Rylant, Cynthia. In Aunt Lucy’s Kitchen. Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin. Aladdin Paperbacks, 1998. 53 pages. $4.99. ISBN 0689817088.
Lily, Rosie, and Tess are lucky: while their parents are on tour with a ballet company, the three nine year-old cousins get to live with their Aunt Lucy. Aunt Lucy has a grand old Victorian house where the girls share a large attic room, and she owns a local flower shop. With the summer stretching ahead of them, the girls decide to start their own business: a cookie company! The girls work together to create a flyer (in Lily’s verse) and post it at the library, the market, at the flower shop, and around the neighborhood. The girls take orders by phone, get busy with baking, and then hand deliver the cookies to the customers. In the process, they meet some new friends: Michael, who is recovering from a broken leg; and Mrs. White, an elderly neighbor who sews stuffed cats. The girls offer their cookies for free---and a birthday song--- for Mrs. White when they learn that it is her 90th birthday! There is a little bit of matchmaking too, as they try to find a suitable fellow for their lovely aunt.
This is a gentle story that would make a nice addition to a classroom library or read in small groups. The Cobble Street Cousins is a perfect transitional chapter series, with short, illustrated chapters, humorous moments, and lots of fun among the cousins. It could be used as an example text in a study of Realistic Fiction. The themes in the series are wholesome: friendship, family, creativity, and kindness.
This is just the type of story that would have appealed to me as a girl. As an only child, I loved reading about families with siblings or cousins. It is very sweet and upbeat in tone, complemented well by Halperin’s pencil and watercolor illustrations.
Realistic Fiction, Family, Friendship, Kindness
This series, a direct hit for girls in early grades, brings to mind the timeless classics such as the Betsy Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace and the All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor.