Imagine the stunned look on my face when I opened up one of several packages from our friends at "Blind Raccoon " - Betsie Brown - and a book fell out. Since my knee replacement surgery on July 14, 2022, I have been mostly laid up at home, trying to recuperate, given homework by the North Jersey Blues Society, writing CD reviews and helping push the society forward. Finding " "Cookies and Milk " cascade from the large envelope into my lap was a tasty surprise and a much-needed distraction. What a treat!!
As a kid " Shawn Amos " helped his dad, Wally " Famous " Amos open the world's first chocolate chip cookie store on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Formosa Avenue in Hollywood. Shawn Amos is a world-renowned Blues musician. "Famous Amos " - pop cultural icon, cookie mogul, and household name - a unique character ingrained forever within the cultural lexicon of the United States. When Shawn isn't touring or recording as the Reverend Shawn Amos, he works as a partner at NYC Communications firm Hudson Cutler. He is also a divorced father of three children with whom he enjoys baking.
Eleven-year-old Ellis Johnson dreamed of spending the summer of 1976 hanging out with friends, listening to music, and playing his harmonica. Instead, he’ll be sleeping on a lumpy pullout in Dad’s sad little post-divorce bungalow and helping bring Dad’s latest far-fetched, sure-to-fail idea to life: opening the world’s first chocolate chip cookie store. They have six weeks to perfect their recipe, get a ramshackle A-frame on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard into tip-top shape, and bring in customers.
Aside from my father’s long historical record, there is virtually no recorded history of my family,” Amos says. “This is true for so many Black families in America. We have virtually no evidence of our past. And the narrative that does exist often gets co-opted or stolen by others. This is true for much of my father’s story. I wanted to reclaim a bit of his story and leave evidence of our larger family’s existence. I think I’ve been doing this for decades in smaller ways.”
But of course, nothing is as easy as Dad makes it sound, even with Grandma along for the ride. Like she says, they have to GIT—get it together—and make things work. Along the way, Ellis discovers a family mystery he is determined to solve, the power of community, and new faith in himself.
Partially based on Shawn Amos’s own experiences growing up the son of Wally “Famous” Amos in a mostly white area, and packed with humor, heart, and fun illustrations. Great read - enjoyable - attention-grabbing - well - written characters and there are surprises around every corner - this book really is as delicious as a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie - Mighty tasty unexpected treat that really hit the spot! Consider a " YA " novel this 65-year-old blues man devoured " Cookies and Milk " with a fervor.
As a retired teacher I must say that my Special Education students would have loved reading this highly infectious concoction that is simply irresistible. I know that my students would have related to Ellis Bailey Johnson, a young Middle School student, harmonica player, friend, who enjoys his growing record collection, and son of a chocolate chip cookie maker - typical teen right? As Shawn himself dedicates in the book, " This book is also dedicated to the young boys of all colors dreaming of the men they hope to become. Keep your eyes and your hearts open. There are clues all around you”. A wonderful book that is filled with all the sparks that can ignite a family for better, or worse; a love of all thing’s music; and the good times of seemingly endless summer adventures. This is a gift waiting to be shared with children everywhere.
Most definitely check out Chapter 36 for the surprise guest who enters "Sunset Cookies" on the Sunset Strip to pick up several bags of just baked deliciousness.
* A Recipe for Cookies and Milk
- 2 friends roped into helping open the world's first chocolate chip cookie store.
- 1 larger-than-life dad and grandma who are hiding a big family secret.
- As many chocolate chips as you can carry in a shopping cart racer (don't let
- A pinch of funky music.
- 6 weeks of an unforgettable Hollywood summer.
Also included is the " Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe " and "DJ Wishbone's Playlist" - Blues, funk and grooves for the whole family. Don't fight it!