With the help of farm-animal friends, three little chicks bake their mother a cake and save it from ruin.
In this tactile board book, baby chickens Penny, Polly, and Molly are determined to show their love for Mama by baking her a cake. Other baby farm animals get in on the action, helping haul supplies and decorate the cake. When the enormous cake nearly topples, the chicks come up with a way to keep it intact, demonstrating to Mama both their love and their quick thinking. What’s unclear from the story is what makes these three chicks the titular “tough.” They’re certainly quick, innovative, and persistent, but beyond the cutesy play on words, it doesn’t mean much. The book includes various touch-and-feel elements: a fluffy foal’s tail and a fun-to-touch sticky spot of cake frosting. There are, however, unnecessary tabs on the right-hand side of the book. A little mouse appears before each page turn with reader-participation questions. “Can you moooo like a calf?” it asks. These mostly work, but they’re not needed. Suber’s illustrations are sweet, the animals cartoonish. They help explain and move the story along, particularly showing how the cake is saved at the end. Mostly there is just too much: tabs, flaps, participatory directions, touch-and-feel elements. Less would have been more.
Tries to do too much and doesn’t quite succeed. (Board book. 1-3)