Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

by Julie Sternberg (2011)

Have you ever had a really bad day? A day that is, in the words of this novel’s main character, “As bad as pickle juice on a cookie.  As bad as a spiderweb on your leg.  As bad as the black parts of a banana.” Eleanor has a day that bad when she finds out that her beloved babysitter Bibi is moving away.

Eleanor’s loyalty is her strength, but that loyalty also causes her suffering in this gentle story. She is sullen and resists connecting with everyone, including her new babysitter. That is, until she opens her eyes and heart and expands herself to new ways of connecting with all sorts of people.

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie is a story that addresses the deep loss that a little girl feels when someone so special won’t be part of her everyday life any more.  Loss is a part of life, and the personal growth that slowly follows this powerful loss is tremendous and uplifting.

The cover art of Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie looks cartoonish, but the story inside is filled with patience and grace as Eleanor finds her way.  Sternberg’s careful, simple prose teaches young readers about accepting people as they are, and the growth that acceptance can bring.  If you would like to demonstrate the art of gentleness to your students and families, read and share Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie with them. At 120 pages, this introductory title will help families discuss the challenges of surviving and overcoming loss, while showing them the power of reading aloud together.