Meet Ally. She grew up in Cookie Cove, a pretty, but quiet town with a big sandy beach and only one movie theater. Ally is thirteen and has lived there just about her whole life. There are all sorts of things to do outside in Cookie Cove. But since Ally was old enough to measure vanilla, she has spent most of her time in her sunny little kitchen doing what she loves most: baking and decorating cookies. (She also has memorized 3,612 cookbooks and has a very cool collection of 758 cookie cutters, which she finds in flea markets near and far.)
Ally’s very first word was “cupcake.” And her very first teddy was Biscuit the Bear. She got Biscuit as a gift on the day she was born.
She arrived at the doorstep wrapped up in a big purple ribbon, with no gift tag. Ally’s parents had no idea who could have sent her, but she turned out to be the best present ever. Ally never went anywhere without Biscuit, who always sat on her kitchen counter, smiling as Ally wore her favorite apron, dancing as she baked her heart out.
Every year, Cookie Cove has a very famous bake-off. That’s a contest when all sorts of bakers come from all over the world to see who will win the Pink Ribbon, the top prize. And from the day she learned the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon (hint: one is three times larger than the other), Ally wanted to win.
She knew that would take a lot of practice. So, she spent days. No, weeks. Make that months. Okay, years….figuring out how to make the best gingerbread cookies on the planet. After a lot of time she finally came up with a recipe that was wonderlicious. That means stupendous and extraordinary and basically, aMAZing. And finally the day arrived when she was old enough to enter her wonderlicious cookies in the Cookie Cove’s Famous Bake-off.
Everyone (almost) in town knew and loved Ally. And everyone knew that when she put on her apron, there would be yummy results. Everyone, that is except Monsieur Éclair, the mean and nasty Master Pastry Chef at the Tres Sucré bakery.
So, on the day of the Bake-off, as Ally carefully carried her tray of gingerbread cookies toward the judges’ table, there in the corner stood the awful, evil, horrible Monsieur Éclair.He laughed and laughed, until his cheeks turned bright red and his black shiny moustache stuck straight out, like an arrow.
Joining him in this terrible laughter were the rude and lazy Mr. and Mrs. CreamPuff. The CreamPuffs made their living selling stale cakes from their rickety old food truck. And, just like Monsieur Éclair, they hated the idea of a young kid becoming an expert baker.
But as Ally walked by on that ocean-breezy day, Monsieur Éclair and the CreamPuffs got a whiff of the gingerbread cookies….and all they could say was “Yum!”
Soon it was time to find out who would get the Pink Ribbon, the top prize in the Cookie Cove Bake-off. Ally held her breath as the judges stood on stage. They had judged over 500 gingerbread cookies, they said… 534 to be exact. To decide on the winner, they each took a bite of gingerbread, then a sip of milk. And there was a clear winner, a gingerbread cookie that stood out as being the very best on the planet, both in taste and design (the way it looked): the one that baked by… Ally!
Yes, for overall wonderliciousness, Ally was the winner of the Pink Ribbon, the youngest winner in the history of the Cookie Cove Bake-off.
As you can imagine, Ally was thrilled. And the gingerbread lovers of the world were in gingerbread heaven. Orders for cookies came from all over. Some people wanted just one cookie. Others wanted dozens and dozens. (Certain people even ordered 144 cookies, which is a dozen dozens.)
To fill all these orders, Ally found herself baking all morning, all afternoon and all evening.
And sometimes she even baked all night long. She only took a break for her 5:00 run. (Luckily, all of this happened during the summer, when she didn’t have school.)
Monsieur Éclair was NOT happy. You see, he had entered his own creation in the contest: a crumbly cookie with dusty raisins for eyes, and stale licorice frowns for mouths. He just could not handle the fact that a young girl had won the Pink Ribbon. So, in anger, while Ally was out running, the awful, evil, horrible Monsieur Éclair sneaked into Ally’s little kitchen. He had to get his hands on Ally’s recipe.
