cover image The Real Story

The Real Story

Sergio Ruzzier. Abrams, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-5526-2

“How did it happen? And where are the cookies?” That’s what Cat demands of Mouse after spotting the broken pieces of what was evidently a once-full cookie jar. “Those are good questions,” Mouse responds and, barely missing a beat, spins out a touching story of baked-good liberation, depicted in pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations: the freedom-seeking cookies tipped the jar over and are now gamboling free and happy through an idyllic countryside. “Honestly,” Mouse adds with no small amount of chutzpah, “we should be happy for them.” Cat insists that this isn’t “the real story,” so Mouse offers up three more seemingly reality-challenged versions—one starring a slimy green monster, one an alien named Georgette, and the last an insect with a multitude of cookie-loving cousins—before admitting to being the perpetrator. But instead of feeling vindicated, Cat realizes that the truth is awfully boring. Would Mouse come up with another story? Ruzzier (NO! Said Custard the Squirrel) gives readers a laugh-out-loud punchline and also hits on something profound and deeply human in this book about a craving for a good tale. Ages 3–6. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Oct.)