Straight and slant rhyme, impeccable rhythm, and the

use of the “5 W’s and How”

create a sensational model

for telling stories in both

literal and figurative terms.

This may be the most fun you can have inside a book!


"Josephine Nobisso has taken the old rhyme, Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? and made it into a rollicking who, what, when, where, and how romp on the playground. The book will get children's feet tapping . . . children will enjoy the colorful illustrations that bring the text to life."

                                                                                     -Children's Book Review Service

"Get ready to throw up your arms and sing! Color, rhythm, and fun splash off the pages of this ‘cookie jar' story with a twist. Attention moms and elementary school teachers, this is a great book to use when teaching story details—who, what, when, why, and how. But be ready to jump and swing!"  

                                                                                                        -Children's Literature

"The recovery of the lost key to the playground gates leads to a spontaneous, exuberant outpouring of fun. Unlocking the playground, Maria and her friends immerse themselves in pure revelry, replete with swinging, double-dutch jumping, hula-hooping, and roller-skating. Adults as well are drawn to the festivities and soon a mother is spied skateboarding with abandon. The infectious rhythm of Nobisso's rhymes move the tale through the fundamental questions at the heart of storytelling—the who, what, why, when, where, and how of a story: ‘Why'd she flaunt the key from the cookie jar? To be fresh? To be shockin'? To be ha-ha-ha?'    

                                                                                                                 -Kirkus Reviews

Once Upon a Book Review   

Reviewed by: Amy Wall Lerman 

It goes something like remember...

"Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?
Was it you [Mary Jane]?"
"Who me?"
"Yes you."
"Couldn't be."
"Then who?"
We all know it.  We've all chanted it.  Were we 8? Maybe 10?  Were we jumping rope at the time?  Playing one of those complicated hand games with a buddy? Personally, I don't remember where I learned it or why, but this traditional sing-along-chant has been part of every American child's school playground experience for decades.
Children's book author, Josephine Nobisso, has taken that old and battered cookie jar to new heights in her delightful book, Hot Cha Cha. First published in 1998 to a very limited printing, Gingerbread House books relaunched the book last year - but it still surprises me that this book hasn't been declared one of the all-time classic children's books.  
In my mind, what makes a classic children's book (for children under 5 anyway) is a combination of the language and the illustrations. Illustrations should be unforgettable.  The language should be silly, poetic, rhythmic, and mesmerizing. It should make a child smile, want more, and want to clap along.  
Hot Cha Cha does all that:

See a What

See an ah

See an oo-la-la!


What did she find in the cookie jar?


Or crackers?

Or the moolah-la?

The illustrations in this book are colorful, light-hearted images of children at play.  They run with hoola hoops, rollerblade with their dogs, throw Frisbees, do handstands, and climb monkey bars.  Even a few fun-loving grown-ups show up near the end of the book. Is that dad on a slide and mom on a skateboard? can be a kid at any age.


Nobisso's version of the Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar chant is absolutely perfect, and it should be after 23 rewrites and 8 months of hard work. The attention to detail to get the cadence and meter just right  was well worth the effort.  If I was a kid again, back in my playground, I would want to memorize the whole book and teach it to my friends. 


Hmmm...maybe I don't need to be a kid for that...


Poetry Writing Tips from Hot Cha Cha


Author: Josephine Nobisso

Illustrator: Joan Holub

Publisher: Gingerbread House

Trim Size: w 10" × h 10" w/ Dust Jacket

Pages: 32, Full Color Illustrations

Ages: All (A "Cross-over" Picture Book for Both Children and Adults)

Hardcover ISBN: 0-940112-18-3

Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-940112-18-6

Hardcover Price: US $16.95 / CAN $22.95