In Enzo's Splendid Gardens

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's fiasco al fresco when Polacco (The Trees of the Dancing Goats; Pink and Say) dips into her well of family stories to serve up this cumulative tale of mayhem set in her husband Enzo's Italian restaurant. It all starts with a "fuzzy old bee, there on the tree/ in Enzo's splendid gardens." A young restaurant patron turns to look at the bee-and drops a book, which trips the waiter, who splashes a drink on the matron, who bumps the ladies and so on. The chef, a cat, a fireman and even Enzo himself hitch a ride on this runaway train before it comes to a messy but satisfying stop. Polacco takes this string of catastrophes in stride, using the opportunity to fill her pencil-and-gouache scenes with dapper, acrobatic characters and plenty of flying food. Though her verse can be a bit cumbersome, readers will delight in the colorful chaos caused by an oblivious kid. Polacco fans will also appreciate the self-portraits of the author and renderings of her husband sprinkled throughout. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Polacco's latest book is a tour de "farce" worthy of a Marx Brothers comedy. It begins with a familiar pattern: "This is the bee that stopped on a tree in/ Enzo's splendid gardens." Now all bets are off as nothing is predictable from the moment the text continues: "Here is the boy who dropped his book as he turned/ around to take a good look at the fuzzy old bee,/ just there on the tree in Enzo's splendid gardens." Pure bedlam ensues as the waiter trips over the book, bumps the matron who knocks the man, who falls into the food cart face down, etc. etc. Keep your eye on the angel sculpture who gets into the action as each scene becomes more frantic. A great cast of characters. Trust me... You'll love it!
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
This book is the cumulative story of what happens when a boy takes a good look at a bee. He drops his book, a waiter trips, his tray tips-like the house that Jack built, the story builds. Even the chef, Enzo (Polacco's Italian/Jewish husband), gets into the act of this splendid story. It is a story full of motion and the art manages to convey all of the delightful commotion.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2It all starts so innocentlya young boy drops his book while observing a bee in a lovely outdoor restaurant, "Enzo's." From there, this cumulative tale takes off on a hilarious roller-coaster ride of mishaps. The rhyming text gains momentum as a waiter trips over the book, tips his tray, and spills a very large drink on a matron dressed in pink. Suddenly, the guests are falling all over each other like a line of elegantly dressed dominoes. Adding to the child appeal are some wonderful food accidents, including a pot of spaghetti that lands on Enzo's cat. As the guests start to see the humor in all this chaos, the cat heads for the top of the nearest tree, bringing the fire department into the scene. In the end, the jovial mood of the crowd assures the boy, and readers, that all is forgiven. Half the enjoyment of this story comes from studying the diners in Enzo's garden, all of whom are lovingly portrayed. One of the many humorous touches is a terra-cotta fountain nymph who leaves her post to join the crowd. The art is exuberant, the colors bathed in California sunshine. This story does not have the emotional impact readers have come to expect from Polacco's more serious stories, but it has something equally appealinga tremendous sense of fun.Lisa S. Murphy, formerly at Dauphin County Library System, Harrisburg, PA
Kirkus Reviews
The prolific Polacco (The Trees of the Dancing Goats, 1996, etc.) tells a cumulative tale of the mayhem that ensues when a bee lands on a tree at an outdoor restaurant, setting off a frenzied chain of events; "The House That Jack Built" provides the blueprint—"This is the bee that stopped on a tree in Enzo's splendid gardens."

A boy who drops his book to look at a bee causes the waiter to trip, splashing a drink on a matron, forcing ladies to trip and spill their tea, resulting in a man face down in the dessert tray, who jostles the chef, and so forth. The rhyme scheme gets the better of Polacco, with awkward rhythms that deviate from the pattern. As the chaos spreads, the lines become jarring: "Here comes Enzo, full of spaghetti, chasing his cat, whose name is Lettie, hoping to catch her, but she thinks not and runs through the room, wearing the pot that was jostled and spilled." The result is a glorified food fight. The illustrations are crowded with swarms of restaurant-goers whose mouths show perpetual astonishment, but the staging is clumsy, too. Readers cannot follow the action as it is choreographed in the scenes, e.g., the waiter is suspended mid-air for two spreads, implying a short passage of time, while another man in those pages goes from a relaxed pose sitting behind a table to running away in panic some distance from the scene, indicating that the time that has lapsed is longer.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847983438
  • Publisher: Perma-Bound Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/1997
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco lives in Union City, Michigan.
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