Garden Shell Pasta Bake
Homemade Wheat Crackers


by Eve Titus
illustrated by Paul Galdone

Anatole is an honorable little mouse with a great deal of character, so he is crushed when he discovers that the humans think he and all other mice are a disgrace to France. It troubles him to be thought of in such a negative manner, and he devises an ingenious plan to earn his crumbs and scraps and renew his sense of dignity.

Young readers will delight in this fun adventure story with a timeless message of self-reliance, working hard, and using your talents. The charming and classic illustrations by Paul Galdone showing the life of a French mouse are done in charcoal, pen, and ink. The mainly black and gray pages are highlighted with red and blue of the French flag and have a true 1950’s vintage feel! Originally published in 1956, this Caldecott Honor Book continues to be a favorite for readers just discovering its charm, and to those rediscovering it from an earlier time.

In this Issue


Homemade Wheat Crackers

Make this recipe today to prepare for our activity coming up tomorrow: a Cheese Tasting. Anatole makes his honest living as a cheese taster (who better than a mouse?) by trying many different varieties each night at the factory where he works.

These are basic wheat crackers, perfect as a neutral base for tasting different cheeses. Plus, it is always fun to make snacks that children usually expect to come out of a package. Instead they get to see the step by step process, from mixing to baking and, of course, tasting!

Homemade Wheat Crackers Recipe - Anatole -

Homemade Wheat Crackers Recipe - Anatole -

Young Readers in the Kitchen

Kids can help to measure and mix ingredients, roll out dough, and cut crackers before baking. 

Homemade Wheat Crackers

adapted from Family Fun's Sesame Herb Crackers


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat crackers
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, stir together flours, sugar and salt. Add softened butter and use hands to thoroughly blend it into flour mixture. 
  2. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk to well and stir to form a rough dough. If it seems very dry, add 1 teaspoon of milk at a time. 
  3. Turn dough out onto counter or workspace. Knead until dough is smooth and all dry ingredients are incorporated. You can lightly flour the counter if the dough wants to stick, but I find that it is easier to incorporate everything if it is not floured. 
  4. Divide dough in half. Place one half of the dough on a large piece of parchment paper. Roll out with a rolling pin until roughly 16 by 9 inches. The dough will stick to the parchment paper as you roll it out; this is much easier than trying to transfer a large piece of delicate dough to a baking sheet. You want to roll it very thin so that the crackers will be crispy; if it is too thick they will be tough and chewy. 
  5. Transfer parchment paper to a baking sheet. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into desired cracker sizes. You don't have to separate the crackers after cutting. 
  6. Repeat with other half of dough. Bake crackers for about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through bake time, until golden brown. 

Related Recipes: Homemade Cheesy Snack CrackersSpider Crackers with Sweet Potato Hummus 


Anatole's Cheese Tasting Party

Broaden your young reader's culinary horizons! Most kids are used to the ubiquitous American cheese, mozzarella cheese sticks, and cheddar mac and cheese. However, a quick trip to a gourmet cheese shop or even the dairy section of your grocery story will show the vast number of cheese varieties that are available.  

As an expert cheese taster, Anatole is able to detect nuances in the flavor of the cheeses at Duval's Cheese Factory. While this activity certainly doesn't require such such cheese-tasting authority, it provides a good opportunity to not only introduce new varieties but also to compare and contrast those that you select. Which ones are hard and sliced? Which are soft and spreadable? You can even compare the colors or smells. 


If you would like to keep with the French setting of the book, here is a great guide to French cheeses

Anatole's Cheese Tasting Party


  • Homemade Wheat Crackers
  • Any variety of cheeses
  1. Set out crackers and place one type of cheese on each. Taste and discuss! A fine vintage of grape juice optional. 


Anatole's Cheese Tasting Party
Anatole's Cheese Tasting Party - Anatole -
Sharp Cheddar
Anatole's Cheese Tasting Party - Anatole -
Anatole's Cheese Tasting Party - Anatole -
Anatole's Cheese Tasting Party - Anatole -
Anatole's Cheese Tasting Party - Anatole -



French Flag Painting

In celebration of the blue and red of Anatole's illustrations and the setting in "a mouse suburb of Paris," have your young readers make their own French flag.
The French national flag is the ‘The Tricolor’ and is made of three vertical bands. Blue is always on the hoist side, white in the middle, and finally red. 
French Flag Painting

Why We Like It

  • This is a fun and festive activity to help reinforce the setting of the book.  

French Flag Painting

What You Will Need

  • White construction paper
  • Red and blue paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Newspaper to cover work surface
  1. Cover the work surface with newspaper.
  2. Fold the construction paper into thirds.
  3. Using the folds as guidelines, paint one end section blue and the other red. Depending on the preference of your young artist, this could be a fun finger paint project rather than using a paintbrush.


 Where in the World?

Use a globe or world map to show your young reader how to find Paris, France, the setting of Anatole. Identify where you live as well and where Paris is in relation to your home.


More From Off the Shelf

More Paris, France

  • Madeline, featuring activities such as making French Fries, Citron Pressé, and your own Old House Covered in Vines. 
  • Crêpes by Suzette

More Mice

One Year Ago: Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni

More Picks:

Anatole and the Cat

This is Paris

Adèle & Simon


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