Thursday, November 11, 2021

Review: Carla and the Christmas Cornbread by Carla Hall

With Thanksgiving only two weeks away...yes, I said TWO weeks (amazing,  isn't it?)...and the Christmas season sliding in right after that, I'm slowly getting into the spirit of the season, and that with a diverse twist.

Ready to smack those lips and think holiday food thoughts? 

by Carla Hall
Illustrated by Cherise Harris
Denene Miller Books
Picture Book / Holiday
40 pages 
ages 4 to 8

In this heartwarming tale inspired by her childhood, superstar chef and TV host Carla Hall shares the story of young Carla, who eats a sugar cookie meant for Santa on the night before Christmas and tries to make things right.

Christmas is Carla’s favorite holiday of the year. She goes to her grandparents’ house and eats grandma’s special recipe—a perfectly delicious cornbread. She listens to her grandpa Doc’s marvelous stories about traveling the world. And, best of all, she spends lots of time with her family.

But when Carla accidentally takes a bite out of Santa’s sugar cookie, she thinks she’s ruined Christmas. How will Santa know to stop at their house if they don’t leave him a midnight snack? With her grandmother’s help, Carla comes up with a plan, but will it be enough to save Christmas?



Christmas takes on a loving twist in a tale, which takes a familiar situation and mistake, and shows how a little love and effort help Christmas magic flow.

Carla can't wait to get to Grandma's house. It's Christmas Eve and, better yet, cornbread is on the menu. Grandma's cornbread is the best, and Carla loves to watch her make it. When Carla is about to turn in for the night, a pretty cookie on the table draws her attention, and she takes a nibble. And while it is yummy, she soon discovers that it's the cookie meant for Santa...and she just stole his cookie.

I had to smile while reading this one because it reminded me of a couple Christmases in my own family. Carla's excitement for something as simple as cornbread is so's not always the gifts kids love. And when she makes the honest mistake of eating Santa's cookie, her guilt touches the heart. For her, Christmas is as good as ruined, and this is something young readers will identify with. Of course, this doesn't end on a bad note, though.

The family relationship is wholesome and strong. The love between the grandmother and her grandchildren is heart-warming and wakes memories in readers. I love how we get to see the cornbread sizzling in the pan...almost making the smell and sounds real. The grandmother's solution to Carla's problem illustrates love in every respect and shows that mistakes can be corrected. To round everything off, there's a lovely recipe at the end, so that the reader can make the Christmas Cornbread themselves. It's a rounded read for the holidays. 

And here they are...

Carla Hall attended L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland. She gained her audience when she competed on Bravo’s Top Chef and Top Chef: All Stars. She has been a TV personality since then, cohosting on the ABC talk show The Chew, contributing on Good Morning America, and featuring as a judge on Crazy Delicious on Netflix and on Bakeaway Camp on the Food Network. She is the author of Carla’s Comfort FoodsCooking with Love, and Carla Hall’s Soul Food, which received an NAACP Image Awards nomination. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband. Visit for more.

Cherise Harris is an illustrator from Barbados. Her work centers around an interest in fairy tale and its role in telling deep and meaningful stories. Cherise uses pencil, watercolor, and clay, exploring her ideas in both 2D and 3D form. She also uses Photoshop to create digital art and gifs. She received her associate’s degree in visual arts at the Barbados Community College, her BFA in illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and most recently completed her master’s in illustration at Falmouth University in the UK. Cherise currently lives back home in Barbados with her husband, Ryan, and her daughter

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