Sarcone-Roach (The Bear Ate Your Sandwich) returns to snacking bears in this sly comic mystery that stars an orange cat named Muffin. Narrator Muffin doesn’t guard Little Bear Bakery, exactly. She does regularly investigate, however, identifying the noises of animals roaming nearby (“Clang crash crunch crunch is the raccoons in the dumpster”). One night, hearing a new sound (“Grrrrrrrrrrr”), she slips into the bakery to check things out. Little Bear Bakery has its own little bear intruder. Sarcone-Roach paints Muffin’s tail in feline alarm mode, three times its normal size, and the cat’s powers of observation shine: “Up close, the bear smelled like old socks, cinnamon, and adventure.” Soon another, even larger bear appears behind her (“I had a tail. I mean, my tail had a tail”). Freely stroked Prussian blue and black nighttime scenes play up the kitty-cat noir theme with ominous shadows and stray beams of light. Moments of exaggerated animal shock deliver laughs, and the bakery havoc that follows is all that young fans of sugary chaos might hope for. Far from being threatened, the lithe detective experiences a bear hug and gets to oversee a gluttonous night shift before slinking off for a nap. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
PreS-Gr 2—Contrary to what the name implies, there are no bears at The Little Bear Bakery…just ask Muffin the orange marmalade cat. "I'm the whiskers of this neighborhood. And if it flutters, scurries, or scampers here, I know about it." The feline is tops at identifying every, "Scratch scratch squeak" and "Clang crash crunch crunch." So, when she hears an unfamiliar, "grrrrrr," she knows this is not an everyday mouse or raccoon. In fact, it is a small bear with a rumbling tummy. The kindly Muffin offers up chocolate cake, donuts, and cookies to quiet the rumbles, but soon realizes that they have company. "It was an enormous bear. It smelled like the dumpster on a hot day and rumbled louder than the vacuum cleaner." After a thank you hug, it downs some rainbow sprinkles and exits with its baby through the back window as the sun rises. Muffin is ready for a nap after her exciting night shift just as the baker awakens to an inexplicable, jaw-dropping mess. The illustrations, rendered in acrylic, paint, cut paper, and markers with a palette of blues, black, orange, and yellow, are reminiscent of Don Freeman's work. The front endpapers feature a scrumptious array of iced buns, cookies, donuts, and eclairs, while the back ones show the remnants of the night's feast—nothing but crumbs and a half-eaten donut near a small gray mouse exclaiming, "I love sprinkles!" VERDICT This is not only a winning read-aloud, but also an excellent choice to introduce a mystery unit or a mini-lesson on onomatopoeia or simile. Another hit from the creator of The Bear Ate Your Sandwich.—Barbara Auerbach, Cairo Public Library, NY
Muffin the cat knows everything that goes on in the neighborhood, and the perky marmalade cat is very sure that there are no bears in the Little Bear Bakery….
…Until one night the adorable little hard-boiled detective senses a mysterious new growling sound in the air and investigates. Following the noise and spouting Sam Spade-like comments ("I slipped into the darkness like icing melting down a hot cake"), Muffin enters the bakery and discovers the "biggest mouse I had ever seen." Correction: "the smallest bear I'd ever "seen." Using finely honed ace-detective skills, Muffin deduces the reason for that rumbling sound and gets on the case. Author/illustrator Sarcone-Roach uses acrylic paint and marker to depict Muffin and the baby bear joyfully breaking into display cases to reach the sweet treats. Once the rumbling (in the bear's tummy) has quieted, a dark shadow falls over the two, and they find they have a very large, very huggy visitor. It turns out that big bears like sprinkles, too. The next morning, after Muffin has seen the bears off safely, job done and case closed, the neighborhood returns to normal. Well, except for the owner of the bakery, a woman with pale skin and straight, black hair and a look of astonishment at the state of her shop that is priceless.
A funny and charming cat-detective story accompanied by clever wordplay and delightful illustrations. (Picture book. 4-8)
"A winning read-aloud.... Another hit from the creator of The Bear Ate Your Sandwich."—School Library Journal, starred review
"Moments of exaggerated animal shock deliver laughs, and the bakery havoc that follows is all that young fans of sugary chaos might hope for."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Young readers will adore the simple yet expressive illustrations. A cute and direct, yet elevated, tale." —Booklist
"The illustrations’ nighttime scenes are bathed in rich blues and blacks, with cool white moonlight and yellow streetlights adding shadows and just enough suspenseful atmosphere." — The Horn Book