cover image Tough Cookie

Tough Cookie

David Wisniewski. HarperCollins Publishers, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15337-3

Film noir informs Wisniewski's narrative and artwork in this hard-boiled crime story, which details life in ""the Jar,"" where cookies prosper or perish ""based on freshness and quality."" The Bogart-like narrator, whose chocolate chip-pocked face is half-hidden by his yellow trench coat and fedora, has been around long enough to lose his soft spots. ""They call me a tough cookie,"" he begins. ""I guess I am. Came from a regular batch. Lots of dough."" Now he's at the bottom of the Jar with a bunch of crumbs. To make matters worse, a blonde bombshell named Pecan Sandy has some bad news about his ex-partner, Chips. Seems Chips has tussled with Fingers, a giant human hand that occasionally reaches into the Jar. The tough cookie knows he must someday fight Fingers himself; luckily, Pecan Sandy mobilizes hundreds of unappreciated crumbs for the final battle. Wisniewski, who satirized cloak-and-dagger conspiracies in The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups, effectively lampoons the detective genre. He achieves a different effect with his signature cut-paper illustrations by shading them with colored pencil, and fittingly connotes the gritty subterranean cookie world. The perfectly crisp edges of his artwork in books like Workshop here take on gradations, with folds as rumpled-looking as the narrator's trench coat, off-setting the character's purportedly hard edges. A parting shot of a Robert Mitchum-esque silhouette of the hero and his girl will satisfy any sweet tooth. Ages 6-up. (Sept.)