Children's singer/songwriter Laurie Berkner brings one of her bebopping songs to the page, telling a food-filled tale about two Alaskan polar bears off to save their café.
Illustrated with zippy artwork by Henry Cole, Berkner's whimsical excursion begins with a note from the two bears, Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco, about their decision "to drive through the United States and taste different treats in New Mexico, Louisiana, and New York" in order to bring new dishes back for their grumpy café customers (they're "fed up with fish"). Readers follow along with Berkner's lyrics -- each page is also marked with newspaper headlines to help clarify the plot -- to see Victor and Freddie make their way from Alaska to New Mexico, where they "ate a burrito with Tabasco. They put it on their rice. They put it on their beans"; to Louisiana for some rutabagas and collard greens; and then to New York for spaghetti in Little Italy. Meanwhile, the folks back at the Klondike Café get a load of Victor and Freddie's postcards, and after the two explorers return for the grand reopening, the happy eaters all get a sumptuous feast topped off with plates of spaghetti.
Packaged with a CD of Berkner singing "Victor Vito" and another hit, "Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz)!," this rollicking read will have kids tapping their toes and aching for spaghetti! The singer's lyrics make for a surprisingly peppy lesson about regional foods and teamwork, while Cole's artwork provides a storyline that's sure to keep children in stitches. For winning sing-along storytimes, pair this winner with They Might Be Giants' Bed, Bed, Bed or Sandra Boynton's Philadelphia Chickens. Matt Warner