at the breakfast table, enjoying a delicious breakfast of soft-boiled eggs.  Everyone, except Frances.  Frances is singing a song to her egg.  “I do not like the way you slide, I do not like your soft inside, I do not like you lots of ways, And I could do for many days without eggs.”

Rather than eggs, Frances opts for bread and jam.  It’s a good, safe choice.  No runny, quivery surprises.  In fact, through the course of several days, Frances sticks up her nose at anything but bread and jam.  So, that is exactly what Mother gives her.  Bread. And. Jam.  And nothing else.

By the end of our story, we find Frances enjoying an incredible feast for lunch, including cream-of-tomato soup and a lobster-salad-sandwich on thin slices of white bread; even vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles.  How has Frances morphed from a finicky eater to a pint-sized gourmand?  You’ll have to read to find out.

Starring everyone’s favorite badger, the Frances stories are gold medal winners in our household.  As I’ve mentioned before, the audio version of these, read by Glynis Johns, is Story Perfection.    Lillian Hoban’s charming pencil drawings of dear, funny, Frances and the rest of her family, bring her little world, with its joys and woes, to life.

A Piece of Cake, written and illustrated by Jill Murphy

Mrs. Large frowns with displeasure at the unpleasant surprise she reads on the bathroom scale one morning.  Although three of her elephant children immediately reassure her that she is not fat, but just right, the baby happily sings out that “Mommy’s got wobbly bits.”  This does not help.

Resolutely, Mrs. Large declares that the entire family is going on a diet.  Soon, the Large family is gingerly sipping watercress soup at snack time and nibbling grated carrots for dinner.  Add a vigorous exercise regimen to that and the Large family feels terrible in no time.

So, when Granny sends them a luscious double-decker, cream-filled, cherry cake, everyone stares at it hopefully.  Mrs. Large sternly bans the cake.  But, what will happen when she’s not looking?  And who is that tiptoeing across the moonlit kitchen in her nightie, heading straight for the cake cupboard?

Always packed with hilarity, shenanigans, and oodles of family love, Jill Murphy’s  Large family books bring the sunshine out at storytime. Her colored-pencil illustrations are saturated with gorgeous color, delightful details, and expressive elephant faces.  Our copies are worn out!

The Cookie-Store Cat, written and illustrated by Cynthia Rylant

One lucky cat, orange as marmalade, sweet as sugar, has been adopted by the bakers in the cookie store, and there he lives.   Each day, he is greeted by kisses and delicious compliments.  “You are prettier than marzipan,” the bakers tell him.  “You are a gumdrop gem!”

Mornings, he strolls down the street, calling on all the shopkeepers who
love him so, then returns to the bakery, to snooze in the sunshine.  As regular customers come, the cookie store cat greets, listens, purrs, cuddles.  And who could stay away from such a store?  Counters are crammed with caramel clusters and ginger creams, jingle-bell puffs 
and scotch chewies.  Cherry drops march around the wooden screen door.  At Christmas, the bakers wear aprons printed with jolly candy canes.

Cynthia Rylant has written gobs of children’s books; she is an incredibly talented author.  This delectable story features her own artwork — vivid childlike drawings in lemon yellow, shocking pink, summer-sky blue, popsicle purple….with one, friendly, orange cat meandering through.  Recipes for seven Cookie Store cookies are in the back of the book.

Yummers Too:  The Second Course, written and illustrated by James Marshall

Emily Pig’s friend, Eugene, has started a new business:  a traveling Popsicle cart.  Emily is only too glad to see him coming, and of course,  she slurps down three raspberry treats in a flash.  Trouble arrives, however, when it’s time to pay up.  Emily is broke.

The only solution is for Emily to take over sales for awhile, earning the sixty cents she owes.  But, when the cart careens down a hill, crashing smack through the window of Healthy Harriet’s Health Food Store, Emily’s debts and troubles only increase.  You will have to read to find out how Emily’s problems are finally resolved when she crash lands on top of two dogs and a wedding cake!  Along the way, she happily consumes many popsicles, carob bars, chocolate eclairs, and then some!

James Marshall introduced Emily Pig and Eugene to us in the first book, Yummers.  This one is just as silly, charming, affectionate, and loaded with sugary calories!

Here are Amazon links to all these sweet titles:

The Apple Pie That Papa Baked

Bread and Jam for Frances (I Can Read Book 2)

Frances Audio Collection CD (I Can Read Book 2)

Piece of Cake (Large Family)

The Cookie-store Cat

Yummers Too!