cover image Clara Ann Cookie

Clara Ann Cookie

Harriet Ziefert. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-92324-5

Ziefert and Bolam (previously paired for I Swapped My Dog) buoyantly reroute a familiar morning saga, namely, a child who wakes up grumpy. It's time to get up and dress, but Clara Ann Cookie is not cooperating: ""Mother said, `Will!'/ Clara said, `Won't!'/ Mother said, `Do!'/ Clara said, `Don't!'"" Each spread contains just enough to focus the viewer's attention: Mother offering up a jumper on a hanger, a large mirrored wardrobe, a dog whose responses mime Clara's and, of course, the sour-faced heroine. Clara's unflappable mother suggests a ""face-making"" game (looking mad, scary, ugly, etc.) that works to distract Clara so that she doesn't realize she is putting on her clothes one by one. Ziefert's nimble rhyming verse underscores the power of Clara's changing emotions, and Bolam's illustrations put them into context--her pared-down style does full justice to Clara's expressions, and gives equal emphasis to Clara's surroundings. While the compositions are minimally furnished, they sing with complementary patterns (striped stockings, checkered bedspread, geometric rug). The story picks up momentum as Clara prances with a ""snooty"" face, and later dances and giggles with her dog; in the end Clara strikes a celebratory pose, wearing even her jacket and shoes. It's a small joke, but a good-natured one, and young children are likely to enjoy it. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)