Happy Belly, Happy Smile

Happy Belly, Happy Smile

by Rachel Isadora
     
 

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Every Friday Louie sees the hustle and bustle behind the scenes at his grandpa's Chinese restaurant. The chef's hands fly as he chops vegetables, the delivery boy zips in for a pickup, and the waiters holler out order after order. Then it's time to eat. Grandpa offers Louie a whole fish and crabs. "No, thank you, Grandpa!" But the dumplings, egg rolls,

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Overview

Every Friday Louie sees the hustle and bustle behind the scenes at his grandpa's Chinese restaurant. The chef's hands fly as he chops vegetables, the delivery boy zips in for a pickup, and the waiters holler out order after order. Then it's time to eat. Grandpa offers Louie a whole fish and crabs. "No, thank you, Grandpa!" But the dumplings, egg rolls, and chow mein sure look good. No trip to the Chinese restaurant is complete without a fortune cookie: "Happy food, happy belly, happy smile."

Caldecott Honor-winner Rachel Isadora brings a dynamic restaurant to life with beautiful cut-paper collages reminiscent of Eric Carle and Ezra Jack Keats.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/27/2015
In Caldecott Honor author Isadora's (Ben's Trumpet) celebration of a treasured ritual, Louie narrates his weekly visit to his grandfather's Chinese restaurant. The spare, straightforward prose is bolstered by collage and oil art featuring an imaginative array of textures (including snippets from takeout menus), patterns, colors and shapes. Especially strong visuals include a tank filled with tropical fish, a large paper dragon suspended from the ceiling and festive Chinese lanterns. The bustle of the kitchen, where staffers shape egg rolls and peel shrimp, while the chef chops vegetables is conveyed with similar energy. After contentedly sharing a meal with his grandfather (Louie eagerly devours steamed dumplings and shrimp chow mein, but passes on a whole fish and wide-eyed crabs), the boy moves on to dessert. Eagle-eyed kids will notice that one image is at odds with the text: Grandpa reads the fortune from Louie's cookie, which allegedly says "Happy food, happy belly, happy smile," yet the fortune seen in Grandpa's hand reads otherwise. Nonetheless, despite a lack of narrative momentum, this is a happy story starring one undeniably happy child. Ages 3—7. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"The smile-inducing title and cover image of an Asian boy holding a fortune cookie invite readers inside to the story . . . Louie’s dinner serves up a universal experience with a clever twist at the end. The oil-on-palette-paper collage illustrations effectively portray the scenes with striations and textures . . . The photographic image of the fortune cookie adds a sweet touch."--Kirkus Reviews

"Isadora’s characteristic collage-andoil illustrations—attractive as always— incorporate patches of menus, swatches of material, and images of Chinese boats, cranes, and other Asian motifs. Like Ted Lewin’s Big Jimmy’s Kum Kau Chinese Take Out (2002), for a slightly older audience, this brief bite of Chinese cuisine will add flavor to multicultural units."--Booklist

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Our young narrator Louie's favorite day is Friday, when he has dinner at his Grandpa Sam's Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. He visits the steamy kitchen where the chefs are rolling egg rolls, peeling shrimp, and chopping vegetables. Then, he and Grandpa Sam sit under a lucky paper dragon for dinner. They eat with chopsticks. Louie enjoys rice, dumplings, egg rolls, and his favorite shrimp chow mein, but he passes on the fish and crabs. When finished, he opens his fortune cookie and enjoys orange slices. He greets his friend there with a happy smile that starts in his happy belly. This introduction to the food in an American "Chinese restaurant" is sure to appeal to timid eaters and whet the appetites of those who are already fans. Isadora uses cut papers along with preprinted papers and oils for her double-page collage illustrations. Some cultural information is included, along with action and a light-hearted feeling. Names of dishes are scattered across the end pages and the final page, on which Louie and his friend show off their orange slice smiles. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—This slight vignette follows Louie's weekly Friday visit to his grandfather's restaurant in Chinatown. He watches the chefs, waiters, delivery boy, and other workers go through their routines. He eats dinner with Grandpa Sam and runs into a friend. The story has essentially no plot and lacks transitions, making the reading choppy. The collage and oil illustrations are brightly colored and utilize some interesting materials, including actual fortune cookies and paper scraps. However, they are static, and the depictions of some of the Chinese characters verge on stereotypical. Isadora is at her best with the vivid fish tank and decorations; the photos of actual food and pieces of take-out menus are also effective. While the child/grandfather angle brings immediacy to the story, at heart it is just a laundry list of things that happen in a Chinese restaurant. And without cohesiveness or a strong story line, it is unlikely to warrant repeated readings. Pick up a copy of Ted Lewin's Big Jimmy's Kum Kau Chinese Take Out (HarperCollins, 2002) or Grace Lin's Dim Sum for Everyone! (Knopf, 2001) and pass on this forgettable offering.—Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
Kirkus Reviews
The smile-inducing title and cover image of an Asian boy holding a fortune cookie invite readers inside to the story. "Friday is my favorite day. On Fridays I have dinner with Grandpa Sam. He owns a restaurant in Chinatown." Louie gets to go into the kitchen and say hello to Chef Ben and watch Chef Lee chop vegetables and the bicycle delivery boy pick up an order. Grandpa orders Louie's favorite dinner of steamed dumplings, egg rolls and shrimp chow mein with oranges and fortune cookies for dessert. His fortune is the title phrase, and Louie makes a smile with his orange slice. This Chinatown is generic and could be anywhere, and Louie's dinner serves up a universal experience with a clever twist at the end. The oil-on-palette-paper collage illustrations effectively portray the scenes with striations and textures. Isadora's technique here is much better suited to this original story than her Africanized folktales (Hansel & Gretel, 2008, etc.). The photographic image of the fortune cookie adds a sweet touch. (Picture book. 4-7)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152065461
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/28/2009
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
1,180,870
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

RACHEL ISADORA, a former ballet dancer, has illustrated many books, including the Caldecott Honor Book Ben's Trumpet, which was also a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, Yo, Jo! and Uh-Oh! She lives in New York City.

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