Once upon a time a wicked witch lured an unsuspecting brother and sister to a mouthwatering gingerbread house, a girl dressed in red ventured through the woods with a basket of wine and cake for her ailing grandmother, and a jealous queen disguised as a farmer’s wife offered a poisoned apple to her beautiful step-daughter.
Let’s not forget the runaway pancake, the pumpkin that magically turned into a golden carriage, the single pea hidden under a pile of mattresses, the boy who traded a dairy cow for a bag of magic beans, or the cheeky girl who entered a strange cottage and helped herself to a just-right bowl of porridge.
Surely food is the best part of fairy tales, which is why I’m especially excited that once upon a time last week, A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale by Penny Parker Klostermann and Ben Mantle officially hit the streets!
I loved their previous picture book (Penny’s debut), There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight (Random House, 2016), duly noting that Penny included a cook and his recipe book in her rollicking, rhyming, burpity-licious word feast (hilarious but “not polite!”). So, imagine my delight upon seeing how Penny cooked up a temptingly toothsome fractured fairy tale, seasoned with generous amounts of humor, surprise, suspense, wonder, and joy.
Although William lived in the magical land of fairy tales, he preferred pastries to princesses, kitchens to kingdoms, and recipes to the Royal Reporter.
William dreamed of being a chef and everything he made was perfect. But alas, his attempts at gainful employment remained undercooked: too dangerous making the Wolf Stew at the Brick House, the diners at the Three Bears Bistro were too picky, and at Gingerbread-on-the-Go, his creations were too fleet of foot.
So William decided to cook at home, and on his way to the market, he stumbled upon a box of ingredients addressed to the Fairy-Tale Headquarters. Hmmm — raw apples, beans, and a pumpkin. Why not do them a favor and spice things up?
After whipping up a storm in his kitchen, he proudly delivered Baked Apples with Caramel Drizzle, Bean Soup with Smoked Ham, and Pumpkin Pie with Cream and Candied Pecans to Judy at Fairy-Tale Headquarters. But Judy was not happy at all, and neither were the fairy tale characters who needed the original ingredients for their bedtime stories that night. Judy admonished William for cooking up trouble and tossed a book of fairy tales his way.
After reading about Snow White, Beanstalk Jack, and Cinderella, William worried that he had spoiled all their stories. What happened to Snow White after she stuffed herself on those Baked Apples and fell into a deep sleep? How did Jack fare with the giant who demanded some of that Bean Soup? And what about poor Cinderella, riding to the ball in a squishy pumpkin pie?
Sure sounds like an unsavory recipe for disaster x 3. Ah, but where there is good food, there is a good story. And where there is a talented author and illustrator stirring things up, the results can be uncommonly delicious.
I know kids will eat this book right up; they will love seeing this smorgasbord of fairy tale characters galloping, flying, climbing, stumbling, and munching their way through the pages. Ben’s colorful cartoon illustrations vividly bring Penny’s chewy words to life with a good serving of nutty sight gags and sweet delights (how to resist licking the scrumptious endpapers?).
Time to find out more from Penny herself, and yes, this ever hungry wordsmith has brought along a favorite kid-friendly recipe to share. 🙂
AUTHOR CHAT WITH PENNY PARKER KLOSTERMANN
Were you a big fairy tale reader as a child? How did you become interested in writing fractured fairy tales?
I remember hearing or reading many fairy tales as a child. They were very popular around our house.
I can’t think of a fairy tale that I didn’t like and as an adult I was completely impressed when a writer took a fairy tale and wrote a retelling. I adored the humor in The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. That’s the first book that made me wonder if I could spin a fairy tale in a new and interesting way. A few years later I gave it a go with this story.
When did you first begin to take note of the different foods appearing in fairy tales? Were there any particular picture books that inspired you to write A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale?
I wanted to write a story with several fairy tales in it and weave them together in a way that created a story/fairy tale of my own. So instead of fracturing one fairy tale I set out to do more of a fairy tale mash-up. The first inkling of inspiration for this particular story came about after reading David Ezra Stein’s INTERRUPTING CHICKEN. He’d woven several fairy tales into his story. That’s when I thought of making a list of common elements in different fairy tales. Food quickly rose to the top of my list.
What was the best part of working on this project? The most challenging part?
The best part was imagining the magical land of fairy tales — a land where, during the day, all the fairy tale characters lived, worked, and went about activities much like we do. And every night they gathered at Fairy Tale Headquarters so that when clock struck “bedtime” each character could enter their own fairy tale to recreate it for children (and adults) everywhere—night after night. I wanted the feeling that all generations forever and ever would have the beloved fairy tales. I fell so in love with the idea of the magical land of fairy tales that I’d really like to visit there some day.
