cover image In Enzo's Splendid Garden

In Enzo's Splendid Garden

Patricia Polacco. Philomel Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23107-0

It's fiasco al fresco when Polacco (The Trees of the Dancing Goats; Pink and Say) dips into her well of family stories to serve up this cumulative tale of mayhem set in her husband Enzo's Italian restaurant. It all starts with a ""fuzzy old bee, there on the tree/ in Enzo's splendid gardens."" A young restaurant patron turns to look at the bee-and drops a book, which trips the waiter, who splashes a drink on the matron, who bumps the ladies and so on. The chef, a cat, a fireman and even Enzo himself hitch a ride on this runaway train before it comes to a messy but satisfying stop. Polacco takes this string of catastrophes in stride, using the opportunity to fill her pencil-and-gouache scenes with dapper, acrobatic characters and plenty of flying food. Though her verse can be a bit cumbersome, readers will delight in the colorful chaos caused by an oblivious kid. Polacco fans will also appreciate the self-portraits of the author and renderings of her husband sprinkled throughout. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)