Happy Harry's Cafe

Overview

What’s not to love? A classic tale told with sly humor, for little ones with an appetite for laughs.

Harry makes great soup. So Harry’s friends are always running to his café just for that famous soup. One day, Ryan the Lion, Jo the Crow, and Matt the Cat all bustle into Harry’s shop. "Take it easy!" says Harry. But maybe Harry is taking it too easy? You see, Matt the Cat is not too happy with his soup today. Oy vey! He doesn’t want to kvetch, but won’t Harry please try it to ...

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Overview

What’s not to love? A classic tale told with sly humor, for little ones with an appetite for laughs.

Harry makes great soup. So Harry’s friends are always running to his café just for that famous soup. One day, Ryan the Lion, Jo the Crow, and Matt the Cat all bustle into Harry’s shop. "Take it easy!" says Harry. But maybe Harry is taking it too easy? You see, Matt the Cat is not too happy with his soup today. Oy vey! He doesn’t want to kvetch, but won’t Harry please try it to find out what could possibly be wrong? Michael Rosen’s hilarious send-up of a beloved Jewish joke delightfully and deliciously leads you to the punch line, while Richard Holland’s whimsical animal characters burst with exuberance.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rosen (Chanukah Lights) writes silly, loose-limbed wordplay for young audiences; insofar as this story is a story, it’s a nod to an old Yiddish joke about a disgruntled restaurant customer. Mostly, though, it’s a repeated chant, as visitors arrive at Harry the dog’s cafe, each with his or her own personality quirk. “Here’s Ryan the lion. He’s in a rush. He’s Rushing Ryan.” Each animal is calmed in turn by phlegmatic Harry: “Take it easy, Ryan,” says Harry. Soft charcoal lines help Holland’s (Mary’s Penny) matte mixed-media artwork feel as mellow as Harry (especially compared to the chunky typefaces that make Rosen’s prose resemble a kind of concrete poetry). Matt the Cat complains, “Hey, Harry. The soup’s no good. You come and try it, Harry.” “Hey, Matt,” says Harry. “There’s no spoon. You haven’t got a spoon.” Harry and Matt sing a short song (“If you don’t have a spoon, you can’t taste the soup. If you can’t taste the soup, the soup’s no good”), and that’s it. Although it may sound daft to grownups, Rosen’s sense of what children like is often spot on. Ages 3–5. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
Harry owns a restaurant and he is the chef there. One of his specialties is the soup that he makes. His friends, Ryan the lion, Jo the crow, Robin the robin, and Matt the cat hurry into Harry's Cafe just for a bowl of wonderful soup before it is all gone. Everyone is enjoying and complimenting the soup except Matt who tells Harry that the soup is no good. Harry is surprised by Matt's comment. Matt asks Harry to try the soup to figure out what is wrong. The ending has a funny twist that even has the characters laughing. Harry and Matt's song summarizes the key points in the joke. The illustrations focus on the characters against a single colored background. The red and white gingham design on the end pages match the neckerchief that Chef Harry wears. The font on the pages is large and the bold print draws attention to select words. Children may enjoy the simplicity of the pictures and the humor in this story. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Harry (a bear or possibly a dog) makes great soup. Most of his animal friends love it, but Matt the cat says "The soup's no good." Why? Because he has no spoon-ba-dum-dum! After a good laugh, Matt gets a spoon, praises the soup, and he and Harry sing a soup song. This is a retelling of a famous Jewish joke (as noted in the flap copy), but Rosen is no Myron Cohen. The additional theme of encouraging people to stop to smell the roses, as evinced by Harry telling each rushing customer to "Take it easy," gets lost along the way. The punch line is so overexplained that it is no longer funny. It is further belabored in song, where lightly printed sheet music fails to guide readers in their singing. While the original joke is quite funny, the humor may be lost on young readers. Cheerful, bright, blocky mixed-media illustrations go well with the jocular intent of the story, but are not enough to save it.—Heidi Estrin, Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763662394
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 10/9/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Rosen is an award-winning author and anthologist of books for young readers, including Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, illustrated by Jane Ray, and Shakespeare: His Work & His World, illustrated by Robert Ingpen. Michael Rosen lives in London.

Richard Holland has illustrated many books, including The Time Book, Mary’s Penny, and The Museum Book. He lives in Essex, England.

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