The most challenging part was simplifying the plot. It was all over the place when I started. There were many parts that were wordy and not needed to tell the story. I think that’s the way it is for most picture book writers…how can I create a story that is simple yet interesting, and leave room for the illustrator to add their magic. It sounds so easy but is oh.so.hard!
Where would you like to dine most: the Brick House, the Three Bears Bistro, or Gingerbread-on-the Go? Why?
Oh, this is an easy one for me. I’d want to dine at the Brick House. And not because I’d want to taste a Pot-o’Wolf Stew. Yuck! The reason is the talented Ben Mantle! I’m in love with his illustrations of each restaurant in the book but I’m especially drawn to his portrayal of the Brick House.
Just start at the top and take in the details. The wolf weather vane. The witch flying by on her fancy-schmancy broom. The “little pig” staring out the window. The “little pig” restaurant sign. The awnings. The umbrellas. The “little pig” waiter. Pinocchio and the fox dining together. And the dragon from There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight dining at another table. Really . . . it can’t get any better.
You and Ben Mantle make such a great team. Which of his illustrations would you most like to step into, and what would you do once you got there?
The last question was an easy one for me because of Ben Mantle. But this is a hard question for me for the same reason…Ben Mantle. He made each spread so imaginative and appealing that I have a feeling if I wandered out to the edge of a page that I’d get to peek even further into the magical land of fairy tales. I said above that I love the Brick House but if I could step into any illustration it would be Cinderella riding to the ball in the pumpkin pie.
Once I got inside the illustration, I would ask Cinderella if I could join her. She looks so distraught that I think I could assure her that even though this was her first ride in a pumpkin pie rather than a pumpkin coach, she is still in the magical land of fairy tales and happy endings. Maybe then she could enjoy the gooey ride a little bit more.
Please share a funny food-related memory from your childhood.
When I was about five years old, my parents couldn’t find me. Not only were they searching, but they had my three sisters and my grandparents searching for me also. We lived on a resort with plenty of roaming room and my parents let us roam a lot. So I don’t think it’s that my parents were worried that I had gone missing but were concerned about the fact that the roaming usually took place with at least one other sister and none of them knew where I was.
Eventually they found me in the garden stuffing strawberries in my mouth as fast as I could pick them. I had red lips and red hands. I don’t know if it was the humor in a strawberry-tinted five year-old or their relief in finding me, but it ended well. They were happy to see me and I didn’t get into trouble. And the story has been a family favorite.
When you were growing up, what happily-ever-after ending did you dream about most often?
Well if we’re talking about a traditional fairy tale happily-ever-after ending, I was pretty sure I could feel a pea under a stack of mattresses even though I didn’t have a royal bone in my body. And feeling the pea would lead to a host of happy times in a castle…hidden staircases, great views from the towers, entertainment provided by an ever-present jester, and of course delicious, yummy food.
If we’re talking about a happily-ever-after ending in general, then it would be my dream of teaching physical education…which totally came true!
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about this book?
I snuck in the names of two people who are very close to me. William is my son’s name. Of course it’s fun to have my son’s name in the book. Judy (Chief of Fairy-Tale Headquarters) is the name of a close friend who died of cancer a little over a year ago. She was one of my son’s teachers, a close friend to me, and an avid reader. She loved picture books and encouraged me all along my writing journey. It means a lot to me to honor her memory in A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE.
What’s next for you?
I have several books on submission and am hoping that an editor will fall in love with one or more of my stories. And, as always, I’m recording new ideas, writing drafts, and revising like crazy!
Could you please share a favorite kid friendly recipe, perhaps related to one of your favorite fairy tales?
I have to share a recipe related to The Three Little Pigs. Not only is that one of my favorite fairy tales, but I also gave a nod to it in my book by including the Brick House as one of the restaurants in the magical land of fairy tales.
Penny's Stick House Treats
- 18 oz. white chocolate
- 3 cups pretzel sticks, broken into pieces (as if the Big Bad Wolf has blown down the stick house)
- 2 cups salted peanuts
- 1-1/2 cups Craisins
Place white chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir and repeat until melted and smooth. (You can also melt chocolate in a double boiler.) Stir pretzel sticks, peanuts, and Craisins into chocolate. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto wax paper. Cool and enjoy!
*Recipe by Penny Parker Klostermann as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.
A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE
written by Penny Parker Klostermann
illustrated by Ben Mantle
published by Random House Children’s Books, September 5, 2017
Picture Book for ages 3-7, 40 pp.
🍎 SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY! 🍎
Penny has generously offered a signed copy of A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, please leave a comment at this post telling us what your favorite fairy tale is no later than midnight (EDT) Tuesday, September 19, 2017. You may also enter by sending an email with “FAIRY TALE” in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!
*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2017 Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrations © 2017 Ben Mantle, published by Random House Children’s Books. All rights reserved.
**Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.