cover image The Have a Good Day Caf

The Have a Good Day Caf

Frances Park, Ginger Park, , illus. by Katherine Potter. . Lee & Low, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58430-171-4

Ethnic pride and entrepreneurial ingenuity dovetail in this story of a Korean-American boy and his homesick immigrant Grandma. Young Mike's family food-cart business stalls when other vendors—selling the same menu of pizza, bagels and similar snacks—set up shop on their corner. Inspired by his Grandma's yearnings for home ("The faraway look on her face means she wishes she were back in Korea instead of here with us," says Mike), the boy suggests the family distinguish itself by selling mandoo (dumplings), bulgogi (marinated beef strips) and other Korean delicacies—with Grandma as head chef. The newly dubbed (courtesy of Mike) "Have a Good Day Café" is a hit with more than just the customers ("Grandma puts her arm around me and hugs me tight," says a triumphant Mike). The prose can be emotionally subdued, but the Parks (My Freedom Trip ) make clear how much is at stake in a small family business (as Mike and his grandma watch from under a nearby tree, "Hours pass—no more customers"). Potter's (Naming the Cat ) flat, literal pastels effectively convey the stretching of hours and Grandma's steely, faraway sadness; less successful are scenes that require more zip, especially as excitement mounts around Mike's new business plan. But plenty of affection and keen observation animate this book, and it may even spark some interesting discussions about global cuisine and the value of selling something that ignites one's own passions. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)