A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale + Giveaway winners!

Penny Parker Klostermann hit it big with her sparkling debut, 2015’s There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight (Random House, illus by Ben Mantle). Now she’s tackled an original and funny mash-up story that stirs together fairytales and a guy whose fondest desire is to be a chef.

From Kirkus:  “Klostermann’s triple-twisted tale is a cute concoction that children familiar with the traditional stories will enjoy. Mantle’s bright, cartoon illustrations pair neatly with the text and propel the story with whimsical sight gags and charm to spare.”

Plus cooking puns. Lots of cooking puns.

One thing I preach about (in picture book workshops) is crafting quick openings, so I love that Penny K does just that: “Although William lived in the magical land of fairy tales, he preferred pastries to princesses, kitchens to kingdoms, and recipes to the Royal Reporter.” Boom. Who’s this about? William. What does he want? To cook.

Art ©Ben Mantle

William tries working at The Brick House (run by pigs), but he’s expected to cook up a wolf. Ack! He works at the Three Bears Bistro, “But folks there were very persnickety.” (as in too cold, too hot–ha). He even bakes for Gingerbread-on-the-Go, but chasing cookies… ugh.

Eventually, William decides to cook from home, but he needs supplies. So he heads to market and comes upon a box that’s fallen from a passing truck, a box marked “Fairy-Tale Food.” Hmm. He goes home and uses the apples, the beans, and the pumpkin to whip up “delectable creations.” Unfortunately, others were waiting for those items. See below.

Art ©Ben Mantle

Oops. William gets an earful from fairy tale boss, Judy, who’d needed those foods in their original form:  “Don’t you know anything about fairy tales?” Of course he doesn’t. He’s been nose deep in cookbooks. To get him up to speed, she hands him a book of fairy tales. When, having read the tales, he reports back to Judy, she tells him the results of his meddling. One tale needs straightening out, and pronto!

I don’t think I’m giving anything away letting you know that William not only fixes the problem he’s caused, but finds a true-to-his-character way to live “happily ever after” himself. Well, this IS a fairy tale story!

Penny K was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

JE: How’d you get the idea for A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale? (Reminds me of Chopped!)

PPK: I was reading David Ezra Stein’s INTERRUPTING CHICKEN for the umpteenth time (because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that book!) and I got to thinking about how clever he was to use well-known fairy tales in telling a tale of his own. I began brainstorming ways I could do this. How could I write my own story and incorporate fairy tales in a way that would make sense and flow? I began with a list of fairy tales and then listed common elements. Since food is present in many fairy tales, it quickly rose to the top of my list. From there I had to come up with a problem. I pondered this for quite a while. Then PING (egg timer!)! What if something happened to the food in those fairy tales where it played an integral part? Snow White’s apples? Jack’s magic beans? Cinderella’s pumpkin? That’s when William, the chef, was born. William, who never paid attention to fairy tales. William who only wanted to cook. William who ended up cooking-up his own fairy tale.
Funny you should mention CHOPPED! because I watch CHOPPED JR. all the time and I really think they should feature my book and have fairy tale ingredients in the baskets! It would be so much fun! Do you think you could arrange that, Jill?

JE:  Ha! That would be fun. I’ll get right on it. You must’ve been thrilled to hear that Ben Mantle could do the illustrations again. Were there any surprises this time around?

PPK: Thrilled is an understatement because Ben knocked it out of the kingdom with his illustrations for THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT! And he did it once again with A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE. There was a surprise. DRAGON makes an appearance and that made me so happy. Ben found a clever and humorous way to work him in. As far as other surprises . . . when I first saw the sketches and then the art, I felt like there were surprises with every page turn. Maybe down the road I will get used to seeing the art for a book for the first time but for now I delight in the surprises!

JE:  His art IS delightful. Your first book was written in rhyme. This one is lively prose that leaves space for page-turn magic. Love that! I have to ask:  Did you try writing this story in rhyme and switch to prose, or did the story come to you in prose?

