A boy with an obnoxious habit finds a vocation—and maybe a dash of maturity—in the kitchen.
Ackerman buries his message, if any, beneath a deluge of so-clever bons mots. As the white child protagonist stops screaming only when he’s fed, his harried parents ply him with so much chickpea curry and “luscialicious” linguini that he grows too fat to fit in the door. When some burned chicken sparks a fresh tantrum they throw in the dish towel and tell him to serve up his own meals—whereupon he becomes more enamored of cooking than eating, slims down, and opens a restaurant. The screams start up again after a food critic’s “scrump-diddly-icious” rave brings so much frantic business that the lad tops a sundae with a chicken leg and plops his mother on a plate of lentils. Her threat to close the cafe if he doesn’t stop the noise leads to a high-volume apology, songs rather than screams, and a fresh stream of delectable creations: “A girl tasted the molten chocolate lava cake, jumped up and recited the alphabet in Swahili. (And she didn’t even know Swahili).” Nor, it turns out, does Dalton, who represents that white girl’s outburst with a cloud of random shapes. Overall, the illustrations fail either to echo the narrative’s labored air of sophistication or even to make the food plated up for a racially diverse array of diners look appetizing.
Order something else. (Picture book. 6-8)