Happy Belly, Happy Smile

Rachel Isadora. Harcourt, $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-206546-1
In Caldecott Honor author Isadora's (Ben's Trumpet) celebration of a treasured ritual, Louie narrates his weekly visit to his grandfather's Chinese restaurant. The spare, straightforward prose is bolstered by collage and oil art featuring an imaginative array of textures (including snippets from takeout menus), patterns, colors and shapes. Especially strong visuals include a tank filled with tropical fish, a large paper dragon suspended from the ceiling and festive Chinese lanterns. The bustle of the kitchen, where staffers shape egg rolls and peel shrimp, while the chef chops vegetables is conveyed with similar energy. After contentedly sharing a meal with his grandfather (Louie eagerly devours steamed dumplings and shrimp chow mein, but passes on a whole fish and wide-eyed crabs), the boy moves on to dessert. Eagle-eyed kids will notice that one image is at odds with the text: Grandpa reads the fortune from Louie's cookie, which allegedly says "Happy food, happy belly, happy smile," yet the fortune seen in Grandpa's hand reads otherwise. Nonetheless, despite a lack of narrative momentum, this is a happy story starring one undeniably happy child. Ages 3—7. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 32 pages - 978-0-547-76950-9
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