Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and if you’re like me, you want to dig into dessert first! So today I’m pleased as punch to highlight Hayley Barrett and Alison Jay’s newest confection—THE TINY BAKER!

Oh wow, it’s a delicious read!

Hayley, how did you get the idea for the story? Did you sing “Hold me closer, Tiny Baker…save your appetite for the pie tray…”?

THE TINY BAKER came to me as a first line, “The tiny baker bakes for ants.” That was enough to get my mind swirling with teatime treats meant for elegANT (get it?) customers. I had such fun playing with the cookies and pastries, stirring as many into the story as I possibly could. When British illustrator Alison Jay was selected to create the book’s artwork, I knew she’d whip up a fanciful fairyland, and she most certainly did.

But that first line didn’t remain your first line…

…how and why did you revise it?

The editorial process for THE TINY BAKER was straightforward and fairly easy. Barefoot Books’ Emma Parkin and I understood each other and the story right away. I was sorry to lose the mention of ants in the first line, but I trusted Alison Jay’s imagination and approach. I was confident she’d illustrate the teashop’s patrons with myrmecological and sartorial panache.

Once the first line change was made, I found I was free to describe the sweets on offer right away. That was nothing but fun.

Now let’s let everyone in on a secret…we share the same agent…and all three of us share a love of baking. What did our agent do when you sent her the manuscript?

As everyone knows, Ammi-Joan Paquette is an ace baker with a serious sweet tooth, so I knew she’d savor this story. I couldn’t wait to send it to her. Once I did, we worked together on a few small changes, then dusted the finished text with powdered sugar and sent THE TINY BAKER on submission. Waiting, whether for cookies in the oven or a book on submission, is always the hardest part, right? But patience pays off in the end.

So tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I’m betting you and your Tiny Baker have a favorite recipe to share…? (Pretty please with a cherry on top?)

Of course!!! Here’s a small batch version of my family’s recipe for sugary, spicy:

MARY ANNE COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling dough balls
  • 2 Tbsp. molasses
  • ½ stick of softened butter
  • ½ tsp. each of cloves, ginger, cinnamon
  • 1 large egg white
  • ¼ tsp. regular salt
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda

Prep:

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Line cookie sheet with parchment paper, if available.
  • Fill a small bowl with granulated sugar & set aside.

Recipe:

  1. Cream together butter and 1/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Blend egg white into butter and sugar mixture
  3. In another mixing bowl, whisk flour with spices, salt, and baking soda.
  4. Blend dry and wet ingredients into a stiff dough.
  5. Roll walnut-sized pieces of dough into balls.
  6. Drop balls into bowl of sugar and roll to coat completely.
  7. Place dough balls on parchment-lined or ungreased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes until cookies are set and fragrant.
  9. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Besides an appetite, what do you want kids to take away after reading THE TINY BAKER?

The picture book process invites serendipity. Writers and illustrators often share stories about the unexpected coincidences and surprising connections that arise. Although I began writing The Tiny Baker years ago, it now strikes me as a book fitted to this particular moment. The Covid-19 pandemic has knocked many of us flat on our backsides. We’re often “bewildered, flummoxed, in distress,” just like my bumblebee baker when she loses her beetle brigade.

I hope young readers notice how the baker’s community rallies—quickly and cooperatively—to assist their overwhelmed friend. Whether each day is good or not so good, may we follow their example and be there for one another.

Wow, a book with sweets and a sweet message. You can’t ask for more.

Thank you, Hayley! And congratulations on THE TINY BAKER, which is available now from Barefoot Books!

Blog readers, you can win a copy, too!

Leave a comment below…why don’t you share your favorite dessert?!

A random winner will be selected soon.

Good luck!


Hayley Barrett loves to write picture books. She is the author of Babymoon, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, and What Miss Mitchell Saw, illustrated by Diana Sudyka. Girl Versus Squirrel, illustrated by Renée Andriani, released in June 2020, followed by The Tiny Baker from Barefoot Books in fall 2020. Hayley Barrett lives and writes outside of Boston. Learn more about Hayley and her books at HayleyBarrett.com.