Cover image for The lady who put salt in her coffee : from the Peterkin papers
The lady who put salt in her coffee : from the Peterkin papers
Schwartz, Amy.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, [1989]

Physical Description:
32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 26 cm
When Mrs. Peterkin accidentally puts salt in her coffee, the entire family embarks on an elaborate quest to find someone to make it drinkable again.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Eggertsville-Snyder Library FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Audubon Library FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



When Mrs. Peterkin accidentally puts salt in her coffee, the entire family embarks on an elaborate quest to find someone to make it drinkable again.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5-8. When Mrs. Peterkin puts salt in her coffee, her enterprising family responds by summoning first a chemist, then an herbalist, to fix the undrinkable brew. Finally they visit that legendary sage "the lady from Philadelphia," who advises making a fresh cup of coffee, whereupon the children rejoice. This story, from Lucretia Hale's The Peterkin Papers, was published in a magazine in 1867 and as part of a collection of stories in 1880. Still available in libraries, the book is little read by children today. Schwartz rescues this, the best-known episode from those droll tales, and provides a smooth revision respectful of Hale's language. She also presents a new generation with artwork that re-creates the Victorian setting while echoing the humor of the narrative. Fine black lines delineate the elaborate Victorian interiors and outdoor scenes, while soft, rich watercolors provide warmth, patterns, and shading. The exaggerated figures and deadpan faces of the characters express the story's essential wit. A treat to read aloud, particularly to children who have yet to meet the Peterkins. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Victoriana reigns in Schwartz's illustrated excerpt from the 1867 classic, The Peterkin Papers . In this story, Mrs. Peterkin unthinkingly puts salt into her coffee, instead of sugar. Mr. Peterkin and the children call in a chemist to correct the flavor, and then a herb woman, but both of them fail to alleviate the coffee's terrible taste. Of course, ``the lady from Philadelphia'' saves the day when she suggests they simply brew a fresh cup of coffee. Raucous 19th-century-style furnishings, fabrics and costume outfit this tale, which is beautifully suited to the picture book format. The art expresses the comic personalities of each adult with a remarkable use of posture and form; the children mostly look on the proceedings with adoring bewilderment. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-- When Mrs. Peterkin finds that she has put salt in her coffee instead of sugar, the whole family searches for a remedy. . .but neither the chemist nor the herb woman can restore the taste. Not until the family consults the sensible lady from Philadelphia (who suggests brewing a fresh cup) can Mrs. Peterkin enjoy her morning coffee. In this adaptation of the first--and perhaps funniest--chapter of Hale's Peterkin Papers (Sharon, 1981) , Schwartz has removed some of the wordiness without changing Hale's style or the droll flavor of the original, better suiting the story to the picture-book format and making this classic more accessible to today's children. Full-page watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations are filled with the abundant patterns and clutter associated with Victorian decor--fringed lamp shades, ornate furniture, and swarming patterns on wallpaper, carpets, and clothing. Using only tiny lines to denote facial features, Schwartz has endowed her whimsical characters with wonderfully expressive faces. Full pages of text on white background are sometimes embellished with smaller illustrations, adding to the pleasing format. A charming spoof of Victorian family life and an example of nonsense in early American writing revived by a gifted illustrator of today. --Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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