cover image Too Many Cooks

Too Many Cooks

Margaret McNamara, , illus. by Nate Wragg. . Disney Press, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-14231-0539-8

Rats in the kitchen are not normally a welcome sight, but kids will be delighted to spy the amusing and assuredly appetizing antics of the rodents that star in this comical culinary caper, a tie-in to the new Disney/Pixar film Ratatouille . First seen scampering into a fancy Parisian restaurant, the cheerful rats are introduced in a counting rhyme (“One rat, two rats, three rats, four”) as they assemble (and sample) ingredients in the kitchen. After some prep work, the cooking begins—with decidedly delectable results. Reflecting the gourmet fare being prepared, the verse’s vocabulary (defined at the back of the book) is quite sophisticated: “Blanch the chestnuts for ragout./ Poach a scallop! Make a roux!/ Whip the cream in copper bowls./ Pile puff pastry for profiteroles.” McNamara (the Robin Hill School books) adds dollops of wry humor: as the frantic chefs retrieve a sumptuous concoction from the oven (“All at once—finished, done”) one of them frets, “Will the critics just make fun?” The bubbly rhymes trip off the tongue, but the real pièce de resistance here is the energetic art by Pixar artist Wragg, a first-time picture book illustrator. At his clever hand, the comically expressive, toque-wearing rats execute gastronomic moves that kids will relish—and return to devour again. Ages 3-7. (June)