PPK: This story came to me in prose. In fact it was one of my first attempts at writing a story in prose. I know writing a rhyming story is difficult but writing this story was more difficult for me than writing DRAGON. DRAGON was a retelling so I had somewhat of a story arc and had to come up with the “something special” to make it stand out. With COOKED-UP I had the challenges of story arc, plot, etc. I learned a lot writing this book! I can definitely say that writing many stories in rhyme before attempting prose heightened my awareness of rhyme, rhythm, and poetic techniques which helped polish this story.

JE:  What are you working on now?

PPK: I have several manuscripts on submission and more manuscripts in different states of revision. Of these, about 40% are in rhyme and 60% in prose. I’m excited about each project and am hoping that one or more will land on the right editor’s desk.
Thanks so much for having me on Picture Book Builders. I just love reading the posts here and learning about new books.

Thank YOU, Penny! Readers, A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale will hit stores September 5, but you can preorder now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound! AND Penny has agreed to a giveaway! Yay! All you have to do is leave a comment below by September 15th, and Penny will draw one lucky winner’s name and send you your very own copy! I’ll let everybody know who that is in my next post on September 26th. Good luck!

This & that:

Winners! We’ve got winners!

WINNERS from Suzanne Slade’s Aug. 14 DANGEROUS JANE post!

DANGEROUS JANE autographed posters – Jen D. and Carol Scrimgeour
DANGEROUS JANE autographed book – Tracy
#BeDangerous button – Mary Edly-Allen
Author Skype Q & A visit (added this prize, just because I can!) – Michelle Gajda

And you can still win a copy of If You Were the Moon, by Laura Purdie Salas (until Sept 10th) and I Love You More Than the Smell of Swamp Gas, by Kevan Atteberry (until Sept 15th). All you have to do is comment on those linked posts, and you’re entered. Good luck!

Sequel alert! Those of you who have enjoyed the adorableness that is Sue Gallion’s Pug Meets Pig will want to get a load of her follow-up, Pug & Pig, Trick-or-Treat. The book oinked into stores July 25th and has stars from both PW and Kirkus. Kirkus, people! You know how difficult that is, right?

Image result for Pug AND pig trick or treat

Friend pub! My pal Linda Skeers has a new middle grade nonfiction book that’ll knock your socks off. Women Who Dared:  52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, and Rebels (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) will be in stores September 5th. Would your kiddos savor the daring exploits of 52 women they’ve likely not heard of before? Of course they would. Wish this one had been around when my kids were seeking people they might learn about for History Day. Go! Get one! Now!

Image result for women who dare, skeers

Jill Esbaum

Jill Esbaum has been picture book crazy since her 3 kids were little, and especially so after her first was published in 2004 (Stink Soup). Recent titles: Bird Girl - Gene Stratton-Porter Shares Her Love of Nature With the World, Parrotfish Has a Superpower, Stinkbird Has a Superpower, Sea Turtle Swims, Kangaroo Hops, Jack Knight's Brave Flight, We Love Babies!, Where'd My Jo Go?, Frog Boots, How to Grow a Dinosaur, Frankenbunny, If a T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party, Elwood Bigfoot– Wanted: Birdie Friends!, Teeny Tiny Toady, I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!, and more. Coming in 2025: Polecat Has a Superpower!, It's Corn-Picking Time!, Giraffe Runs. She's also the author of many nonfiction books for young readers, as well as an early graphic reader series, Thunder & Cluck. Learn more at http://jillesbaum.com.


  1. A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale sounds charming. Thanks for sharing the story behind the story, Penny.

  2. Looks incredibly cute–both the story and the illustrations. Can’t wait to read it!

  3. Becky Scharnhorst

    I enjoyed reading about how you came up with this clever idea. I’m looking forward to reading the entire book.

  4. Sounds like such a fun book! Going on the to-read pile!

  5. Congratulations, Penny! I can’t wait to read this to my kindergartners as we “study” fairy tales!

  6. Debra K Shumaker

    OMG, this book sounds awesome! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!!!!!

