Ten Bumbling Chefs

Author Kimberli Ball (left) and illustrator Abigail MacKnight will be signing copies their new children’s book, “Ten Bumbling Chefs,” on Saturday at Winchester Book Gallery.

WINCHESTER — Poor Jill. She hired 10 chefs to work at her Japanese restaurant, only to discover that nine of them were not quite up to snuff.

That’s the premise of “Ten Bumbling Chefs,” a new children’s book by author Kimberli Ball and illustrator Abigail MacKnight, both of Winchester.

“Ten Bumbling Chefs,” which was released on Wednesday, is set at a Japanese restaurant’s teppan griddle, a cooking appliance commonly (and incorrectly) referred to by most Americans as a hibachi grill. Teppan griddles have solid metal surfaces; hibachi grills have open grates and visible flames.

The story is told using a basic rhyming cadence similar to the one employed in the classic nursery rhyme “Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” making it perfectly suited for emerging readers between the ages of 3 and 7.

“My goal was to try to make it funny ... and to make it participatory, so we have rhyming and repeating phrases that kids really get into,” Ball said.

Here’s a sample: “Ten bumbling chefs were cooking at the grill. One dropped his oil and took a big spill. In stomped the boss whose name was Jill. ‘You must be careful cooking at the grill!’”

“Ten Bumbling Chefs” is the first book written by Ball, a former teacher who now works as an attorney, and MacKnight, an emerging artist who works in graphic design.

Ball said she was inspired to write a children’s book by her grandsons, Brayden and Landon, both of whom attended a release party Thursday night at Okinawa Japanese Restaurant in Winchester.

“Since Brayden and Landon were very small, they have loved going to the hibachi grill,” Ball told a crowd of about 60 friends, family and supporters. “Then they would go home and re-enact the whole thing with the [onion] volcano and the egg tossing and the shrimp tossing. ... I’ve dedicated the book to them.”

Once Ball had the story, she needed someone to illustrate it. A friend recommended MacKnight, a 23-year-old former student of Ball’s who was attending Virginia Commonwealth University (she has since graduated with a degree in communication arts) and dreaming of becoming a professional artist.

“It was great to have this opportunity while still in college,” said MacKnight, who also drew the illustrations for a coloring book published by the city of Winchester for its 275th anniversary in 2019.

MacKnight dedicated the book to her parents, Corey and Debbie MacKnight, to thank them for their support.

Ball said her biggest reward for writing “Ten Bumbling Chefs” came a few days ago when her grandsons took copies of the book to their first- and third-grade classrooms.

“They read them to their classes and told them their Nana had written a book,” she said with a smile that stretched from ear to ear.

“Ten Bumbling Chefs” is available online from Amazon.com and the book’s publishing house, BookBaby.com. Anyone who buys from the BookBaby site can enter the code “tenbumblingchefs” to receive a 25% discount.

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

(1) comment

Doc Samson

Very cute! [thumbup]

Over/under bet: What time will the first Pr0g post here to cry and whine about cultural appropriation (is that still an "outrage" for them???), lack of ethnic/racial diversity, and/or not enough tranny representation. I'll say before 9:45... [lol]

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