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THE MOON & RIDDLES DINER AND THE SUNNYSIDE CAFÉ by Nancy Willard Kirkus Star

THE MOON & RIDDLES DINER AND THE SUNNYSIDE CAFÉ

By Nancy Willard (Author) , Chris Butler (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-15-201941-3
Publisher: Harcourt

More magical, mystical nonsense verse from one of children's literature's great maverick talents, coupled with astonishing, accomplished paper sculptures from a newcomer. Ageless young traveler Shoefly Sally introduces herself in the first poem, praising the Moon & Riddles Diner and the Sunnyside Café, where she "learned to bake from a talking cake." "It's there the hoppelpoppels dance / and the emerald antelope sing. / My dog's as welcome as myself. / His name is Everything." Further on, the Great Bear adds an accolade, a Pampel Moose escapes, in a bluesy lyric "The Teapot Pours Out Her Story," and a Chuggamonga Frog defeats the Riddling Ghost (with the help of 800 confederates). Readers meet a thread spider, the Queen of Chickens (unfortunately depicted as a rooster), and a stove with peculiar properties. Butler is equal to this quirky cast, fashioning from cut and scored bristol board—dramatically backlit to bring out strong lines and three-dimensionality—a series of leafy-framed tableaux featuring everything from kitchenware to a herd of heifers rock-and-rolling across a moonlit sky. Loosely linked, both to one another and to a set of playful recipes aimed at chefs of diverse expertise, the poems are sometimes haunting, sometimes laugh-out-loud hilarious, always surprising—and Butler's picture-book debut is nothing short of brilliant. (Picture book/poetry. 6+)