  7. A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale sounds right up my alley. I love puns AND reimaginings. Can’t wait to read it 🙂

  8. What a clever idea!! I really look forward to reading this book and sharing it with my grandchildren(and even the children who are now adults will get a chuckle)>>
    Thank you!

  9. This looks like a great book! Thanks for sharing your interview. I always love to read the “story behind the story.”

  10. I love reading (hearing?) about how a book comes to be. And am excited that there are more books by Penny K. in the works. Can’t wait to read this one to my Granddaughter !

  11. Delightful as a dumpling! Savory as a scone! Cunning as a cannoli!

    Can’t wait to sample all the sweet treats you have tucked into the pages of your newest book Penny. Congratulations!

  12. Clever, cleverer, and cleverest! This book is a must have! Congratulations, Penny!

  13. For fairytale enthusiasts and cooks alike, sounds like a book children will love and adults won’t mind reading aloud for the hundredth time. Kudos, Penny!

  14. Thanks for sharing this delicious Q & A!

  15. A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale sounds delicious! I grew up with fairy tales–my favorite childhood books. Fairy tales influenced my dreams, my make believe, my world view. Would have relished this one! Thanks for the back-story, Penny!

  16. Congratulations, Penny! This one looks delightfully delicious :). I loved DRAGON and can’t wait to read this one too!

  17. This looks adorable! Congratulations Penny! Great interview.

  18. Penny, I can’t wait to read this! Congratulations on what seems like another fantastic book 🙂

  19. This is a smart picture book that could easily be used in classrooms as high as sixth grade.

  20. So very clever. Will be fun, fun, fun to read aloud!!

  21. Thanks for sharing your process. It gave me ideas to try for myself. Such fun and I can’t wait to read it.

  22. Can’t wait to see how William fixes the problem he’s created in A COOKED UP FAIRY TALE. Congrats, Penny! What a fun premise. And, once again, Ben Mantle’s illustrations are delightful!

  23. You are so funny, Penny, so I know I’ll get a lot of laughs from this one. Congrats to you!!

  24. Words and Illustrations blend well.

  25. Fabulous post, Jill and Penny. And this book looks so clever and fun! Can’t wait to get my (cooking) mitts on it. Congratulations!! <3

  26. Dear friend and writing buddy Penny –

    I saw this manuscript when it was in the “critique partner swap” stage and am thrilled to see its birth as a beautiful book. Major congrats on both text and illustrations! xoxo

  27. This looks like a truly fun and engaging story. Thank you for sharing such a nice interview about I. am looking forward to adding this story to my must read list.

  28. Also, I’m excited because I won a Dangerous Jane poster. I just don’t know who to contact to receive it. Thank you

    • picturebookbuilders

      Hi Jen. You can contact Suzanne through her website. There’s an “email me” button near the top right of her home page. Congrats!

  29. I hope this book is the recipe for success, Penny! Wishing you all the best.

  30. danielle hammelef

    I can’t wait to read this book. The illustrations are so bright and fun. Penny has another hit on her hands and I can’t wait to study it as mentor text. Bravo!

  31. Thank you for sharing the story behind the story. I’ve been looking forward to this book. Can’t wait to meet William!

  32. Love to read about how a book comes to be. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the perfect recipe for one!

  33. I was excited for this book before, but now after learning more about it in this post, I. Can. Not. Wait.

  34. What a delicious idea! My class is going to love it. What a great idea for a kid’s book.

  35. This book looks adorable! I really want to read it. Thank you for the interview, and for the opportunity.

  36. Can’t wait to read this one, and I loved to hear how it came about. Thanks, Penny and Jill!

  37. I love the food connection between the fairy tales. Ingenious!

  38. This looks fun! I love stories that bring in other stories. Thanks for sharing how you approached it.

  39. Congratulations Penny! This new book sounds delicious. As a fan of several food shows I was immediately drawn to the concept. I also appreciate insight into the process.

  40. Ooh! I look forward to reading A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE. Thank you for sharing the behind the scenes for the creation of this tasty story, Penny. All the best.

  41. Hooray for Penny and A Cooked Up Fairy Tale! And many more!

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