cover image Zak's Lunch

Zak's Lunch

Margie Palatini. Clarion Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-81674-5

In a boy's goofy daydream of a diner existing just for him, sky-high piles of fries, fleets of pizzas and ""a tub of spaghetti with meatballs the size of baseballs"" offer an alluring alternative to the boring ham and cheese sandwich made by his mother. Vivid watercolor-and-pastel illustrations by Fine, previously teamed with Palatini for Piggie Pie!, feature exaggerated close-ups and skewed perspectives, adding a frenzied quality to this snowballing pig-out. Kids who always want ""this much""--stretching their arms wide--will be awed by Zak's feast, beginning with ""a triple-decker, super-duper burger deluxe. With lots of grease, and runny ketchup, fried onions, gooey yellow cheese that squirts at you when you take a bite, and at least a pound of pickles."" The meal grows progressively crazy until Zak, his Saint Bernard and the diner waitress Lou are sliding through mountains of ice cream. Caricatured faces with red noses gleam as brightly as the greasy pepperoni or the array of colorful shakes and sodas covering the pink Formica counter. Combining gross-out appeal with a fantasy premise, this lively book gives those with eyes that are bigger than their stomachs plenty of food for thought. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)