by Jan Brett
For four of the five years of Off the Shelf's existence, we have featured a Jan Brett book in at least one of the winter months. This pattern was completely unintentional, but makes sense with the snowy, usually Scandinavian settings of her stories. So, you can tell it's winter as we bring you another treasure, Annie and the Wild Animals.
Annie is feeling restless after a long winter. Her loneliness is made worse when her cat Taffy disappears, seemingly for good. In hopes of finding a new friendly pet, Annie bakes corn cakes and places them on the edge of the forest. Come along on a snowy, end of winter adventure to find out if Annie's corn cake plan succeeds! Full of Jan Brett's signature illustrations, Annie and the Wild Animals is a delightful story for young readers to enjoy on long winter days (or any time of the year).
In this Issue
Of course, you have to make corn cakes to enjoy as part of this book adventure! Here's an easy recipe that is perfect to make with your young readers on a cozy winter afternoon. Even better, it's made with usual pantry staples, so you won't have to venture out into the cold for baking supplies!
Annie's Corn Cakes
adapted very slightly from Jan Brett's (printable!) recipe.
- 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 7 or 8 wells of a muffin tin.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour in the milk, olive oil, and beaten egg, and stir together until combined.
- Divide the batter among the prepared muffin wells, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
Let imaginations run wild and pose the question, "If Annie lived in the jungle, what animals would come to eat the corn cakes? Or what if she lived in the desert, or the arctic?" Have fun imagining!
Do your young readers ever wish they could actually play with the characters in the books you read together? With this week's art activity, they can! Invite your young reader to create their very own play set of characters using a variety of materials from your art shelf. Besides the fun of making them, the finished set will give young readers hours of imaginative play as they act out the story or create their own adventure. What better way to bring the story to life?
Annie and the Wild Animals Storybook Set
- Objects for the base of each character: scraps of wood (you might be able to find these at home improvement stores or purchase unfinished pieces of wood from craft stores), craft sticks, paper towel tubes, etc.
- Construction paper
- Paint or color your base to create each character. We made Taffy and the kittens and each of the wild animals. Let dry.
- Add details such as ears or antlers with paper, felt, yarn, and other items from your art shelf. Apply with glue and let dry.
More from Off the Shelf
One Year Ago: The Three Snow Bears
Two Years Ago: Perfect Square
Three Years Ago: Extra Yarn
Four Years Ago: Miss Spider's Tea Party
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