Are you cool enough to join the Cool Crowd? That’s the question facing Cookie and Broccoli. They think they’re cool enough but when someone else is making the call, maybe they’re not so cool after all.
In Bob McMahon’s Cookie & Broccoli: Play It Cool, the second title in the Cookie and Broccoli series, the titular best friends deal with Cucumber, the leader of the Cool Crowd. Cucumber decides who joins his very exclusive club. The Cool Crowd decides what’s cool for the whole school so everybody wants to be their friends. Along with their friend Garlic, the pair plead their case to Cucumber, who very quickly decides that they are actually quite uncool and can’t be members.
Facing this disappointment and the mean words of Cucumber, Broccoli stands up for himself and his friends with a speech about how cool friendship is. Before he knows it, Cucumber’s reign is overturned and Broccoli is immediately named the newest leader of the Cool Crowd. Now it’s up to him to decide what’s cool and to judge who gets to join their ranks. There’s a lot of pressure being a leader and Broccoli decides to run away from his problems. With a little help from a truth-telling talking rock, Broccoli reunites with Cookie and the rest of the crowd. Together they realize being cool is overrated and being kind is where it’s at.
This book is just plain fun! The characters all get a chance to express themselves as they show off just what makes them so cool. The epilogue celebrates the book’s characters with a two-page spread of all the things that make each of them cool and special in their own way.
Cookie & Broccoli: Play It Cool includes lots of fun puns and visual jokes for readers. Of course the leader of the Cool Crowd is a cucumber! Extra observant readers will pour over the many details McMahon includes in the graphic novel. There’s action in McMahon’s art style too. Cookie’s skilled rendition of the Hokey Pokey is a treat that pops up multiple times during the story. Some of the art is on the gross out end at times, something that could be a drawback for more sensitive readers.
The book is broken up into short chapters. This makes it even easier for beginning readers to dive into the story. It works as a transitional book for those readers looking to make the step from picture books to graphic novels. One particular highlight is the cool math trick Broccoli uses on Cucumber early in the story. Readers will want to test it out for themselves over and over again, getting in some math skills practice along with their reading!
Upon finishing the story, readers can complete the “Are You Cool?” quiz that closes out the book. It reinforces the main messages of the book — it’s cool to be kind, to appreciate others’ differences, and to let your friends be themselves. Readers who can’t get enough of graphic novel best friend adventures like Pizza and Taco or Unicorn and Yeti will love spending time with Cookie and Broccoli and discovering what makes them so cool.
Cookie & Broccoli: Play It Cool
By Bob McMahon
Penguin Random House Dial Books, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: 5-8
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9)