He looked everywhere, but the recipe was nowhere to be found (this was because Ally knew the recipe by heart). But he did notice Ally’s favorite apron folded neatly on a chair.
Only the meanest, nastiest sort of person would think of destroying a young baker’s favorite apron. And that is exactly what the awful, evil, horrible Monsieur Éclair did: he ripped it to shreds, until nothing was left but a pile of rags.
Soon Ally returned from her run. She had a lot of energy and was all ready to fill a new order of cookies for someone in faraway Tiramisu, who had ordered a dozen dozens.
She just needed to put on her apron and then get started. She immediately noticed the pile of rags on the chair where she had left her apron. This couldn’t be…Or could it? With a gasp, she realized that the apron was now a thready shreddy mess.
Tears came to Ally’s eyes when she remembered how she and her mom had made the apron out of scraps of brightly colored fabric and decorated with sparkly gems when she was a little girl.Now it was gone… and there was no way she could bake without it!
Ally sat on the kitchen counter, holding Biscuit the bear, crying and crying. Then, suddenly she heard a scratching sound at the window. Like a whisper, it was very hard to hear at first: scratch, scratch, scratch. But then it got louder and louder: SCRATCH, SCRATCH, SCRATCH. At first Ally thought it was the branches of the old sycamore tree outside tapping against her window in the wind. But the, SCRATCH-SCRATCH-SCRATCHING turned into a TAP-TAP-TAPPING.
Ally sat on the kitchen counter, holding Biscuit the bear, crying and crying. Then, suddenly she heard a scratching sound at the window. Like a whisper, it was very hard to hear at first: scratch, scratch, scratch. But then it got louder and louder: SCRATCH, SCRATCH, SCRATCH. At first Ally thought it was the branches of the old sycamore tree outside tapping against her window in the wind. But the SCRATCH-SCRATCH-SCRATCHING turned into a TAP-TAP-TAPPING. Curious, Ally peeked out the through the curtains. There, in the trees, she could not believe what she saw: a smiling monkey. Make that a smiling PURPLE monkey.
With one of his long purple paws, the monkey gave Ally a “come here” signal. Ally had climbed that tree many times, but never with a purple monkey, so she thought, “Why not?” It would at least take her mind off the apron.
The monkey was super fast and wasted no time in heading toward the tip top of the tree, a spot that Ally had never managed to reach. Holding Biscuit, she climbed higher and higher. She could barely keep up with her new purple friend, who hopped, skipped and jumped through the branches. Then the branches became SO thick that you couldn’t see through them. And they were sticky. Very sticky.
Soon Ally noticed that her hands were sticky too. Something was rubbing off, something that smelled delicious! Could it be… yes, it could! The branches of the tree were covered in sweet, buttery frosting. This was no ordinary tree.
Climbing to the very top of the tree was hard work, but luckily Ally was in good shape, and they soon reached the top. There the frosting-branches were so thick and creamy, that Ally could not see what was down below. The purple monkey motioned for Ally to follow him back down. “I don’t know,” Ally said to Biscuit, “Should we? We just came ALL the way up.”
“I say it’s worth the climb,” says Biscuit. Ally gasped. Her furry friend had spoken! For years, Ally had been talking to Biscuit, who had always been there, but had always remained silent. Now suddenly, for the first time, her toy bear had answered back.
And that was not the only freaky thing to happen at the top of the tree: as they headed down the opposite side, she was even more amazed to find CUPCAKES growing on some of the branches. Clearly, they were not in Cookie Cove any
Before long, they finished climbing down-down-down, and reached the ground other side of the tree. And what an other side it was. As far as Ally could see, there were dazzling fields full of cupcake trees and candy canes. The monkey bowed, held out his purple paw to Ally, and shook her hand. “I am Coco Mac,” he said. “And this is Wonderland.”
