cover image Two for Stew

Two for Stew

Laura Joffe Numeroff, Perry Nodelman, Salvatore Murdocca. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80571-4

This giddy and sometimes campy salute to stew gives new meaning to the term ""dinner theater."" Intent on sampling Chez Stew's specialty, a woman and her white poodle will not accept a waiter's polite refusals (""There is no more stew,/ I'm sorry to say./ We do have some noodles,/ Will that be okay?""). The customer's demands escalate into an onstage fantasy sequence in which she and her dog float on angel wings, an all-chef chorus line brandishes cooking utensils and the gar on glides in with the desired dish. Finally, the waiter invites the persistent woman and her pet to hop on his motorcycle; they rush off to find his grandma, keeper of the stew recipe. (This guy better get a great tip.) Numeroff (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) and Saltzberg (Where, Oh Where's My Underwear?) provide lilting stanzas throughout this mannered escapade, relaying it as an exchange conducted solely between the woman and waiter; curlicued, Art Deco typeface designates her voice, italicized text is his. Murdocca (Baby Wants the Moon) sets the scene in an idealized city. His precise, colorful watercolors suit the blocky urban architecture, while his people gesture in cartoony poses borrowed from Hollywood's glory days. Although the send-up of romantic comedy will probably be lost on young readers, this stew has flavor enough to sate an appetite for a good romp. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)