My Heart is Like a Zoo
The Story About Ping

The Perfect Nest

by Catherine Friend
illustrated by John Manders

Where to start with what made us fall in love with The Perfect Nest? First of all, it is fun and silly, but never talks down to its readers it is filled with hijinks and plotting, but also caring and friendship. You will smile, you will laugh, and you will be touched by its final sweet message. The Perfect Nest is rolicking barnyard adventure that shows us what happens when an omelet-craving cat tries to outsmart a chicken, a duck, and a goose, and winds up with more than he bargained for. 

Bonus: Get a behind-the-scenes look at how illustrator John Manders created the pictures for the Perfect Nest. Then, check out his Etsy shop!


In this Issue


The Perfect Omelet

The Perfect Sweet Potato Cheddar Omelet - The Perfect Nest - Catherine Friend John Manders - Off the Shelf

Help Jack the cat finally get his perfect omelet! For extra ease, our omelet is baked in the oven. Young readers will love mixing all the ingredients together, and while the omelet bakes you can read the story again! Customize your omelet with your favorite cooked vegetable and cheese mixture - broccoli and cheddar would be delicious.

The Perfect Omelet

Makes 4-6 servings


  • 1 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion, about 1 medium
  • 2 to 3 cups shredded sweet potato (about 2 small sweet potatoes)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8 or 9 inch round baking pan or casserole.
  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. 
  3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until yolks are broken. Stir in shredded cheese and sweet potato mixture and stir until well-mixed.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake until set in the middle and golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. 
  5. Let cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve. Delicious with salsa!

More Egg Recipes


Watch and Learn

See the real life inspiration behind the books characters. Each of these videos star chickens, ducks, and geese! 





Nest Building 101

After enjoying Jack that cat's adventure, challenge your young reader to build the perfect nest for a chicken, a goose, or a duck using items from around the house. Once construction is complete, have some fun with observational drawing. Simply supply blank paper and a variety of drawing supplies. Children often draw from their imagination, so observational drawing encourages children to notice details and become careful observers of the world. 

Nest Building 101 and Art Activity - The Perfect Nest - Catherine Friend John Manders - Off the Shelf

Nest Building 101 and Art Activity - The Perfect Nest - Catherine Friend John Manders - Off the Shelf

Nest Building and Art Activity


  • Household items for nest building, such as pillows, boxes, baskets, or anything else your young reader imagines
  • Paper
  • Drawing tools
  1. Build nest.
  2. Draw nest. Yes! It's that simple!

Related Activity: Build Like a Bird - Make your own nest with mud and supplies from nature!


More from Off the Shelf 


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