Ally could immediately tell that Wonderland was beyond sweetacular, the kind of place you dream about and then wake up with a happy smile that stays on your face all day. But before she could properly look around, Coco Mac was hurrying off again. Holding Biscuit, Ally followed the purple monkey through the dazzling fields and the razzling meadows…and soon there it was – a giant castle, made of swirls and whirls of cookies and candies and cakes.
A group of colorful creatures bowed and clapped as Ally as she paraded toward the castle on the royal, red carpet.There, on a candy cane throne, waiting for Ally, was a beautiful Queen – sort of a royal version of her own mom.“I am Queen Caramel…and thank goodness you’ve arrived,” the Queen said to Ally.
Queen Caramel gave Ally a warm hug. She explained that Rica, Wonderland’s Royal Chef had grown very old and had decided to stop working so she could spend time in her garden of goodies. The queen had been looking for a new chef
for ninety days, she said. But, after tasting way too many gooey cakes and dried-out cookies, she just couldn’t find the right person to replace Rica.
“I was so worried about finding a new Royal Chef that I couldn’t sleep,” said the Queen, “But then Coco Mac came back from Cookie Cove and told me all about your talents.” The Queen went on to say that she had used her Marshmallow Mirror to follow Ally’s adventures – and, winking at Biscuit, she said she knew everything about the Bake-off, the Pink Ribbon, the many, many gingerbread orders, and even the awful, evil, terrible Monsieur Éclair.
The Queen then presented Ally with a small spice jar, filled with pure white sprinkles that glowed with sweetness. “This is Wonderbake Powder,” she said, and then filled Ally in about the wonders of Wonderbake: You see, this magical
ingredient, when added to batter, makes any recipe grow by a HUNDRED times. When you use Wonderbake, the batter for one cookie becomes enough for a hundred. And the batter for a dozen cookies becomes enough for a hundred dozen.
Ally was beyond delighted with the Wonderbake Powder. Now she could easily bake all her gingerbread orders. But the queen had yet another, even better gift for Ally.
And this present truly blew her away. It was….her apron! Perfectly repaired, it is now better than new – bedazzled with gems, giving off a wondrous glow. As Ally cried tears of joy, Queen Caramel, tied the apron around Ally’s waist, and proclaimed her the new Royal Pastry Chef of Wonderland.
We wish we could say that was the happy ending to our story, but there is a bit more. And unlike the ending of many stories, we have both good news and bad news.
At first Ally was a little worried about her mom and all her friends in Cookie Cove. But Coco-mac explained that every year in Wonderland was like a second back home. In other words, Ally could spend twenty-five years in Wonderland, but would only be gone for twenty-five seconds in Cookie Cove Time. That meant that nobody would miss her for quite a while….and she would have the best summer vacation ever, baking her heart out as the Royal Pastry Chef of Wonderland.
So with the magic of Wonderbake Powder, Ally and her new helpers – the colorful creatures of Wonderland – easily completed ALL of the gingerbread orders, plus as extra platter for the Queen and Coco-mac. When the cookies were done, perfectly baked and still warm, Ally asked Coco and his crew to deliver the goodies to Cookie Cove.
Remember the awful, evil horrible Monsieur Éclair? Yes, him. Well, when he found out that Ally had supplied her wonderlicious gingerbread cookies to many pleased customers, he ordered the disgusting Cream Puff couple to follow Coco-mac, the deliverer of the cookies. So Mr. and Mrs. Cream Puff climbed the tree, but got into trouble way before they reached the cupcakes on the other side. In fact, before they even reached the frosting on the high branches, the Cream Puffs got stuck and had to be rescued by the Cookie Cove Fire Department.
Now Monsieur Éclair is angrier than ever before! He is on an awful, evil, horrible mission to get Ally’s gingerbread recipe….and stop her from baking forever and ever. He might even find a way to get over the tree to Wonderland, and once he gets there, he will do anything, anything to get his hands on Ally’s Wonderbake Powder. Maybe one day that will happen. But that would be another story.