soup of the day: never ever talk to strangers! by anne marie pace

Oh boy! Today we get to do one of my very favorite things — celebrate the publication of a first book! Woo-Hoo!

I’m happy to be able to congratulate fellow Virginia author, Anne Marie Pace, on the official release of Never Ever Talk to Strangers (Scholastic, 2010)! You can see by the cover why the ursine kitchen helpers are especially tickled by this charming picture book. Yes, they love that the main character is a bear, but they also like what Jamie’s story teaches them about stranger danger.


Jamie is all excited about the Super Safety Expert badge he receives after hearing Officer Crane’s talk at the school assembly. Over a tasty snack of grapes and milk, he tells his mom, “Strangers are people you don’t know. If a stranger talks to you, you should yell and run away.”

Later, while practicing soccer kicks, Jamie’s ball accidentally lands in the neighbor’s yard. When he goes to retrieve it, he is surprised to find a stranger offering to return his ball. Will he remember to do what Officer Crane taught him?


Geared for the preschool crowd, Never Ever Talk to Strangers! is a great way of illustrating this important lesson by presenting a realistic situation children can vicariously experience from a safe distance. It’s quite tricky teaching them about strangers without frightening them, and this story is a great introduction, the perfect springboard for further discussion and questions.

In an interview in the August 4:00 Book Hook Newsletter, Anne Marie says, “One of the hardest things for young children to understand is the difference between who is and isn’t a stranger. The truth is, we all talk to strangers every day. Grownups speak with people passing on the street, the cashier at the supermarket, someone we’re waiting in a movie line with — all people we don’t know are technically strangers. So knowing who is and who isn’t the kind of stranger you can talk to is a very confusing concept for children.”


The book contains full color illustrations by Guy Francis, who gets a thumbs up for pictures that will pull little munchkins right into the story and hold their interest. Spot-on facial expressions effectively convey Jamie’s happiness, pride, concern, fear, and relief at the reassuring outcome. Extra points for the cherry wallpaper and Mom’s polka dot dress!

So, if your child is entering school for the first time, and you’re wondering how to broach this serious subject, be sure to share Never Ever Talk to Strangers! with him/her. It is available through Scholastic Book Clubs only, and is included on the “Welcome to School” page of the September Firefly Club flyer. At only $3 each, you’ll want to order extra copies for friends, neighbors, and relatives.

Now, please join me in congratulating Anne Marie. The resident bears have prepared a back-to-school lunchbox soup especially for this momentous occasion. You’ll want to wipe your paws before slurping. This soup is guaranteed to help you kick the ball farther and score — whether your goal is a first draft, a published book, or to be teacher’s pet. Let’s hear it for first books! Hooray for Anne Marie!

Today’s Special: Jamie’s Jambalaya (a special blend of crisp fall days, safety sense, and happy learning).

A little bird told me that Anne Marie is big on pies, so we’re going to serve up a few slices in her honor. We’ll start with apple, since it is mentioned in the book:

Caramel-Apple Streusel Pie by

If you like yours à la mode, try this one:

Anne Marie’s favorite? Pumpkin, with lots of whipped cream. Both of these are just perfect for the coming of autumn!

Betty Crocker Recipes


Oh, Jamie Bear wants you to have a cupcake:


Snouts wiggling! *resident bears rejoicing*

by Anne Marie Pace
illustrated by Guy Francis
published by Scholastic, Inc., September 2010
Paperback original for ages PreK-K, 32 pp.
Includes summary of Officer Crane’s Safety Rules

♥ Check out Anne Marie Pace’s official website and Live Journal blog.

♥ Guy Francis’s website is here.

♥ Visit the Scholastic Book Club webpage for ordering information.


Thanks for writing this important and delightful story, Anne Marie! Take us for a ride in your balloon?


*Spreads posted by permission of publisher, text copyright © 2010 Anne Marie Pace, illustrations © 2010 Guy Francis, published by Scholastic, Inc. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

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