Dr. Seuss’s Bartholomew and the Oobleck

Last week, we read Stink and the Attack of the Slime Mold (see our blog about Stink Moody’s book here). After reading Stink’s book, Alex was inspired to search our bookshelves and pull out one of the great classic stories about slime—Dr. Seuss’s Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck

Bartholomew and the Oobleck tells of the time when King Derwin of the Kingdom of Didd was angry with the sky. He was bothered that only four things came down from the sky—rain, sunshine, fog, and snow. So he called his magicians and ordered them to make something fall from the sky that no one had ever seen before.

They created oobleck.

In case you haven’t seen oobleck before, oobleck is green goo that falls from the sky. When Bartholomew Cubbins, the King’s page boy, first saw it, the oobleck was coming down in the size of grape seeds. Like a bad snowstorm, it did not take long for the oobleck to start coming down in larger and larger blobs.

And oobleck is sticky. So sticky that in the Kingdom of Didd, farmers got stuck to hoes and plows, goats got stuck to ducks, and geese got stuck to cows. Soon it seemed like there was nothing anyone could do. It was up to Bartholomew Cubbins to save the kingdom.

Dr. Seuss included a delightful description of oobleck when Bartholomew was in a room with the royal trumpeter. The royal trumpeter grabbed a blob of oobleck that had landed inside his trumpet:

His fingers grabbed hold of the lump of oobleck. He could feel it squiggle around in his fist like a slippery potato dumpling made of rubber.

Of course, the trumpeter then discovered that his hand was stuck to the oobleck—with his arm inside his trumpet.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck is one of the few Dr. Seuss books that I recall ever reading that was not written in rhyme. The only parts in rhyme are spoken by the magicians, who have a small (albeit very important) role in the book. This didn’t stop either of my children from enjoying it. As soon as the oobleck started to appear, so did the giggles!

The illustrations are all done in black and white, with one notable exception. The oobleck is a vibrant green. As you continue through the book and the oobleck begins to cover the kingdom, the green takes over the illustrations. The effect is striking.

Both of my children agree that Bartholomew and the Oobleck is “very funny.” They have read it many times since slime entered our house with Stink Moody. Reading this book was a great reminder for me of Dr. Seuss’s skill as a storyteller and illustrator. I may need to bring out the rest of our Dr. Seuss collection and find out what other gems we have just sitting on the shelf. If I recall correctly, there is a story about Bartholomew Cubbins and a few of his hats—maybe we’ll look at that one of these days . . .

Bartholomew Cubbins

Have you read any great books lately?

Stink and the Attack of the Slime Mold

This year, Megan McDonald released her tenth book in the Stink series: Stink and the Attack of the Slime Mold. The book tells of the adventures of seven-year-old Stink Moody (younger brother to Judy Moody).


Stink is a member of the Saturday Science Club. One week, the head of the Saturday Science Club helps all of the members start growing slime molds. She then sends the kids home with their slime molds to watch the slime grow. Stink is a little nervous and excited, having just seen an old science fiction movie about giant slime (“the Glob”) that starts taking over a town.

At first, as his “new pet” grows, all seems innocent enough. Stink even takes his slime mold to school. But then, there is an incident with orange cheese doodles and Stink realizes that his pet has become Frankenslime. The adventures continue as Stink tries to overcome his fear of his pet, learn how to care for it, heal it when it is sick, and more!

Stink and the Attack of the Slime Mold is an easy chapter book. It has fairly straightforward text that young readers can understand on their own. The font is large and there are many pictures to go along with the story. Each chapter even concludes with its own one-page comic strip. All in all, the young reader will find this to be an inviting read!

The Stink books are little simple for Alex now, but he still reads them when he sees them. He flew through Stink and the Attack of the Slime Mold one recent afternoon, and then we sat down and talked about it. I thought a nine-year-old’s thoughts on the book might be a welcome perspective.

Our interview:

How many books about Stink have you read?

All 10

Why do you like Stink’s books?

Because they are funny and interesting. Even though I have already read them each about five times, I still like reading them. It is so funny how Stink exaggerates things and always makes comics.

What was your favorite part about Stink and the Attack of the Slime Mold?

I like how the first chapter begins with three words starting with GL: Glip! Glop! Gloop! And I liked the part where Stink makes his own slime mold. And then how he feeds it food, but then it disappears and he makes his new one.

Did you think something different would happen at the end of the book?

Yes. I thought he would find the slime mold and say “you are such a brave slime mold! You deserve to have three flakes of oatmeal!”

Do you read the books about Stink’s older sister, Judy Moody, too?

Yes, I do. In fact, I have five out from the library right now.

Which do you like better—Stink’s books or Judy Moody’s books—and why?

I like them both. As I told you with the question about why I like Stink books, I think the Stink books are just funny and interesting. I think the Judy Moody books are funny and interesting too—for example, when she has her “grouchy pencils.”

