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THE DANCING PANCAKE by Eileen Spinelli


by Eileen Spinelli & illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: May 11th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-375-85870-3
Publisher: Knopf

Eleven-year-old Bindi copes with her parents’ separation and an unsettling move, supported by a gently colorful cast of characters. When Dad disappears to job-hunt far away, Bindi barely notices—until she learns that her parents have actually separated. Mom needs a job, and Aunt Darnell’s always dreamed of a restaurant, so The Dancing Pancake is born, open for breakfast and lunch only. Bindi and Mom move into the apartment upstairs. The diner’s populated by relatives (mother, good-natured aunt and uncle, energetic four-year-old cousin), a friendly teenage waitress and a wise, idealized homeless woman. Bindi’s free-verse narration makes for smooth, simple reading; Lew-Vriethoff’s line drawings add spirit. Bindi’s believable emotional aches exist in a fairly innocent world—where a six-year-old can roam a zoo alone, the most angry 11-year-olds might do “everything / from kicking pumpkins / to screaming ‘Banana poop!’ / in the principal’s office” and God and Sunday School teach Bindi an altruism that lessens her own melancholy. Choose readers who’ll enjoy, rather than envy, Bindi’s parents’ reunion at the end. (Fiction. 9-11)