A review of John Jory’s Smart Cookie
BY EMILY MORGAN
It’s “idiom day” in the third-grade classroom at the local elementary school. Children are dressed up as a piece of cake or a blue moon. They are learning what it means to use language that cannot be interpreted literally. But now the team of award-winning author Jory John, and illustrator Pete Oswald has created a New York Times Bestselling series of books that take idioms to a new level to help children flourish.
Their newest collaboration, Smart Cookie (published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) is the confidence-boosting children’s book that makes young readers feel better about not knowing all the answers, or getting less-than-stellar grades. Baked into every page of the story are coping strategies for worry and school stress.
We are there when Smart Cookie misspells the word “dough” on a spelling test or adds numbers instead of subtracting them. John even shares Cookie’s nightmarish dreams when assigned something that seems impossible. Cookie imagines being lost at sea with a school desk as a raft – alone and afloat with no one to help. Eventually, with the encouragement of a great teacher, Smart Cookie discovers how to create something original. Finally, Cookie isn’t afraid to speak up or share a thought! Cookie has figured out how to be not only smart but also proudly unique. And, as well all know, that’s not always as easy as pie.
If you are already familiar with John’s work, you will also recognize the other books in this series, including The Cool Bean, The Couch Potato, #1 New Times bestselling picture book The Good Egg, and New York Times bestselling picture book The Bad Seed, all craftily illustrated by Pete Oswald. Author John is a two-time E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor recipient, and the winner of numerous state book awards. Most importantly, in 2020, he was the recipient of the Children’s Choice Book Award, the only national book award selected exclusively by young readers. Young readers love these books. As a former media specialist in an elementary school library, I can attest to the fact that his books flew off the shelves (speaking idiomatically) as soon as they were returned by another student.
This book series works like self-help boosters for the elementary school child. The Good Egg cracks the problem of being a people pleaser. It helps children recognize the power of not being perfect for everyone else in order to be well-liked by others. In The Bad Seed, John tackles how it feels to have a reputation for being bad and how to turn it around for something good. For the child who leans toward being a little more passive, there’s The Couch Potato, a story that encourages children that “there’s a great big world out there, and I want to be part of it. In-person.” And finally, The Cool Bean helps children learn to fit in by being themselves, which turns out to be the coolest thing one can be.
In all, the team of John and Oswald has created a way to enlighten, encourage, and inspire children on that often fraught journey towards growing into the best people they can be. And for that reason alone, this series seems to have hit the nail on the head.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emily Morgan hosts The Grand Life podcast. Now in its third season, and recently named the top grandparenting podcast by Feedspot, her podcast tackles many topics surrounding the adventure of wholehearted grandparenting.