Tough Cookie

Tough Cookie

3.5 2
by David Wisniewski

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Sam Spade, move over! In his years on the force, Tough Cookie Busted the Ginger Snaps and broke up the Macaroons. Now living as a private eye at the bottom of the cookie jar, he learns that Fingers has gotten his old partner, Chips. With his best girl, Pecan Sandy, at his side, Tough Cookie sets out to put Fingers away, for keeps! This hilarious spoof will have


Sam Spade, move over! In his years on the force, Tough Cookie Busted the Ginger Snaps and broke up the Macaroons. Now living as a private eye at the bottom of the cookie jar, he learns that Fingers has gotten his old partner, Chips. With his best girl, Pecan Sandy, at his side, Tough Cookie sets out to put Fingers away, for keeps! This hilarious spoof will have readers rolling in the aisles.

00-01 Keystone to Reading Book Award Masterlist

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4 This crime caper set in a cookie jar filled with cookie characters is a delicious spoof on detective stories complete with a trench-coat clad hero and staccato dialogue. "Life is tough at the bottom of the cookie jar. It's a long ride to the Top of the Jar. I begin to think maybe I'm a nutbar ." Will Tough Cookie be able to rescue his friend Chips, who has been snatched and chewed by Fingers, and reunite with his true love, Pecan Sandy? Wisniewski's cut-paper illustrations play to the drama and lend dimension to the tongue-in-cheek lampoon. The level of humor is similar to that in The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups (Lothrop, 1998), and children will giggle over the obvious. However, the subtleties of movie and mystery references are adult punnery. No adult will be able to read TC's first-person account aloud without using a deep Bogart-like voice. Move over Sam Spade. Julie Cummins, New York Public Library Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
New York Times Book Review
Each of the book's 28 pages is filled with delicious text that reflects perfectly the rhythm and style, the dry, spare delivery of a Chandler or Hammett hard-boiled hero.
—Larry Gelbart
Kirkus Reviews
Sometimes the way the cookie crumbles is a saving grace, particularly in this clever spoof on a hard-boiled detective tale, set inside the cookie jar. The "tough cookie" who narrates is a trenchcoat-wearing, gruff detective who came from a good family—"Lots of dough. Lived the high life. Top of the Jar." But when he hit bottom, he became a P.I. Now he's tracking the culprit who's making mayhem out of the cookie jar by snatching away cookies such as the Pfefferneuses, and roughing up the tough cookie's partner, Chips. Some quick thinking on the part of the P.I.'s delicious (a politically correct adjective, in this case) former girlfriend, Pecan Sandy, and a crowd of cookie crumbs thwarts the greedy fingers once and for all. The hero gets his man—or hand—and the girl. Wisniewski (The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups, 1998, etc.) is dead-on witty, while his torn-paper collages have a authentically crumbly look. The puns are numerous, but good, and visual details—such as the map of the Jar, a wanted poster showing the shadowy outline "Fingers," and more—guarantee lots of giggles for onlookers young and old. (Picture book. 4-10)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.25(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.25(d)
AD90L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

David Wisniewski passed away in his sleep, from an unknown illness, on September 11, 2002. Born in 1953, he had all-too-brief a life and leaves behind his lovely wife, Donna, and their two children, Ariana and Alexander. 

Just this week David had seen the finished books for Halloweenies, and he was so happy with how it turned out.  

He will, of course, be remembered as the 1997 Caldecott Medalist for his 6th book, The Golem. But perhaps even more, he'll be known for his off-beat postmodern humor, seen in Tough Cookie, The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups, and Halloweenies. Everyone who knew him loved his wit and his vibrancy; he was also quite an inspirational speaker. We will miss him.  

In His Own Words:

My mom taught me to draw in first grade. Nothing fancy. Just how to put circles and ovals together for form "bubble men." It was a wonderful introduction to drawing and a terrific gateway to action and proportion. But third grade, I was one of the class artists.

That's when I started reading comic books, especialy the Marvel superheroes created by Stan Lee. My sketchpads became full of The Fantastic Four, Spider-man, The Mighty Thor, and X-Men. Comic books were also my first introduction to dynamic storytelling. Nothing's more dramatic than colossal struggles between good and evil with entire galaxies at stake!

This enthusiasm led directly to Classic Comics, simplified versions of fantasy masterpieces like Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. It wasn't long before I became an avid reader, willing to tackle the work of Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and A.E. van Vogt.

During high school I became interested in the performing arts as well as the visual When I couldn't afford more than one semester of college, I signed up for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. After training for two months, I clowned with Ringling for two seasons (1973-74), then performed with the country's largest tent show, Circus Vargas, in 1975.

After the circus, I was hired by my future wife, Donna, to perform with a puppet theatre. We married in 1976 and started our own company, Clarion Shadow Theatre, in 1980. Shadow puppetry was our specialty, wherein flat, jointed figures move against a screen illuminated with rear-projected scenery. Although I didn't know it at the time, shadow puppetry trained me to do picture books. Cutting out shadow puppets and projected scenery taught me how to use an X-Acto knife. The shadow screen was the same shape as an open book. Adapting legends and folktales into scripts taught me how to write.

When our chidren - Ariana and Alexander - were born, touring became impossible, so I adapted my cutting skills to illustration. After four years of freelancing for newspapers and magazines, I created my first picture book. The Warrior and the Wise Man (1989) looks very much like a shadow puppet play.

My cut-paper style matured with ensuing books. I learned to construct more detailed people and scenery, plus how to layer the artwork, creating the shadows that give depth to the pages. Happily, my books have been well received, culminating in the 1997 Caldecott Medal for Golem.

After six epic adventures, I wanted to try something comedic that would draw on my circus and puppet theatre experience. The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups was the result, a silly conspiracy spoof about the real reasons why parents tell kids to do things.

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Tough Cookie 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pretty good bookie. in elementary school. funny, BUY
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is hard to rate. If it were for adults, as a novelty, it would clearly be five stars. For teenagers who have discovered 'hard-boiled' detective fiction, this book would also be five stars. I have to believe that most of the story and humor would blow past the 4-8 year old set, that is the book's ostensible audience. The illustrations, on the other hand, fit the age grouping nicely. They are done by cutting vividly-colored paper, creating constructions with the cut-outs, and then photographing the results. The whole story takes place in a cookie jar, from the perspective of the cookies who have been around for awhile (don't think of them as stale, think of them as experienced). As is usual, putting a new viewpoint in place creates the potential for interesting new ideas. How do you stop depredations against the other cookies? I wish that the classic noir novels from the thirties had the humor of this book. 'I kiss her. 'You're a smart cookie,' I say. 'Maybe being a tough cookie isn't enough.'' Now, if you have a child with great imagination, and you explain humor well, it may work for a younger child. But be prepared for the difficulty of explaining a satire of something you child has not yet seen or read. You should also think about ways that low lifes (crumbs) can make all of the difference in real life. Look at life from a new angle to see its potential! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution