Some picture books begin with a submission from a literary agent. Some with an art sample mailed to an editor’s office. Others, like Peanut Butter & Cupcake!, begin with a calendar and a bookstore and a blog. I’d been a big fan of Terry Border’s blog Bent Objects for years. I’d laugh at his images of bananas cuddling (without their peels!) in bed and a packet of sugar holding a little umbrella over her head to stay out of the rain. Then, in December of 2012, I went to a bookstore to buy myself a new wall calendar to hang in my office. I came across Terry Border’s 2013 Bent Objects calendar, with a little slice of bread covered in peanut butter handing a flower to a little slice of bread covered in jelly on the front. The image made me smile, and I recognized the artwork from Terry’s Bent Objects blog, so I bought the calendar. When work started up again in the new year, I push-pinned the calendar to my wall and showed it to my boss, Philomel’s publisher Michael Green. He looked at the calendar, looked at me, and said, “Picture book?” “Oh!” I answered. “Yes! Picture book!”
So I did a bit of online research and found Terry, then found his agent, and discovered that Terry had been thinking about writing a book for kids for a while. He aged down that little slice of bread covered in peanut butter, and put him in a new town, on a quest to find a friend. Every sketch Terry sent over had me chuckling, and the final art was hilarious and clever and had me running to grab the rest of the Philomel editorial group to show them what had just arrived on my screen. From Hamburger (who can’t be friends with Peanut Butter because he has to walk his hot dogs), to Egg (who cracks up), to Soup (who dips his spoon into himself to communicate), to French Fries (who’s running late and has to “catch up”), every little food object has a personality and a food pun all his—or her—own. Of course, after Peanut Butter’s friendship overtures get turned down again and again, he finds one little food item who isn’t too busy to be his friend: Jelly. (But let’s hope they don’t try to hug!)
I read an early proof of this book to my niece over Facetime, and she giggled each time Peanut Butter told the other kids that they’d “go together like peanut butter and….soup!” (Or egg or hamburger or French fries…) I have no doubt that kids and their grown-ups will enjoy this toast to friendship and food and fun. Because, really, kids and funny stories? They go together just like peanut butter and jelly.
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