“Ummm Cookies!” really started with my father because every April Fools Day we put salt in my father’s coffee. He always drank it and then made lots of really gross noises. I loved it. Later, when I worked in daycare the kids used to pretend to feed me playdoh cookies. I always ate them and fell to the floor and made lots of really gross noises. The kids loved it.
Once I started storytelling, I told lots of food stories. There were stories about kids who ate too much and stories about kids who would not eat at all and stories about kids who only ate ketchup. One of the food stories I told was about kids who fed playdoh to their teacher. I don’t notice it as especially good until 1984 when I was telling it at a school in Exeter, Ontario. It soon replaced “Mudpuddle” as the story I started off with when I did storytellings. It just always worked and the audience always joined it and told the story along with me, even when they had never heard it before!
In1986 I wrote it down and sent it of to Annick Press. They didn’t like it, so the story just hung around till I changed my publisher to Scholastic. Scholastic liked it and we decided to make it into a book, only the story had about 10 different versions. What version to make into a book?
There was the school version and the preschool version and the daycare version and the family version and the Grandma version and the multi-generational, extended family version and the Jamaican matrilineal version ….. So I played around with the versions and the final book is a mix of the kindergarten version and the home version. The kid in the book really does look a lot like Chris. His pictures at age 6 really do show him as a sort of cute and smiling “I am a behavior problem” sort of child.
And then there was the problem of the sound effects when Chris makes the playdoh cookie. I had these great sound effects and sound effects are always hard to write down. Like what does it sound like when you put icing on a cookie??? Or rather, I KNOW what it sounds like, but how to I write it? Is it “Glick” or “Shlick” or “Shhhhhligique” or “Shhhhhluuuukk”; and what should the word look like on the page? This is very important, because the whole idea of the writing is to get the adult to make a their own sound effect, and not just read the text This led to some wonderful editing sessions with my editor at Scholastic – very literary sessions where we spent half an hour trying to decide how “Glick” should look on a page.
So here it is, and Chris is 18. Well, it is sort of late. I guess I am the slowest writer in the world.