[review and recipe] Catch That Cookie by Hallie Durand and David Small (+ surprise giveaway!)

Stories about runaway food — whether pancakes, bannocks, rice cakes, latkes, tortillas or gingerbread men — have long delighted children of all ages. Though Queen Elizabeth I is credited with the first man-shaped gingerbread cookie, portraying the Gingerbread Boy as a story hero is a uniquely American invention. The cheeky, spicy guy first appeared in print in an 1875 issue of St. Nicholas Magazine, and he’s been running and taunting readers ever since.

In the charmingly clever interactive mystery Catch that Cookie (2014), which was inspired by author Hallie Durand’s son, young Marshall doesn’t believe gingerbread men can walk or run. Sure, he’s heard all the stories his teacher Mrs. Gray has shared with the class, but Marshall doesn’t buy any of it. Cookies are for eating, period.

When it’s time for them to make their own gingerbread boys, Marshall enjoys mixing the dough (Mrs. Gray tells him he “rocked” it), and decorating his little man with “good stuff”: six raisins for eyes and a special silver-ball belt. But later when Mrs. Gray unlocks the oven to retrieve the baked cookies, they’re gone!

Luckily, those saucy little rascals have left rhyming riddle clues as to their whereabouts, so now Marshall and his classmates are off on a wild cookie hunt all over the school.

If you can find us, we’ll be your snack,
But if you can’t, we’re never coming back.
We ran from the oven, we were bored and hot,
Now we’re hiding in a big, black _ _ _ .

Will they be able to find those sassy cookies? Will Marshall change his mind about believing they can run? There’s never a dull moment as the kids race from kitchen to sand table to gym to doll corner from one riddle to the next. What makes the story especially fun is we’re never really sure whether all of this is somehow Mrs. Gray’s doing, or if it’s really magic. Judging by the mounting evidence (footprints all over the gym, the stray raisin and silver ball), as well as Hallie’s captivating storytelling and Caldecott winner David Small’s funny, spirited illustrations, I’d say it’s definitely magic. 🙂

The rhyming clues are little poetic gems, propelling the narrative forward at a swift pace. It’s amusing to observe Marshall’s gradual change of heart, feel the energy and exuberance of his classmates, and it’s quite refreshing to meet Mrs. Gray, a true original in her dangly earrings and striped tights.

I love this enchanting mash-up of mystery, suspense, mischief, poetry, problem solving, audience participation and humor presented in a relatable, realistic school setting. Marshall is personality plus with his freckles and mop of curly ginger hair, and readers will be instantly drawn into his dilemma. I especially like Small’s use of free-flowing gingerbread-colored wash in the early part of the story, much like a spicy fragrance wafting through the air as the cookies are made and baked.



Catch That Cookie is a natural choice for the holidays, the season of magic and wonder, but it’s also a good year-round read, because we always need an inspiring reminder to believe. I’m also tickled to find a story that’s given new meaning to the term “fast food.” So what are you waiting for? Put on your sneakers and run right out to catch this one — if you can! 🙂




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C – O – O – K – I – E – S!

Here is Hallie’s favorite gingerbread cookie recipe from Taste of Home. Am definitely adding it to my recipe box. We thank her for sharing it as well as several Fall Book Tour photos.


Total Time: Prep: 30 minutes + chilling. Bake: 10 minutes/batch + cooling.

Yield: 60 cookies


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Vanilla frosting of your choice
  • Red and green paste food coloring


1. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight or until easy to handle.

2. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with floured 2-1/2 inch cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool. Tint some of the frosting red and some green. Decorate cookies.

Tip: Lock your oven door and stand guard while cookies are baking, unless you fancy chasing down your cookies. 🙂


The real Mrs. Gray, Hallie, and David

Hallie biting into a G-man.

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written by Hallie Durand
illustrated by David Small
published by Dial BFYR, 2014
Picture Book for ages 3-5, 32 pp.
*Starred Review* from Booklist

*More about Hallie Durand and this book at Writing and Illustrating’s Free Fall Friday.

* Read about how David Small designed the Catch That Cookie cover in his Illustrator Saturday feature at Writing and Illustrating.

* Cool reviews at Librarian’s Quest and Sal’s Fiction Addiction!

*** SURPRISE GIVEAWAY:  Would you like to win a copy of CATCH THAT COOKIE signed by BOTH Hallie Durand and David Small? Just leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EST) Thursday, December 18, 2014!! Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Winner will be announced on Friday.




*Spreads from Catch that Cookie posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2014 Hallie Durand, illustrations © 2014 David Small, published by Dial BFYR. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


37 thoughts on “[review and recipe] Catch That Cookie by Hallie Durand and David Small (+ surprise giveaway!)

  1. My kids’ kindergarten teachers read Gingerbread Man stories and, on the last day of school before Christmas, lead a “chase” through the school, finding notes that the Gingerbread Man had lead behind, but always *just* missing him. While they were gone, parent volunteers would set up gingerbread cookies in the classroom. 🙂 Today’s book would have fit in perfectly!

    And thank you for the Christmas card! ❤


    1. Yes, I’ve heard that these gingerbread man hunts are quite common in pre-school and lower elementary grades. Terrific idea 🙂 — wish they did that back in the Neanderthal period when I was in school.:)


  2. I had no idea about the Queen. And yes, I too think the idea of a gingerbread man (or girl) hunt would be fun! I love ginger cookies, although I tend to prefer them soft, which unfortunately doesn’t work as well for people shapes!


    1. Apparently the Queen enjoyed having likenesses made in gingerbread as gifts. Pretty clever girl :). I hear you on the soft ginger cookies — I like them nice and chewy . . .


  3. Hallie’s wonderful rhymes are super lucky to work with David Small’s fabulous illustrations. Great post and I just was thinking about making gingerbread Hannukah cookies for tonight. Thanks for the recipe.


    1. I’ve been a David Small fan since Imogene’s Antlers — it’s fabulous that he and Hallie worked together on this book. Have fun making the cookies tonight — and Happy Hannukah!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The holidays definitely wouldn’t be complete without those G-men. Hope you’re having a fabulous holiday season so far, Tamara :).


  4. Cute post. I am on the waiting list at the library for this book and can’t wait to see it. Next week my grandkids and I will be making gingerbread men. Hopefully we will read the book at the same time. Thanks for the post and recipe.


  5. Jama,

    You always do such a good job with these picture – recipe post. I’ll have to tell everyone over at WritingandIllustrating.com this week. Maybe I will use your recipe and sit out the book for Christmas visitors.

    Love your eye candy, too.



    1. Thanks for the kind words and support, Kathy. I hope you make the cookies and share the book with your holiday visitors :). Seems like the best eye candies come from Britain . . .


  6. Oh my goodness Jama! This is one of my favorite food books of the year. Your reviews are so much fun. And what do I see when I get to the bottom…a mention of my review. Thank you so much. Happy baking!


  7. Jama, you inspire me so much. Your posts reflect the passion you have for books and food and I love them. Thank you for this fun and informative and delicious post. I’d be happy to offer a signed copy (by me and David) to the person with the most innovative baked cookie!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love this post!I wish I had that gingerbread costume when I taught Kindergarten! The weeks before holiday Break where all about the gingerbread.
    Thanks for memories! I am off to bake some gingerbread!


  9. This looks so cute! My daughters’ preschool had Gingerbread Man days, where the kids made gingerbread man cookies, then had to go hunting for them, because they ran away. It was adorable. Now I’m hungry for gingerbread cookies…


  10. Looks like a fun book – and I’m glad it doesn’t just repeat the original story, but uses it as a springboard to another, completely new story. Thanks for sharing! (And for the recipe!)


    1. Yes, it’s not just a retelling — and the best part is that it’s based on a real experience involving Hallie’s son Marshall (who asked that the car doors be locked so the G-men couldn’t run away).


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