MINNIE'S DINER: A Multiplying Menu

Dayle Ann Dodds, Author, John Manders, Illustrator , illus. by John Manders. Candlewick $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-1736-3

This lesson in multiplication goes down smoothly, thanks to the exponential fun in the rhyming couplets and accompanying visuals. Papa McFay—seen only as an imposing shadow—orders his five sons not to chow down until they finish their chores. But a delicious aroma wafts their way from Minnie's Diner, and one after the other, the brothers shuck their responsibilities and make a beeline for the counter. Since each brother is "twice as big" as his preceding sibling, each orders twice as much as the brother before ("Make it a double," they instruct Minnie). Little Will starts the ball rolling with "1 soup/ 1 salad/ 1 sandwich/ some fries, and/ 1 of her special hot cherry pies." By the time oldest brother Dill (the spitting image of Paul Bunyan) takes his place at the counter, he's ready for 16 of everything—and Manders (Dirt Boy ) paints Minnie reaching the end of her waitressing rope. With Dodds's (The Great Divide ) bouncy rhymes and Manders's assured gouaches, the book takes on the vivacity of a vintage animated cartoon; it's easy to imagine a musical score toodling along as Minnie scurries about and the sinuous, ghostly line of cooking fragrance draws the boys into the diner. There's even a solid punchline: the terribly intimidating shadow of Papa McFay turns out to belong to a scrawny little fella (think Snuffy Smith) who not only succumbs to the charms of Minnie's menu, but also asks for 32 of everything—and cleans her out (Manders ends with a "Sorry, we're closed!" sign). Ages 5-8. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 09/06/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
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