Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Within the walls of a small Kansas restaurant there is magic to cure all manner of ills. In PW's words, "Newbery Medalist Rylant breaks new ground in producing this whimsical tale, dexterously weaving extraordinary events into the fabric of ordinary life." Ages 8-12. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
Flowers, Kansas is a flat place where anything that happens gets noticed. Each chapter of this book is a brief vignette about the people who frequent the Van Gogh Cafe, and the magic that happens in their lives as a result. The diners at the cafe (and its owners) all are touched with the beauty of the commonplace, and leave with a profound satisfaction with their lot in life. It is a quick read, but also a lot deeper than the slim volume appears.
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
The Van Gogh Cafe is a very strange place. There is a mysterious magic in the air, and things happen that don't - no, can't - happen anywhere else in the world. Each chapter is a new story about the people and things that make Flowers, Kansas such an interesting place to work and live. The absence of illustrations means that the reader's imagination is forced to work overtime.
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
The most extraordinary things happen at this little diner in the heart of Kansas. Stronger readers meet a series of common folk who are forever touched by the magic at the cafe.
With her usual mix of elegance and down-to-earthness, Rylant offers seven vignettes of life at the Van Gogh Cafe. Situated off I-70 in Flowers, Kansas, the caf (formerly an old movie theater) is run by Marc and his 10-year-old daughter, Clara, who appreciate the magic that comes from the cafe's very walls. A possum turns up (upside down, actually) and is responsible for a widower's finding new meaning for his life. An aged film star and the man he loved many years ago are reunited in death at the cafe. Rylant's works can be deceptively simple on the surface, but there are layers to probe here. Some children may not wish to; even with magic in the walls and Clara hovering about, there's an adult, occasionally indulgent, sensibility that also permeates. But others will enjoy the odd cast of characters and Rylant's ability to turn a phrase, which can be quite magical in its own right.
From the Publisher
"Newbery Medalist Rylant breaks new ground in producing this whimsical tale, dexterously weaving extraordinary events into the fabric of ordinary life."--Publishers Weekly
"Full of uncanny observations and wry wisdom."—The New Yorker