THE GREAT PANCAKE ESCAPE

“Our dad is a magician, / who can make a bird go poof, / but the day he cooked us pancakes, / he made an awful goof.” In his first picture book, Many (My Life, Take Two, 2000, etc.) cooks up a humorous rhyme about a magician who bungles breakfast. When he uses the wrong cookbook (it’s really a book of tricks), the pancakes take on a life of their own and the three children help chase the fugitive flapjacks as they roll right into town. Lush brushstrokes and shadowy images create drama as Goto’s (Shoeshine Whittaker, 1999, etc.) full-bleed illustrations chronicle the action. In the opening spread, one son yawns, the daughter smirks, and only the littlest child looks amused as the father juggles flour, milk, and sugar. “We’d seen this trick a thousand times,” they say. But when blue sparks envelope the mixing bowl and batter shoots into the flaming frying pan, they know something is different. Saucer-sized pancakes take over the town. They blend into the scenery, becoming the steering wheel on the bus, wheels on a taxicab, and medallions on a fancy hat. In one surreal scene, pancakes rain down as a man and woman in black suits, bowlers, blood red ties, and mirrored sunglasses march by holding giant pancake umbrellas. Back home, the children finally find the real cookbook. The father reverses the spell, turning the pancakes back to batter. “ ‘I’ll fry you up another stack,’ ” he says. “But we said, ‘No! Just watch!’ / Then we toasted frozen waffles / right from the soggy box.” A rhythmic, rip-roaring romp. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8027-8795-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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