By Melissa Arnold
One can hardly travel a half block on Long Island without seeing a bag of Tate’s Bake Shop cookies, but that’s not a bad thing. The ubiquitous green bags are a sure sign of impending happiness.
Tate’s Bake Shop founder Kathleen King opened her first bakery when she was just 21 years old. The dream began long before that, though. Young Kathleen baked her signature thin and crispy cookies from age 11 on, selling them at her father Tate’s East End farmstand and using the profits to buy new school clothes each year. Today, the multi-million-dollar business has made Tate’s a nationwide favorite.
This summer, King released a children’s picture book called Cookie Queen: How One Girl Started Tate’s Bake Shop [Random House] co-written with Lowey Bundy Sichol and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki. It’s King’s first book for children — she also has two cookbooks of baked goods.
Cookie Queen is an autobiographical reflection of Tate’s humble beginnings in a simple home kitchen. Young Kathleen is tired of the puffy and gooey cookies she sees everywhere — what she really wants is a thin, crispy cookie, But King’s process of trial and error shows young readers that reaching a goal isn’t always quick or easy. Kathleen makes batches and batches of cookies that she doesn’t like, experimenting and struggling to find the perfect recipe.
These important lessons of patience, hard work and following your dreams are coupled with beautiful illustrations from Kaulitzki. She captures the sprawling farm, Kathleen’s house and the family’s market with polished, detailed scenes. Little ones will enjoy pointing out farm animals, a house cat, a tractor and other thoughtful extras.
At the end of the book, older readers can learn about the real Tate’s Bake Shop with an easy to digest, single page history. Perhaps the best inclusion is Kathleen and Tate’s personal recipe for molasses cookies to make at home. Who knows, maybe a young reader in your life might discover their own love of baking.
My godchildren, ages 4 and 2, were big fans of the book when I read it to them. No surprise there — after all, what kid wouldn’t like a book about cookies? That said, the vocabulary and overall message would be better understood by elementary school readers.
Age aside, this book is best enjoyed as a family, then immediately followed by some hands-on time together in the kitchen, especially with dessert-heavy holidays approaching. To order, visit amazon.com, bn.com or your favorite online retailer.