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Happy Harry's Cafe

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About the Author

Michael Rosen is one of the most popular authors of stories and poems for children. His bestselling titles, published by Walker Books, include Little Rabbit Foo Foo, Michael Rosen's Sad Book, This Is Our House, Tiny Little Fly, Dear Mother Goose and its sequel Dear Fairy Godmother. He has also written many collections of poetry including Bananas in My Ears. Michael received the Eleanor Farjeon Award for distinguished services to children's literature in 1997, and was the Children's Laureate from 2007 to 2009. He is a distinguished critic and academic, co-directing an MA in Children's Literature at Birbeck College. He is often called upon to talk about children's literature and his poetry readings are adored by children and adults. He also presents radio programmes for the BBC. Michael lives in London with his family. Richard Holland is one of Walker's most promising new illustrators whose books include The Museum Book, The Time Book and Mary's Penny. The Museum Book, his first major project, inspired him to develop a striking mixed-media collage style. He lives in Chelmsford, Essex with his cat.


PreS-Gr 2-Harry (a bear or possibly a dog) makes great soup. Most of his animal friends love it, but Matt the cat says "The soup's no good." Why? Because he has no spoon-ba-dum-dum! After a good laugh, Matt gets a spoon, praises the soup, and he and Harry sing a soup song. This is a retelling of a famous Jewish joke (as noted in the flap copy), but Rosen is no Myron Cohen. The additional theme of encouraging people to stop to smell the roses, as evinced by Harry telling each rushing customer to "Take it easy," gets lost along the way. The punch line is so overexplained that it is no longer funny. It is further belabored in song, where lightly printed sheet music fails to guide readers in their singing. While the original joke is quite funny, the humor may be lost on young readers. Cheerful, bright, blocky mixed-media illustrations go well with the jocular intent of the story, but are not enough to save it.-Heidi Estrin, Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Rosen (Chanukah Lights) writes silly, loose-limbed wordplay for young audiences; insofar as this story is a story, it's a nod to an old Yiddish joke about a disgruntled restaurant customer. Mostly, though, it's a repeated chant, as visitors arrive at Harry the dog's cafe, each with his or her own personality quirk. "Here's Ryan the lion. He's in a rush. He's Rushing Ryan." Each animal is calmed in turn by phlegmatic Harry: "Take it easy, Ryan," says Harry. Soft charcoal lines help Holland's (Mary's Penny) matte mixed-media artwork feel as mellow as Harry (especially compared to the chunky typefaces that make Rosen's prose resemble a kind of concrete poetry). Matt the Cat complains, "Hey, Harry. The soup's no good. You come and try it, Harry." "Hey, Matt," says Harry. "There's no spoon. You haven't got a spoon." Harry and Matt sing a short song ("If you don't have a spoon, you can't taste the soup. If you can't taste the soup, the soup's no good"), and that's it. Although it may sound daft to grownups, Rosen's sense of what children like is often spot on. Ages 3-5. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

A book adults will enjoy sharing with children. * INIS Magazine *

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