Tuesday, June 9, 2009
A Crazy Day At the Critter Café
A Crazy Day At the Critter Cafe, Barb Odanaka's third children's book, was published June 9, 2009 with Simon & Schuster's Margaret K. McElderry Books. Thanks to Lee White for the fabulous illustrations, and Tracey Adams, Emma Dryden and Lisa Cheng for bringing this book to life!
The book stars a busload of critters who overtake a sleepy diner. Among them is Skateboard Cow, the most bodacious bovine ever to glide on four wheels!
Kirkus Reviews raved: "High spirited...lively...a rollicking read aloud!"
Children's Literature said: "This rollicking tale told in rhyming verse and filled with slapstick will have readers bouncing along with the humor. Lots of onomatopoeic words add resonance, and the creative mixed media illustrations bring to life the chaos and progressing mess that ensues. Kids will ask for this to be read again and again."
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review cheered: "Young readers will be mightily amused by Barbara Odanaka's bouncy, rhythmic verses...It's a totally zany tale, perfectly appropriate for summer silliness."
Full reviews below!
To celebrate the book's publication, author Barb Odanaka, founder and president of the nonprofit Skateboard Moms Inc., got into the act. Odanaka will be appearing (and skating) as Skateboard Cow throughout her promotional tour for A Crazy Day At the Critter Cafe.
A Crazy Day at the Critter Cafe from Patty Pantalones on Vimeo.
The Kirkus Review:
Havoc erupts in high-spirited fashion when the animals’ bus breaks down outside the local restaurant. In lively rhyme, raccoons lead the boisterous menagerie into the cozy café. Unfortunately for the chef and waiter, manners are lacking as the animals descend en masse. The cow skateboards down the stairs, the elephant band stomps in with tubas and the ostrich squawks for cherry strudel. The waiter’s spill sets off a disastrous chain reaction, causing the server to sneeze peas from his nose. When the critters are removed for their shenanigans, the staff rejoices until a dazed bovine emerges from the mess. The rhythmic phrases combine creative wordplay and natural pacing. Changing fonts emphasize the dramatic images. While never cluttered, White’s vibrant art conveys the disheveled environment. Muted, colorful backgrounds support the fluid mixed-media characters. Colorful splotches reinforce the sloppy surroundings; messy tables and flying food add amusing details. There are not too many cooks in this kitchen, as high-interest humor creates a rollicking read-aloud. (Picture book. 4-8)
From Children's Literature
It is a quiet morning at the cafe—until a broken bus disgorges a menagerie of hungry and messy critters. Elephants, raccoons, macaws, turtles, rams, and zebras storm through the cafe demanding to be served. The harried waiter and cook do their best to serve the persnickety crowd until the waiter—flat on the floor with "cupcake in his eyes, covered with ketchup, milk and fries"—orders everyone out. Just when the pair thinks they have peace at last, the cow declares she has missed the bus and plans to stay. That is too much for the waiter and cook who flee, leaving the cafe to reopen under a new name and management—Cow's Cafe. This rollicking tale told in rhyming verse and filled with slapstick will have readers bouncing along with the humor. Lots of onomatopoeic words add resonance, and the creative mixed media illustrations bring to life the chaos and progressing mess that ensues. Kids will ask for this to be read again and again. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
It’s a quiet morning at the Critter Café—until five raccoons walk through the door, followed by an elephant band, Skateboard Cow, and a rush of critters. Their bus has broken down and they’re all starving, but their rude demands for food, complaints when it arrives, and food-fight behavior push the frazzled waiter over the top. “This café is NOT a zoo. Pay your bill, then out the door. And don’t come back here anymore.” With shoulders sagging and tails dragging, the animals shuffle away—except the skateboarding cow, who missed the bus. The restaurant staff flees and the next thing you know, the joint has a new name: Cow’s Café. The rhymed text emphasizes the zany sound effects as the mixed-media illustrations comically exaggerate the scenes. Kids will giggle over the heightened food mess the animals leave behind. Grades K-2. --Julie Cummins
What starts out as a slow day quickly becomes the restaurant equivalent of a food fight when a load of hungry animals stranded in town by a conked-out bus invade the Critter Cafe and demand to be fed. Young readers will be mightily amused by Barbara Odanaka's bouncy, rhythmic verses and Lee White's mixed-media illustrations. A sample of their collaboration: "Macaws, turtles, lizards, lambs, / penguins, zebras, kangaroos, rams / So many creatures poured off the bus, / screeching, squawking -- what a fuss!" The good-riddance response of an exasperated staff captures the spirit of the feeding-frenzy, and the decisive solution they come up with to resolve the problem. It's a totally zany tale, perfectly appropriate for summer silliness. -- Nicholas A. Basbanes
To celebrate the book, Odanaka dons a cow costume and rolls into schools, libraries and literacy centers to celebrate reading and writing. Many school principals have taken a lesson in skateboard safety from Skateboard Cow herself. Students never forget this!