Are you more like Stink or more like Judy Moody?

I think I’m a bit like both. I can get very, very grouchy like Judy Moody, but sometimes I can be like Stink—be funny, try to make up comics, and be interesting. In fact, I made a comic by myself when I was five. It was called “Mr. Me.” It talked about my life, except in a crazy way.

Thanks for your thoughts, Alex!

Although this is not slime mold, someone recently shared a story with me about their children making their own slime. I thought I’d share a recipe for slime your kids can make at home. Really easy and fun to do!

  1. In one bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon of Borax (found in the laundry detergent aisle at the supermarket) with 1 cup of water until the Borax is completely dissolved.
  2. In a different bowl, mix ½ cup of glue with ½ cup of water. If you want colored slime, you can add a few drops of food coloring.
  3. Add the glue mixture to the Borax mixture. Stir together, or knead it with your hands if necessary.
  4. Let it sit for a minute to solidify, then remove the slime from the excess water.

Happy sliming everyone!

Mouse Scouts

At nine, Alex has now decided he has hit the age of Scouting. I’m not sure where he found out about it (probably from a book!), because I don’t think anyone in his class is involved in Scouts. One day he announced to us that he simply had to do it.

My husband and I waited a little while to see if this was one of those ideas that would just as quickly fade or if Alex truly wanted to do it. Alex kept asking, so this fall we signed him up for Cub Scouts.

Coincidentally, I recently picked up Sarah Dillard’s Mouse Scouts, which came out early this year. What a great find! Six mice just starting out in a Mouse Scout troop—while reading this book, I felt like parts of it echoed life in my own house. Just like the Mouse Scouts, we have enthusiastically memorized pledges and sewed on badges during the past month.

Mouse Scouts

In Mouse Scouts, Violet and Tigerlily, along with four other mice, have just become Acorn Scouts. They have to learn the Mouse Scout pledge, they wear uniforms (complete with little acorn hats), and they have a special summer project.

The summer project is to grow and tend a garden. Guided by sections of the Mouse Scout Handbook, the Mouse Scouts work together as a team to figure out how to plant and care for their garden.

But they discover it’s not as simple as it seems. They have to figure out how to weed and water the garden. And even when things seem to be going right, insect pests and scavenging animals come to make gardening even more challenging. The Mouse Scouts have to pull together and work as a team to overcome these tests.

Ms. Dillard has written a charming tale that is sure to attract a large following. She already has two more Mouse Scouts books out: Mouse Scouts #2: Make A Difference, and Mouse Scouts #3: Camp Out (the latter just released on October 11, 2016). And if the list of badges found at the back of book #1 is any indication, it appears Ms. Dillard has at least 13 more books planned.



Both Alex and his younger sister loved hearing about the Mouse Scouts. I had barely finished reading the book to Alex when Abby came in and asked me to start all over again with her. While I read about the garden again, Alex was happy to disappear to his room with book #2! I have heard about Violet and Tigerlily, Petunia and Miss Poppy, all week long.

The Mouse Scouts do, of course, have their own website: www.mousescouts.com. There, readers can find out more about each of the Mouse Scouts and their books. Readers can also download a free Mouse Scout Activity Kit on the website. Ms. Dillard can be found at www.sarahdillard.com.

Mouse Scouts is perfect for readers just breaking into the chapter book world. It is just over 100 pages long and has many illustrations throughout the book. Readers can elect to skip the Mouse Scout Handbook sections located at the end of each chapter to read later to make reading the book easier.

If you are looking for a great new chapter book series for a boy or girl, I highly recommend the Mouse Scouts series!

Have you read any great books lately?

Bethan Woollvin’s Little Red

In case you missed it, the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2016 list came out a few weeks ago. Included on the list of great new children’s books was Little Red by Bethan Woollvin. Alex and I read Little Red over the weekend and agree that it certainly deserves its place on the list!


Little Red is a retelling of the story of Little Red Riding Hood, with a few little twists. Unlike the main character of long ago, in this story, Little Red is much more perceptive and mindful of her surroundings. She’s also brave. When she meets the wolf, he growls at her. The book then says that this: “might have scared some little girls. But not this little girl.”

The book continues the story that we all know (without the flower-picking), until Little Red gets to Grandma’s house. Then she makes a plan.

Ms. Woollvin’s Little Red is told using simple text and illustrations. What stands out most in her illustrations is the striking use of color throughout the book. Little Red is, of course, most often shown all in red. Other than a few touches of red in other places throughout the book (my favorite is the ladybug), everything else is in shades of black and grey.

Little Red is a wonderful new take on an old favorite! I’m sure it will find a beloved home in many personal libraries.

Ms. Woollvin won the Macmillan Children’s Book Competition at the Cambridge School of Art for Little Red. This is her first picture book. I can’t wait to see what she has next for us!

Here’s what Alex had to say about Little Red:

I like how it’s mostly grey, black, and red.

I think it was funny how fat the wolf looked in the pictures. I thought it was funny how when the wolf made up his plan, he thought of a plate with Grandma and Little Red on it.

I like how Little Red rolled her eyes when she said: “Oh Grandma! What big ears you have! . . . Oh Grandma! What big eyes you have! . . . Oh Grandma! What big teeth you have!”

I like how Little Red wasn’t scared of the wolf. And how she made up a plan while looking through the window. She grabbed the axe that she saw on a stump. I like how the author adds at the end that it was unlucky for the wolf.

Many thanks to Ms. Woollvin for a great new addition to the picture book world!

Bethan Woollvin can be found at www.bethanwoollvin.com.

Have you read any great books lately?

All For One And One For All!

Among other things, Alex and I have been slowly reading as many books as we can find from 1,001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. About a year ago, I picked up a copy of Alice in Wonderland at our local library, not noticing until we got home that it was an abridged version. I almost set it aside in favor of finding a complete copy of the book. I am I ever glad I didn’t!

The abridged version was part of the old Great Illustrated Classics series. This series takes many of the old classics and writes them in a way that makes sense to children (perfect for a Third Grader)—not only are there illustrations on every other page, but the print is large, and the language is updated and simple to understand.

Alex so enjoyed the first few we read that he declared that we had to read every classic in the series. And that no one but Mom could read the classics with him!

I have to admit, a part of me felt that if he was going to read the classics, he should only read the “real” versions. But he really does love these books, and they are great introductions to the timeless stories that make these “the classics.” There’s nothing worse than being turned off from a book because you have tried to read the original unabridged version before you are ready. And I am confident that for those that he particularly enjoys, he will go back to the original texts when he is ready.

We just started the abridged version of The Three Musketeers.

Alex has been drawn into the story almost from the first page. Even though Alexandre Dumas wrote the book nearly 175 years ago, he found the perfect pacing for today’s nine-year-old boy. Stories of duels, a kidnapping, mystery, and intrigue leave Alex begging for more every night. He carries the book around the house hoping to catch me with a few moments to spare. (Of course, he COULD read it on his own—he chooses not to because he wants us to find out what happens together!)

The story also gives us a chance to talk about historical aspects of the book. We talk about the Bastille. We talk about dueling. We talk about who the Cardinal is and why he has his own guards. One thing I’ve learned as Alex has read books over the past few years is that when he learns things by reading stories, he remembers them very well. So we now have a basic understanding of French history in the early 1600s. What a fantastic perk from an already great book!

If you are interested in exploring the classics with your child, or if your child has asked to read one of the great stories of the past, I highly recommend starting in the Great Illustrated Classics. They are a great way to ease into this genre.

Have you read any great books lately?

The Journey Begins

I’m a writer now.

When I tell others about this new venture, I always begin the tale a few months back—when I just HAD to open my laptop and start drafting. But that’s not the true beginning of the journey, and I haven’t been walking it alone.

The seed for this new adventure was planted shortly after my son, Alex, moved from easy-reader books to chapter books. After reading only a few chapter books with me, Alex was reading them on his own. He quickly began flying through the available books at his reading level.

I soon discovered to my frustration that, while there were any number of easy chapter books about fairies and princesses and ponies, there were far fewer easy chapter books that were designed to appeal to boys. We were fortunate that Alex was reading so early—he was young enough that he was satisfied with the pet-needs-a-home books that the boys in his class turned their noses up at a year or two later. Alex eventually moved out of chapter books and into middle grade books, and found plenty to read there.

Over the next four years, that initial frustration had time to percolate and take shape in my creative subconscious until it was brought back to the surface earlier this year. We have returned to the world of chapter books—this time with my daughter. This go-round, however, we are reveling in the books about fairies, princesses, and ponies. I’m sure we will have read them all before we’re done.

When I returned to the chapter book section of our library, I was reminded of the frustration I felt when Alex was in this phase. Instead of lamenting the lack of options available to boys (and I should note that the variety has grown a bit over the last four years), I realized that I should help fix this problem. And I began to write down the story that had been begging to come out for months.

And so here we are. I’m a writer, and Alex—my sous-chef—is editing drafts, helping to research, and discussing book ideas.

What about those intervening four years? Alex and I have been researching for this for years, we just didn’t realize it. Reading is part of the bedtime routine in our household, and we often find plenty of extra reading time on weekends (and any other time we can fit it in). We read everything from picture books to chapter books to more advanced novels. And above all else, we enjoy that time we spend together.

So this is what I want to share with you in 2 Cooks Crafting Books: Our love of reading and some of the many great books that we find along the way. I’m sure there will be some books that have been around a while, some that are just making it out into the world, and maybe even a few notes from Alex here and there.  Every once in a while, I may sprinkle in a story or two about our own books.

I hope you enjoy our journey.