a big bowl of goodness: No Mush Today by Sally Derby and Nicole Tadgell


For breakfast this fine Monday morning, we’ve got mush!

Just released this month by Lee and Low, No Mush Today, by Sally Derby, will provide a satisfying meal for picture book fans needing some familial reassurance.

Nonie is fed up with her bowl of cornmeal mush and her baby brother’s crying. Why not go live with Grandma?

After all, Grandma “attends” when Nonie speaks, and calls her “Sweet Pea.” They head out to grown-up church, where neighbors greet them along the way. Once there, Nonie’s daddy winks at her, trying to make her smile.

But Nonie’s having none of that, and later grumps that no one told her there was going to be a church picnic. Grandma calls her along, saying, “We’ll all go together.”

After a delicious lunch of fried chicken, three kinds of cake, and lemonade, Daddy finally convinces Nonie to go on a boat ride. He shows her some wonderful things, including a family of ducks. “Ducklings stick with their families,” he reminds her.

After a lovely afternoon, they head back home, where Momma’s waiting at the gate, and Nonie’s brother is smiling and reaching out for her. By then, Nonie realizes she has missed her family, and maybe being with them isn’t so bad after all. She’ll come back under one condition — no more mush!

Written in spare text that conveys believable, child-centric emotion with a splash of Southern dialect, No Mush Today is beautifully illustrated in soft watercolors by Nicole Tadgell. Tadgell expands the narrative by creating a context of loving communion, a small town backdrop of good folk and simple pleasures. The warmth of family radiates in spreads showing neighbors and church friends greeting each other with big smiles and hugs. And then there’s Nonie’s toy duck, which young eyes will follow with great interest.

When it isn’t clutched tightly in her hand, it’s sitting on the table or peeking out of her pocket, a constant companion for a child missing the attention of her parents. At the end of the story, Nonie hands the duck over to her little brother, a sweet gesture that shows her heart has opened up a little to sharing her parents with a sibling. Just as her daddy said at the park, “Lots to learn from ducks.”

The yellow endpapers, Nonie’s yellow hair ribbons, and of course, the yellow toy duck, visually complement the bowl of cornmeal mush. Take your time with this book in order to fully appreciate its riches. The children you share it with will likely say, “More mush today!”

No Mush Today has received glowing reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Rutgers, and Booklist, which you can read at the Lee and Low website.

Check out these cool photos showing how the artwork was done at Sally Derby’s website.

And drop by Nicole Tadgell’s blog. It’s the friendly thing to do!

*Interior spreads posted by permission, copyright © 2008 Nicole Tadgell, published by Lee and Low Books, Inc. All rights reserved.

most memorable breakfast scene in cinema

what kind of breakfast are you?

You Are Fruit

Healthy and sweet, you can appreciate a simple quality breakfast like fruit.

You don’t need to put a lot of processed junk in your body… you’re happy with what nature provides.

People have probably accused you of being a health nut, but you just like the best simple foods.

You care about what you put in your body. And it shows!

toast to toast


One slice or two?

I love you, toast, I do.

Forgive my dalliance with chewy English muffins and poppy seed bagels. My fascination with showy waffles. My unabashed drooling over muffins and pancakes and other batter beauties. When all is said and done, when a person is weary of gimmick and falderal, there is only you, my toast — simple, basic, and totally unassuming.

Why did I ever think anything could replace this bastion of breakfast? There are some (gasp!) who find toast boring and unresponsive. I dare say they have lost touch with their inner crumb.

When I was little, my older brother and I sometimes ventured to Grandma Kim’s house for breakfast. Both our parents worked, so we were left to our own devices much of the time. We’d arrive on her doorstep unannounced, and didn’t have to say a word. One look at us and she knew exactly what we wanted.

First, half a slice of sweet, cold, homegrown papaya. Next, two almost hard boiled eggs, not too runny in the middle. And then, the best part –a perfectly toasted slice of white bread, generously buttered all the way to the edges, with a coating of fresh guava jelly. Her signature presentation? The toast folded precisely in half, perfect for small hands and eager mouths. Biting into that combination of warm, chewy bread, butter and jelly, told us we were safe, loved, and always welcome.

Toast is the stuff dreams are made of.

Now, I’m not the only one who worships at the shrine of toast. Do you know Mercy Watson? Yes, she’s a pig, but no ordinary porker. She’s the porcine wonder who stars in her own series of early readers. I absolutely. Love. This. Series. I mean, we’re talking Kate DiCamillo here. With illos by Chris Van Dusen.

Mercy lives with Mr. and Mrs. Watson, who are all retro-50’s smiley and kind. They love and indulge her, and everything she does delights them. Her weakness? Hot buttered toast. Stacks and stacks of it. Her pursuit of and acute awareness of HBT makes for some rollicking good stories. So far, in Books 1-4, she’s “rescued” the Watsons from a falling bed, hijacked a pink cadillac, foiled an intruder, and dressed up as a princess for Halloween.

The latest installment, Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig, finds her in trouble for eating the neighbors’ newly planted pansies. She manages to escape Animal Control, and as in the other books, there is a big feast of HBT at the end for all concerned. Chris Van Dusen’s cartoony illustrations jack up the humor several notches with manic energy and hilarious facial expressions. If you can read one of these books and NOT crave HBT, there is something seriously wrong with you. Really.

I’ve just finished a slice of white toast with butter and guava jelly, and I miss Grandma Kim. I loved the sound of the toast popping up and the knife scraping the toast as she buttered it. Such is the power of simple food, lovingly prepared.

How do you like your toast?


More Toast Love:

Visit the Cyber Toaster Museum.

What about a toast-it note instead of a post-it?

Make some Bite Me/I’m Hot Toast!

Australian art on toast.

Uber cool musical toast.

And then there’s always this:

Butter me up!

who are your favorite literary stud muffins?


Okay, friends. It’s muffin time!

Today, we’re featuring a zero-calorie breakfast that’s sure to get those creative juices flowing. It’s also very easy on the eyes — a dozen freshly baked literary stud muffins!

Since we run an equal opportunity bakery here, we’ve actually got six muffins and six muffinettes. Each was featured in a film or TV series based on a well-known book (or play), and all of them totally blew me away with their consummate acting, drop-dead gorgeous looks, charisma, and enormous staying power.

After you’ve feasted on this achingly sweet breakfast, please vote for one stud muffin and one stud muffinette. Write-in votes are accepted if your fave is not listed here. Enjoy!

Bring on the studs!